Gift Ride

Normally on a Wednesday morning I would be slogging repeatedly, in my old-fashioned heavy French leather hiking boots, up the 72 steps from the beach where Avenue C meets the Esplanade, overlooking Santa Monica Bay. I know, it’s a rough tough life, and my bud Mario might be there exhorting me to do just one more lap, and then saying “oh, NOW I mean just one more…” But today, Christmas Day, I slept in and woke leisurely without concern about the beach steps. For today a gift ride was in order, the gift being a suggestion to do the ride.

Carrie, one of my fellow ride leaders for Beach Cities Cycling Club, last weekend expressed a desire to do a Christmas afternoon ride of around 50 miles. Connie, another BCCC member, seconded the motion. I mentioned it to Mario, he liked it too. Louie and Jeanne saw my post for the ride on the club bulletin board and decided to join us.

I adapted a previously designed course of 63 miles by trimming down one end of it, the totally flat end, to bring the route down to around 50 miles, but the total elevation gain remained the same at around 1400′. We began our ride shortly after 1pm in the afternoon, with dry and quite warm weather, starting at Catalina Coffee in Redondo Beach. Here is the crew at the start, except for me taking the picture (click on picture for a larger image):

left to right - Carrie, Connie, David, Mario, Jeanne, Louie

left to right – Carrie, Connie, David, Mario, Jeanne, Louie

Our route took us from Catalina Coffee inland through Torrance, Carson and north Long Beach, to Signal Hill, where we climbed a very steep, but blessedly short, ramp up Burnett Street on the west side of the hill. We took a break on top to enjoy the views out to Catalina Island and down the Orange County coast on this warm and clear winter day. (click on either picture for a larger image and caption)

Here is a really sweet panorama shot courtesy of Mario:

looking south from Signal Hill

looking south from Signal Hill

Next straight south on Temple Street to the beach at Long Beach and along the bike path heading west. Like the song “Silver Bells” goes “children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile…”, everybody we saw along the beach seemed pretty happy. And why not? Nearly 80 degrees, sunny and clear, blue water lapping at your feet, what a way to spend Christmas Day.

From the Long Beach bike path we went through the harbor and industrial areas of west Long Beach and Wilmington to San Pedro. South through the San Pedro harbor area to Point Fermin Park for a break. (click on either picture for a larger image and caption)

At Point Fermin Park we realized that the sun was going below the horizon pretty soon. Louie and Jeanne decided to head back north through San Pedro for a shorter route to home, while the rest of us went around the south and west sides of Palos Verdes. We needed to put the pedal to the metal in order to get back to Redondo Beach with any light remaining, so we started some serious pacelining and calorie burning, each of us taking opportunities to lead out. We managed to get back to Catalina Coffee right at twilight with the sun already set, perfect!

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