A City Adventure on Wheels
About a year ago I rode in my first CicLAvia event. We had planned for it to be a whole family excursion, but instead it became just a Doobie and Mommy outing. Since then I’ve looked forward to the whole family participating in the next one. Our next opportunity came around not long ago, Iconic Wilshire Boulevard on April 6.
But due to various circumstances, I ended up going solo. After the initial disappointment of having to go alone, I actually looked forward to it since I would only have to worry about myself and I could do exactly what I wanted and spend as much time doing it as I pleased. I was going to make this a city adventure like I’d never had before!
The first part of my adventure was using the Metro Rail line near our neighborhood for the first time. The Expo Line’s last stop was only a few minutes’ bike ride from our home, and the line went directly to the start of the route Downtown. It was a no-brainer to ride the Metro, but I had no idea about the logistics of using it, especially with a bike. However, I’ve used public transportation in other major cities and felt confident that I could figure it out here, too. It turns out there was no need to worry. At the station, there were extra attendants on duty to help us newbies with buying TAP cards and figuring out fares. I didn’t even have a chance to wonder where to start.
When I surfaced from the underground station Downtown, I was immediately surrounded by cyclists. The first hub, One Wilshire, was around the corner and swarming with people. It kind of had a street festival feel. It was a pedestrian zone with booths featuring CicLAvia information and merchandise; an Active Zone with a rock wall, photo booth, and yoga; first aid and bike repair stations; and several food trucks and picnic tables. And occasionally a cyclist would walk by with music blasting from a boombox.
The beginning of the route was crowded. Once we crested the hill at the beginning, however, people spread out and it was an easy and comfortable riding experience.
I had sought out some sights and geocaches to occupy my time along the way. This would have caused great consternation if my family had come along. I also wanted to stop at each hub because each one offered something different.
Soon after leaving Downtown, I approached MacArthur Park. Wilshire Boulevard cuts right through the park. Created in the 1880’s out of a mud pit and garbage dump, it has had a rocky history. Early on it was the playground of the LA elite; but during the time my husband grew up, it was associated with gang and drug violence. It has now gone through a period of revitalization and is a thriving area with a lovely lake, soccer field and children’s playground, amphitheater and bandshell. It was interesting to get a slow look up close. If we’re ever in the area, we usually just drive right by with barely a glance.
Next up was Koreatown. This area was bustling. In the parking lot of the Korean consulate, there was a mini Korean festival with Korean cultural games and prizes, food sampling, and entertainment. Wilshire Boulevard Temple, the oldest Jewish congregation in Los Angeles, had opened its doors to show off its newly renovated sanctuary and many people were curious, including me.
On my list to explore in this area was also Wilshire Colonnade for the sole purpose of finding a geocache. It was actually the first of three I had picked out to find that were right along the route. I’m glad my family was not with me because on my first attempt, there was a muggle sitting comfortably right at Ground Zero and he did not look like he was going anywhere anytime soon. I went back to Wilshire Temple to retrieve my bike from the bike valet and returned to Ground Zero and made myself comfortable, too. It was a very peaceful spot for people watching. Eventually, I out-waited him and luckily was able to make the find successfully.
At this point I had spent many hours out on my excursion and was only half way through the route. I did have intentions of making at least the end of Sonny’s baseball game so I had to begin to hustle a little. I pretty much rode from here on to the end of the CicLAvia route, except I made two stops for geocaching. Luckily, they were straight forward and required no waiting around. One brought me to the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, which has some interesting architectural and decorative details to notice.
The last stop and end of the route was Miracle Mile. Not only is this the home to LACMA, La Brea Tar Pits, Petersen Automotive Museum, and soon-to-be Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, but a lot of other activities were happening here, too, not to mention the several food trucks that were here as well. It would have been fun to stay a little while to see more closely what special activities were going on, but family obligations called.
The final part of my city adventure was riding the car-filled streets home! One thing is riding around in our neighborhood or along the CicLAvia roads closed off to car traffic, but another is maneuvering along and across busy city streets. I tried to ride on quieter side streets as much as possible but occasionally I couldn’t avoid the big streets. I was not bold enough to ride alongside the cars and instead often rode on the sidewalk. I made it home without incident, but unfortunately I missed all of Sonny’s baseball game.
The next CicLAvia date is Sunday, October 5, and will be in the Heart of LA. The route has not been published yet, but it will go into Echo Park and East Los Angeles and also include parts of Downtown LA not explored on previous routes. I wonder if that will be the CicLAvia that we finally all ride together as a family.