Biking in Los Angeles


We are a few months into our grand Southern California experiment. So, I have had the time to get my bike fixed and use it for commuting. Los Angeles is really an amazing city for biking, in the sense that the weather is perfect for it throughout the year. Through Central LA the roads are flat and wide, and although the bike paths are hit-or-miss, you’re generally not forced to ride in dangerous spots.

Here was my first attempt at a nice-looking path, which tried to pick up on that perfect diagonal through San Vicente and Venice Blvd, which even have official bike paths.


This didn’t quite work out as planned; there were a number of hills, long stretches of ugly asphalt, and some dodgy car-dominated intersections (actually San Vicente and Venice was one, below).


One day I picked the southernmost of the options presented to me by Google Maps, shown below:


That one’s simple enough to memorize and reasonably short. However, just about where that red circle (Rancho Cienega Recreation Center), there was a small problem. A very small, very spiky problem.

Wikipedia caption: “Thumbtack-like Tribulus terrestris nutlets are a hazard to bicycle tires.” Yup.

I didn’t notice it, but in that area there grew some Tribulus terrestris, also known as “puncturevine”, which drops nutlets like those shown above. By the time I noticed these things sticking in my tires, it was too late; both of my inner tubes were punctured. So I brought my bike on the metro nearby and called it a day. At least it was in my tires rather than my feet.

The following week, I brought my bike in to get new tubes. This is what it looked like pulling out the thorns from the tires.


What was really surprising was the sheer number of thorns and fragments left in my wheels, even though I took out the major chunks the same day that I ran over them. This is my collection:


Aside from this incident, actually the biking has been pretty good. The city has been pretty safe and clean. Here’s another path that I’ve been taking which has worked out well:


Hopefully I won’t be looking up any other crazy plant names due to future incidents…


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