April 20, 2002, Part 1
Exploring Southern California by Bicycle Over One Spring Weekend
It is a little after 6 a.m. in the Los Feliz District of Los Angeles on a slightly overcast Saturday morning. I've decided to take my bicycle and my digital camera in search of Southern California.

Come along.

My bicycle computer reads 0.0 miles. Today's destination is Carpinteria. 

I head toward Crystal Springs Drive, Griffith Park. I plan to take the inland route. There should be some interesting landscape and all day to see it.

Griffith Park is unusually tranquil at this time of the morning. Only a few joggers and bicyclists are out. There aren't many cars on the road as I ride through the park.
I exit the park onto Forest Lawn Drive, turn right onto Barham, merge into Pass Avenue, and then Whitnall Highway. 

I am soon riding through some of the older and less affluent neighborhoods of the Valley: North Hollywood, Sun Valley, Arleta. I eventually turn left (west) at Plummer. At Hayvenhurst a sign says that I am about to enter North Hills. 

I am saddened by this increasingly-common San Fernando Valley tendency to rename their neighborhoods so that they will sound swankier. Part of North Hollywood is now Valley Village, parts of Van Nuys are Valley Glen and Lake Balboa and the neighborhood once known as Sepulveda is North Hills.

In particular, I think it's unfortunate that the name of one of the old Californio land grant families has been wiped away in favor of a completely generic name. After all, couldn't "North Hills" be anywhere? (Besides, my autofocus camera, for some reason, couldn't get a decent photo of that silly sign!)

Well, they'll never rename Sepulveda Boulevard. At least I hope not. 

I ride on.

About 30 miles into the ride, I have completed my crossing of the San Fernando Valley. Next stop, Simi Valley. And if you're on a bicycle there's only one way to get there--the Old Santa Susanna Pass Road.

Drivers take the nearby Ronald Reagan Freeway.

It's their loss.

The old road is a nostalgic slice of a rapidly disappearing Southern California. 

On a bicycle you have time to take a look at the interesting rock formations and to see how the train tracks go through a narrow cut in the pass. 


I'm a city guy. So to me an unabashed suburban community like Simi Valley is interesting. For example, I'm fascinated by the winding sidewalks they have in some neighborhoods. The street goes arrow-straight but the sidewalk next to it sort of meanders around. I take it as a value judgement by the developers or whoever runs Simi that people there rarely walk to get someplace.

Here's a photo of their cultural arts center. 

Ever wonder what happens to All-Star centerfielders when they retire? Well, if you're Lenny Dykstra you build the biggest damn carwash in Simi Valley. 

[PART 2: Let me see orange groves!]