Sunday, December 06, 2009

Compton Creek Tour

This was a perfect Sunday -- I slept in till 9am, then had coffee and breakfast with Lana, then she went to poi and yoga class, and I biked to the Blue Line and met up with a bunch of other Long Beach Cyclists, for the Compton Creek ride.

We took the Blue Line to the 103rd St Kenneth Hahn station, and got there early enough so that a few of us went over to the Watts Towers for a few minutes. I hadn't visited the Towers in 20 years and it was neat to see the detail and beauty again.

Then we started our ride -- Alex Kenefick, with the LA and San Gabriel River Watershed Council, among other things, was the tour guide for our motley group of 19 cyclists.

We saw the different ways the Compton Creek was 'channelized' in different areas, learned about all the different authorities that had control over various parts of the creek -- County of LA, City of Compton, Army Corp of Engineers, how each entity had its own priorities and objectives with regard to the creek and river, and how that made planning and improving things challenging. We heard about some neat projects in the works to improve access to the Creek and create greenspace.

We spent most of the time riding along the Compton Creek on the bike path, and most of the time, we were the only ones on the bike paths. There were a lot of interesting situations where the bike path would stop at a major street, and there'd be no way to bike across the street, raised island, busy traffic, etc, and you could see how these problems would make using the bike path unappealing for people.

For lunch we stopped at Cliff's Texas Style, "Home of the Original 22" CliffHanger Burrito." 4 of us split a 22", and it was really, really good. Cliff himself, a really nice guy, very gracious and classy and funny, came out and sat with us, and we talked for a bit. It was a great lunch, really good food.

When we weren't on the Creek itself, we were riding through neighborhoods, and got to see a lot of neat stuff. I think one of the best parts of the whole bike ride was when we were riding down one residential street in Compton, and this little boy happened to be bringing his bike down his driveway to the street, "Oh, Wow!" he said as we all rode down the street waving, ringing our bells... and we rode through Richland Farms, an Equestrian neighborhood in Compton. I never knew this area existed, and it was so cool... horse properties with tons of people out riding their horses down the streets, some houses with roosters and chickens out front. And when you ride you get all the sights and sounds you miss in a car -- and the smells, too.

After the tour of the creek was officially ended, when we got to the point where the creek hit the LA River, near the Del Amo Blue Line station, those of us from Long Beach rode down the LA River trail back home. A Mariachi band was playing at a house along the river, a few hundred feet from us, and we stopped and listened to them play. When the song was over, we cheered them, they waved to us... that sort of stuff happened the whole time. That was something I wasn't expecting -- just a lot of neat little interactions with folks in their neighborhoods in a way you just wouldn't have happen if you were driving by.

It was a great day with great people.

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