Tuesday 8 May 2018

Arrival and the First Ride (32 Miles) (LGD - 5 Days)

After an uneventful but long flight (11 hours) I arrived at LAX (Los Angeles airport which everybody calls Lax) at 7:00pm local time (i.e. 3:00am UK time). We were swiftly off the plane and in no time at all passing through Immigration. After being fingerprinted (both hands) and photographed I got the all important ‘admitted’ stamp in my passport. Now at this point I must tell you that I breathed a huge sigh of relief. You see, one of my old passports bears a big red stamp in it stating: “Alien denied entry – carrier to hold pending immediate continuous transit”. Yes, I was once refused entry because of an admin cock up. Although I was only 11 at the time, ever since then whenever I see a US Immigration Official, my heart is in my mouth!

Once through Immigration it was time to retrieve my luggage. My hold-all appeared on the carousel pretty quickly and then I made my way over to the oversized luggage point which, when I eventually found it, had the air of being closed for the day. It was completely deserted and although I had been assured that it was definitely where I needed to be, in my jet lagged state I wasn’t convinced. Anyway, after about 15 minutes of standing around the carousel suddenly kicked into life and, joy of joys, out came my bike case. What a relief!

From there it was a quick ‘phone call to Yael at my hotel to arrange for the courtesy bus to collect me. She told me that their driver John would arrive in about 10 minutes in a black Chevrolet van and warned me not to accept any offers of a lift from anyone else. Well true to her word, John arrived and we loaded the bike case into the back of the van and set off. John was a lovely man and we chatted freely during the short journey to the hotel. He told me that there are 88 cities in Los Angeles County; Los Angeles is only one of the cities. John was almost speechless when I told him that I was going to be riding to Boston. He was fascinated by my bike and I hope I might get a chance to show it to him before I leave. John told me that if I wanted a good traffic-free ride to begin with I should try the coast cycle route.

John dropped me at the hotel in El Segundo and Yael quickly checked me in to my large room which has twin double beds and a balcony overlooking the swimming pool. After a quick shower to freshen up I was in bed by 9:00pm which meant that I had been awake for 21 hours. Fortunately I managed to get a good night’s sleep and when I awoke at 6:00am I felt completely refreshed. After breakfast in the hotel it was time to unpack and rebuild the bike.

One CV ready to go ...
I have to say that I was rather apprehensive at what I might find when I opened the box but I needn’t have worried as everything was still securely fastened. Thirty minutes later I had the CV fully assembled and ready to roll. So the time had arrived to have my first outing on American tarmac. Heeding the advice from John, I rode down to to the cycle path about a mile away which ran alongside the Pacific Ocean, and turned north towards Santa Monica.

Now readers, I have to tell you that this two lane cycle path is top quality. Smooth surfaces – even the rougher bits are smoother than I am used to riding on at home. And very popular too with cyclists of all descriptions and all ages as well as lots of people on electric scooters and roller blades. The route gently winds and curves its way along the coastline and was a real delight to ride. In one or two places sand had blown across the route which made it a bit treacherous for me as I’m not used to riding on sand. With all the new sights to take in I found it quite difficult to concentrate and keep a watchful eye out for the sand traps. The route just seemed to be calling out to me to up the speed.

 Morning haze at Marina Del Ray
I made my way past Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier to the end of the route at Port Los Angeles Long Wharf – about 12 miles in all. After a pause for drink and a spot of people watching I turned around to head back. Click here for the route flyby if you’d like to see where I went. Ahead of me I could see a couple of riders so I upped the ante and hooked on to the back of them. After a while I introduced myself and learnt that Bruce was from Massachusetts whereas Gerry lived locally, just a few minutes away from my hotel as it transpired. So we rode along chatting and they were interested to hear why I was in California. Anyway with all this chatting I committed the cardinal sin of not paying attention and as I swept around a curve I suddenly felt my back wheel slide out from under me and I was down on the tarmac with a thump. Fortunately, apart from a dent to my pride and dignity, I escaped with only a few minor grazes to my left elbow and knee. But most importantly, the CV was completely unmarked. So after picking myself up I set off again behind Gerry and Bruce. Part way along Bruce peeled off and Gerry led me back to El Segundo where he lives and pointed me in the direction of the hotel. He has also lined up what I think may be a real treat for me tomorrow. You’ll just have to wait and see though.


  1. I always called the airport L-A-X, spelled out. Safe travels to you and welcome to the USA. I hope you enjoy it. Wear sunscreen, stay to the right, eat plenty of protein and drink before you are thirsty.

  2. And, of course, take care of that Bianchi!