February 24 - Huntington Beach, CA

(This is written by Jim, who has no camera or spellchecker, while I was sick in bed.)

Bike log - Port Hemmene to Huntington Beach 

      Once out of last night's town, it was down Route 1, through Malibu, to the L.A beaches, then trough L.A, Long Beach, winding up in Huntington Beach.  To look at the map, it seemed an easy day. Mostly flat, a larger than average percentage over bike trails.  Not the first time something looked good on paper, but then. ..... 

      The map listed a food stop about 15 miles out.  That food place turned out to be a fancy seafood restaurant, not open during the morning hours. Entered Malibu, or what I thought was Malibu. Turns out "Malibu" is a non-stop expanse of fancy houses constructed on the ocean. Stopped at a Starbucks, the first food place open. 20 miles out.  This was the high end Malibu. There was a guy there who looked like Rick Okasik, only twenty years younger. Since bankers don't look like that, I surmised he was a musician. Everyone there seemed to know who he was.  With no MTV, I was clueless.  Then I me a chatty cyclist. Says he rides the route I'm riding once a year, but in the summer. We rode together for about 5 miles, then he dropped me.  He's up on the tour of California. Says the pro's went from Monterey to Saint Louis Obispo in less than 6 hours. It took Drew and I two days, with more than 6 hours each day on the bike. 

      Malibu, the more reasonably priced Malibu, is about 10 miles up the road.  Rode through there.  No view of the ocean, of course, because there are non-stop houses blocking the view. Why do they let people build right on the beach?  Can't wait for the next storm, so I can see these folks crying about the loss of their seaside villa. In case you're wondering about moving, I did see an apartment for rent - you can steal it for $3,200 per month.  That's a one bedroom. 

      Between Malabo and the beginning of the LA beaches, it's smooth sailing. Lots of traffic, but a nice bike lane.  The L.A beaches have a great bike path. It even has two lanes: one for pedestrians and two for cyclists.  The whole time, I'm thinking, where's the L.A. Harbor?  I pass Venice, Santa Monica, Marina Del Ray, Manhattan beach.  

      Lunch was El Tarasco, a place that claims to be "authentic Mexican food." Enchiladas Rancheros, the authentic Mexican waitress told me, were better than plain enchiladas. Didn't really understand her explanation, but she was right.  Before the authentic Mexican place caught my eye, was pulling up the Chili burger place.  Glad I went with Mexican. 

      Between Marina Del Ray, and the ultimate end of the beach bike path, Rendondo Beach, it' all bike path. Plus, I following Jenifer, a shapely roller blader cruising along at 15 miles per hour. I pass her once, she passes me, and then I'm trying to catch her for the next 5-10 miles.   

       At Redondo beach, I lose not only Jennifer, but the bike path as well. Then the fun starts. 

      On city streets, it's a climb over a pretty big hill.  Sometimes there's a bike lane, most often there's none.  When there's none, you've got cars a foot or two from your left leg.  Until you get to the top of the hill, the streets are tree lined, almost suburban looking, thoroughfares.   

      Then you descend into Long Beach.  Narrow streets, no bike lanes, aggressive drivers, what more could you ask for?   If Adventure Cycling meant that you see both sides of LA, the super rich beachy set and the working poor, they picked a great route.  Not a good route for a recumbent rider: a stop at every corner, for miles.  Lots of near misses.  

      When you get to the ocean, at Long Beach, the area become trendy again. You can see the Queen Mary. The paper said the Queen Mary II was in town, but I didn't have time to look for it. Too busy dodging cars.   

      Got to the Pacific View Inn, the night's lodging, in Huntington Beach.  Had booked the reservation on Motels.Com. At first, they couldn't find it. Turns out Motels.Com booked me for tomorrow night. The Hotel is under construction, so they put me on the 3rd floor.  No elevator.  Room is huge and has a couch.  Glad I booked ahead. The other hotels around here look pretty pricy. This one went cheap, because they're doing construction. 

      Diner was the Harbor Caf‚.  Was really hungry, so I ordered the chicken with biscuits and gravy.  Couldn't finish it. The waitress says nobody ever has.  Didn't feel so bad, leaving an uncleaned plate.   

      Riding in LA traffic today taught me a lot about LA drivers.  Top 10 things I learned about LA drivers: 

10. Resourcefulness: Just because they don't have a bike doesn't mean they can't use the bike lane, to swoop around slower moving traffic. 

9.  Spacial Perception: They can eyeball, to the millimeter, the distance between my left leg and the passenger side of the car. 

8. Anti-Social: No matter where I was, each car that whizzed by me had only one occupant, meaning the drivers are either bad company, or they need to select a more effective approach to personal hygiene. 

7.   They are more important than east coasters: Everyone was in a hurry to get somewhere, sooner than humanly possible. 

6.  Musical acuity - traffic is at a dead stop everywhere, and moves infrequently, resulting in their being able to keep up with the latest music being played on the radio. 

5.  They make a lot more than we do.  Even in Long Beach, you don't see seedy cars, or rusty heaps. 

4.  The full on LA air - when you're climbing a hill, they give the gas that extra stomp, just to make sure you get the full auto emission experience. 

3.  There must be a law that requires you be talking on a cell phone, as you streak in and out of traffic.  Do you have to bring a cell phone to the driving test? 

2.  Very few honks.  The gas pedal, instead of the horn, is depressed when someone's in the way - good news for tire salesmen, bad news for insurance companies. 

And the number 1 top ten thing I learned about LA drivers: 

Ride on the sidewalks. Nobody uses them, since they are all driving, and at least there you have a fighting chance.