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Archive for the ‘Bike trails’ Category

For my fourth 20-mile training run in this cycle, I sought to mimic the downhill grade of the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon course. I wanted to test out my knees and see how they’d handle an elevation loss of 1,000 feet (which is even greater than the M2B course). So, I plotted a route from Cook’s Corner (an old roadhouse in South Orange County) down the Aliso Creek Trail to Alicia Parkway, Crown Valley Parkway, and Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point, California.

I woke up at 6:30 a.m., enjoyed breakfast with my husband, and headed out the door after good luck kisses from each of my girls. In my haste to get out the door before it got too hot though, I forgot my second running pack, the one that had my three gels and my extra Fluid sports drink powder! I had 40 ounces of Fluid with me, but that wasn’t enough for 20 miles. I had to stop at a Stater Brothers grocery store near the trailhead and scrounge up some more fuel. I lucked out and found these sports drink mix packets by Gatorade:

Thank goodness for this find!

These powder packs fit perfectly in the elastic in my FuelBelt hydration belt!

I’m not a fan of red dye 40 but other than that I’d say it’s a decent product (no corn syrup!) and I liked the Fruit Punch flavor. It was only $2.99 at Stater Brothers for a tub of eight packs (enough to mix eight 20-oz. water bottles).

Right at the start of the trail these two looked at me like they thought I was crazy for running in the heat, and I pretty much agreed with them:

Cattle

I stopped at every nearly every drinking fountain along the run. I also kept an eye out for restrooms. The first porta potties were LOCKED so I was particularly happy to see this park at mile 6:

Aliso Creek Bike Trail in Lake Forest

I kept up the pace well until after the 13.1 mark and even stayed strong (if not as fast) all the way through several of the hills as I ran on the roads at Alicia Parkway and Crown Valley Parkway. It got tough as I had to stop at each stoplight though. Every single time it got harder and harder to get going again. Thank goodness at mile 17.5 my husband and girls met me with a gel and some more Fluid (and more kisses and hugs). It was awfully hard to complete those last 2.5 miles after that, but this sight cheered me on my way:

American flag

Finally I saw Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point:

Salt Creek Beach Dana Point

I finished 20 miles, not at as strong a pace as I started but a gosh darn good pace for the heat of 2 p.m., and I met up with my family on the beach. I did a quick “ice bath” in the ocean, warmed back up in the sun, and then helped one of my kids jump rope with the long strands of seaweed she found on the beach. Afterward we shopped at Gelson’s supermarket for popsicles for the way home and steaks for dinner. We bought grass-fed organic beef. As my husband drove me back to my car at the top of Aliso Creek Trail, we passed a sign for local grass-fed beef. I’m afraid those cattle in the first picture … could be future Gelson’s steaks.

Did you exercise this weekend? What did you do? Are you a vegetarian?

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I did a lot of ski runs this past week while in Mammoth for spring break, but my most favorite “run” was a 10-mile loop of running from the ski resort up around Lake Mary and back down to town. I started at Juniper Springs Resort next to Eagle Lodge:

Juniper Springs Lodge Path

The elevation at Juniper Springs is above 8,000 feet so I took it easy with a warmup walk up to Lake Mary Road to hook up with the Lakes Basin Path, a 5.3-mile bike and running path with over 1,000 feet in elevation gain/loss:

Lakes Basin Path

I took breaks to stop and read every interpretive nature sign along the way. I learned that this area stands at the western edge of the largest contiguous Jeffrey Pine forest in the world, and that the resin of the Jeffrey Pine smells like vanilla and butterscotch! I stood at the edge of a volcano and admired the view:

Jeffrey Pines at Mammoth

I’d planned my 10-mile route carefully using MapMyRun and Google Maps, but I hadn’t planned for this:

Lake Mary Road closure

In the winter the city plows Lake Mary Road up to the edge of Twin Lakes. The snow on the rest of the road is then groomed for cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing and walking. Undaunted, I jogged through the snow on the designated walking section of the path to the left of the groomed ski trails:

groomed cross country ski trails

I like to think I was only one of a handful of people who made it out to see frozen Lake Mary that day:

Lake Mary in winter

After the loop around Lake Mary on the aptly-named “Around Lake Mary Road,” I ran down the mountain on Old Mammoth Road, a snowmobile and hiking path to the historical site of old Mammoth City. At the base of Red Mountain, formerly known as Mineral Hill, sat an 1878-79 mining camp.

Mineral Hill in mammoth

A sign explained that for the 1,000 miners in the area there were no less than 22 saloons, with each “saloon” being not much more than a 10-foot square shack with a barrel of whiskey inside!

With all the historical and nature interpretive signs and the gorgeous views, I simply felt joyful for the entire run. Right up until the point that I realized I’d lost my driver’s license when it fell out of my running pack as I removed my cell phone to take a picture somewhere along those 10 miles! Doh! So, on the day we were scheduled to leave Mammoth, I drove back out to the trail and retraced my steps on the snow. Fifteen minutes later I spied my license, sunken in the melted snow at the foot of the historical sign in the mining camp!

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Here’s what I want to know: is it considered good luck or bad luck to have bird poop land on your arm during your 20-mile run? I tried really hard to convince myself I should take it as a sign of good luck and not a bad omen. Either way, I ran a steady 20 miles at a 10:32 pace. The training plan called for a 9:05 pace. Harrumph. Burnout? Too ambitious a plan? Injury slowing me down? A little of all three I think although I’m not inclined to dwell on it too much. Twenty miles is twenty miles and 10:32 is a respectable pace in my book. This run marked my third 20-miler in this marathon training cycle and the end of week 9 out of 16. Come to think of it, though, the first two twenty-milers were run at 9:34 pace and 9:20 pace (and my first full marathon was run at a 9:15 pace) so it does rather seem that things have taken a turn for the worse rather than better as my training continues. I will take it easy for my next two runs and see if that’s the break my body needs.

I ran the Coyote Creek Trail which starts at Foster Street in La Mirada, however I hooked up with the trail at Cerritos County Regional Park near the Skatepark (where the parking is free and there are plenty of people — and police cars for that matter). Coyote Creek is not nearly as busy as the Santa Ana River Trail and parts of it run through some sketchy industrial areas that do not feel quite as safe to me in the early morning. For bikers out there, note that the north fork of Coyote Creek Bike Path is nicely paved and fun to ride. By the time you cross the bridge over to the other side though, the pavement deteriorates and you need to be prepared for a flat tire just in case. Mike got a flat there once and I saw another rider walking his bike back to his car. If you can survive the trail conditions though it’s quite fun to ride Coyote Creek until it hooks up with the San Gabriel River Trail which goes all the way down to Seal Beach (and if you’re me and Mike, to Thai food at Thai on Main).

At any rate the trail seemed quite safe to me in the middle of a Saturday morning. That might be due to the recent cleanup effort along the trail. You might have heard about the legal battles of the city of Los Angeles against civil rights lawyers defending the rights of the homeless. There have been five lawsuits filed against the city of Los Angeles over the last 20 years regarding the seizure of personal property “abandoned” by the homeless on city streets and sidewalks (presumably “abandoned” while the homeless went to a local shelter for a shower or a meal). In the latest round of legal battles, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction against the seizure of personal property, ruling that “The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments protect homeless persons from government seizure and summary destruction of their unabandoned, but momentarily unattended, personal property.” The city has filed a petition to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the injunction. (For more on the cases, see “LA Really Wants to Take Stuff from Homeless People” and “Lawsuit Fights Seizures of LA Homeless’ Property.”)

So I felt a little bit of mixed feelings when I came upon this sign along the Coyote Creek Trail (I’m not sure in what city, but definitely in Los Angeles County):

Homeless property seizure sign

On the one hand I appreciate the efforts to keep the trail clean and safe. On the other hand, I sympathize with the homeless whose needs are not being met and who choose to leave their belongings under bridges along the trail. Yes the sign says that they can recover their property at the LA County Department of Public Works building, but it begs the question, how will the homeless afford bus fare or arrange other transportation to South Gate? And once there, how will they transport their belongings? And for that matter, where will they go from there?

I don’t know. It was a lot to think about on a long run. And then toward the end of that run, as it always seems to happen for me when I’m struggling and pushing myself to the limit with just a few miles to go, a kind soul smiled at me and encouraged me on my way. Today’s kind soul? A homeless man seated on the concrete riverbank next to the trail. He wished me a cheery good morning and gave me the warmest smile.

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As much as I love running, cycling for cross-training provides me a ton of joy. There’s something about the speed on the bike and the power to cover long distances that thrills me. That said, road biking terrifies me.

Attention drivers: Watch for cyclists! Treat them like any other vehicle on the road! They have just as much right to be there as you do!

Given that I do not trust drivers to act like rational people who actually give a hoot about my safety, I seek out dedicated bikeways whenever possible (Santa Ana River Trail (SART) in Orange County, Bear Creek Path in La Quinta, Riverside County Regional Trail, SR-56 Bike Path in Poway, and Whittier Greenway Trail). So when my husband proposed that we hire a babysitter so we could go on a Sunday morning date recently, I convinced him to check out the Rio Hondo Bike Path in Los Angeles County with me.

Happy girl and Bullet at the Rio Hondo trailhead

Happy girl and Bullet the bike at the Rio Hondo trailhead at the Peck Road Water Conservation Park

Rio Hondo trail head: Technically the northernmost trailhead is located off Live Oak Avenue in Arcadia, California, just west of the Live Oak Garden at 4030 East Live Oak Avenue. However, it is much easier to park at the Peck Road Water Conservation Park at 5401 Peck Road in Arcadia, and start at the trailhead there. Don’t blink as you drive along Peck Road between Lower Azusa Road and Live Oak Avenue or you’ll miss the tiny entrance to the park on the west side of the street.

One of the prettier sections of the trail, past the El Monte Airport as you near Rosemead. Photo by Cromagnom under Wikimedia Commons.

One of the prettier sections of the trail, past the El Monte Airport as you near Rosemead. Photo by Cromagnom at Wikimedia Commons.

Trail end: The trail ends when it converges with the Los Angeles River Trail in South Gate. At that point you could continue down the L.A. River Trail a/k/a Lario/LaRio/LARio all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Long Beach, or bike up the L.A. River Trail all the way to Los Angeles.

Total distance: approximately 17 miles one way, 34 miles out-and-back. For longer distances you can easily hook up with either the San Gabriel River Trail (see “Tip” below) or go to the end of the Rio Hondo and continue on the L.A. River Trail.

Tip for easiest trail navigation: When the Rio Hondo trail hits the intersection of Rosemead Boulevard (the 19) and San Gabriel Boulevard, do not cross Rosemead. Instead, ride on San Gabriel Boulevard northwest (backtracking a bit) until you turn left on E. Lincoln Ave. The trail continues immediately on the left after you turn onto Lincoln. Note that if you want to hook up to the San Gabriel River Trail, then at the intersection of Rosemead and San Gabriel you can cross both streets and take a small side branch of the Rio Hondo (you will see the trail at the corner of Rosemead and Durfee Ave and it runs along Durfee Avenue for a bit until it continues along Siphon Road). I think that’s the prettiest section of the whole trail. After about a mile you hit the San Gabriel River Trail. At that point, if you change your mind and you want to hook back up to the Rio Hondo you can do so by following a side trail to the Whittier Narrows Dam (I suggest you search on Google Maps for “Whittier Narrows Dam” to see how the various trails branch off in this area to the east of the dam).

The bike trail aside the Rio Hondo "creek" north of where it converges with the L.A. River. Photo by Cromganom at Wikimedia Commons.

The bike trail aside the Rio Hondo (“deep river”) north of where it converges with the L.A. River. Photo by Cromagnom at Wikimedia Commons.

Bikeway conditions: The pavement on the trail is in good condition and has been recently redone in a few places. For one small section as you re-enter the trail off Lincoln Ave., the trail is a little rough. My favorite feature of the trail was the chain link fence “tunnel” that protects bikers from getting hit by the remote control airplanes launched from a trailside park.

Restrooms: There are restrooms at the park trailhead. Several parks along the way offer bathrooms and drinking fountains.

Trail safety: This trail is best traveled in pairs or larger groups. I cannot say the trail was unsafe exactly but as a woman I wouldn’t want to ride it alone and even my husband was skeptical, and that was mid-morning on a Sunday.

With an unintended detour at that confusing intersection at Rosemead Boulevard, Mike and I ended up riding for 36 miles in 2 hours 21 minutes. It was chilly and windy and my legs were burned from running 13 miles the day before, but we had a blast!

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By “Whittier Greenway Trail Run” I mean a regular run on the Whittier Greenway Trail, not a dirt trail run. I put in my first 10-miler since running the marathon in November, and it felt great. Mostly great. The good news is that I outran the hail and lightning. The bad news is that I did not outrun the pelting, cold rain. It was 46 degrees out and let’s just say I felt like a “serious” runner out there. Tip: use the trail’s Dog Waste Bags to protect your BlackBerry and Garmin from rain!

It all started out just fine at the trailhead at Mills and Lambert. The trail is beautifully landscaped and features all kinds of interesting sculptures:

Whittier Greenway Trailhead

Another nice feature of the trail is that it is divided into two paved bike lanes and a pedestrian/runner lane that is sometimes paved, sometimes hard-packed dirt and gravel.

Lanes on Whittier Greenway

It has mile markers every tenth of a mile, which is either very helpful or very annoying depending on my temperament at any given moment. There are frequent road crossings which make it less suitable for long bike rides but okay for walking, running, skateboards and scooters, or a family bike ride.

By the time I reached the bridge, the grey clouds threatened rain.

Bridge on the Whittier Greenway Trail

The trail is 4.7 miles from one end to the other. I tacked on an extra 0.3 to get my full 10 miles in. On the return trip I stopped in at the restrooms at Palm Park and found a drinking fountain to refill my water bottle. The last photo I took with my phone before it started to rain is of the exercise equipment that can be found at various points along the trail:

exercise equipment at Palm Park

Right after that photo was taken it started to rain and I had four miles to go. My husband called me twice to make sure I wasn’t getting hailed on and to offer to pick me up. I really wanted to finish out the full 10 miles so I kept an eye out for places to shelter me from hail and I picked up the pace as best I could. Nothing like seeing lightning in the distance to motivate me to run faster!

In the end I did 10 miles in 1:40, an easy 10-minute pace. I felt great afterward and looked forward to a nice hot shower. No way I was going for an ice bath when my feet were already numb from the cold!

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26.2 on the Garmin

Here it is January 1st and I’ve already gotten in my first 26.2 of the year . . . on the bike. Mike and I took advantage of holiday babysitting by Grandma and we got out on the section of the Santa Ana River Trail that runs through Riverside County in California. Fun fact: Riverside County is so massive that it rivals the state of New Jersey in total area.

We started out at the trailhead located at the Hidden Valley Nature Center entrance in Riverside. There’s a fee to park inside the wildlife area so we chose the free parking outside the entrance, right next to the bright yellow sign that warned not to leave your car unattended due to a rash of recent break-ins. Several other cars risked parking there too, their drivers probably hoping any local delinquents were too hungover from New Year’s Eve celebrations to be out vandalizing cars.

At the trailhead we stopped to admire the view of snow on the San Bernardino Mountains.

Riverside County Regional Trail

Winter is the perfect time to ride in Riverside County. The desert area magically turns lush and green from the winter rains, the Santa Ana River actually has water running in it, the air is relatively clear, and you can’t beat the views. It’s a little chilly (50s, SoCal chilly) and windy but that drives away the crowds.

Hardly anyone was out on the trail. Imagine our surprise, then, when we came along the caravan of homeless people led by a man wielding a hatchet. I KID YOU NOT. Thank goodness I had not chosen to ride the trail alone as originally planned (when I was the only one awake at 7 a.m. and a certain someone slept in until 10:30). Luckily we sped right past Hatchet Man without incident and he was gone by the time we returned back there an hour later.

In spite of the hazards (and the smell from the sewage treatment plant and the view of the garbage dump, I KID YOU NOT), I would totally return to that section of the Santa Ana River Trail. I love a dedicated bikeway and this one offered a lot of beautiful views of the river, the mountains, and the surrounding horse country.

Now I’m safely back at home and I’ve resumed my work as Chief Bed Lump. I got about three hours of sleep last night (I KID YOU NOT) — party details to follow. Combine lack of sleep with a 2-hour bike ride and you’ve got a girl who wanted to fall asleep tonight at 6 p.m. Lucky for you I’ve stayed awake long enough to hit Publish on this post. Happy New Year everyone!

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When Mike and I spent the weekend in La Quinta for his sprint triathlon, I took the opportunity to get out on a new-to-me bike trail. Bullet and I rode out of La Quinta Resort right onto Eisenhower Drive to the Bear Creek Path that starts on the corner of Eisenhower and Calle Tampico. I followed the trail through the suburban desert neighborhood to the path along the creek.

Gorgeous view of the Santa Rosa Mountains

Gorgeous view of the Santa Rosa Mountains

The path runs 4.75 miles through the desert homes and along Bear Creek.

That's the "creek" on the right.

That’s the “creek” on the right.

As you can see, Bear Creek was bone dry, just like the desert air on my ride. I swear it hardly felt like I was putting out any effort at all given that any sweat I generated instantly evaporated in the dry desert air. I had plenty of water with me and I passed a drinking fountain along the way.

It helped that the views were spectacular and new to me. I love getting out to explore new territory! While the “creek” and the Santa Rosa Mountains bordered my right, the Fred Wolff Nature Preserve bordered my left. It was like riding through a desert botanical garden complete with signs to identify the local flora. I even got treated to seeing a few roadrunners cross my path! I wasn’t fast enough to capture a photo of them but it’s no wonder — according to a local neighborhood association those birds run up to 18 miles per hour on feet that have four toes (two in front and two in back, making the tracks look like an “X”).

I rode a total of 18 miles in about 75 minutes. Not particularly fast but the slight grade was deceptive and it didn’t help that the path was concrete with lots of joint lines, which means it was not the best bike path but would be awesome for running. There was even a dirt/gravel/sand path that ran alongside the trail for much of the way if you’d prefer that as a runner.

One last thing I need to share about the trail and the bike lanes along the nearby roads. This made me giggle:

I guess we know who takes priority in the resort town of La Quinta!

I guess we know who takes priority in the resort town of La Quinta!

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