Participating in Long Beach's 4th annual Bikefest
proved to be a great way to get into shape, raise funds for a worthy cause, get to know Long Beach at an eye-opening level and have one heck of a good time along the way.
There are bike rides available for all levels of riders, from a Family Fun ride to the 100+ mile ride. The majority of riders choose the 31-mile ride, which while challenging, can be achieved with just some minor training prior to the event.
Start of the Long Beach Bike Tour
Start of the 31-mile Tour
Our team left in the 4th wave of riders from Shoreline Drive a little after 8:00 in the morning. They start you off slow, meandering by the Aquarium of the Pacific before heading to the path that runs north along the 710/LA River. It is a quiet part of the city with various parks running along the east side of the path and soon you are unexpectedly passing numerous horse corrals. You next make a right off the path, and head up and down a dirt path to finally end up in the Virginia Country Club area of Bixby Knolls. The first rest area was here in Los Cerritos Park.
From here we followed Bixby Road past beautiful houses until we crossed Cherry Avenue and followed the road around the Long Beach Airport and ended up by Veterans Stadium. Next we took Carson Street due west passing through Heartwell Park where young boys entertained themselves and us by lining up for high fives as we rode by (I opted for the 5th for fear of letting go of my handles). We took Carson across Studebaker and soon were at the entrance to the San Gabriel River Path that took us quickly to El Dorado Park. It was twice around the outside loop of the park where we found that fast roller-blading teams are still alive and well. It was on this circuit that I had a Mayor Foster, who is know as a avid cyclist, sighting. This was also stop number two at approximately the 17 mile mark and the oranges and water bottles were welcome.
Half way through at El Dorado Park
The next six miles were along the San Gabriel Bike Path which is notorious for being narrow and also for a stiff headwind in this southernly direction. I quickly learned biker's etiquette of politely saying "on your left" as you pass a slower rider as I heard it a bunch of times before I reached the path's end at the Seal Beach bridge. Our adventurous team had at this point embraced my slow moving style and we took a detour to the River End's Cafe by the beach bypassing the third rest stop at the Wild Oats Store.
At 2nd Street we made a left and went over the deceivingly steep 2nd Street bridge, continued through Naples, made a left a Bay Shore Avenue which took us to the beach bike path. This last six miles was a test to my stamina but before we knew it we were back where we had started and being welcomed into the Beer Garden for our medals and much needed food and drinks.
Bike Fest 2013 mile 29
My favorite sign at Mile 31!
Medals and a Reward
This event was started four years ago by Mark Bixby and other citizens looking to promote Long Beach as a bike friendly city while raising funds for Miller's Children Hospital. The last time I looked over $40,000 were donated and as far as biding riding is concerned, Long Beach has firmly established itself as a biker's delight, even to this newbie biker. Mark Bixby, who died tragically a few years ago in an airplane crash that happened not far from the tour path, was remembered with a banner placed below the band stand at the Beer Garden; and delightful bands they were. With this event, Long Beach has luckily decided to Go Big!
GO BIG or go home - Mark Bixby
Michele K & Team
"Better Living in Long Beach"