Today’s ride covers the Los Angeles River bicycle path from Fletcher Drive in Frogtown to Chevy Chase Drive in Atwater Village, and back. 5.2 miles round trip.

It’s warm… high 80’s… but I’m carrying a bottle of water, and I’m not planning on breaking a distance record, but rather, to explore bicycle bridges crossing from the west side of the river to the east side, to see if the trails on the east side are rideable.

Turns out the pavement’s generally too irregular for me on the trails on the east side of the river, so I keep doubling back to the smoother trail on the west side. A bit farther to the west are the hills of Griffith Park, just on the other side of the 5, that goes parallel to the river and the bike trail.

Frogtown

Named after the frogs that once came out of the river, used to be gang country but is rapidly becoming yuppified. Atwater Village: also getting trendy, with many homes dating from the beginning of L.A. in the early 1900’s.

There’s a new suspension bridge for bicyclists, pedestrians, and horseback riders where Chevy Chase Drive ends near the river’s edge. This new bridge has a tall slightly angled white support post in the center, and a dozen or so wires that drop down to the two-lane bridge: wood surface on one side for the bikes and humans, and a soft black rubber surface on the horses’ side.

Many homeless people live in tents along the river, either right beside the bicycle path, or in the bed of the river, which has low islands with trees and shade.
Many homeless people live in tents along the river, either right beside the bicycle path, or in the bed of the river, which has low islands with trees and shade.

If it weren’t for occasional floods in the rainy season, the river bed would be the best real estate in Los Angeles.

Because of the hint of nature in the river bed, I see many snowy egrets and ducks on today’s ride.

At the east end of the bike bridge just south of Los Feliz Boulevard, I see a beautiful mural painting of a great blue heron, a painting visible only to those on the trail.

My thoughts

Enjoy the ride, appreciate the unique value of each individual I pass on the ride: the homeless guy living in a tent on a wooded island in the middle of the river bed, the dozens of homeless people in tents right next to the trail, the helmeted bicyclists who nod as they pedal by, the old guy on foot with no shirt who smiles at me and says hello.

Today is what counts. Be alive. Accept the world around me. Be grateful.

Thank you for joining us

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Jonathan Kelley, 80, was born in Boston, and educated at Exeter and Princeton, then Harvard Medical School, after a year teaching English in Cali, Colombia. He was a Navy anesthesiologist during Viet Nam. He spent the middle decades of his life working in a community hospital in Northern California. Besides his career in medicine, he’s a chef, pianist, and actor in his artistic life. In the kitchen, he specializes in croissants and cooking with coconuts. At the piano, it’s boogie woogie and Joplin rags. As an actor, he’s done fourteen seasons in a Mexican Christmas play in Los Angeles, plus the occasional movie role, as in the soon-to-be-released feature film “Amor en 266 Millas,” where he plays the hippie patriarch of a desert commune in the Antelope Valley. He has two books available on Amazon, “Counting Backwards from 100: My Life as an Anesthesiologist,” and “Short Stories by Jonathan Kelley.” Searching for improved balance and leg strength at age 77, Jonathan came by chance upon a Xootr scooter. Jonathan’s wife is the lovely Puerto Rican actress Gloria Laino. Their mix is like Puerto Rican arroz con gandules served next to New England style cranberry sauce.

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