An unusual 9am start was surprisingly well attended considering the planned activities. We had two people in racing skates, two in rec skates, a quad-skater and a skateboard. We were also on-time, and to the surprise of everyone we left the 2nd & San Pedro meetup spot at five minutes after 9. Which was good, because it was a long day, and we added yet another item to the "list of crap which can cock up a bike path".
We started northbound on Alameda, went right on Main and left on Griffin, making a beeline for the beautiful Arroyo Seco bike path. It didn't dissappoint, being more or less clear (for a path built IN a riverbed) and boasted a nicely flowing brook alongside our early skate. At the top of the path we regrouped at the picnic tables, watching the roosters run around and wishing there was toilet paper in the porta-potties.
A few minutes later we were up the hill to South Pas, and we cut across town to El Molino which led us to CalTech. At this point we'd reached the high point on the route, but we were behind schedule at 90 minutes but barely 10 miles covered. A speedskater was suffering the effects of being sick for two weeks prior, and the skateboarder let slip that he'd turned in 40 miles the day before and changed his mind about joining us at the last minute. We called a quick break and snacks were had.
Soon we were feeling refreshed, and we began the nice 40-mile descent to Long Beach. San Pasqual flows to Oakdale to Hugo Reid to Santa Anita Racetrack. We'd lost the skateboarder to exhaustion a few miles earlier, but the 5 of us rolled on through the park to 2nd Ave and the tacky McMansion row we passed getting to Live Oak. A few blocks over on Live Oak and we were back to bike path, with all of us looking forward to our lunch break by the El Monte airport. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
Previously, a couple of us had biked this route and been forced off this section of the path - quite briefly - because the lake was so full it had submergd the bike path with about 8 feet of water. We had to ease ourselves down the steep concrete channel walls south of the small damn that holds the lake (known as the "Peck Road Water Conservation Park"), across the 150' wide basin below it and back up the other side of the channel. We made a mental note about how this could possibly affect a skate of the same route, but as detours go it wasn't remarkable.
This time, when we arrived at the same spot, the path was dry and well above the lake level, but there was a curious amount of activity on the other side. We approached cautiously, because it was clear that there were several law enforcement agencies involved in some sort of "Protect/Serve" activity on the bike path. As we got closer our worst fears were confirmed, the path was closed because... well because there was a dead body in the middle of the river, but the detectives decided that they didn't have to give a good toot about the bike path. After all, it was the closest they could get their SUV's. Fat men have needs. I understand.
We stopped for lunch at the Peck Park picnic tables, and worked out a bypass route which included stopping off at the MetroLink station in El Monte. We dropped off the quad-skater there and headed back to the RioHondo path. A couple of easy miles later and we were passing the model-plane airport, the shooting range and finally climbing up the Whittier Narrows Dam where we took another little rest. We were 31 miles in.
The sickly speed-skater was fading fast, but we were almost 10 miles from the next bail-out, the Green line Metro station in Norwalk. We did what we could, dropping our pace and letting him draft, and the other speed skater actually got behind the first and shoved him for about two miles, but it wasn't enough. We dropped another after crossing under the 605 freeway, and then we were three.
Fortunately we three were pretty strong still, and for the next few miles our pace picked well up. After a water break at El Dorado Park we caught an evenly paced gent who paced us at about 18mph all the way down to the power plant in Long Beach. But we were only two. We hung a bit and the other speed skater came back into view. He too was shot. We agreed to bag the event in L.B., and we've marked the other 40 miles down to do another day. We eased on down to the end of the San Gabriel River Path and stopped in at the Whole Foods for refreshments. Well, beer actually. It was good beer too, and it made the last 5 miles into town MUCH less annoying.
We were all quite happy to hop on the Blue line in Long Beach, and by the time we got off the train at 7th St. in downtown LA it was already dark. We got back to the parking lot at 5:10 pm, and then we went home, 'cause that's where we live.