Los Angeles Cycling

With all my races getting cancelled, slowly but surely, I kind of lost motivation to do anything since March. I ran the Los Angeles marathon (which you can read about here) but literally like 3 days later that, LA shutdown. All the gyms and pools were closed, plus it actually rained a lot here in March? So I wasn’t really biking much either. I kept running a little but about two weeks later I sustained some weird tendon injury in my lower leg and had to stop running (it still hurts like 6 weeks later, I know I need to see a doctor!).

A couple of weeks ago though, something in me finally changed. I don’t know what, but my attitude improved and I felt motivated again. Maybe I just learned to accept that there aren’t going to be any races this year and that also I should probably do SOMETHING so that my jeans still fit once quarantine is over! Plus, the weather got nicer. Also, I just really enjoy riding my bike.

Since I am still pretty new to LA, I just don’t know my way around at all and had pretty much only ridden in groups. With social distancing, group rides are off the table obviously. Last year while I was still in Cincinnati, I was riding my bike out on the road a lot more and honestly it really helped improve my sense of direction! I had lived there for 26 years and it wasn’t until I started biking more that I learned my way around on surface roads! I think this is due to the fact that I don’t have a bike computer and I can’t exactly bike around with my phone in my hand looking at Google maps.

SO ANYWAY. I decided that it’s time to go out on my bike and learn LA. Also, no better time to go biking on the roads than during a global pandemic where nobody is out driving!

During my adventures, I have found some really cool routes! I learned that it’s only 10 miles from my apartment to the Griffith Park Observatory, so 20 miles round trip, with 1000 feet of climbing. AKA a perfect workout for after work! There are also several different route options to make it shorter or longer, and an option to take a bike trail instead of the road. ALSO, the views at Griffith Park are so great.

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Another awesome ride I did was going up the Angeles Crest Highway from South Pasadena. I parked my car where I usually do for my Saturday morning group rides. I then went through Pasadena, into La Cañada Flintridge, then hopped on the ACH and went up to a little trailhead call Clear Creek. It was HARD. I decided to go at like noon on an extremely hot day (which was dumb). But it was SO BEAUTIFUL. The route was about 33 miles total, out and back, with like 3500 feet of climbing. Going up from the start of the ride to the trailhead took about 2 hours or so, going back to my car only took like 45 minutes!

The roads are a little windy and there’s definitely some blind curves, which can be a little scary because there’s the potential that a car may not see you when they come around the curve. However, there is a decent amount of shoulder the whole way up and for the most part, cars are very nice (I’m glad people don’t want to kill me). Although you do get the occasional ass in his loud 1998 Honda Civic thinking he’s a fucking race car going around the curves.

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Coming back down is absolutely horrifying. I like climbing hills on my bike but I am such a puss coming back down! I was white knuckling my brakes that entire way down and STILL hit 35mph as my max speed! Like if I hadn’t been holding on for dear life I could have easily hit 50mph. It is also a little scary because on this side of the road, you’re up against the mountain so there is basically no shoulder AND sometimes there are rocks you have to watch out for. Luckily, since you’re going way faster, cars mostly just stay behind you and don’t try to pass.

The greatest ride I’ve done so far was this past weekend. I planned out a route on MapMyRide that was pretty simple but looooong. I started at my apartment downtown, went down Sunset, then Santa Monica Blvd to the beach, then took the PCH to Topanga Canyon Rd, then went up Topanga (sooo much climbing) allllll the way to Ventura Blvd. near Calabasas, then I took Ventura for like 15 miles back to near Griffith Park, looped around Griffith, hopped on the LA River Bike Trail, and headed home. This route was about 70 miles with like 2500 feet of elevation gain. This was also a perfect example of learning which roads suck for biking. Ventura is SO BUMPY and there are SO MANY POTHOLES my hands and arms hurt from grasping my handlebars.

This route was nice because I feel like I got to see a huge part of LA. There is just something different about seeing a city on a bike instead of in a car. Going down Santa Monica, I went past a ton of iconic sites, like Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. I got to go on the PCH and see the ocean. I stopped at the Top of Topanga Overlook park for incredible views while I ate my PB&J (and filled up my water bottles-thank fuck the drinking fountain was open!). I went through cities I have never seen before, like Tarzana. I also saw the Warner Brother Studios and a side of Griffith Park that I hadn’t seen before!

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So anyway, those are some of the cooler rides I’ve done so far out here. I’m sure there will be plenty more for me to share soon!

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