What A Wonderful Way To Start The New Year

I love it when a plan goes according to plan. Simple though it was, my day was scheduled to consist of watching TV and going for a bike ride. First was the Rose Parade, followed by the Capital One Bowl (in which my 2009 National Champion Crimson Tide put an Alabamazing exclamation point to a 10-win-but-disappointing season by entirely destroying Michigan State 49-7). Sitting on my ass in front of the TV is never a difficult thing to do — especially with the much-anticipated Rose Bowl about to start. But after the Bama victory I then actually got off that aformentioned backside and went and did something that required actually effort: a mountain bike ride in the Verdugos along the Beaudry North and Beaudry South trails.

It’s only little more than a six-mile trip half of which is downhill, but that pesky first half does involve a 1,600-foot elevation gain, and was capped off by a spectacularly sunny vista up at Tongva Peak (elevation 2,656).

I actually impressed myself in that even with the comparative little amount I biked in 2009, I was able to granny gear it up the hardest part of the climb involving the first two miles in 40 minutes without stopping. It was good to discover that as much as I forsaked my legs these last few months, they haven’t foresaken me in the slightest.

UPDATED (1.3): And on the subject of mountainbiking, there was a story in the January 2 LA Times about how the recreational activity will not be any less criminal on Griffith and Elysian park trails despite a broad update to the city’s bike plan that early on had included recommendations to implement pilot access programs that would have brought bikers and hikers and horse riders together for the first time in more than 20 years. Of course the planners backpedaled from that radical concept quickly in the face of both apopleptic outrage from mountainbike-hating factions and marked apathy from bike activists and advocacy groups who are woefully less interested in bikes’ place on the trails than they are on the streets.

The article notes cities such as Philadelphia, New York and Phoenix as having worked out ways for trail coexistence, and as such led to me to post the following comment to the article:

My last encounter with an equestrian in Griffith Park came just after I pedaled my road bike up the street from Travel Town to the top of that incline where I stopped well back of an intersecting hiking trail to allow an approaching group of riders to cross before I continued up Mt Hollywood Drive. Despite the deference and consideration I clearly and gladly demonstrated, one of the riders seemingly couldn’t resist loudly telling her steed “Don’t be afraid of the scary bicyclist” as she passed. I told the horse it had much more to fear from biased riders who make such unfair judgments, and the rider snorted thinking incorrectly that I was trying to be funny.

The moral of that meeting is: As a cyclist, I can’t win. No matter how much I individually go above and beyond in being law-abidingly respectful and considerate, I will always be discriminated against and mountainbiking will always be criminalized on trails within the city’s limits and jurisdiction. But I don’t fault the equestrians and hikers hooked on perpetuating and exaggerating annecdotal incidents to fuel and maintain their entitlement so much as I fault the city and parks department for their absolute forfeiture of even an attempt to seek a solution that offers trail access as a right to all instead of a privilege to some.

It is some consolation that I have trails in relatively nearby places such as the Verdugo, the Santa Monica and the San Gabriel ranges where I can legally and respectfully ride. By some miracle I’m both allowed upon those trails — and function in coexistence with hikers and equestrians. I am tremendously thankful for those places where I can ride away my sorrows at such a discriminatory civic ban, but never my anger at our city leadership’s lazy and abominable abdication of their responsibility to include me rather than exclude me.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with laonstage.com, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."