Biking in the AV

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The joys and challenges of riding in the Antelope Valley

In which I take the train, bus, and ride my bike to the doctor

May 27th, 2011 at 14:38

A little change of pace. Today’s post is not about riding in the Antelope Valley. It’s about riding in the San Fernando Valley.

Let me backtrack a little bit to explain. On May 15th, I ran the Pasadena Half Marathon along together with two of my running buddies. Somewhere around the halfway mark, my left heel started to hurt. B-A-D-L-Y. There was so much pain my friend emphatically suggested I stop at the medical tent for some ibuprofen. That helped and I was able to complete the race. But, by the time I got home, I could barely walk.

It’s customary after a race to take some time off from running for recovery, then resume running later. When I tried to run again, though, the pain came back with a vengeance. My friend and I theorized that it was the dreaded plantar fasciitis, but it seemed prudent to get a medical opinion, and in the interim ice and take anti-inflammatories. I made an appointment with my podiatrist.

Around this time, I heard about Clif Bar’s Two Mile Challenge. So since I hate driving down to the doctor’s office in Northridge, I made an elaborate plan to ride my bike to the Antelope Valley Metrolink Line’s Palmdale station, get off at the Burbank station, catch the Ventura Line to the Northridge station, and bike the last mile and a half to the doctor’s office.

Unfortunately, I overslept yesterday morning. Despite riding as fast as I could, and getting to the Palmdale station on time, I could not get a ticket out of the machine fast enough. The train left without me. This was the only train that would make a connection with the only train of the day that would stop in Northridge.

A kind security officer suggested I call Metrolink to see if they could help me. The Metrolink representativeI said the best thing to do was buy a ticket for the Sylmar/San Fernando station. I could take a Metro bus from there. The roundtrip ticket was $4 cheaper and would also serve as a ticket for the bus.

The Metrolink ride was thoroughly enjoyable. Those of us in the train car were entertained by a gentleman named Al, a regular Metrolink rider, who had us all in stitches. But, the bus driver was snotty and mean to me. I got off the bus at Sepulveda and Plummer.

I’ve never biked in the San Fernando Valley before and had no itinerary, since my plans had changed so drastically. But, I had plenty of time, it was only about 8:00 am, and my appointment wasn’t until 10:00 am. I took off west on Plummer, which had a bike lane and light traffic.

Plummer ended at the east side of the CSUN campus, I had to turn left, then right onto Nordhoff. At this point, my Garmin screen went blank. It wasn’t far to a Vons on the corner of Nordhoff and Reseda, where I stopped to buy a bottle of water and a package of AAA batteries.

From there, I rode to Yolanda, a lovely tree-lined side street, and turned into the alley for the doctor’s office. There was no bike parking, but they let me bring the bike into the waiting room. Since I was early, they squeezed me in half an hour before my appointment time.

Dr. F. examined my foot, then took a couple of x-rays. The verdict? A bruised heel, not plantar fasciitis. The cure? Rest, rest, and more rest. No running for 4 to 5 weeks. And to work on retraining my gait so I’m not heel striking. Oh, and in the meantime, I can ride my bike to my heart’s content. Which, of course, I planned to do anyway with no prodding from the doc.

I told him I wanted to go to the Sylmar train station directly without taking another bus, but I wasn’t sure how to get there. He let me use an office computer to go to Google Maps, which gave me a bicycle-friendly route.

Before setting out, I made a minor detour back to Vons, bought a couple of bagels for sustenance, then took off on bike again. The route took me to Vincennes, then Plummer, which went through the CSUN campus until a point where a traffic officer directed everyone left into a parking lot. I stopped to ask him how to get to Plummer. He said to go on the sidewalk and past tennis courts and that would take me onto Plummer. If I’d known that on the way, I wouldn’t have taken Nordhoff.

Continuing another few miles on Plummer, I then turned north on Woodley, which also had bike lanes. But, it also had a big hill on which I pooped out and pushed the bike. The Woodley part of the ride was another couple of miles to Rinaldi. There was more traffic on Woodley and there were also parked cars close to the bike lane. I tried to stay alert and watch carefully for opening doors. Rinaldi didn’t have much traffic until I got to the freeway just before Laurel Canyon, where I had to make a left turn. It was a little tricky getting across the lanes of traffic, but drivers let me in, and I was able to make the turn.

The next portion of the directions led up a slight uphill grade on residential side streets, then onto a busy thoroughfare for about half a mile. After the next turn, I was at the Sylmar station. The whole ride was 8.5 miles.

Overall, I found riding in the San Fernando Valley pleasant. Even though it was warm, there was lots of shade. Speed limits were lower and the cars kept more distance from the bike lane.

I got to the station 10 minutes before the next train to the Antelope Valley, saving myself a four-hour-and-25-minute wait for another train. When I arrived in Palmdale, Sarge was waiting for me in the parking lot. The folding bike was easy, as always, to fold up and throw in the back of the hatchback.

And that was my bike-train-bus-bike-bike-train adventure.

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2 Responses to “In which I take the train, bus, and ride my bike to the doctor”

  1. Gene Kaufmann Says:

    Wow-quite an advevture!Other than the oversleeping and the snotty driver it sounds like all went well. I am surprised you had to push your bike tho-you’re in such great shape! I really admire your dedication to your running and biking!

  2. Michele Chavez Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Gene. All I can say about pushing the bike is that the folding bike suddenly felt terribly heavy.

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