This bike trip came about when my nephew, Curtis, mentioned he would like to join Barbara and I on a bike ride some day. We were at a family Christmas celebration and talking about some of our recent rides. I told him it was a good idea and I would see what I could come up with. My mind went to work on a ride that would be fun, and closer to his home that where we live. Almost immediately, I remembered how I wanted to do the tour of the Russian submarine that is docked next to the Queen Mary. Curtis, being a teenager, would have to love seeing the inside of that big sub.
The plan was in motion. I wanted to do the ride in spring before the heat of Southern California kicked in. I asked Curtis what he thought, and the plan was a go. I gave him the option of coming with us by himself, or inviting his family and others on the ride. Of course, he wanted to enjoy the ride with as many of the family members that would come. As things came together, it would be Barbara and I, Laura (my sister and Curtis’s mom), and 3 of Laura’s 4 kids (Curtis, Craig, and Leah). The timing of the ride also worked out great. Barbara and I were coming to Laura’s oldest son’s graduation and birthday party on July 3rd. So the group bike ride would be on July 4th, perfect.
We made reservations at a motel we have stayed in before. We go to Catalina for every one of our anniversaries. The Rodeway Inn is on Atlantic Ave, one block from the water. We stay there and take the Catalina Express to the Island. Today, we would use them as the starting and ending point of the ride. They treated us great, as always. They were even generous enough to let us leave our car in their parking lot for the day, and let Laura park there too. She had her big van filled with bikes, and it was so convenient for Rodeway Inn to be so accommodating. So, after a wonderful party, we spent the night in Long Beach and waited in the morning for the rest of the group to start our ride. The close location of the motel made the ride much easier on the kids and my sister.
The bikes were unloaded and I helped to give them a one over and fill a few tires. It took a little while for all the gear to be loaded and the helmets to be strapped on. We took our bearings and headed out. Leah had never ridden on the street before, so we kept a close eye on her and gave her many words of encouragement. She did great. Curtis was on a friend’s fixey. It was his first major ride on that bike. He did great and had the most fun of the group. Barbara and I always use our blinking lights, front and rear. That helped the safety of the whole group. Our first destination was the Queen Mary. Riding the big bridge over to the Queen Mary, you could see for miles in all directions. It was a beautiful day, so we stopped a short time to take it all in. As we rode into the parking lot, we passed the cars who had to pay for parking. Not us, they love bikers.
First stop was to see the old English double-decker bus. Then we rode over to the Russian submarine and locked up the bikes. In the gift shop for the sub, we learned that it was a Foxtrot-class submarine named Scorpion. Made in 1972, it was retired in 1994. We tried on a bunch of Russian hats and prepared to take a dive into the sub. Laura and Leah stayed topside while the rest of us took the tour. There is not space here to tell you all we saw and did inside. I did take some awesome photos through the periscope. I recommend you have a look for yourself.
Next we rode by the Aquarium of the Pacific as we entered Shoreline Aquatic Park. This is all bike path. We spent very little time on the roads because this area is very bike friendly. There were a fair amount of people enjoying the 4th at the park. Not so many that it affected our comfort or ability to stay together. We did a full circle around a fantastic light house and stopped for pictures. We entered a shop and food area in the harbor and we all found something we liked for an enjoyable lunch. While we ate, we laughed about our fun and watched all the activities in the harbor and shop area.
During the ride, we stayed at a mellow pace and let everyone in our group stop to see the things that interested them. Curtis was always raring to go on that fixey. More than once he would pull away from us and then circle back to ride with us. He did more miles than any of us. Our computers showed a total ride of less than ten miles, but there are lots more paths, and we could have seen so much more. Barbara and I plan on returning for more sightseeing soon. After lunch, we continued on through Shoreline Aquatic Park and the fun wasn’t over yet. As we worked our way back to the motel, we rode on Shoreline Drive. This is the actual roadway that the Indy cars use for the Long Beach Gran Prix race. One by one, we rode our bikes over the start-finish line (at a much slower pace that the race cars). This was especially exciting for me , as I am a big race fan.
The ride ended in the parking lot of the motel. We talked about the fun we had and the things we saw. We looked at some of the photos we had taken. Curtis talked about how he is saving up to buy his own custom-made fixey. Even though he is almost driving age, bikes are on his mind more than cars. That is the way it should be for everybody. We packed up the bikes. Barbara’s and my bike fit into the back of my Toyota station wagon. And even though the ride was over, the fun hadn’t ended. We headed to my oldest brother’s house in Orange County for a family pool party and barbecue. All of us gave them a bad time for not joining in on the ride. They have bikes hanging in the garage, but decided not to come to Long Beach to join us. Maybe next time.
Consider taking this ride yourself. Check Google maps to see the many bike paths on the coast there. We all guarantee you will have a great time.
See you there, Turbo Bob.
“Like dogs. bicycles are social catalysts that attract a superior category of people.”—-Chip Brown—-A Bike and a Prayer.