18th Annual Los Angeles River Ride (2018): Finally My Chance

This year I was finally able to do the Los Angeles River Ride myself. Six years ago our family went to our first LA River Ride, but I wasn’t able to ride it since Doobie was too young for the Family Ride. I stayed with him in the parking lot for the younger riders’ mini-course and bike wash. Only Daddy and Sonny were able to ride along the river. Ever since that year I’ve wanted to ride along the river myself, ideally with the family, but other commitments always interfered. This year was finally my chance.

This year’s Los Angeles River Ride took place Sunday, June 3. Both kids had obligations, but I was able to get away to Griffith Park for the event. There were several rides to choose from: 2-mile Kids’ Ride, 15-mile Family Ride, 36-mile Ride, 68-mile Metric Century Plus, and Century Ride from Griffith Park to Long Beach and back, each ride starting at a different time in the morning. I chose the 15-mile ride since the next longer ride of 36 miles seemed a little daunting as my first experience (even though we’ve done that and more as a family on cycle tours in Europe previously).

There weren’t as many riders at the start line as I had expected, but then again this was the last of the rides to get started. Organizers started us in stages so we wouldn’t overwhelm the road or each other when we started. Due to construction, we had to ride about 3 miles on road through the park to get to the bike path. I had no issue with that, especially since my husband’s one complaint from our last experience was the interference with cars while riding over the freeway to get to the bike path. This year’s route was a little awkward just as we were getting to the bike path. We had to dismount, cross an intersection two ways, walk down a grassy slope, and then wind our way around tennis courts before joining the bike path. But it was not a big issue in the grand scheme of things.

Riding along the river was a wonderful experience. It’s really becoming a much more green space with lots of birdlife and opportunities for recreational use. Even though concrete still played a dominant role and at one point, but for a very short distance, the freeway buzzed by on the other side of the path, you could easily forget you were riding in the middle of big city metropolis.

The ride went from The Autry Museum in Griffith Park to Elysian Park and back. The turn-around point was not clear. Luckily, a volunteer had noticed that riders were continuing on and stationed himself so that he could tell us to turn around.

One of my favorite moments of the ride was coming upon Spoke Bicycle Café. It was a pit stop along the route. I thought the pit stop was going to be just a table with refreshments along the route so I hadn’t paid much attention to the details of it. It was indeed “just a table with refreshments” but the table was inside this very cool, laid-back, bicycle themed café. Spoke Café was its own little special world. I wished I wasn’t there alone so I could have hung out for a while and enjoyed the atmosphere, live music and all.

Another local discovery I made was La Colombe Frogtown, another café right along the bike path. This had a totally different vibe than Spoke Bicycle Café, much more modern and chic. I wasn’t in the mood for coffee, but the cold pressed juice by Liquiteria was perfect.

Eventually, it was time to pedal my way back to the start of the ride. I’ve decided that next time I do this event I’ll sign up for the longer ride. This 15-mile ride only took 1 ½ hours (excluding café stops). I would have loved to spend more time along the river. Who’d like to join me next time?

The yearly Los Angeles River Ride is organized by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) which is a membership-based nonprofit organization that works to make all communities in LA County healthy, safe, and fun places to ride a bike through advocacy, education, and outreach. You can help by becoming a member, donating, or joining a bike ride (see below for one coming up soon in Santa Monica!), plus more.

Coming up soon… Sunday Funday: Tour of Santa Monica on Sunday, July 1, 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Join LACBC and local chapter Santa Monica Spoke for the first Sunday Funday of the summer season! They’ll be taking in the cool coastal air as they explore the Michigan Ave greenway and get a preview of the 17th St corridor. They’ll be starting out at the 26th Street / Bergamot Station on the Expo Line meeting at 9:30 a.m., rolling at 10:00 a.m. There will be stops and water breaks along the way and is a perfect way to meet people and discover new neighborhoods. RSVP here. This ride is a no-drop ride (no rider left behind) with LACBC Ride Marshals. Riders should be able to keep a 10-12 MPH pace, and cover 12-15 miles.

Family Hike: Hollywood Sign, Take 2

About two years ago, our family attempted a hike to the Hollywood Sign. We failed. It was a new area to us and we started our outing too late in the day. I chalked it up as being a reconnaissance mission for a future visit to the Hollywood Sign.

This past holiday season I finally had a chance to try again. My family was in town for the holidays, and my 11-year-old niece expressed an interest in getting a good view of the sign. Quickly, a little group was assembled for an excursion to the sign. We were my sister, my niece, and my father (in the best attire he had for a hike—slacks and loafers!).

The view as we drove up Beachwood Canyon Drive, approaching what we thought would be the start of our hike

The view as we drove up Beachwood Canyon Drive, approaching what we thought would be the start of our hike

We had a little hiccup in the beginning. I began by taking them to the trailhead at the top of Beachwood Canyon, which I had figured out on our reconnaissance mission was a good place to start. I knew there had been some issues between neighbors and hikers/tourists and faintly remembered that the trailhead had been closed for a while, but I thought that was over. Turns out it wasn’t. The parking at the trailhead was still closed, but there were handouts that suggested we go to Griffith Observatory and begin our hike from there. We had no time constraints so we headed over there. Continue reading

Family Hike: Hollywood Sign

first-day-hikesI was inspired by the suggestion of the California State Parks Foundation to explore more California state parks in the new year and then I came across the First Day Hikes initiative… So I suggested a family hike for New Years Day. We made plans to explore Griffith Park and the Hollywood Sign, an area I’ve been eager to hike for a long time. (It turns out the First Day Hikes initiative is actually guided hikes in certain state parks around the country, but hey, we were going out to a park in our state on the first day of the year, good enough for us.)

Our goal ahead!

I had two goals for us on our outing — to make it above and behind the Hollywood Sign and also to find possibly five geocaches that I’d picked out in the area. Neither goal was accomplished unfortunately, but it was still a fantastic outing, one that I want to try again now that I know the lay of the land. Continue reading

12th Annual Los Angeles River Ride (2012)

Los Angeles River Ride logoThis past weekend, our family did something totally new for us. We participated in the 12th annual Los Angeles River Ride presented by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. I have become increasingly interested in the Los Angeles River. It used to be that I associated the term “Los Angeles River” with an image of a practically empty river bed with wide concrete banks. You often see that image in movies that take place in Los Angeles. Lately, though, I’ve learned more about its history and followed attempts to revitalize and restore interest in it. What better way to gain a better appreciation of the LA River than to do a bike ride along part of it!

Unfortunately, I didn’t actually get a chance to ride along it. While Sonny and Daddy participated in the 15-Mile Family Ride, I stayed back at the start with Doobie who was too young to ride it. Kids had to be 7 years old in order to participate in the family ride. The Family Ride started at the Autry National Center in Griffith Park, crossed the freeway and then continued south on a bike path along the LA River until they arrived in the Elysian Park area (near Dodger Stadium) where they turned around after some refreshments.

Riding along bike path on Family Ride

Sonny on the bike path along the LA River

For the 6 year olds and under, there was a special course in a parking lot at the Autry Center. Here they practiced their riding techniques. Parents were not allowed on the course. It was perfect for Doobie. He had to do a series of tight turns around cones, stop at a designated spot, start again, ride along a narrow path and turn along this narrow path, stop and start again, and then ride a figure eight. It was all about having control and riding safely, just the right challenge for him, and he eagerly did it several times. Continue reading