Volvo City of Angels Fun Ride

 

City of Angels Fun Ride

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City of Angels Fun Ride Poster

I had done a number of rides on the outskirts of Los Angeles ... but had never ridden near the centre.

A combination of horrendous traffic and dubious neighbourhoods didn't make such a ride very attractive.

However when I read about a charity ride around the centre I changed my mind.

Volvo City of Angeles Fun Ride Advert

The route would be planned for me ... I would be accompanied by 1,400 other cyclists ... oh, and the roads would be closed to other traffic.

The only downside was that the ride started at 8 o'clock.

The ride was the City of Angels Fun Ride ... the aim of which was to raise funds for the Los Angeles Children's Hospital.

The start was at the Headquarters of the LA Police Department adjacent to the Dodger Stadium in the south east corner of Griffith Park.

At the start I discovered that we would be escorted by 80 police on bikes ... and a further 60 on motorcycles.

 

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The riders were released in two batches ... the fast group set off first ... and I joined the more leisurely second group so that I could view the sights.

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The ride was 35-miles long ... so I was surprised that several very young children were taking part.

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The police on bikes were really friendly. Apparently they are detached to the bike patrol for 12 months after which they return to normal duties.

They receive one week of bike training ... the only special part of which is learning how to dismount and start running without slowing down so that they can catch offenders.

The bikes are pretty standard ... except for the sirens.

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The day started cool and misty so we were almost amongst the downtown skyscrapers before they loomed out of the sky.

We zigzagged around downtown ... it was almost claustrophobic riding between the tall buildings.

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All around the course bystanders were clapping or yelling encouragement.

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Near the Exposition Center I got a demonstration of how the police cyclists dismount at speed. Two officers leapt off their bikes and arrested two guys who were standing on the sidewalk. In the short time that I watched they had been apprehended and handcuffed to the fence.

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Soon after passing Union Station one of my saddle rails broke ... they had survived several mountain climbs and a desert crossing but obviously were not up the rigors of LA cycling. I stopped to patch up my bike ... but by the time I had finished the rolling road closure had disappeared into the distance ... and 'normal' traffic had resumed.

Catching up was going to be problematic as I would have to navigate all the traffic lights and left turns.

Fortunately some other cyclists were in the same position .. having either had punctures or an overwhelming desire for a coffee stop. Two police cyclists spotted our predicament ... rounded us up ... put on their sirens ... and told us to follow them.

We rode fast (scary), between lines of traffic (very scary), through red traffic lights (very very scary) ... and had caught up with the main bunch in just a few minutes.

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Every type of bike seemed to be represented on the ride ... out-and-out racing machines, hybrids, cruisers, mountain bikes, shopping bikes, BMX bikes, tandems, and many recumbents.

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At the Walk of Fame in Hollywood Boulevard a local cyclist was keen that I should see the stars let into the sidewalk ... so he shepherded me onto the sidewalk so that I could see them at close quarters.

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Soon after leaving Hollywood Boulevard we passed under Highway 101 and arrived at the rest stop. The organisers had arranged supplies of bananas and fresh water to sustain us over the final few miles.

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As we started to circle Griffith Park the sun slowly began to break through. We had been lucky that for most of the ride it had been overcast or misty and thus not too hot.

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The ride took us around the edge of Griffith Park ... the United States' largest municipal park. We passed film studios, the cemeteries at Forest Lawn and Mount Sanai and many tourist attractions such as the Zoo, Griffith Observatory, the Railway Museum.

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After climbing the final hill I was surprised to find that we were welcomed by a group of cheerleaders.

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After a few more turns we arrived back at the LA Police Academy.

All the participants were awarded medals at the finish ... and we were able to put our feet up on the Academy's lawn or browse around the stalls set up around the edge.

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A Thank You

Volvo City of Angeles Fun Ride Medal Volvo City of Angeles Fun Ride Advert

Many thanks to the organisers and to the Los Angeles Police Department for arranging this excellent ride.

If you want to enter the ride ... and support a good cause ... visit the City of Angels Fun Ride web site.

 

Postscript

A few weeks after the 2007 ride Griffith Park suffered a devastating fire.

The fire destroyed more than 800 acres of scrub, but fortunately important buildings such as Griffith Observatory, the Zoo and the museums were spared.

 

Kirby James