Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Motel California - Day 57 – 68 miles

Today was the day everybody cycling this route dreads. The journey through the sprawling, mess of a city they call Los Angeles.

The ride began along the busy ocean-side highway through Malibu. Just about everybody living in Malibu has a house and car that are far bigger than necessary. It was a horrible experience dodging the endless parked SUVs that took up the shoulder.

The next section of the ride was along cycle paths running alongside or actually on the beach. This would be a pleasant experience if you were cruising a couple of miles along the beach with no real place to go. We had a place to be and that place was far away. Just about every freak in LA was out in force getting in our way. A woman skated by on roller-blades pushing a children's pushchair with a couple of Chihuahuas in it.

We stopped off at Santa Monica pier where Luke was picked up by his friend. This was the end of his trip. We all congratulated him and took pictures. He seemed very excited to have finished. As we ate lunch on the edge of the cycle path we were joined by 3 other tourers. Scott from Florida who I'd met a couple of days before, an English guy who I took an immediate disliking to and very tanned Luxembourger. They were all headed to the southern tip of Argentina.

The gang continued south, now a with 1 less member. We still had a long way to go before getting out of LA. Los Angeles is a truly horrible place. I've visited 3 times and never found a shred of goodness in the entire place. Everywhere we've been other cyclists wave and encourage us. Not in LA though. There was no camaraderie between cyclists, there was no love in the place at all.

As we cycled along the beach we stopped for a toilet break. Next to the toilet was a workout area. I thought incorrectly at the time that this was the famous Muscle Beach. We watched a muscular, shirtless man swing across a series of metal rings hanging from long chains. It looked difficult. The others encouraged me to have a go. I could barely reach the first ring as it was quite high. I couldn't get swinging on it to reach the next ring as I was just too short. Jenna offered to give me a push. This did the trick and I managed to grab a hold of the next ring. Before I knew it I was making a swing for the third. I never thought I'd get this far. I noticed a small crowd of people gathering to watch. At the time I imagined they were so impressed by my show of strength that they had to stop and admire. It later became clear that they were laughing at my skinny frame and flailing legs. Contrary to the predictions of everyone watching I made it to last of the 6 or 7 rings.

After hours of complicated and slow going through the urban sprawl we made it to the more sedate peninsula of Palos Verdes. We took a tip from a local cyclist and found a longer but quieter route.

We were running out time. Daylight was fading and we didn't yet have a place to stay. Due to the lack of camping in the city we'd planned to split a cheap motel room. I managed to find one with my GPS and we bombed it through the hilly town of San Pedro. The motel was perfect. Cheap with 3 large beds. We treated ourselves to dinner out at a nearby diner. I ate enough food for 2 people and topped it off with a milkshake.

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