On The Trail

SGRT1It’s Saturday morning, and I drop onto (ride down to from a street) the San Gabriel River Bike Trail. In the distance, about 20 miles (32 km) away, the San Gabriel Mountains hide behind southern California’s summer haze (dust, moisture in the air). I hope to be there in a little more than an hour.

I settle into (get comfortable in) my saddle (bicycle seat) and start slowly to warm up (prepare for more effort). Before long I’m riding at a comfortable 15-18 miles per hour (24-29 kmh).

Soon the trail crosses over to the other side of the river. It’s newer here, and smoother, like a freeway for bicycles. I pass the Pico Rivera golf course, circle (move in a circle) the end of the course, then stand on the bike pedals to climb to the top of the Whittier Narrows Dam (a wall across the river to stop the water).

Past the dam, the trail drops again as it continues toward the mountains. There’s not much to see here – backyards, weekend soccer games at two or three schools, and a small farm and stable (a place where horses are kept). The horses are too busy eating to notice me, but the roosters (male chickens) crow (make the sound of a rooster) as I speed by.

SGRT2The trail dips (goes down, then up again) under the 60 Freeway and takes me to one of the scenic (beautiful) parts of the ride – the one portion (part) of the river that has water this time of the year. Trees and water plants line (grow along) the river, and ducks and heron enjoy the water. The humming (sound like “hmmm”) of my bike’s tires and the wind in my ears are the only sounds I hear.

There’s little traffic (other bikes) on the trail today – an occasional single rider like me and fathers with their children. Two or three pace lines (cyclists who ride in a line to help each other push through the wind) of weekend warriors (very serious riders) come from the opposite direction on their way to the ocean.

The trail dips under the 10 Freeway and carries me through an industrial area to the base (bottom) of the Santa Fe Dam – nothing to see here except an occasional ground squirrel scurrying (moving quickly) across the trail. The trail to the top of the Dam is steep (rises quickly) and long, and I have to stand on my pedals to produce enough power to get there. By the time I reach the top, my calves (back of the leg below the knee) burn (feel hot) from the effort.

SGRT3At the top of the dam, the trail circles the Santa Fe Recreation Area, a lake surrounded by trees and picnic tables, before taking me through the Santa Fe Nature Center. Here the trail winds (twists and turns) through a large garden filled with native plants and walking trails. I continue up the trail into the mountains, dipping under one more freeway, until I reach the end of the trail.

I’m in trouble! I chat with other riders for a few minutes, but when I leave to begin the return trip (go to where I started), I discover that the wind has come up (started blowing harder). I will have to spend the next hour-and-a-half riding into the wind! Not a pleasant thought.

The first few miles are down-hill. That helps. And the trees at the Nature Center protect me for a while, but when I reach the top of the dam, gusts of wind (sudden strong winds) from the side make it difficult to stay on the trail. When the trail turns into the wind, another rider and I take turns drafting (riding very close behind so the front rider protects the back rider from the wind) until the trail drops back down to the riverbed.

Ten miles to go. The wind continues to blow and the temperature rises (gets hotter). My legs feel heavy, and my speed slowly drops (decreases). This time, when the roosters crow, I’m not sure if they’re encouraging me or laughing at me.

I make it (get to where I’m going), tired and hot. But I’ll be back, probably next week, to do it again. Happily.

~ Warren Ediger – English tutor/coach and creator of Successful English, where you’ll find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photos by W. Ediger

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28 Responses to On The Trail

  1. Humberto says:

    Excelent blog Warren! I really enjoy reading it! Thanks

  2. Dan says:

    Thanks Warren.

    I like it when you guys post pictures taken by yourself. It makes the piece more, I do not know, “personal”? can I say that?

    Congratulations, I mean, Twenty miles! that’s something. Given the age. You must be in your 50s I guess.

    Over here, (Italy) biking is very popular. On sundays you can see many, many bikers.

    I was one myself, but now it deem the roads to be too dangerous, and I am afraid of being hit by a car.

    I am sure that you Warren consider the bike a great invention, don’t you? maybe the best and cleanest vehicle we have come up with so far.

    Enjoy your rides, and thank you for all the new words I did not know yet.

    Dan, Italy

  3. Dan says:

    Just looked at a 13 minute video of the SGRT posted by a guy on you tube.
    It ends with the guy falling from the bike. Hopefully, he did not hurt himself.


  4. Warren Ediger says:

    Dan (and others),

    If you’re talking about the YouTube video titled “San Gabriel River Trail (SGRT)”, the first 4:30 (4 minutes and 30 seconds) of the video and the end, beginning at about 10:00, show parts of the trail I described. They did the whole trail, about 70 miles; I did what we call the upper trail (north half), about 40 miles. The end of the trail is a few miles past the bridge they start/stop at.

    Yes, bikes are great! I ride almost every day – short rides during the week, long rides on the weekend.

  5. Betty says:

    Dear Warren

    Thank you for this amazing story.

    I wish I can do that. Will I be brave enough to do that? I don’t know. Perhaps!

    Many thanks again, Warren, I admire your energy in writing so many good articles and doing so many activities.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  6. Betty says:

    Now I understand.

    Warren’s secret of being successful in bike riding can apply to anything.

    “I ride almost every day – short rides during the week, long rides on the weekend.” is the way to build up strength on riding.

    Learning English or any skill is the same. Do it almost every day – short time during the week, long time on the weekend, we surely can achieve our goals.

    Thanks again Warren and everyone in this “special place” (as what Lucy said in ESLPOD’s 8th anniversary video).

    Betty 🙂

  7. emiliano says:

    Dear Warren, I have the same point of view that the friends Dan, Betty, and other.
    Bravo for you, biking it is wonderful, in fact I did it when I was a boy but also with
    my daughters either when we went to my father´s house in the mountains close
    to Madrid.

    Now, no girls, no bike, no parents, no house´s parents, and Madrid it is a very
    dangerous city to do that.

    The other day, three or four days ago, a man on a bike was killed by a car that
    didn´t help him being not died on the road, blooding on the road till he died.
    It was very son at the morning and another car passed and helped him when
    he was dead already.

    After taking by the pólice the bad fellow who run leaving the poor man on the road, law, judge
    leave him free with charges and without any bail.
    That is this country, I am fed up and I have to write about the subject in my own

    Thanks so much Warren, I hope that in your country law it is more just and strict with
    these tremendous crimes, almost a murder or worst.

    My best dear professor. emilliano

  8. Dan says:

    Hi there again guys,

    Here I am today after the night shift and a good sleep.

    Thank you Warren for clarifying that.

    Looking at the same video, and I am sure the same thing went through your mind too riding over there, is: isn’t it little bit unsafe
    when you have the river on your right? what if you fall over and end up in the water?

    Actually, I have found another video where there is a woman that fell in to the river. Fortunately it was a dried section of it.
    And the guy with the camera stopped and asked -are you ok? lose any skin?. she was fine.

    Later I am going to take my walk. Not too much, just 20 minute.
    I go through the town, which is tiny, up to a path in the wood that leads to a little chapel then back home.
    Over here mother nature did great things. I am at the foot of the alps. Close by there is the place where the famous writer Hermann Hesse( the one who wrote Siddharta) lived and died.

    A place called Montagnola. That is Switzerland already. I am on the Italian side of the lake of Lugano which marks the border between the two countries.

    Thank you guys.

  9. Parviz says:

    Dear Warren
    Thank you very much for portraying this voyage.
    I am sure you can do it also the next time.
    Next time, The roosters might not say anything, when they see you are back strong.
    To your success,

  10. Parviz says:

    Hi Dan,
    I am down for that. I mean for a short walk. I always have my sneakers on.
    So, I mostly walk to work and back home.
    It is not very safe here to ride a bike. I see people now and then who ride on buss lines. They might get hurt, because the buses are so fast and produce sudden strong winds.
    But, I know no other sport safer and cheaper than walking.
    I occasionally walk to the woods and a small hill 3 miles away.
    That works very well for me.
    Thank you,

  11. Peter says:

    Quiet story u got there warren
    Well,I must say I m not surprised that you were feeling tired at the end of your escapade I might say.
    It was a hell of a ride my man.
    But , u made it . You retuned to the starting point in one peace. I used to bike like everyday for a good 30 minutes. Well , not anymore.
    You know I have no time nor stamina for it any more
    Age is taking its toll my friend
    Well , nowadays , I mostly go for a power walk early In the morning or late at night. Even , in my so called power walk I pace myself. Nothing strenuous.
    U know , people change and thing change with them.
    It is sad!!! Well , that is life my friend
    What can we do expect rolling with punches ?
    I still have my old bike, but it looks,like me, dusty and rusty. After all , it has been sitting on the corner of my garage for quite long
    Well , your pose intrigue me to revisit my bike,maintain it,and resume my cycling routine.
    My calves need some warming up though,as I m so used to a sedentary ,coach potato life style
    Well,I plan on dusting off my bike and hit the bike path by the road. But, first, I must get into the mood. What could I do ? Oh , got it. How about ordering a large pizza with extra cheese and some soda pops. Hell with it , how about throwing in some French fries and one large bag if hot,chilly cheeps. Yup , that will do it for me. It will get me right into the mood.
    That is the spirit.
    Oh , the door bell.
    Guys , the food is here at the door
    My brother is in the kitchen
    Guys gotta go . I m gonna call my brother to get the food for me at the door. Hey, no judging. Kitchen is closer to the door.

  12. Dan says:

    Thanks Parviz.

    Nice to read that.

    You know what? I do not know if that is wise or stupid, but I am downsizing on every aspect of my daily life.

    I find it that semplicity is the best thing for how/ what I am, and so, I think that walking ( we often forget we have two things called legs) is the best.

    I used to run in the past, which is great, but different from walking.

    I love reading even simple things like the one you wrote, I am curious about what other people do especially everyday things.

    I wish there were more people writing on the blog.

    By the way, what do you usually do during the summer holidays? are you going away or like myself, are you going to have stay-vacations?

    Have a good weekend.

  13. Wang says:

    Dear all!

    You did great job Warren! In my city, which is one of the most air-polluted zones undoubtedly, we even don’t want to go out without covers and medical masks. We are struggling for green belts here

    and to get out of the city, into the outskirt areas for riding? I think it is not a silver bullet for our problem. Fortunately, there are a small park, not really small here-the second largest one in my city I might say,

    near where I live. So, instead of riding around and inhaling that kind of air flow, I go jogging in the park during the week and play badminton or Frisbee on the weekend. Well, inhale as much fresh air as I can while

    doing workouts in the park, set aside the feeling of submerging into fresh air flows, the strong winds, then using it up later on during the dully working hours. Well, it is how i keep my mind up always. But actually,

    I think swimming and cycling are much better than other types legs-using exercise…When you are sitting on the saddle or drifting in the water , you release the weight for your knee joints, therefore, somehow

    it help to protect the knee area. It not only does good for your physical health, but also does good for your mind. Specially, with a bike you can go how much far as possible, how many places you wanna go,

    hence you have many more chances to explore other perspectives of the city you live in. And personally, I think the more you see things, discover how things work, the more things make you become active.

    Do you think it is good when you get off from your daily routes sometimes and spare these times for outdoor activities, especially, those relates to the mother nature like what Warren did? 😀

    Best regard!


  14. Tania says:

    Hi! “The eternity was born in the countryside”, one of our writer said.
    During my school I thought he exaggerated .
    My dream was to work in a big city with large industrialization living in a block.
    Now… the cars, noise, pollution of the air, of the water… Where could I find a place with only peace and quiet?
    Listening to only the birds’ song, their twitter…
    A bike riding is a kind of escape, a brain cleaning of all our bad thoughts…
    I’d like to have a bike , riding and riding … just me and the wind.
    But… just walking in my secret places it’s a pleasure to me.

  15. Tania says:

    Hi! I saw on News many people riding with medical masks in the largest cities.
    We still have many places without pollution.

  16. Tania says:

    Hi! Dan is right. We all, our blog friends, should post on our blog, even just a line.
    It would be funnier.
    And everyone has news from his country.

    Best wishes to you all,


  17. Lassana says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks to Warren for these interesting and entertaining story.

    We travel across his way to narrate his journey by bike.

    It’s been a long time I have not taken my bike to travel across mountains and the nature.

    This story remind me when I was 13 years old. At this period, in summer we went with a child association on holiday, we were a group of perhaps 9 teenagers and 2 adults who handled of us.

    Our holidays had place in a camping at about 25 km from my home. To go on there, we had taken our bikes.

    It’s was funny and a little bit hard to bike until on there. I was young. 🙂

    On there, we had made a lot of things such as swimming, there was a lake on there, a large and beautiful forest where we had walked every days. We had used branches of wood to make bows and had made a lot of different things.

    Moreover, we slept in tents, ate good food such fish, corn, tomatoes, fruits and many other things to eat.

    It’s a very very good memories!

    See you soon.


  18. emiliano says:

    That´s good our poet is here again.

    Beautiful Tania, Bravo. I like so much when you
    write so.

    Here, at this big city it is just what you said
    and even now with 33º C at 22 h. of night it
    is like a nighmare to think in biking at day light
    in summer.

    That´s impossible living in heat Madrid.

    My best to all blog´s friends.


  19. Sanaz says:

    Thanks Warren,
    Your story was amazing! I enjoyed so much reading it.

  20. Parviz says:

    Hi Dan,
    You put on quite a show in here, Bro.
    Walking is the best for me, It’s cheap, doesn’t make pollution, doesn’t need a lot of preparation. You just left home and it figures out all it self.
    Thank you for asking me About my summer vacation.
    Well, I really yearn a Long, relaxing vacation, but I just cant leave my office. Since I started my new office 3 years ago, I haven’t been able to go away for more than 2 days.
    Right now I am in the middle of something, and I can put it down. I don’t have any other person to stand for me, so.
    How about you. Are staying at home.
    Let’s practice vacation mentally. Close your eyes and see yourself in your Imaginary resort.
    It might be as simple as walking. even better, you can imagine yourself walking to the spot, rather than going by planes or buss.
    close your eyes. let me know how you feel?
    How is it?
    Best wishes

  21. Dan says:

    Hey Parviz.

    Actually, I do not need/want see, imagine,picture myself at an imaginary resort.

    See, I consider myself lucky ’cause I love staying here in my town in my home.

    I really feel sorry for all those people that NEED to escape, flee, run away from their home for then what? being back there again and waiting dreaming for the next vacation year
    after year and then the next year, and so on and on like a never ending circle.

    Don’t you think there is something wrong in your life if you feel the NEED to go away, escape?

    I wish more people to STOP and think on that! I think I broke out from that circle and I am satisfied with that.

    Like I said earlierI am looking for simplicity. I am staying with my cats, reading the book our dear Lucy suggested (Ender’s game).

    You know what I would like to imagine? A beautiful girl into cosplay maybe Japanese or some other Asiatic Countries coming to my place….Just kidding 🙂

    Thanks have a good day all you guys.

  22. Dan says:

    Me again,

    I would like to add something to what I wrote up above.

    I cannot stand preachers. There are so many people out there that want us to do what they think is right, and I am not one.

    Don not get me wrong, when I am writing something I am not telling other people what to do.

    I am just telling what WORKS for myself.


  23. emiliano says:

    Hi Dan,

    after so many days, months, years, writing here we are like open books and of course we, I, do understand you
    perfectly well.

    But let me add something to your comment, as I know you live in a little nice very nice site, with mountains, a
    beautiful lake, with garden and incredible views. Even you live alone, so you may do which ever thing you like
    to do. Your company it is perfect, your cats, that say nothing if you go out or remain inside home.

    So why going out from home? to other noisy place?. Right.

    No every one of us could live that way my dear Dan, it is possible, sure that lot of people living as you live
    don´t think about vacations going out other far away places if they are happy in their site.

    Take my sit, dear, living in a city like Madrid. Not views at all, not Natura, not animals, not threes, only
    polution as Wang said. Usually I didn´t go frequently out home just because inside have everthing I
    need, but I would like to go and see just what you could see from your garden. So, sometmes people
    needs to go out their place of living, to the sea, to the mountains, or wich ever different site from the
    city or place they are living.

    That´s all dear Dan.
    Lot of year I have been without holidays or vacations, being happy at home, but I like a lot going
    out from Madrid if I could.

    My best to all of you.


  24. Henrique says:

    Such a great article Mr. Edigar. Being activity is so good to our life in all aspect. It is good for healthy, for our mood, our social lifeand much more.

    I’m happy because a little more than a year I’ve begun running, and its changed my life completely. I lost 20 kg, in this time, I sleep better, in al ways I feel better…

    Hi Dan, not only the good article brought me here to write, but you too! I always read the articles written here, but comment rarely, (great Emiliano once asked me to write more) so, I think it’s time to change!
    As you said Dan, it’ll be good if there are more comments and more interaction with us. It’s helpe us to learning more and to make news friends, which is something very, very good.

    Dan, you know what? I friend of mine, who studiend with me, sleeped at my house, with I spend a lot of good time with… guess what? Is living in Italy, married an Italy woman and now lives in Corregio- Re,
    Is it near to your city? someday I’ll be there, visinting Him and perhaps, you too. I hope in the mean time while why I’m not be able to go, I really learning English and became fluent, so I be able to learn Italian too 🙂

    I know it’s not necessary to apologize for my mistakes, because I’m learning and theses mistakes are part of the process… All you here feel free to helpe me learning by correting my mistakes.

    And Dan, Emiliano, Parviz, Tania, Peter, Betty, Wang, Lassana, HUmberto and others if I forgot, what about doing chat someday, when possible, on skype? It’ll would be awesome…

    My username on skype is Ricklustosa

    My best to you all

    Henrique, Brazil.

  25. Betty says:

    Very well said! Emiliano, very well said!

    I agree with you absolutely.

    At first I agree with Dan when he said he felt sorry for those people who had to go away for holidays. It’s true, isn’t it? Such a waste of time and money!

    But when I read Emiliano’s post above, I also agree with him absolutely.

    That’s why so many people in Hong Kong are rushing out of Hong Kong to go anywhere really whenever we have public holidays in Hong Kong.

    Don’t worry, Hong Kong has not become a “deserted island”. It has plenty of visitors coming from outside Hong Kong. You simply can’t walk in some parts of Hong Kong – people congestion”.

    I don’t have the urge to go holidaying for no good reason. All the nice places in the world is in my iphone.

    Yes, I am very content with the iphone in my pocket. No need to do anything else!

    Best Regards to you all.

    Betty 🙂

  26. Øyvor Steinsheim says:

    Oh Warren, thanks for sharing this..wonderful written such as I can feel everything..like riding myself in those surroundings..
    I drove a bike many, many years ago, as beinge older, I had to face that my big dream of buying a Norton or a BSA was lost..
    what does that matter..when I`m reading a story like this..!!And know I know the name of “hegre”, a bird I often see when I
    drive along the river..is named in English=) Guess I`ll always remember that after reading your story!

  27. Dan says:

    Hi there Henrique,

    good job! keep writing and do not worry about your mistakes who cares. just write.
    Correggio is at about 200km. from where I live. Is your friend happy? good! that makes me happy.

    Hi Betty.

    It is always a pleasure reading from you.
    You know you have a special place in my mind, do not you? 🙂
    I see that you are getting addicted to your smartphone, I know, I know I like it too.

    Thank you all guys

  28. sportsbike says:

    An impressive post, I just gave this to a colleague who is doing a little analysis on this topic. And he is very happy and thanking me for finding it. But all thanks to you for writing in such simple words. Big thumb up for this blog post!..

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