Tag Archives: California

Riverside – A SoCal Cycling Paradise

by: Richard Fox, Author of enCYCLEpedia Southern California

Most people think of Riverside as the home of the Mission Inn with its spectacular Mission Revival architecture, holiday festivities and Sunday brunch.  But we come to Riverside to experience something else: it’s great bicycling.

The Mission Inn is the centerpiece of a restored historic downtown district that includes a 3-block long pedestrian mall, giving it a European flavor. Mount Rubidoux is a prominent landmark north of downtown, next to classic mansions in historic districts, beyond which is the Santa Ana River. Fairmount Park is east of downtown, containing beautiful Lake Evans with a mountain backdrop.  All of these features can be handily explored by bike.

The upper segment of the Santa Ana River Trail (SART) runs about 19 miles from near Norco to the west to San Bernardino to the northeast, with Riverside near its midpoint. With no speed limit or road crossings, and light pedestrian traffic, it is one of the premier paths in Southern California for a good off-roadway workout.  Even better, it is a scenic path, running alongside a wide natural section of the Santa Ana River drainage, with vistas of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains that are often snow-covered in winter and spring. A detour off of the path takes you to the downtown district, and a surprisingly doable climb up Mt. Rubidoux on a gradual paved path reaps rewards of a spectacular vista of the surrounding region. Another path off of the SART brings you to lovely Fairmount Park.

The best time to ride here is when the air is clear and temperatures reasonable, which can occur any time of the year, though less so during the heat of summer.  These rides are described in enCYCLEpedia as Ride R1, with options 1 through 4, including maps, route descriptions and particulars.  Also in Riverside, the historic Victoria Avenue corridor takes you back to the glory days of citrus gold.  That is a subject for a future post (enCYCLEpedia Ride R2).

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Mission Inn in downtown Riverside.
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Euro-style pedestrian mall with sidewalk cafes runs 3 blocks downtown, starting next to The Mission Inn. Signs now prohibit bike riding.  enCYCLEpedia wishes the city would paint a bike trail through it, with a 5 or 8 mph speed limit rather than banning riding altogether since it’s such an integral part of a bike tour of the city.
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The path up Mt Rubidoux and the World Peace Bridge. The very gradual incline makes a great bike ride, but be very courteous to peds on the downhill so that bikes are not banned!
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Beautiful mountain vistas on the path up Mt. Rubidoux.
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West of town, the SART follows gently rolling hills next to the beautiful vegetation of the river with mountain backdrops.
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Dramatic views of the San Gabriel Mountains near the west end of the SART.
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SART heading northeast out of Riverside, 10 miles to San Bernardino. It is fairly isolated and lightly used but scenic and uninterrupted.
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Some scenic mountain vistas on the trail northeast nearing San Bernardino. Find lots of dining options near trails end along Hospitality Lane.
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For the most unique lunch experience, visit Tio’s Tacos in downtown Riverside for good al fresco Mexican dining, and explore the grounds filled with statues made from recycled materials.
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A scenic pause at Lake Evans in Fairmount Park.
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The path between Fairmount Park and the SART with Mt Rubidoux beyond, all drenched in springtime greenery. This stretch burned after this photo was taken in Spring 2017, but hopefully the vegetation will return soon.
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Fabulous Bicycle Bridges of the West

By Richard Fox, enCYCLEpedia.net

Some of the most interesting and imaginative bridges in the western US and Canada are of the bike/pedestrian variety. Many have become showpieces and even tourist attractions.  It’s a great way for a municipality to both foster recreation opportunities for residents and visitors, and to bolster its reputation as a destination and a forward thinking community.

The prime example is Santiago Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge spanning the Sacramento River in Redding, Northern California.  This cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge actually forms a sundial, and its opaque decking is illuminated at night.  It has become the centerpiece and main attraction of Redding, known to cyclists for its 35 miles of bike trails along the Sacramento River, and has generated millions of dollars of tourist revenue. We witnessed the Bandaloop acrobats perform on the bridge for its 10th anniversary.

 

Also spanning the Sacramento River along its bike trail system is this unique stress-ribbon bridge.  Another stress-ribbon bridge in this region, that we have yet to visit, spans the Rogue River in Grants Pass Oregon.

 

The David Keitzer Lake Hodges Bike & Pedestrian bridge is 990 feet long, the longest stress- ribbon bridge in the world.  Lake Hodges is one of the prime easy-scenic mountain bike areas in San Diego County. These photos show a difference in the area during a wet and dry year.

 

The lovely Wagon Creek Bridge over the Wagon Creek inlet to  Lake Siskiyou near Mt. Shasta City completed a trail system around the entire lake.

 

The best example of incorporating art into a bike/ped bridge is in Tacoma, Washington.  The city’s rising star is reflected in its waterfront reconstruction and commitment to improving bicycling infrastructure. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass is a 500-foot-long bridge linking the Museum of Glass to downtown Tacoma and its cultural corridor. While more practical for peds, bikes are allowed on it as part of a fabulous tour of the Tacoma waterfront.  For those interested in glass art, the walls and ceilings full of glass sculptures and free-standing pieces make this a world class attraction.

 

A railroad trestle is a mainstay along many a rail trail, and the wooden Kinsol Trestle near Lake Cowichan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia was restored beyond its original glory as part of the Cowichan Valley Trail.  At 144 ft high and 617 ft long, it is the one of the largest structures of its type in the world.  Also in BC, the Myra Canyon trestles (not shown) near Kelowna are part of an iconic bike ride along the Kettle Valley Railroad rail trail.

 

The Pacific Electric regional rail trail in SoCal’s Inland Empire parallels historic Route 66, and the designers took full advantage of that fact by refurbishing this former railroad bridge with Route 66 designs. Cities from Claremont to Rialto have joined in to make this 21-mile path a successful regional feature.

 

Another refurbished railroad bridge in Folsom, CA, that connects to the American River regional trail,  evokes the old-west heritage of the town.

 

The Phoenix area is criss-crossed by canals and other aquatic infrastructure, and the municipalities have been generous about constructing bike trails along them.  Shown here are the new Tempe Town Lake Bike and Pedestrian Bridge, and an interesting bridge at the “Scottsdale Waterfront” that spans a canal.  Paved paths along the Scottsdale Greenbelt, Tempe Town Lake and several canals enable fun fabulous off-road cycles in this area.

 

This fabulous bike bridge along the south end of Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho is a highlight of the spectacular 72-mile paved Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes, that follows the former route of the old silver mining trains.

 

This former railway bridge now carries bikes ‘n pipes across the Columbia River as part of the scenic Wenatchee bike trail system that spans both sides of the river.

 

And finally, the construction of the sleek Mike Gotch Memorial Bridge over Rose Creek Inlet in San Diego in 2012 was literally a life saving project, taking hordes of cyclists off of a dangerous road and onto less crowded streets and pathways around Mission Bay.

Two Great Beach Rides on Each US Coast

It’s summer, the beaches are packed, and you can’t decide whether to hit the beach or go for a bike ride.  Well, you can do both on beaches where the sand is compact enough to support a comfortable ride.  Of course the off-seasons are best when the crowds are less, but these rides are doable any time of year.  Here I present four of my favorite beach rides, all  at beautiful locales where there are no paved trails adjacent to the beach.  On the west coast are Pismo Beach, California and Cannon Beach, Oregon.  On the east coast are Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and Daytona Beach, Florida.  If you have your own favorite beach ride, which should be at least 4 miles each way, please let me know!

Cannon Beach, Oregon. Even when most crowded, like here on July 4th, the wide beach is rideable...
CANNON BEACH, OREGON Even when most crowded, like here on July 4th, the wide beach is very rideable and the adjacent cute town is perfect for a post ride meal.
Even on crowded days you can find solitude along 5 miles of fabulous beach riding in Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Even on crowded days you can find solitude along 5 miles of fabulous beach riding in Cannon Beach, Oregon.
The firm sands of the Pismo Beach area support vehicles, however they are not allowed within the Pismo Beach city limits which much improves your lot.  Much longer rides are available if you're willing to ride farther afield alongside vehicles.
PISMO BEACH, CALIFORNIA The firm sands here support vehicles, however they are not allowed within the Pismo Beach city limits which much improves your lot. Much longer rides are available if you’re willing to ride farther afield alongside vehicles. Stop in for some famous clam chowder at Splash’s Cafe in town post ride, and see the migrating monarch butterflies at the state beach south of town in winter.
Miles of beautiful firm sand await at Hilton Head Island, a resort area in South Carolina.  Bike trails run along the main roads around town as well to transport you to your accommodation.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA Miles of beautiful firm sand await at this resort area famous for golf and tennis. Bike trails run along the main roads around town as well to transport you to your accommodation and the island’s restaurants.
I was skeptical about riding here because of the popularity of driving cars on the beach, however they are relegated to the high tide area leaving the nice firm low tide zone to bikes and beachgoers. Some sections are even off limits to cars but bikes can carry on.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA    I was skeptical about riding here because of the popularity of driving cars on the beach, however they are relegated to a sand road along the high tide area leaving the nice firm low tide zone to bikes and beachgoers. Some sections are even off-limits to cars but bikes can carry on. And of course there’s plenty of places to eat on the adjacent strip.