November 06, 2007
Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: An Introduction
A long time ago when my cycling mostly consisted of commuting and short trips for shopping, I was persuaded by a sister to ride for the fun of it, to exercise and explore my surroundings.
I began with 10 to 15 mile rides in the Inland Empire, east of Los Angeles.
Then I began to notice something beneath the wheels of the busses I rode as they passed over some river channels across LA County: Bike Trails!
Soon I found myself riding up to 45 miles!
I learned more about these routes due to a few books on cycling in Southern California, by a couple that were some of the few folks writing anything, anywhere, about recreational road cycling in the region.
Those books, some of them, are hopelessly out of date, even as some have been updated in the last few years.
This was all long before I got a computer and discovered what few resources could be found online.
Those resources, sadly, are anywhere from 2 to 6 years old now, though I did find one that appears to be only a year or so old.
This series is about the bike trails along the three mighty (Or should I say "once mighty"?) rivers and a couple of attatched tributaries that flow through Southern California.
Don't let all that concrete fool you!
There are still many stretches along each where Ma Nature holds complete sway over all that she surveys, even as there are some places where she has allowed the Hand of Man to put its stamp on the land and think that he has tamed his surroundings.
What rivers? I'm glad you asked! ;-D
The Los Angeles River and the connecting Rio Hondo River (Together aka The Lario Bike Trail).
The San Gabriel River (The original Mountains to the Sea Bike Trail!), and Coyote Creek.
The Santa Ana River (If its two trails were not unavoidably seperated by a dam the route would have been the second Mountains to the Sea Bike Trail, not to mention the longest, travelling through three counties.).
The last time I rode the full length of any of these routes was well before I became a Blogger so a lot has changed since then.
It is my intention, over the coming months, to re-discover my old friends, take pictures and write about my experiences in that humorous, fun and informative way that readers have come to know and enjoy from previous rides that I have written about.
For now, though, I wish to introduce you to the grand history of these rivers and the way their sometimes violent, uncontrollable, flows shaped the California of today.
Yesterday I took the first step in my project.
I spent the day riding the entire length of the San Gariel River Trail (I intend to return to Highway 39 and follow the river up into the San Gabriels as well.), top to bottom.
A lot of cyclists ride this and the other river trails, but most do not stop long enough along the way, if at all, to enjoy their surroundings, it seems to me.
Where's the fun in that?
It's as if they have transferred time honored Car Culture practices to use in their cycling! ;-D
I want to encourage people who already ride the trails to slow down and even stop, from time to time.
I want to encourage cyclists who have never tackled the rivers to boldly venture forth and do so, often.
Make a family adventure out of it! It will do y'all some good, trust me! ;-D
There is much to experience and discover along our rivers, all year long, and no two trips are ever the same.
Yes, there is graffiti, in some spots a lot of it.
Yes, there are the occasional gangbangers loitering about, but not everywhere, or every day.
Yes, the homeless like to camp out along the river underpasses, but not everywhere and not every day.
Most of these people tend to stick to themselves and not bother users of the trail, especially since Law Enforcement and county officials, responsible for river upkeep, are liable to show up when they least expect it and roust them out (Though not as frequently as one would like.).
On your bike it is easy to avoid those few who appear to want to give you trouble.
You will find that walkers, joggers, fishermen, horseback riders, officials and other cyclists, as well as some of those above, are often worth engaging in conversation with (Use your best judgement.), enriching your experience in often unexpected ways.
I hope you will come along with me as I tell you my own experiences riding the rivers.
CHAPTER 1 OF EACH SERIES:
Still to Come: Coyote Creek, Rio Hondo, Los Angeles River, and maybe more as I learn of them.
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