Once we all met up, we left Lucky Baldwin's, and headed west to LA via South Pasadena and other neighborhoods. Just like the last time we participated in the Sunday ride phenomenon, the best part about the experience was passing through neighborhoods that either we'd never seen or that we'd never experienced in such a "close" way - somehow being at an intersection in a car doesn't allow you to take it in to the degree that being on a bike does (for instance, different thoughts were: Jack-in-the-Box tacos - how can that even stay open when there are probably 15 better taco options in this neighborhood; oooh, train tracks - don't get stuck; what a nice road - it must be newly paved; damn, where did the paved road go?). Our paths crossed that of a rooster right before we enjoyed a short bike path along the Arroyo that is a hidden gem, and then through the Montecito Heights and Lincoln Heights neighborhoods before heading into LA. Michael's comment about the ride was that he felt that we'd passed through at least 5 different countries. Yep!
We passed the old LA Brewery and other industrial areas, and suddenly we found ourselves in Downtown LA - a mere 10 miles or so from Pasadena! Our first stop was a cyclocross competition at Los Angeles Historic State Park. I biffed it on my own sweet ride as we turned into the cyclocross area - nicely done. Fortunately, only my ego was hurt; just a few bruises elsewhere. But the cyclocross was so much fun to watch and probably even more exciting when one is actually participating in the event! Maybe in my next life... From the cyclocross event, we headed to the heart of Ciclavia in Downtown - and what a zoo! TONS of riders of all ages, sizes, bike types, socio economic backgrounds. The spirit of the event was awesome. For me, the actual experience was, on the whole, not ideal. First of all, it was super crowded, so at times it took us forever to just go a block! I was nervous about hitting someone or about someone hitting me, so navigating the masses of people made it a challenge. Also, I remembered that I really don't like crowds and avoid events because of that dislike/phobia. But, being downtown with tons of cyclists, looking at the buildings and the architecture and then turning down Figueroa and biking all the way to USC - well, that was all pretty damn cool! As our fearless leader noted, what is ironic about Ciclavia is that on most weekends, Downtown LA is completely dead, so it's a really great time to ride a bike there. Not so much when there are thousands of other cyclists crowding the streets!
USC was sort of the turn-around point, so we cruised back to Downtown and then returned to Pasadena. The return trip was a bit harder with more uphill, but it also felt nice to lose the crowds and pick up the pace a bit. Even though we hadn't biked along at a fast pace, we had been on the bike for many hours, and my body was tired and ready for a break. Which soon came in the form of a beer, cheesy fries and eventually a sandwich back at Lucky Baldwin's. Ah - the perfect post-bike spot! And the day couldn't have been more ideal - sunny and warm but not hot, so we could sit outside as we enjoyed the post-ride moment. Which lasted, by the way, for several hours! By late afternoon, Mike and I decided that we needed to finish our ride - the final leg home, which, unfortunately, is mainly uphill. Still, we managed to push through those final few miles. By the end of the day, I was tired, sunburned and a bit dehydrated but definitely in that very happy spot.
I'm not sure if I want to participate in the next Ciclavia, but I'm glad that I experienced it once and I can't wait to head back to Downtown LA on a non-Ciclavia weekend!
And while I'm lame and didn't take any photos, plenty of other people did! So, here's the event:
And of cyclocross:
Ah - good times for all!