This morning I rode my Xootr scooter along the top of the Santa Fe Dam, in Irwindale, CA. You’d think a ride along the top of a dam should be a few hundred yards across, and a few hundred yards back.
This dam however, though only 92 feet high, is long, almost seven miles round trip
The Santa Fe Dam was built between 1938 and 1949 as part of the taming of the river system in Los Angeles. Construction was delayed by floods and World War II. On the north side of the dam, in the water collection area, there’s a lake for fishing and swimming, and attractive picnic grounds along tree-shaded paved paths.
Angulation of the sides of a dam has to do with a physics principle called the Angle of Repose, where piles of one material or another will be most stable if stacked at the right slope angle, which varies depending on the material used.
35° for granite, 40° for crushed stone gravel, for example
A ride along the top of the Santa Fe Dam is optimal in that it’s flat, with smooth pavement. People can have good rides there on bicycles, scooters, and even roller skates. I passed a young couple where the wife had roller skates with shiny gold shoes, which I thought most elegant, flashier even than Judy Garland’s magic ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz in 1939!
I could overtake golden roller skates and her husband if I worked at it, but at the end of the day I think they had a speed edge on me.
Wind can be a factor on the Santa Fe Dam, but it wasn’t this morning. Overcast, if not cool
The Santa Fe Dam trail links up in less than three miles with the Lario Park Trail to the north, on the uppermost part of the San Gabriel River Trail, and by crossing the street south from the dam face you’re at the spiral garden three miles above Ramona Boulevard to the south, which is another of my pet rides.
It felt good to renew my riding experience on the dam, and to convince myself only by checking the altitude gain and loss on my ride map that the dam top is really flat, even though you think you should be going down hill as the height of the dam lessens, heading north.
550 scoots east and north, 600 scoots back
Average speed 6.6 miles… would have been faster if I discounted the walk up the surface of the southwest corner of the dam. It felt good.
Don’t forget to check out my website at JonathanKelley.net.