The Motel 6 that is the official start of the ride is a typical Motel 6 - cheap and no frills. There's a Best Western across the road that is $30 more per night and a little nicer. It also has the advantage of being right next to the Goodfellas restaurant which is a great place to eat.
|SART looking south at dawn|
We started the ride at 6am heading down the SART at the end of a Santa Ana wind event which meant it was warm and windy. The detour between Lakeview and Tustin is still in place so I will be updating the map and cuesheet to include it. Even though we had a tailwind on the way to the beach, it was so strong it was quite disconcerting at times. We covered almost 22 miles in the first hour and, if we had not had a mechanical problem, we would have arrived at the first control before it opened. Oddly we still had a tailwind even after turning right to head up Atlanta.
We continued along Atlanta and eventually got to PCH. I elected to ride the beach path but it was choked with early morning joggers so PCH might have been the better option especially as it would have allowed us to take advantage of the continuing tailwind.
We turned right again to head inland along the San Gabriel trail and miraculously we still had a tail wind for the next ten miles. It must have been the onshore flow overcoming the Santa Ana wind. However soon after we encountered a headwind that was to stay with us for much of the rest of the ride.
At mile 65 we went under San Gabriel Parkway where the bike path tilts up to 30% for 10 feet or so before a tight right-hand turn onto the San Gabriel bike lane. We pushed our bikes to avoid trying to merge into traffic while wobbling at low speed. This turn is particularly dangerous on long wheelbase bicycles. The climb up over Santa Fe dam was as hard as usual but the view from the top is lovely.
|Looking north from the top of the Santa Fe dam|
The top end of the San Gabriel bike path was very pretty but it got very hot in Duarte. I tried to buy sunblock at the 7-11 control but they don't stock it. Can you believe that? Not the greatest control, but it looks more sanitary than the pizza place next door. We headed back down the San Gabriel bike path and somehow we still had a headwind. I think the Santa Ana was dying and being replaced with the prevailing winds.
|Avoid tricky turns with a little light off-roading|
Around mile 95 there is a tricky turn onto San Gabriel Blvd. It looks like there's a partially paved path on the other side of Rosemead Blvd that runs alongside San Gabriel Blvd which would avoid this, but it involves a little light off-roading. I might give that a try sometime.
The bulk of the Rio Hondo and Los Angeles bike trails don't have much scenery but made up for it with plenty of headwind. As we approached Long Beach we saw heavy, ominous clouds. A storm was moving in and messing the winds up again. There's normally only a headwind for the last 10 miles but we had headwind for 40 miles.
|La Copa Empanadas at Shoreline Village|
We ate at La Copa Empanadas in Shoreline Village - it was amazing. We pigged out on Empanadas, guava pastries, and rum balls washed down with soda. It's a tiny shack and they don't do printed receipts but they will email them which works fine if you can show it to me on your smart phone. We spent way too long here but it was worth it.
The next section of the ride is supposed to follow the beach path but it's all ripped up right now so I'm going to reroute along Ocean Blvd. I will alter the map and cue sheet to reflect this. There's no bike lane most of the way, but it's the only option we have. If they've fixed the beach path by the time you ride you are welcome to use it.
Heading back down the coast I jumped onto the beach trail again but this time it was clogged with evening joggers. Is there any time when there aren't throngs of joggers? Oh, yes - we had a headwind down the coast thanks to the incoming storm but at least it was cooler.
|Looking over Back Bay from the San Diego creek trail|
The San Diego creek trail is one of my favorites. The sun was setting as we got to the top of Back Bay so we stopped to take photos. Now an offshore flow was developing which meant more headwind for us. At least there weren't many joggers. As we got to the Crossroads shopping center and ate at the Flame Broiler the wind finally died down and we enjoyed our rice bowls under a calm, partially overcast sky.
The next ten miles need some attention. It's easy if you've ridden it before but without GPS you need to pay close attention to the cue sheet. Once you're on Pioneer Road it becomes simple again. The bike path skips some lights but all in all I think the road and bike path are about the same speed. Soon enough we turned off of Lakeview onto the SART. I've always enjoyed the SART at night and we made good time and finished the ride under perfect conditions. Green River hill is not any easier with 180 miles in your legs.
My target ride time was 15 hours but we actually managed 14:09 feeling very strong. I spent at least 80% of the ride in my big chain ring. This is definitely a big chain ring ride.