Monday 22 October 2012

The Strand Bike Path, Los Angeles, California

A well-marked, flat and fun bike path that hugs the Pacific coastline for about 20 miles, cycling the Strand in the sunshine is a great way to soak up California's outdoor vibe. Most of the route either runs alongside or through large swathes of fine fawn sand, taking you past scores of quirky ocean-front villas. As you roll north, the white apartment blocks of Venice Beach shimmer invitingly in front of the Malibu hills in the distance. On the beach, athletic locals throw themselves around volleyball pitches and there are wooden, skyblue lifeguard huts every few hundred yards. But it is not all so picturesque. The Strand takes you past a power station, a refinery and very close to Los Angeles International Airport - the planes fly alarmingly low over the understandably empty Dockweiler Beach.  And you have to go inland for a couple of miles, crossing a dead straight canal, to circumnavigate Marina del Rey on your way to Venice Beach - the famous cocktail of muscular posers and grungy streetlife - and then Santa Monica pier with its sedate fun fair. If you ride The Strand on a Sunday morning in October, you'll be joined by scores of other cyclists, joggers and assorted fitness fanatics.  9/10