Yesterday I went on a bike ride with the West LA cycling club. This particular ride was one that they hold once a month, for beginner cyclists and new members. I didn't qualify as a beginner, but I was new, so I strapped my bike to the car and headed down to Dock 52 in Marina Del Rey. (I could have biked there, but biking there and back would be enough of an outing, and the ride they had planned was around 26 miles).
It was foggy, so I didn't take the camera. I did take the GPS for the car ride, although I had studied the route so I had a plan, and man, that GPS has a sense of humour. I figured out afterwards that I still had it configured to the "mostly freeways" setting, so it was pretty determined in trying to find me one, and every turn it wanted me to make was in the opposite direction of where I was going. In the end, it never would have gotten me there, it didn't recognize the street address when I arrived. The place I was going probably isn't a common destination though.
It was a big ride, I think we started out with 28 people, about half of whom were pretty new, and a handful of them were first-timers like me. It was an easy ride, flat almost all the way, partly on the bike path that runs the length of the beach in the South Bay, and half on roads that parallel the beach, as the trip leader prefers roads to bike paths.
There were lots of stops, so it was a very leisurely pace, and I seemed to be in the middle of the pack speed-wise, so I think I'll be able to keep up with their regular rides (and don't care particularly if I can't).
We passed by three beaches, which are really just segments of the one huge impressive beach that forms the west border of Los Angeles. Marina Del Rey is nearly halfway down this beach, at Ballona creek, which divides the beach into two large segments. We biked the southern segment, which I think is what the words "South Bay" correspond to, which comprises Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo beaches.
The path is paved, and didn't have too much sand on it, although I guess that can change if it's windy. I found I had enough traction, I had been a bit worried about sliding.
Hermosa beach was the most interesting area, there's a beach community there with cottage-like houses on narrow streets, some of which are pedestrian-only. Reminds me a bit of a more densely-packed version of Toronto Island, with commercial streets. I'll have to go back there on my own to explore.
One of the beaches (Manhattan, I think) has a huge area for beach volleyball, although most the courts (is that the word?) were free yesterday.
Redondo had a commercial pier with lots of little beach-like shops, I'll have to check that out sometime on my own too.
I really liked the people, I'll go back. They weren't cliquey at all, everyone chatted with everyone, although there were some more serious riders that disappeared for a while, I think they did a slightly longer ride.
After the ride there was a potluck where one member showed his video of the "Ragbrai" 500 mile ride done every year in Iowa. They get 10,000 riders! Holy smokes, now that's a group ride.
After the potluck, I had only vague notions of where I was (I had followed the trip leader there), and I wasn't quite ready to toss myself at the sole mercy of the GPS in the dark. The trip leader was nice and let me follow her again back to a boulevard that I recognized, and I found my way home from there. Los Angeles is pretty easy to find your way around in compared to a city like Ottawa, and I think once I know more of the main boulevards and where they are in relation to each other, that I'll be able to navigate without too much trouble.