Latest update on my purpose-driven cycling journey around the American perimeter.
80 miles (129 km) – Total so far: 2,117 miles (3,407 km)
Today was a day I had been dreading since researching this route months ago. The challenge was straightforward: cycle the long, urban sprawl from Malibu CA, through the heart of L.A., and out the other side, hopefully intact.
Leading up to today’s run, virtually every blog I had researched, every Californian I had spoken with, and most importantly, all the cyclists I’ve met who have cycled through the nation’s second largest city, painted a picture of gloom. Indeed, I had received terrible reports from many recent northbound touring cyclists about the difficulties of navigating L.A. on a bike. This picture had me more than mildly concerned, but not so much that I considered alternative means to traverse the city.
The day started out with a somewhat unexpected number of hills out of Malibu. Typically, starting the day with a patch of hills was not of huge concern, but today, given the magnitude and complexity of the ride, it stressed me out a bit. I will not bore you with the details of the ride, but I will tell you, other than the length of the ride (80 miles), and a few navigational complexities, the day was not at all like I had expected, and in a good way.
Upon reflection, I believe four factors helped get me through the big city ride. First, my experience commuting by bike in an urban environment (Austin TX), day in and day out, prepared me for the idiosyncrasies of riding in L.A. traffic. In the scheme of things, the traffic wasn’t anything I haven’t experienced in other urban environments. Secondly, the Adventure Cycling Association’s maps provided a route and tip sheet that were (almost) impeccable, and for the most part minimized the time I was in harm’s way. Third, a significant portion of today’s route leveraged the extensive bike paths in the region, and I would much rather dodge recreationalists than recreational vehicles. We passed throngs of cyclists, runners, skateboarders, roller bladders, and surfers on the bike paths, and all in all it was pretty cool. Fourth, as luck would have it, we navigated through L.A. on a Monday, which reduced much of the route’s normal traffic flow, I’m sure.
I passed through the towns of Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Long Beach, Seal Beach, Sunset Beach, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach. I am simply amazed at the extensive network of world class beaches in this region, one right after the other. It seemed like if there was a city with the word “Beach” in it, I passed through it today. By day’s end, I was absolutely exhausted, physically and mentally. With 9 hours in the saddle, it wasn’t my longest day on the bike, but it was approaching brutal. But sometimes brutal feels pretty darned good though.
It’s All Good.