The LA River Ride is only five days away. I don’t care what type of ride you are signed up for, there is always a level of anxiety and excitement as it nears.
As we prepare, we tend to ask ourselves, “How hard is it?”, “How long will it take” and “Should I buy a new bike?” One of the things I always regret afterwards, whether it be a century ride or even running a 5K is when I have that feeling of, “I missed what?”
For most of us, we miss the roadside attractions because we’re busy looking for potholes, following signs and checking our Garmins to see when we’re going to bonk.
You miss out on many of the details and have to wait a whole another year to forget them again. That’s where I step in. Here are some of the sites(going from north to south on the Griffith Park Century):
- Griffith Park – I know, duh? You’re already there. You start across from the zoo, so I don’t have to point that out. You’ll be circling both Wilson and Harding Golf Courses(built in the 1920’s) as well as the three portions of the park dedicated to trains. At about the six mile mark, you’ll hit Track Truck Hill, a cyclist’s landmark as it is the gateway to Mount Hollywood Drive and it’s great climbs.
- Glendale Hyperion Bridge – This landmarked bridge, built in 1927, has been a vital link between Atwater Village and Silver Lake. It will soon begin a seismic retrofit with questionable mobility improvements that will maintain the bridge’s architectural character. Also, if you look on its southern side, you’ll notice the pilings for the former Red Car.
- Frogtown – Elysian Valley is popping and you can tell without ever leaving the path. The Frog Spot and Spoke Bicycle Cafe have become instant attractions. Why? Because that’s how many use the river now!
- Brewery Artist’s Colony – If you think drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon is totally hipster, then you’ll love visiting their former brewery! Few know that the property originally started as an Electric Steam Power Plant before succumbing to the suds. Now, the Brewery is now a collection of artist’s lofts and hosts its famous artwalk twice a year.
- Boyle Heights – There’s too many landmarks to list in Boyle Heights, but Hollenbeck Park holds a lot of history, even though the I-5 freeway cuts through it where the wooden bridge used to stand. Across the street the newly refurbished Sante Fe Hospital is now getting second life as a home for seniors after serving many of the railroad’s employees after opening in 1904. Some still call it haunted.
- Sears Building – Some may remember Sears being a mail order giant back when ‘Merica used to be into that type of thing. This Boyle Heights landmark was built in 1926 and served in that capacity until 1992. The ground floor is still a Sears store and look for the building to be part of a massive makeover.
- Ramirez Liquor – I’m familiar with their original location, but this facility caught my eye last year because it was so big, I thought it was a distribution facility. No, they have the widest beer selection I have ever seen in Los Angeles! Maybe mile 85 isn’t the time to imbibe, but just peek your head in to see what heaven looks like.
- The City of Vinci – This isn’t real, but is timely as it is the TV name for the city of Vernon for which this season of True Detective is modeled after. Known as an industrial hub that currently has less than one hundred residents, few know outside the Framer John plant that Vernon was the site of the last armed conflict of the Mexican American War at the Battle of La Mesa.
- Confluence of the Rio Hondo – If it’s hard to fathom LA having even one river, then think again. The Rio Hondo is one of the many tributaries that leads from the San Gabriel Mountains. It was actually along the Whittier Narrows portion where the Mission San Gabriel Archangel was established in 1771 before it washed away five years later.
- Long Beach – Once you hit the waterfront, you can’t mistake the Queen Mary, Convention Center and the Whaling Walls, but all that popped in during the sixties as Long Beach said goodbye to its famous rainbow pier. Built as acenterpiece for the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium, this 3,800 ft. crescent formed a lagoon all the way from Pine Ave. to Linden Ave. Now the mid-century 3,051 seat Terrace Theater sits in it’s place.
- Naples, America – You might be able to hoodwink your significant other into thinking you’re visiting Europe, but these collection of islands only started to form in 1903. They suffered significant damage in the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, but have been thriving ever since. They may even remind you of a certain…Venice!
- Villa Rivera – Hard not to miss, but this French Gothic mainstay was built as the Great Depression hit. This luxurious landmark marked Long Beach’s early century growth. The building is such a beauty that it also lays claim to holding the first Miss Universe Pageant.
- Lincoln Heights Jail – As you return your way back to the Elysian Valley, this time you’ll pass a landmark that now better serves in movies more than in incarceration. Built in 1931, this jail doesn’t look like much on the outside, but you’ll recognize it from Iron Man 2, LA Confidential, Nightmare on Elm Street and a countless number of music videos.
Just a reminder, the last day to sign up online for the LA River Ride is this Wednesday, June 24th. Join and share in Los Angeles’ past and future.