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REVIEW OF THE
5th ANNUAL LOS ANGELES RIVER RIDE
SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2005
The LACBC's 5th Annual Los Angeles River Ride was a resounding success with over 850 participants most of whom made the 40 mile or 70 mile ride to Long Beach and return. Here is one rider's humorous take on his 40 mile ride experience with some sound advice for next year's river ride participants. (Photos courtesy of Clinger and Mia Photography)
Los Angeles River Ride 2005
By Nicolas Nelson
 
Sweat stung my eyes as I bent over the handlebars, laboring along in low gear. The stiff ocean breeze threatened to push me backward if I gave it the opportunity. Leaden legs cranked along mechanically as I reminded myself to breathe, breathe, breathe. I couldn't feel my feet. "I am just not doing this right," I thought to myself.

Getting ready to roll.
 

Patriotic team
My plan had been to turn around at the L.A. River Center and head back to the start/finish-line party at Griffith Park, completing the 15 mile Family Ride. If my family had actually come with me, I would have. But I was alone, and I was not impressed with how far I had gone. Heck, I bike-commute around central L.A.. I'm young, I'm in shape. I've met cool people I want to keep riding with, and anyway I'm supposed to write about the River Ride. How can I do that in good conscience if I have only biked the first 8 miles of it?
So with no advance training I tackled the 40-mile version of the Ride. At first it was great. I chatted with others as we rode along, inwardly proud that they didn't have to slow their pace on my account, even when I paused to snap more photos. The course left the riverbank and took us through East L.A., and I began to hear a funny grinding sound coming from my bottom bracket. I ignored it. I had not taken advantage of REI's free bike inspection, offered to all Ride registrants. Hey, I ride all the time. My bike is fine. I tried saying it out loud but my bike didn't listen.
Just as we crossed the railroad tracks on District Blvd (around the 17 mile point), a louder groan made me glance down. My rear wheel had skewed! Pulling off a pannier, I could see that my rear wheel had scooted about a centimeter out of place in its dropouts. Nary a wrench nor pliers among the bikers with me.
 
"Hello! Problem?" the caboose support rider inquired. About 90 seconds later my rear wheel was reseated and we were on our way. Another groan from below, this time a frame problem! The caboose and I managed to pin it back together with a screwdriver and a bungee cord. Bike repaired, and thrilled to see our route rejoin the river again, I set off southward. No more stopping for photos unless I really had to.

Family group

South to Long Beach
Just a few insights for those who may do the River Ride next year:
  1. Maintain a sane pace the whole way. Rest and refill water bottles at each Pit Stop. (Two 12-oz bottles of water are not enough for a 40 mile ride.)
  2. Reapply sunscreen after the first few hours (or after losing half your body weight in perspiration, whichever comes first).
  3. The last 10 miles before reaching Long Beach you will be riding against a steady breeze blowing off the ocean. Knowing this does little to dispel the illusion that the last leg of the LA River flows uphill!
  4. You can in fact navigate unfamiliar city traffic while delirious, numb with exhaustion and salt-blinded. Use the Force, cyclist.
Riding the Blue Line from Long Beach Bikestation to downtown L.A. let me rest, stretch and rehydrate. By the time I had wheeled my bike through the time-travel tunnel (from the turn-of-the-previous-century Union Station grand hall, to the very new-millennium Patsaouras Transit Plaza) and found the next route sign, I was ready to tackle the last few miles to Griffith Park.
 
The caboose was waiting along the way, and insisted on riding with me. I'm sure he was fascinated by my sparkling conversation. Or he feared this sun-crisped waif and his rickety bike might keel over any second.
 
Whatever the reason, I rolled across the finish line dead last of all the participants in the River Ride. A kind soul still working the grill serves me a cheeseburger. Soon I am alone, driving home to my family. What will I tell them about my adventures, my new friends, my weird sunburn? One thing is certain: I will be back, next time with my wife and kids. And next time, we will do it right.
 
Photo Crazy
Find individual participant's photos at PhotoCrazy.com.
 
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