Friday, February 8, 2008

Escape From LA!

Before setting out in the morning, I really didn’t think about my day being the start of what will be 10 months of physical exertion. It just seemed like I was going out for a bike ride. My starting point was 7400 Hollywood Blvd, my ending point when I rode from New York to Los Angeles in 2005. Fortunately, I was staying just around the corner. I also lucked out with the weather as it was going to be sunny and in the mid 70’s.

I set off at 10:30, hoping rush hour traffic would have died down, but there is always heavy traffic in LA; one of its big detractors. Starting my ride on Hollywood Boulevard didn’t help the matter. I did however get to ride along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, featuring all the household names, including: Ray Harryhausen, Rodney Bingenheimer and John Cromwell.

On my very first day riding, not 10 miles in I hit my first detour. There was a bridge that was out. Not that I minded I couldn’t go over the bridge, but I didn’t know how to get where I was going absent of riding on Highway 101. So here I am, my trip not an hour old and I am fracturing laws by riding on a highway where non-motorized vehicles are not permitted. After that I felt like a rebel and even blew a few red lights just for good measure.

I could tell I was making progress out of LA when I passed through the bail bond district followed by the auto glass district. It reminded me of Singapore. When you need X in Singapore you go to the shopping mall/area where all they sell is X. If you need Y, that’s on the other side of town, never mind the convenience of spreading out the products or services throughout the city. But I digress. I did get a kick out of the guys standing in front of the auto glass shops holding signs and attempting to flag cars into their shop. I never knew there was such competition between autoglass installers. Hey, at least you can do all your window shopping in one spot. OK, I promise to keep the puns at an absolute minimum.

By the early afternoon I got out of the bulk of traffic. I was finally able to ride on roads for a few miles at a stretch without having to worrying about blocking part of a lane of traffic. Drivers love when I do that. California drivers are so patient and are kind enough to let me know they are behind me by laying on the horn and screaming obscenities out the window. That only happened once.

I had the San Gabriel Mountains in view for most of the day. As they loomed in the distance, I just kept thinking that I would have to duel with them in the next day or two. The only real hill climbing I did was in Chino Hills and in Riverside. I was blown away by Chino Hills as it could have been in Switzerland. There were rolling green hills and the San Gabriel Mountains in the distance. The only thing I knew about Chino was from the TV show "The OC" and they didn’t paint a very kind picture of it. As a side note, no self-respecting person that lives in Orange County actually calls it the OC. It is also not be confused with the Orange County in New York, home of Orange County Choppers. Hey, I left from Hollywood so I figured I would throw in a couple of Television tidbits. The climbs in Riverside seemed to go on forever. It was near the end of the day and I was feeling it. The only upside is that I finished the day in Moreno Valley, which meant I got to descend what I had climbed. Wait, if I am in a valley that means I will have to climb out of it tomorrow. Nuts.

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