So many people like riding the same events over and over again. Personally, I like riding in new areas and doing events that I have not done before. Sure, we all end up repeating some events on occasion but for me a repeat is usually due to scheduling issues or it is an event that I have not ridden for several years. The Five Rivers 300 km is on roads that are mostly new to me!

6:00 am at the start in Corona

6:00 am at the start in Corona

For this ride I chose to ride my old 1991 Sancineto. It is a fast bike and very comfortable but it is not a brevet bike, and as such has little to no carrying capacity for the typical things that you take on an event like this. To compensate for this lacking quality I brought along a small camelback and shoved my extra gear in there. This ride is unique in that it follows several major bike paths in the area south of LA for most of the route. Perhaps 60% of the route was on these paths which wind through the city, un-interrupted by traffic or signals. I mean really, where in the heart of any major city can you ride for 20 or 30 miles without traffic, a stop sign or a signal? This is what drew me to do this event.

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Headed south along the Rio Hondo trail with Mel and Debbie

Much of the route follows the rivers of the area. Sure, these are not the wild and scenic river corridors that other cities may have, but hey, this is LA! We started down the Santa Ana River Trail to the coast, where after a jaunt north we turned up the San Gabriel River Trail. We followed that for 35 miles of almost unbroken bike path to the city of Duarte and our second control. There we turned back on our route for a bit before crossing over to the Rio Hondo and then the LA river where we hit the coast again in Shoreline Village just south of Long Beach. Back down the coast thru Seal Beach, Sunset Beach, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. Maybe this ride should have been named the Five Beaches 300!

Newport Bay from the San Diego Creek Trail

Newport Bay from the San Diego Creek Trail

In Newport Beach we turned inland again, this time up the San Diego Creek Trail (the fifth river). From here the route began to get a little more convoluted and route finding more difficult. I had to stop several times to check my smartphone map app to confirm my location. There were not always the clues needed on the route to confirm that you were on track. Even then, I took several wrong turns and I got in about 3 bonus miles in the day. It really was a maze of turns, and after the sun set it became even more difficult. Complicating the matter was the fact that there were parallel directions on the cue sheet depending on whether you wanted to use the bike path or adjacent roads. Up until this point I had been about an hour ahead of my expected finish time, but after the navigational difficulties and the wrong turns I ended up well behind my prediction. I did catch up with a couple of riders in the last 10 miles and finished the route in 14 hours 53 minutes. I am estimating that I lost about an hour to route checking, navigational issues and bonus miles. This was an interesting route and it did take me on some absolutely new trails etc. But, if you asked me if I would do the ride again I would have to say NO! I think that the effort to find a unique route through the metro-plex, mainly on bike paths although well intentioned and clever, suffered due to its complexity. In the end, when riders are tired, backtracking and trying to navigate in the dark without all the needed cues was not ideal. Still, I thank the organizers and PCH Randos for their efforts in putting on another event in a great and ambitious series!

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