While I staged (loaded up) the bike in his garage, one of my relatives wanted to take a photo.
“Sure,” I said. “Frankly, though, I look like a picture you’re supposed to find ten things wrong in.”
Further to the conversation with my cousin in Ventura, cycling boils down to legs, wheels, the bike frame to connect them and the determination to keep them moving. But let’s be real: No self-respecting, experienced, touring cyclist would cut the ridiculous figure I was cutting. I wasn’t one to make a road trip look elegant or run professionally, but at least I didn’t give myself airs.
Speaking of legs, mine were beginning to get tired. Like really tired. Especially when I needed them for that first climb of the day. Pedaling up and out of Hill Section was an effort, even on a sunny morning. Fortunately, the bike path through Hermosa and Redondo Beaches was easier, which my legs appreciated.
If there’s a sensible, bike-friendly route across South L.A., my map didn’t show it. I’d once toyed with the idea of sticking close to the ocean and cycling around the Palos Verdes Peninsula, but that would have represented miles I was now keen to avoid. Instead, I followed the map’s route of Torrance Boulevard, Carson Street, 223rd Street and Wardlow Road for 12-plus miles. I passed hospitals, strip malls, industrial parks, a rail yard and an oil refinery. That took me to the bike path along the east bank of the Los Angeles River, where a dastardly-cold headwind off the Pacific whistled straight against me for four miles. In Long Beach I attempted a selfie with the Queen Mary in the distant background.
It was sprinkling as I rode through Seal Beach and Sunset Beach in the afternoon, the closest thing to rain I’d had so far. In Huntington Beach I met one of my clients for coffee. We spent two minutes talking business and 45 minutes talking travel. Then I rode on to stay at the home of yet more cousins.
“How do I have so many friends and relatives living within a mile of the Pacific Coast Highway?” I wondered aloud. My legs heard me.
“Never mind that,” they snapped. “You’d better rest us, and soon. We’re not in this for eternity, you know.”
“Patience,” I said. “Just a couple more days and you can rest all you want.”