L.A. Rollerski

5 Jun

Spent the last week in Los Angeles. Went out almost twice daily on the bike path along the San Gabriel River channel.
Starting in the relatively high mountains behind Los Angeles, the San Gabriel river emerges into the vast flood plane where most of the L.A. area lies. There the mountain river is transformed into an inglorious drainage ditch carrying rainwater from city streets to the ocean 50 odd kilometers to the South.
While most of the channel is dry outside of the winter wettish season, the stretch I trained along begins with a fully concrete lined segment carrying a steady flow of treated sewer water. A bit further down I that turns into a brackish segment with some natural looking riparian habitat where the sewer water met the tidewater. There you see a lot of waterbirds, including ducks, herons and egrets.
The path itself is quite flat, except the small segments where it drops down and rises up again to go under bridges. The asphalt was fresh and good in three of the four cities I traversed: Cerritos, Long Beach and Seal Beach. The exception was the second city, Lakewood. I broke two pole tips there before finally deciding I would always free skate that stretch of deeply cracked asphalt. The cracks were so wide I had to be careful about falling going over them and they looked like they might even be seismic damage.
The other factor that made the route interesting was the wind. A dependable sea breeze comes up mid-morning getting stronger throughout the afternoon before sometimes tapering off in the evening. This is the result of a cool, if not downright cold ocean, coupled with extremely hot inland desert areas. The air over the latter rises letting the cool coastal wind stream in. The cold water, incidentally, isn’t the only thing that clashes with the California stereotype. Once it comes ashore, the moisture in the sea air condenses during the night time cool down, ensuring that most mornings start with fog and low clouds that burn off mid-morning.
These geographical details aside, the morning clouds gave me welcome cover from the hot sun, while the sea breeze gave me some resistance to work against while heading toward the beach and a strong push when heading back.
The other detail of note was the reaction of the other bike trail users. Quite a few shouted positive things as came by them, or at least I suppose comments like “that’s dog, man” weren’t insults. Some cyclists sternly shouted “on your left”, startling me a bit, but I think they do that even when you’re on two wheels.
So it ended up being a relatively good week of training that hopefully helped me maintain my fitness gains after the 300 km marathon in France.

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One Response to “L.A. Rollerski”

  1. Ralph Dave Westfall February 20, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    The cracked asphalt in the Lakewood stretch has been repaved. It’s quite smooth now.

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