Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Mulling over Mulholland

In which M2 finds that while not every day is a winding road, Sunday was

It’s been a brisk, shiny sort of winter here in the Southland. The skies have been crystalline when there hasn’t been a chill rain falling. A light dusting of snow is often seen shining atop the peaks of the San Gabriels.

After reading a piece in the L.A. Weekly about good bike rides around town, I decided to try my wheels on Mullholland Drive last Sunday morning. Mulholland – named for William Mulholland, the primary architect of the L.A. water system and the bain of the Owens River Valley – stretches some 55 miles from the Hollywood Freeway along the backbone of the Santa Monica Mountains to the Pacific. A round trip would be 110 miles. Having a massage appointment at noon I wasn’t going to be able to do the whole thing (that is, I had a perfect excuse), so I determined to ride from my apartment on Vineland up the hill to Mulholland and down to the San Diego Freeway or thereabouts. I lit out in the sunny but chill morning about 7:30 a.m.

I am out of shape. A number of times on my way up Wrightwood to Mulholland – admittedly a pretty steep grade – I had to stop to catch my breath. But once at the top the road winds and rolls gently up and down. The morning light and clear blue sky made the views down into the Valley and the Basin all the more dramatic. I could easily see all the way down to the Port and Catalina beyond. I stopped for a few minutes at each of the overlooks, taking in the placards that tell tourists about the environment of the Santa Monicas and the wildlife that inhabits it – foxes, bobcats, deer and birds of all kinds. I did see a little family of quail, one of my favorite birds.

I rode on over the San Diego Freeway and eventually found a path back down into the Valley on a street named Havenhurst that dopped me into Encino. From there, I rode back along Ventura, window shopping along the way. The total distance: about 25 to 30 miles. One of these days I’ll do it all.


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