Executive Bike Commute Saga: Chapter 18 San Gabriel River Bike Route to El Dorado Park Adventure, Part 1
"Tonight we sit by our campfire and watch every kid on a bike ride through the water puddles. We are reminded that as adults we need to-- 'Find your mud puddle and ride through it with reckless abandon'." Facebook post on remembering to have fun by the great philosopher my cousin Tammy.
Last Saturday I challenge myself on an 18-mile bike adventure and have some real fun. After all, my “Executive” Bike Commute doesn't happen every day.San Gabriel River and the Los Angeles River. Most of the time, they don't hold much water. After a rain storm, as in any desert region, there is flooding and in Los Angeles the run off waters pour into these flood control channels. When it rains hard, the San Gabriel and Los Angeles suddenly turn into raging rivers of muddy water. Not a City to overlook a secondary recreational opportunity, Long Beach and other cities along the way have paved each concrete river with paths atop one of the steep side walls for biking and jogging.
Being very curious if not intimidated by the river routes and out for some weekend fun, I consult my I-Phone GPS map and decide to head for El Dorado Regional Park via the San Gabriel River Bike Route. On my return I plan to stop for lunch at Rivers End Restaurant--if I make it out alive!
I begin my trek at about 10:30 in the morning. Turning right onto 2nd street out of Naples near my home, I cross the Davies Bridge over Alamitos Bay and take a right onto Marina Drive. On the way I flash on having forgotten my SPF 50, so I stop at Long Beach Hydrobikes, conveniently located adjacent to the River Route entrance. I will borrow some sun block from the owner my husband John. "Wish I could go with you honey, but we're slammed with water bike renters. You better have fun!" he longingly admonishes. I head out of the Alamitos Bay Landing parking lot and proceed to the right on my route now 2 miles from home. I cross a small bridge over the River, and take an immediate left through a narrow gate and arrive on the San Gabriel River Bike Route.
With each major street crossing the River, the bike route takes me under the highway. This means a steep dip and climb back up. Also the temperature drops about 10-15 degrees underneath. It feels so good on this 77 degree day. I am cautious on the first dip, but ride all of the rest like a roller coaster. Geronimo!!!! Going down it becomes a game to peddle and coast building enough speed to enable a ride up the other side without changing gears. Such fun!
I continue peddling and then at about 2.5 miles from the River Route entrance I notice greenery along the sheer sides of the River. The City has planted palms and other vegetation, and I can see Pelicans, Egrets and Sea Gulls. This is a surprise because it looks like a natural river, glimpses of which I can see through the foliage. Then abruptly at 3 miles the pretty part of the river ends, and inexplicably the water diminishes to a very narrow channel that from my vantage point looks like about 3 feet wide--very interesting.
At about 3.3 miles I can see that there is a fork in the River. I pull over and consult my I-Phone GPS because there are no directional signs. I learn that the right fork will take me to Cerritos so I will need to go left to El Dorado Park in Long Beach. As I ride a little farther I see a bicycle bridge ahead that will take me across to the left fork. Well I'll be darned… Long Beach is certainly a very bike friendly City to have provided a bridge for cyclists and joggers.
Once I cross the high bridge--not for the faint of heart--I see the beautiful El Dorado Golf Course high above the concrete wall across the Channel. I know that I must locate the Spring Street overpass to exit the Channel and find the Park. My trusty GPS says Willow Street is coming up and Spring is the next overpass. Just before going below Spring Street there is a sign to the right that says El Dorado Regional Park entrance. I head right and enter what looks to be a road through an enchanted forest.
The Los Angeles River ride portion of my journey has all the characteristics of a roller coaster--great height with steep dips and rises, a harrowing bridge, and delightfully chilly underpasses on a hot day. Reflecting on my cousin’s Face Book words… I found my mud puddle, and rode through it with reckless abandon.
Here, dear readers, is where I will leave you for today. I will return in a few days with the second installment of my trek through El Dorado Park and the ride home.
Living bike-friendly in sunny Long Beach, California
To read about adventures in between blogs…
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