How to ride the entire Los Angeles River
This Sunday, whether you’re a hard-core cyclist hungry for a 100-mile round trip from Griffith Park to Long Beach or a family looking for an easy, two-mile course, you’ll get the chance to ride bicycles along the urban scenery of the L.A. River Path as part of the 16th Annual Los Angeles River Ride. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s by far one of the most fun events,” said Tamika Butler, executive director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, the event organizers.
The ride also benefits the nonprofit bike riding advocacy organization.
“What I love about River Ride is that you see everyone. You see women, you see men, you see folks of all races and you see them with their families,” Butler said.
About 2,500 cyclists of all levels are expected at the day-long ride that starts and ends at the Autry National Center in Griffith Park.
That’s where riders will take off in staggered times on one of seven courses along the L.A. River Path.
The toughest is the 100-mile Century Ride that travels down the path to Long Beach where cyclists do a loop around the city then head back to Griffith Park. It’s a long ride, but the path is pretty flat with just a few inclines.
Those who aren’t quite sure they can pedal 100 miles can opt for the shorter, more direct 70-mile ride to Long Beach and back.
There’s also a 50-mile loop to Ralph C. Dills Park in Paramount, a 36-mile loop to Maywood Riverfront Park and a 25-mile loop to Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights.
Those with little cyclists can take on the 15-mile Family Ride to the end of the Elysian Valley path and back or the two-mile LA Kid’s Ride for those ages 9 and under.
“I think what folks love about River Ride is that there are so many options. We make sure to have a lot of different options for people of a lot of different levels,” Butler said.
Along the way there are pit stops, food and mechanical help. At the end of the day, there’s a ride expo with food, live music, a beer garden and massages offered to help soothe tired legs.
But the tired legs are worth it if you want to travel through the county on bike, organizers say.
“If you’re looking to cover a pretty good distance in a quicker amount of time with less interaction with traffic, it’s a great way to go,” said Colin Bogart, the education director for the Bicycle Coalition, who has ridden every ride since the event launched.
“You can say that about a number of paths in the L.A. area, but we’re focusing on the L.A. River Path because it has the potential to become one of the longest continuous paths in the county,” he said.
While the participants will get to check out the scenery along the river that varies from lush portions with wildlife to grittier, more barren sections, the event also serves to inform people about the importance of connecting the bike path, since it’s not quite a smooth ride all the way.
About 30 of the 51 miles of the path from the San Fernando Valley where it begins to Long Beach are connected, so on ride day there will be volunteers along the path to navigate people through the gaps.
“In addition to getting out there and getting some exercise and seeing the L.A. River, this is also our chance to say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could ride all the way to Long Beach completely on the L.A. River,’” Butler said.
The Bicycle Coalition and several organizations like Greenway 2020, a project by River LA, are working to connect the entire 51-mile path. The Greenway project aims to connect all 51 miles of the river by the year 2020.
And the River Ride is a good way to get people to experience the river and become more enthusiastic about connecting the entire path, said Eli Kaufman, director of communications for River LA.
“It would change the river into a major active transportation corridor. It would help connect the various communities and neighborhoods and cities that exist along the L.A. River in a super fun way,” he said.
And Kaufman had fun last year when he rode the 15-mile Family Ride with his 7-year-old son.
“It’s great to see the community come out and get to know their river and see a part of L.A. they’ve never seen before,” he said.
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