February 12, 2010

Vertebrate Watching By Bicycle

Nikita_022010 As part of the blogging my Cat does, at Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat, he posts photos of Cats that I encounter on the street while riding my bike. ;-D

So far all the Cats I've encountered have been in Long Beach, and the variety of situations I see them in is a varied as the breed of Cats.

Most of the Cats are Indoor Cats who also are encouraged by their Humans to hang out outside, but I have seen what I believe were Ferals, as well.

In fact, there is a Colony of Ferals along the cliffs overlooking the beach , in Long Beach, and I've taken pictures of them for a future report.

I thought I'd share a few of my Cat Pics, here, plus a couple I took on the Santa Ana River Bike Trail, in Santa Ana, of a Squirrel, yesterday.


When the Cat on the right saw me it tried to interest its pal in the interloper with the Flashy Box, riding a bicycle...but the other Cat apparently couldn't have cared less. ;-D


I couldn't decide whether this Cat had a Death Wish, or was just too comfy in the sun to move until it was absolutely neccessary. ;-D


This Cat came out of the yard with the intent of strolling down the sidewalk, and around the corner to another house, until I came along causing it to rethink its path...slightly.

It backed up, into the yard, crossed into the next yard, close to the house, until it reached the sidewalk where it was turning, entered the sidewalk, turning its back on me, and walked down the street to its destination without a backward glance. ;-D 


A stray?

Who knows?

From the top of the hill, in this huge yard, it calmly surveyed its surroundings.


You can not ride the length of the Santa Ana River Bike Trail, in Orange County, without encountering Squirrels at almost every stretch.

They live in the trees, and bushes, on the east side of the trail, and frequently dash across the trail, traffic be damned, to explore, and play, among the rocks on the west side of the trail, & even go down into the channel when there is no water there to trouble their pretty little heads. ;-D 



With the river raging, full of the water run-off from the recent rains, this little critter came out to take a peek, running across the trail just in front of me. ;-D

I guess my point, with these photos, is that there is more to a bike ride than just how fast you can pedal, and how quickly you can get from Point A to Point B...if you will only keep your eyes peeled on your journey. ;-D   

Wanna see more of my photos?

Go here, and explore the archive of stories: Street Seens: Cats Outdoors, Thru the Daddy Cam


February 12, 2010 in Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 12, 2009

There Be Monsters!...Somewhere in Highland Park, Ca.

This heads-up was sent to me by The Bicycle Tree:

The Bike Oven and Flying Pigeon LA, two great bike shops that neighbor each other in Highland Park, will be hosting a group art exhibition entitled "Monsters on Bikes!".

The show opens Saturday, November 14th from 6 PM - midnight and runs until December 10th.

The show's opening coincides with the monthly Spoke(n) Art ride, a bicycle tour of the area's art galleries that leaves from York & Figueroa streets at 6:30. The ride returns to The Bike Oven around 9:30 to join the party.

A portion of the proceeds from the show will benefit The Bike Oven and The Bicycle Tree. The Bike Oven has been an inspiration for The Bicycle Tree.  They have been helping the good people of Highland Park learn how to fix their bikes for years!

If you live in LA County, and Orange County, especially, but in neighboring counties, as well, you might find this an interesting even to check out.

Monsters on Bikes now has a Website, with 4 blog posts so far.

The 1st entry talks about the dispaying, and selling of art at the event (Submissions were no long accepted as of Halloween.

The 3rd entry talks about the show, and Opening Night, and provides a link to a Flickr page with a preview of artwork that is thought-provoking, very cool, and very funny.

It also provides links to the websites of all the participating artists.

The most recent entry is an image of the event poster, which incorporates the cool image on the header of the blog itself.

"Monsters On Bikes! For all fans of monsters and their two-wheeled riding habits" appeals to my peculiar sense of humor. ;-D

The Spoke(n) Art bicycle ride is a free, once-a-month, bicycle tour of art galleries in North East Los Angeles. The ride takes place on the second Saturday of each month - a special night in North East Los Angeles. Area art galleries open their doors late into the night as part of NELAart's "Gallery Night".

Learn more about the event, here. (Saturday? Hmm, If my day off comes on the designated day, then I just might check the event out myself someday!)

The Bike Oven Shop has had a Blog since Aug. 2007? Cool! I'll be adding them to the Blogroll, and checking them out!

The Bike Oven is a volunteer-run bicycle repair collective that started in a single car garage on Avenue 42 in Highland Park.

The Bike Oven endeavors to serve the community and improve the quality of urban life by promoting and facilitating, through culture change, the use of bicycling as an alternative to the non-sustainable and climate damaging fossil-fuel powered motor vehicle transportation system.

The Blog.

Flying Pigeon has a Website and a Blog...oh, and promotes an every 3rd Sunday Dim Sum Ride to Chinatown, or venues in the San Gabriel Valley, and other parts of LA! (Sunday? Hmm, If my day off comes on the designated day, then I just might check the event out myself someday!)

Flying Pigeon LA is a company, started by two brothers, located in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Flying Pigeon LA sells, maintains and evangelizes the Flying Pigeon brand bicycle (A famous bike brand in China) in Los Angeles.

The About Page has a lot of links about this very inexpensive bike, and a cool video.

The Blog has been up since July 2008 and, like Bike Oven, I'll be adding it to the Blogroll, and checking it out!







November 12, 2009 in EVENT GUIDE (California and Selective Others), Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 06, 2009

Dear LA City Council: Bring the Marathon and Bike Ride back to March!

This year, in an unpopular decision, the LA Marathon / Acura LA Bike Tour was moved from its traditional date in early March to Memorial Day May 25th.   

That the date change has not met with wide approval is a major understatement!

Because many participants go away for Memorial Day weekend many participants must make a decision whether to ride/run or go on their holiday. 

Returning to the traditional marathon day in early March would eliminate this problem.

A petition has been created by Russ Pillar, President of the LA Marathon, that allows us a voice in persuading the Los Angeles City Council to vote to return to the original March date. 

If you ever have, or ever plan to, participate in the Bike Ride, or even the Marathon, please take a moment to follow the link below and sign the petition endorsing the return to the original Marathon date. 

I have pedaled in the 1998, 2001, and 2007 rides, and even blogged about the 2007 event in a 14 Part, picture filled, Series.

This afternoon I was the 3,945th person to sign the petition. ;-D 

The petition can be found here.


June 6, 2009 in Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 22, 2007

San Gabriel Trail Grant Follow-up: Lakewood Accountability Action Group

Earlier this month I wrote about a grant received by the city of Seal Beach, for work on the San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail.

A few days ago I received an e-mail from the Lakewood Accountability Action Group, in Lakewood, CA., another city along the trail.

The LAAG is a California Non Profit Association "Demanding action and accountability from local government".

Laag had something to do with this.

We began harping at the city back in July 2006 (per our email records).

Our Nov 3 2007 email below was timed perfectly.

We also do a lot of interfacing with LA County DPW and city of Long Beach on the trail north of the 405.

Just take a look at our website.

Here is the e-mail, from Nov. 3rd, that was sent around to Officials and activists:

Subject: SGR bike path 405 to 22 fwy (seal beach)

Once again I am bringing up the subject of getting the San Gabriel River bike path repaved between the 405 and the 22 Fwy. It appears from the attached documents that section has not been repaved since it was installed via a cooperative effort by Orange County, LA County and Seal Beach in 1976 (30 years ago)

With age, weather, heavy equipment use (by LA County), gopher/sink holes and a poor roadbed initially laid down, it is time this section of path be upgraded. It is about 0.8 miles long.

I can say with confidence that this is one of the worst sections of Class I bikeway in either LA or Orange counties. Riding a road bike on this section of trail almost requires a kidney belt. It clearly fails to comply with the CalTrans manual on bike paths [see section 1003.6(2); Surface Quality. ....For rideability on new construction, the finished surface of bikeways should not vary more than 6 mm from the lower edge of a 2.4 m long straight edge when laid on the surface in any direction.]

I had spoken about this subject with both county of LA and Andy DaSilva at Seal Beach and got nowhere as the section of trail covers two counties on a river run by LA county DPW.

The old 1970 era documents are not a model of clarity today as to who should be responsible for repaving this section. One point seems clear from the 1976 permit. LA County maintains that it controls this river and is issues the permits.

Also, then as now, it is clear that both LA County and Orange County residents use this river path which somewhat divides the two counties, along with the Coyote creek. Also it is quite clear that Seal Beach benefits from much of this bike traffic which for the most part heads straight to Seal beach pier and related shopping and eating establishments. So all three agencies have an interest in fixing this section. (I might add that Seal beach should also repave 1st st. between Marina Dr. and Ocean Ave much the way it finally fixed Ocean ave from that intersection to the pier as that is how all the bike trail traffic gets to the pier; as you know bikes are more sensitive to bad pavement than cars)

My suggestion is that the two counties and the city figure out a way to do this.

As far as what needs to be done and the cost the County of LA is currently "rebuilding/repaving" the section of the same bike path between Carson and Wardlow (near the Long Beach Towne Center). So far it looks like the contractor is doing a good job and what needed to be done. This 405/22 section will need the same sort of rehabbing as the roadbed is disintegrated and adding more pavement over the top of what is there currently is not a long term solution.

The good news is once you fix it you wont need to do it again for 30 years.

While I agree that work needs to be done (I mentioned the current work being done near the Long Beach Town Center in my Ride along the River.), I certainly DID NOT require a Kidney Belt on any stretch of the 44 mile trail or I would certainly have written about it. ;-D

It is clear that work has not been done in decades, all up and down the trail, and needs to be done to ensure that the trail remains in rideable condition.

In the last decade, with the increase in activism among cyclists and the birth of BikeBlogs, government awareness of its responsibilities to this segment of their communities, nationally and globally, has grown, thus efforts by government to keep their constituents happy by fixing exisiting trails and adding new ones are growing.

As the Nov. 8th reply to the above shows, the people responsible are paying more attention:

Thank you for your e-mail to the City of Seal Beach discussing items of concern with the operations and maintenance of the San Gabriel River Trail.  Currently, the City of Seal Beach is working with the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy within the State Resources Agency to secure funding to improve the River Trail from the Trail’s terminus at the Pacific Ocean for approximately 3.5 miles through the section you mentioned between SR-22 and the 505 Freeway.  Pending approval of grant requests, this project will also help restore and rehabilitate certain amenities at the 1st Street Entranceway to the River Trail. 

The City looks forward to working with the community and other interested groups in the implementation of this project.  Any suggestions and comments you have will be a great benefit.  Please feel free to contact me at any method listed below should you have any additional questions or observations.


David Spitz, P.E.
Associate Civil Engineer
City of Seal Beach

Very interesting...

The LAAG website has a few links related to Cycling Activism, and 3 archives devoted to issues along the Bike Trail.

Recent posts:

Is Safety an issue on the River Trails?

Except for the 2 characters that I encountered in Irwindale I encountered no problems and saw no Homeless Encampments or gatherings of gangbangers the day of my ride.

In Santa Ana, at 2 points of the Santa Ana Trail, there are what appear to be permanent Homeless Encampments on the side without a trail, and the characters that hang out there leave trail users alone as far as I know.

I encountered a Santa Ana Park Ranger parked on the trail across from one of the encampments, the other day, and asked him about the issue and who I needed to contact about cleaning it up.

The guy appeared to be in his 60's and his response was less than helpfu, as he first said the state tied their hands with regards to removal, then gave me 3 different answers when I insisted on trying to get info on who I needed to contact to learn more, including that he didn't have an info card to give me.

Bike Jacking on San Gabriel River:

Don't let the occasional report such as this spook you about riding the river.  Just be aware of your surroundings and even prepared to leave the trail when neccessary, hell even riding with a friend is a good idea.

I agree that more law enforcement efforts are needed on all the river trails, not because the problem is out of control, but just as a matter of public safety responsibilities of the agencies in charge and plain old common sense.

sand buildup problems on the SGR trail? Well, yes, there's some, but don't bring your beach balls or set up a volleyball court. ;-D

Long Beach Web Of Bike Trails Moves Ahead:

Having new bicycle trails that would connect paths from the San Gabriel River to the Los Angeles River would be a cool addition to the region. ;-G

December 22, 2007 in Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 10, 2007

Seal Beach Gets Grant for San Gabriel River Trail Restoration

Last month the city of Seal Beach got some much needed financial help, from the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, in its effort to raise funds for a project along its stretch of the San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail.

The city is hoping to renovate the area where the San Gabriel River meets the ocean near First Street, along with about three miles of trails, after receiving a $1.5 million grant.

The First Street area is frequented by surfers, bikers, hikers and diners to the suitably-named Rivers End Restaurant.

The city will find out in the spring if they will receive the money from state grants, said David Spitz, associate engineer in the Seal Beach Public Works Department.

"It's great news that we got the grant," Spitz said. "But right now, we're waiting to see if we can get additional money to see how extensive our project is going to be. It's going to be a great project either way though."

Work would not begin until Summer 2009 at the earliest.

A Tip of the Hat to Jorge Barrientos, of the Orange County Register for first reporting this news.

December 10, 2007 in Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 14, 2007

Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail 4

Continuing my journey (Late comers can saddle up here!) along one of the three great rivers of Southern California I find myself, around mid-afternoon, passing properties with Horses before coming to Iron-wood Golf Course, in Cerritos, where I saw some kids playing in the river.


Around 30 miles I notice a long forgotten piece of history.

For a short distance the Bike Trail actually ran in the river channel for some reason.

If you ride from the beach this novelty (Guilty pleasure?) can be experienced, (During the "Dry Season"!) just beyond the 10 mile point. ;-D


A bit later I DID find one mysterious bit of graffiti worth sharing.

I pass Liberty, then Raymond parks, 2 huge stretches of parkland, along Studebaker Rd. in Cerritos and Lakewood, that have walking and horse trails, and are also bike accessable from the river trail.


A bit later I have my last look at beautiful Horses, at the Lakewood Equestrian Center before heading into the home stretch.

When I stopped and yelled out a hearty "Hi gang!", the group in the back turned in interest to walk toward the fence.

That dark chap in the upper right, however, turned around, looked at me, then looked at the others and that was that.

Was I THAT disreputable looking? ;-D

After 33 miles, just after saying good-bye to the Horses, I come to the only blemish in an otherwise smooth journey.

It was at the Carson Blvd. underpass, except that there is no underpass.

Well, there is, but the pavement is gone, as is the pavement for the next mile of trail.

There is work being done and there are signs advising trail users not to proceed and guiding users on a short detour that totals about a mile.

As I stood there taking this in I see a cyclist walk his bike under the underpass, as well as a lady walking her dog do the same.

They came out the other side and proceeded to the alternate trail.

I could have done the same, I suppose, but wanted to see where the Orange "Bike Detour" signs guided, um responsible, safety conscious, law abiding trail users, hee, hee. ;-D

Spread out, in pairs, every few feet on light posts, these signs guide people in both directions on how to get from one side of the underpass to the other, and back on the trail.

Southbound users are led a short distance east to the crosswalk at nearby Long Beach Towne Center.

I cross the street and am led west, back over the river to a 1 mile stretch of pavement heading south that is normally inaccessable to traffic.

All is well and good until I reach the end, at Wardlow Rd.

There are no more Orange signs!

Looking east I see that the regular trail runs parallel to El Dorado Regional Park, in Long Beach, a massive park accessable from the trail, with trails, 2 golf courses and a nature preserve, that straddles both sides of the river.

I finally figure out that I have to ride on the sidewalk east a short distance, to an exit from the park, walk by bike a few yards to the 2 lane road in the park, then ride back west to the trail at the Wardlow underpass, where I can re-enter the trail south.

Northbound riders are left to fend for themselves in figuring out where to go next as there are no orange signs to guide them.

I spent a few minutes chatting about the trail with a father who had his toddler son in a child seat on the back of his bike, gave him one of my cards, and continued on my merry way.


Safely back on track I ride for a while with the park on my left then, after passing Spring St., on both sides of the river, before having the park only on the west side of the river for a while, from Willow St. to where the trail meets Coyote Creek.

At 37 miles the San Gabriel River meets Coyote Creek.

Coyote Creek has its own bike trail that heads up river for miles almost into Whittier.


As I find myself riding on the edges of two counties, with Long Beach/LA County briefly interrupted by a stretch of Seal Beach/Orange County, and the river begins the last leg of its journey to the ocean...

Mother Nature reminds me that Man doesn't always completely take over her space.

The water and the animal kingdom return in full force, concrete be damned! ;-D

The water level picks up as I head into the last 2 1/2 miles.

I pass marinas on the west side of the river and suddenly notice that spectators have begun to gather.


All dressed in black.

I am left to wonder if they are there to acknowledge my accomplishment and cheer me to the finish...


Or are they scavengers just waiting for me to drop in my tracks so they can divide the spoils?

Positively Hitchcockian! ;-D


The trail officially ends at Marina Dr., in Long Beach, with the island community of Naples to the west, and Seal Beach to the east.

It is 530pm and my ride was 40.85 miles, from the start, at the new trail head, to Marina (Add the extra mile from the Azusa Parking Lot to the new trail head, if you ride it.).

And yet...it doesn't quite end there.

As you can see you can cross the street and enter a paved trail the last short distance to the shores of the great Pacific itself, at the famous River's End Cafe (M/Tu. 7am-245pm, W-Sun. 7am-8pm. Check out the pictures on the website!).


Near the sand, and the entrance to the cafe, is a plaque:

In loving memory of

Helen Sanders

1939 - 2005

Passionate protector and devoted guardian of homeless Cats.

Now comes the time to reward myself for my accomplishment and find some grub before heading home.

If the River's End Cafe is closed you have to head elsewhere.

I exit the huge parking lot onto 1st street, then head immediately east on Ocean Ave., almost a mile, into quaint old towne Seal Beach and its famous Main St. and Pier.

Here folks can catch busses into Long Beach to begin the journey home to LA County, or catch busses into Orange County, even connecting to busses to get to the east end of LA County, or back to the parking lot in Azusa if that is where they left the car. (Details below)

But first take your pick of any number of places to eat, on Main, or on Pacific Coast Highway and dig in! ;-D

Sga_tr34 Me?

I spent an hour relaxing with the Sunday paper at one of the finest establishments on Main. ;-D

Woody's Diner

I ordered the following: A Woody's Hamburger w/coleslaw, a plate of Biscuits and Gravy, and a Cup of Homemade Chile, all washed down by 3 glasses of lemon flavored water.

My waitress, Nicole, was appropriately impressed by my adventure this day, and was a very good sport for taking my picture.

Money well spent on a very tasty and filling meal. ;-D

For those wondering how to take the bus to get from here to there for this trip, here's the skinny:

The morning trip to the start:

For people in Orange County, using the OCTA to get to Puente Hills Mall in LA County is simple.

Many busses will connect you with either the 29 or 43 and they will take you to La Habra Blvd. and Beach Blvd., connecting you with the Foothill Transit 285.

At the Mall you transfer to Foothill Transit 280, and ride it to the end, at Sierra Madre Ave. and San Gabriel Ave.

Ride your bike North on San Gabriel as it winds its way past the small parking lot and the Ranger Station, until you arrive at the new start of the trail mentioned in the beginning. ( Remember there is a bathroom at Pioneer Park on Sierra Madre, a block east of the bus stop, if needed.)

For people in LA County, from El Monte to Claremont, or even in Montclair in San Bernardino County, there are several Foothill Transit busses you can take to connect with the Northbound 280.

For people west of El Monte some can take MTA busses to El Monte Station to connect with Foothill busses that will connect with the Northbound 280.

Others can take make their way to Union Station, where they can take the Gold Line Train to its end in Pasadena, connect with the Foothill 187 eastbound from Downtown Pasadena, then catch the Northbound Foothill 280, in Azusa. (Various busses also head to Pasadena.)

The after ride return:

In Seal Beach cyclists from LA County, west of El Monte, can catch 1 of 2 Long Beach Transit busses at Electric and Main.

#131 will take you to its end at, Wardlow Station, to connect  with the Blue Line Train.

#171 will drop you off at PCH Station where you can catch the Blue Line.

For cyclists from the OC or the east side of LA County, or who need to get back to their cars in Azusa:

On PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), OC cyclists can catch the OCTA 1 to start or, like the rest of us, start with the OCTA 42/42A.

This bus begins its route on the north side of PCH, a block east of Main, near Balboa.

This bus connects with the 29 and 43, for those going back to LA County, and to many other busses for OC residents.

Of course, if you finish your ride early enough and are feeling perky, you can always return up the river the way you came. ;-D

Thus ends the first of a series of reports I plan, in coming weeks, into the new year, that will explore the various Bike Trails along the rivers.

I hope my stories encourage readers to get on their bikes and take the trips themselves. ;-D

November 14, 2007 in Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2007

Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail 3

Continuing my journey (Late comers can saddle up here!) along one of the three great rivers of Southern California I find myself now confronted with a scene of pure, un-bridled, joy, and I scramble for my camera in the hopes of catching it.


At the 18 mile mark I witness a horseback rider and a companion.

This brown beauty had been prancing about in, and lapping up, water a short distance south of this picture.

The horse was so deeply involved in its ecstatic play that the rider got a distance ahead, leading the horse to reluctantly move on (I could tell by the way the horse paused, looked toward the rider, then took one more, quick, playful romp before catching up, that it WAS reluctant.).


It is here that I enter, briefly, the trail system around Legg Lake, at Whittier Narrows, at the border with Pico Rivera.

Following the signs I turn right, then an almost immediate left (That's the Left, at the sign.).


The trail heads above, down, around and past a corner of the Pico Rivera Golf Course.

At 19 miles the trail briefly returns to the street as I turn left onto a narrow path across the river and re-enter the trail on the east side.

Soon I have a flowing river on my right and a railroad track on my left.

This led to another Duck sighting. ;-D


From the sound of the conversation, amongst the crowd, I could swear that one of the critters was barking like a Dog!

In the next few miles the river runs dry again, only supporting trees on the side of the river closest to the trail.


Finally, at 23 miles, Mother Nature appears to pretty much give up the ghost, saying “I surrender!” and the railroad is replaced by a freeway.

But, has Mother Nature truly given up the fight?

Is there nothing left for her but to surrender to the whims of Man?

I continued on my journey.


Passing under Telegraph Rd. I come to Santa Fe Springs Park where I can leave the trail and find a bathroom! (How many miles has it been since the last one?)

From the looks of things someone else was glad to find the parks, um, facilities, too. ;-D

I know that the trail is heading back into civilization not just because of the lack of nature, but because of the graffiti, covered, and uncovered, that is beginning to appear beneath my wheels.


A little further on I learn that Mother Nature still has a little fight in her as a few Squirrels cross the trail heading into the river and a few trees return.

I even pass Wilderness Park, in Downey, where a pond with Ducks and Geese can be seen.

Yes, the signs of Suburbia are all around me.

I can see it.

I can smell it.

I can hear it.


After nearly 26 miles Man claims the river, seemingly for good…

***Continue on to - Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail 4***

November 10, 2007 in Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 09, 2007

Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail 2

Continuing my journey (Late comers can saddle up here!) along one of the three great rivers of Southern California I find myself now on the west side of the river and the rollies have returned, for a while, as I leave Irwindale behind.

Sga_tr8 As I came out from under an underpass, with a big dip leading down under it, I found my way blocked by bikes!

Imagine a whole herd of spandex clad club riders, racing hell-bent for the beach, at 25 mph (I was doing about 15 myself.) coming upon this unexpected scene!

On the side of the trail were 2 disheveled white guys, in their mid-fifties, with beer cans in their hands, staring drunkenly at the fence separating the trail from private property.

I stopped and, um, politely told them to move their bikes out of the way because, if a crowd came through, the result might not be very pretty.

As I pedaled away they went to move their bikes and when they saw me take the picture they were spooked enough to get on them and ride away.

They both passed me when I stopped again a couple of miles down the trail (One guy asked me how much my bike was as he passed, the other yelled “BOO!!”).

Sga_tr9The landscape finally begins to change, with less vegetation in the river.

As I pass the 12 mile mark, around 11am, I pass three African-American ladies out for a mid-morning stroll.

Actually, due to my stops along the trail, this was our third meeting (Sing along… I pass you, you pass me!).

We had a good laugh as I told them that, at this rate, they might beat me to the beach. ;-D

At 14 ½ miles I’m well into El Monte and several schools form the view, on my right, including the sports field of Monte Vista High School.

It was along here that I saw a guy in the river, tossing a rock at a flock of birds, leading me to razz him about his lousy aim. (Too bad the birds didn’t think to turn around and drop a few, um, presents on his stupid head!)


A little further on I find a Horse Trail is running next to the path for a while, and when I saw a hole in the fence, after passing a rider, I saw my chance for a nice photo. The horseback riders I saw, on my journey, were all Hispanic. Did they own the horses, or were they hired hands performing exercise duty? I don’t know.


After 15 ½ miles the vegetation in the river took on a new and crowded appearance.

Lush trees and shrubs are everywhere.

When it’s not raining walkers and horseback riders can be seen in these areas of the river.


Some of those who live next to the river could care less that travelers occasionally stop to ogle them. ;-D

Barnyards and stables in the suburbs? Amazing. ;-D

Horse stables are a major feature to be seen along most of the trail.

Sga_tr13 I no sooner pass the row of barnyards than I discover the reason for all the greenery.

Where San Jose Creek comes out of the east and meets the San Gabriel I can see the natural glory of the areas past at the Thienes Ave. entrance to the trail.

As this sturdy example of 21st century characters living out their Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn fantasies shows the fishing is good along here. ;-D

Oh, look! They even have their very own jogging track! ;-D

Nearby are two interpretive displays with pictures, in need of a little clean-up.

One explains about the Tongva Indians who inhabited the area centuries ago and includes a scene of the Mission San Gabriel, painted in 1832.

The other discusses respect for the river and the Emerald Necklace Park Network, a 17 mile loop that, when completed, will link 1500 acres of parks along the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo rivers.

This will expand and improve upon existing cycling, hiking, and horseback riding trails in the Whittier Narrows and Bosque Del Rio Hondo region, from Irwindale and Peck Park, in the north, to Pico Rivera and Legg lake in the south.

There is a bit of controversy related to current efforts.

It revolves around a proposal for the new San Gabriel River Discovery Center being planned for a portion of the Whittier Narrows and shows that not all environmental activists are on the same page on every little issue.

Judging from the date of the letter, shown here, it appeared that opposition was planning to take an awful long time to gear up for battle. ;-D

But the latest in their disagreement with the efforts of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, can be found on the website of Friends of the Whittier Narrows Natural Area.


A mile further on I encounter another horseman, one who jokingly challenged me to a race on his beautiful horse. (Despite appearances this was not the “Headless” Horseman out for a post Halloween stroll, hee, hee!)


Up to this point everything was just ducky on my ride and I was about to leave the major natural portions of the river behind, heading further into this middle stretch of the journey.

***Continue on to - Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail 3***

November 9, 2007 in Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 08, 2007

Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail 1

There is nothing like a 10 minute bike ride at 4am, on a cool Monday morning, to clear the cobwebs!

I had just set out on the 1st of many journeys to report on the joys of bicycling along three of the mightiest rivers in Southern California! (Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: An Introduction.)

Starting at my first bus stop in Garden Grove, at 430am, and ending at 805am in Azusa, it takes me three busses and a one mile bike ride to get to the starting point of my journey. (Directions and Transit Info will appear at the end of this series.)

A surprising starting point it is, too!

Sga_tr1 At the point where Highway 39 (San Gabriel Canyon Rd.) hangs a right, near the Ranger Station, to begin its journey into the mountains, there is a parking lot on the north side of the road near a new entrance to the bike trail.

Open 7 days a week, from 7am to 10pm, there are 19 spaces, and 2 more for the disabled, but not a porta-potty in sight!

I should say that it is a good idea that a bathroom stop be made a mile south, at Pioneer Park, on Sierra Madre Ave., a block east of San Gabriel Canyon Rd./Azusa Ave. ;-D

The original trail has an official distance of 38 miles, but by starting the odometer at the new trail head, as I did, plus a minor detour, the journey is extended to 40.85 miles. (Start your odometer at the parking lot for the mile to the new trail head if you wish.)

At 840am, after eating an apple, banana, and cliff bar for breakfast, I headed east on the connector a quarter mile, and discovered the 3/4 mile extension of the trail into the entrance to San Gabriel Canyon where a couple of new housing developments have been built on the other side of the river.


So the old trail head has a companion trail head, no doubt built to entice the nearby residents into leaving their homes and exercising. ;-D

At 9am, on this foggy, cloudy and cool morning, I finally head out and begin to travel south by re-acquainting myself with the easy rollies that make the northern trail so much fun to ride as you pass the rock quarries.


I stop, get off the bike, walk into the center of the river and take one last look at the mountains.

That span across the river transports rock from the quarry on west side of the river to facilities on the east side. (From left to right in the photo.)

After 4 miles I pass something new: A parking lot and restrooms at the Santa Fe Equestrian Staging Area, located at what is the northern end of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. It has picnic tables and bike racks.

Soon I pass the 1st of several freeways along the route.

Watch out for this first underpass, it's a Doozy! I'd forgotten how the trail winds its way as it travels under the freeway.

Normally one can see for miles, to the south, as you travel this area of the trail, but it stays cloudy for most of the day.

Sga_tr4 After 6 miles I enter the northern end of the recreation area and am surrounded by Mother Nature in all her desert glory.

I have begun to see more cyclists now that it is 930am.

Look around as you ride.

Stop, get off your bike, and explore your surroundings a little, especially in the natural areas.

Man encased these mighty rivers in concrete, not just to try to tame their violent flooding tendencies, but because he was putting down roots in suburbs further and further from the coast.

Did he win the battle completely?

That is a question you will have to decide for yourself as you explore the rivers and in the case of the San Gabriel, well...let's get back on the bike, and travel on.

Sga_tr5 The trail heads left, away from the inner river, where hiking and horse trails hold sway, at the Nature Center (Plenty of parking and picnic tables! Also the last bathrooms you will see on the trail for a while.)

Follow the signs and you can't get lost as the trail goes along a street for a short distance.

After 7 miles I find myself passing a ticket booth as the trail takes you above and around the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, in Irwindale. This is a huge property with boating and fishing opportunities, as well as the access to the various hiking, horseback and cycling trails.

Many people forget that years ago this "Little Town that Tried" failed to lure the LA Raiders into remaining in SoCal with the notion of building a stadium in some of the undeveloped portions of this area.

On a clear day you can see the majesty of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north.


Along this stretch I encountered a young Hispanic cyclist taking his second trip along the trail and I gave him a card, encouraging him to share his thoughts on his adventures. At almost the 9 mile mark I head left, at the signed turn off, and down to Arrow Highway, where the trail heads a short distance east to a crosswalk.

Sga_tr7After crossing the street I return to the trail along the river and encounter a work crew putting our tax dollars to work.

They were putting the finishing touches on a decorative stop at this Entrance/Exit, adding benches, and bike racks, along with new paving, thus fixing this stretch of the trail up real nice.

I talked with a couple of the guys in charge and when I told them of this blog, giving one a card, I learned he'd heard of me! ;-D

Now the trail is on the west side of the river and the rollies have returned as I leave Irwindale behind.

A long day of is still ahead of me as I stop many times along the way.

Even if I wasn't doing so for this story I'd find myself stopping anyway.

There is just so much to see and enjoy that, if you have the whole day to ride, there is no excuse not to take it all in slowly. ;-D

***Continue on to - Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail 2***

November 8, 2007 in Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 09, 2007

Slow Pokes: Bike Path and Home Stretch

At Temescal Canyon Rd,, and Pacific Coast Highway, a Bike Path on the beach begins its journey south.

While this particular trip is only going as far as Santa Monica Pier, the trail actually goes much further, all the way down the coast, except for a small detour, to Torrance County Beach.

It is here that this journey enters the home stretch ( Part 1 is here, for late comers. ).


At Will Rogers there are benches to rest on, and bathrooms.

There is a 4 mile ride to Santa Monica Pier ahead. ;-D


Riding the trail can still be hairy at times, but this time it was not.

Yes, there are cyclists, joggers, and beach goers, of all shapes, and sizes...


and you now have to deal with adults, and teens, who are too wussie to ride a bicycle, and rent a Segway instead, but...

I tell ya, all those lovely, sculpted, BUNS OF STEEL are STILL floating around and ahead of you on roller blades! ;-D


Alas, those pleasant distractions ( Oh, and yes, ladies, there are male distractions of a similar variety for you, too, have not fear! ) must come to an end as the Santa Monica Pier finally comes into view. ;-D

If you have not been there in a few years then the place will surprise you.

After the 4 miles of Bike Trail I find the Bay St. exit to Ocean Blvd. on my left, not far beyond the Pier.

If you do not care to venture over to the famous 3rd Street Promenade ( A Webcam view! ), then here's how you get back to the park:

After a jaunt north on Ocean Blvd. it's the home stretch heading east on city streets and the familiarity of urban neighborhoods.

Right on Montana, left at Stanford, right at San Vicente, right at Barrington, and left on Ohio to the park.

Roll down Barrington, and Ohio,  to the park, in the late afternoon, or near-dark evening coolness with the exhiliration one feels doing a victory lap at the Olympics Marathon.

Once in the parking lot... go ahead and let out a yell of release, and pride of accomplishment.

After 66 miles, or a little more, you have earned the right. ;-D

It is a triumph for the ordinary cyclist. A triumph for the slow pokes.


One final note:

As readers of this series know I left books along the way, for people to find, as part of my being a member of BookCrossing.

I had 1 more stop before heading home.

The Velocity Cafe, a nice little place with an Official BookCrossing Zone.

The place turned out to be closed, but I took a picture, and plan to return Friday, with the 3 books I want to leave.

August 9, 2007 in Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack