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Posts Tagged ‘bike trail’

Southern California is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong. But after I’ve run the same routes, hills, tracks, trails and treadmills over and over again, I get a little bored. That’s part of the reason I rarely run the same race twice. I like to run someplace new and it’s such a privilege to get to run on a closed course.

Lately when I get bored, I just think back to my spring break trip and pretend that I’m here:

Malaekahana Bike Path Laie

That’s the Malaekahana Bike and Pedestrian Path from La’ie to Kahuku on the North Shore. It’s a wide, paved path that runs for a little over a mile next to Kamehameha Highway. I ran along it┬ámy last morning on Oahu. Everyone should have a chance to run there and then take a cooldown walk along a beach like this:

Laie Oahu

Those clouds make it look dramatic and cold but it was balmy and peaceful in the early morning hour after my run.

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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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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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The “long” in “long weekend” refers not to the Labor Day three-day weekend, but the long run and long ride I did on Saturday and Sunday.

morning full moon over Southern California

The full moon smiled on my morning run

Early Saturday morning I busted out a new personal distance record with 14 miles, most of which I ran at the track because my delicate feet needed a softer, flatter surface than the roads near my house. The run felt great with a pace of 9:40 and a total time of 2:15:27. That’s 6.2 miles per hour for 14 whopping miles, and I can still remember a year and a half ago when I couldn’t run a mile on the treadmill at 6 miles per hour!

After a cold water bath (I no longer torture myself with ice but do dip in a cold tub for 10 minutes), a glass of chocolate milk to drink, and a quick hot shower, I hopped in the car with my family. Friends invited us and another family to spend the weekend with them in Poway. Poway is a pretty town in San Diego County that calls itself “The City in the Country.” I can tell you it makes for an amazing setting for a long bike ride. My husband Mike and I roped our friend Seth into a 23-mile ride along the SR-56 bike trail.

Three happy bikers

Mike, Seth and me. Gee, that doesn’t look like a cell phone camera self-portrait at all!

As you can probably guess from that creative trail name, the SR-56 bike trail follows State Route 56, but it’s prettier than its name implies. If you’re willing to do a little riding on the road at the end, you can make your way from Poway all the way down to Torrey Pines State Beach.

On the Cliffs overlooking Torrey Pines State Beach

Rewarded with the view of Torrey Pines State Beach from the end of the trail

I went to University of California, San Diego, so this is my old stomping grounds. Mike must have thought of that when he chose to wear my UCSD long-sleeve technical tee for the ride:

bikers at Torrey Pines

Yes, my long-haired husband also has no problem wearing my woman’s technical tee. I love you honey!

We were all enthralled with the view and happy until we realized the 11.5-mile ride back would be uphill! (That’s the thing in California. You quickly learn that any trail headed toward the ocean runs downhill and, you guessed it, anything headed away from the ocean runs uphill. See: water, river, flow, ocean, your physics lesson for the day). I looked at it as great preparation for the rolling hills I will ride on PCH for the Nautica Malibu international tri in a couple of weeks. I also enjoyed it more than I should have, because I am faster than the boys on the hills (granted, they are faster than I am on the downhills and turns because me = chicken). While I waited for the boys to finish, I tacked on an extra two miles, just to say that I did 25 miles total, a little more than I’ll need to ride in the triathlon.

I owe a big thanks to my friend Bonnie for watching the kids while Mike, Seth and I rode. It’s a double treat to ride with them and in such a beautiful setting. (The third treat was the post-bike recovery fuel of a half-slice of decadent chocolate cheesecake!)

Did you do any training over the long Labor Day weekend?

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