Saturday, November 13, 2010

+ to Hermosa Beach and back

When I was 9, my uncle visited us from Arizona and taking pity at my lack of wheels, bought me a purple bicycle which I learned to ride quickly enough, though not very skillfully. It was also the start of an early onset growth spurt (one which sadly, did not keep pace into my teendom) and as such, I sadly outgrew that bike just as quickly. It was the one and only time I rode a bike in Australia.

22 years later, lured by Ben's promise of an exciting outdoors SoCal lifestyle that I too could lead, I tried a few times unsuccessfully to get on a spare bike that Ben's workmate had found in a dumpster (it wasn't as bad as it sounds). It was an exercise fraught with sweat and tears and frankly, could've scarred me for life. Lucky I found Ron Durgin through the League of American Bicyclists. A few dedicated lessons in the carpark by the beach later, and a bonus accompaniment to shops around town, my confidence and balance on my former foe was restored.

Some baby rides later, Maptote in hand, my sweet new bike and I were ready to venture out with Ben for the famous bike path ride from Santa Monica all the way down to Hermosa Beach (The Strand actually starts in Pacific Palisades, 1 up from SM and ends at Torrance County Beach, 2 down from Hermosa.)

You've already seen photos of SM and Venice beaches from this blog, so the story today picks up from Marina Del Rey. After Venice, the path diverts inland for a short while, along Washington Blvd then turns right onto a park path that runs parallel to the marina and eventually around it.

We passed some middle-aged outriggers in training. I'd like to be one of them when I'm older.

After the marina, we joined a small part of the Ballona Creek path which runs east-west, until we hit the lovely footbridge.

We set our bikes down on the bridge and strolled along the Ballona Creek Walkway.

And met an old timer.

At this bridge point after the creek, the path turns left, southbound and from there it gets even more serenely lovely.

Dockweiler Beach has the nicest stretch of relative flatness, open space and and the least amount of beachgoers because of fewer parking options and the LAX planes flying overhead.

And thoughtfully the entire bike path is really well stocked with toilets and other rest areas (for me to catch my breath).

I think it's still Benj's dream that I tandem-cycle with him. Unless I'm donning flares, mutton chops and chunky glasses ala The Goodies, I think they look non-intentionally dorky. Or unless I am part of a power couple like the one below.

This El Segundo stretch was kind of odd. On one side, a massive power plant right on the edge of the path, and the other, a popular destination for surfers and other more active beach folk. However, it is also really scenic owing to the path being so much closer to the water than at any other point, Ballona Creek notwithstanding.

After walking our bikes through the crowded Hermosa Beach strand, we decided this would be the turning point, and end of our ride for this time. I forget the name of the Irish pub we stopped at, but it's right on the corner of the main Hermosa row. Note, the following photo has been included to highlight the "Bama Burger" (probably named after me, if my friends are anything to go by).

And my filling fish'n'chips lunch was bookended by some tasty bloody marys. I would've had even more if I had realised how cheap they were to begin with.

From bloody marys back to Ballona bridge seemed to take an eternity, marked with MANY rest stops for me (I blame the chips I ate) and barely enough energy to lift the camera to take this photo, yikes. I do remember though, how I literally threw the bike to the ground to get off it and look over the bridge.

By the end of it, the 40-mile round trip completely took it out of me. I was spent, and I went home and "napped" for 4 hours straight!