The Marvin Braude Bike Trail - Coastal Bike Ride LA County

So last month Michael and I went to Manhattan Beach for a "beach" day, since we haven't taken one of those in a while. There is this lovely bike path that rides along the beach there and I started to wonder, how long the path went on for. When we got home I did some research and found out that this path is called The Marvin Braude Bike trail. It extends, north to south, 22 miles (one way) from Will Rogers State Beach to Torrence County Beach. According to one site that I read, there is roughly 2900 ft of elevation gain round trip (44miles).

A map can be found here on Wikipedia:

Check this guy's site out too for more information, He's got some good details and maps:

Anyways, I thought it might be fun to go do. It's by the beach, the weather would be lovely, and there would be plenty of people watching to do. The kicker is, since I was by myself, I would need to ride 44 miles to do the route round trip. I've never ridden that far before, but I had a few things to gauge off of:

  1. It's a paved path = easier than mountain biking paths
  2. Path looked relatively flat when I visited
  3. I can usually ride about 15 miles in 1 hour on the bike at the gym, If I assume a slightly slower pace, I estimated it would take me roughly 4 hours round trip of biking.
  4. I know my body can sustain exercise for up to 26 hours (that's the longest I've done an activity without rest, on Rainer), and I'm in much better shape than I was then... AND 4 hours is WELL within that limit
  5. Thus I  concluded, that even if it was hard and that if I got tired, I would make it back regardless.

Ok, that settled it. I decided to go ride the trail on one of my days off from work. I didn't want to deal with looking for free parking in LA so I just paid for parking at the Will Rogers State Beach. I think it was only $9 for the day. I got there about 9am.

I put on my (mid thigh) padded bike shorts, strapped on my dorky camel bak backpack, equipped with 3 liters of water, some snacks, bike pump, repair kit, gloves.... I purposely left my helmet (it didn't seem like a high risk trail), and I accidentally left my sunglasses... AND I wore a giraffe t-shirt. Starting to get a good picture of how awesome I looked? Blonde Bombshells and Brazilian bikini bottoms ain't got nothing on me. Shoot.

I can describe the first part of my ride as easy breezy fun. The first bigger beach I passed was the Santa Monica Pier. Always a classic, but usually crowded... nice ride though.

I soon ended up at Venice Beach, where I anticipated to see the masses of weed selling venues, vibrant side shops, hippies, the homeless and hipsters alike... but I guess they were all still sleeping. Still feeling good at this point, slight butt discomfort from sitting on my bike seat though, which is not a good sign.

By the way, the picture below is not Venice, I didn't take one.

Then I hit Marina Del Rey. I read that there would be a slight detour from the beach path when you hit Marina Del Rey. SO, since I got a bit lost, let me save you some heartache if you decide to go ride this trail. You turn left onto Washington, and ride down the street (there are nice bike lanes the whole way), and you will turn right before the sign on Mildred Av. See the picture below? There will be a bike route sign too.

I didn't ride far enough and thought I had missed the turn off, but some nice ladies who had come from the opposite direction helped me find the route again. Once you turn at this point, the path is pretty easy to follow.

But before you get back along the beach you get to ride beside some pretty sailboats.

And along this neat bike road next to where a lot of boats are setting sail.

About the time I got back to the beach path on the other side of Marina Del Rey, I started feeling like my back tire was deflated. Cycling started seeming harder. Ok, I got this. I will pump it up... duh.

So I pulled over and attempted to pump up my back tire. Sooo, I'm usually with Michael when I go riding, and I somehow was using my bike pump wrong and managed to let out a shit ton of air in my back tire instead of adding air. Defeated... I called Michael, and finally he helped me to get it working! I was lifting the little lever the wrong way. Oops.

Ok so ... I filled up the tire, but kind of got flustered because like 2 people pulled their bikes over and asked if I needed help, and I, being the independent woman that I am, was like "I GOT THIS".. and I totally didn't fill up my tire enough.

I started riding again, and things were getting slower and worse than before. So I pulled over again... realized my tire was STILL flat... and filled it up properly. This second time, I did it right.

Ok, back on the road. I rode by the El Segundo Refinery.

Then I hit Manhattan beach, which is lovely. :)

When I hit Redondo, I knew I was getting close to the end of the south point of the trail. It's neat at Redondo because you get to ride through the fish market area, sort of.

The last couple of miles felt tough, but I was pretty hungry. There is a mile marker telling you when you reach the end, and there is a nice little food shack to grab lunch at.

I grabbed a table and stuffed my face with quesadillas and enjoyed some more people watching.

The Ride back was tough at first, but I got a second wind at Manhattan beach and did well until the last couple of miles or so. The last 2 miles were really rough, and I made it back to my car properly wrecked. Not including my 30 minutes for lunch... it took me a whopping 6 FREAKING HOURS to ride the trail. Damn, I'm slow. I'm guessing a road bike would be much faster on a trail like this.

Some things to note about the trip. There are bathrooms all along the way, I found an empty one at one of the less busy beaches and just took my bike in there with me... I didn't want it to get stolen. I wore sunscreen, but not enough and got horrible bike short tan lines that still haunt me to this day. Don't be stupid and forget sunglasses... my eyes were burnt too. 3 liters of water was plenty. Your butt will definitely hurt during and after the ride... When I had some downhills I would stand on my bike to get some relief. Road bikes = faster than mountain bikes. 5 hour energy and snacks for the road are a definite must if tackling LA traffic and a long drive back home.

I would totally ride this again, despite it being challenging, I really enjoyed myself. It was a solid workout in a beautiful area. This might be even more fun riding with a friend... you could take time checking out more of the areas, grabbing a longer lunch, shopping even...

The full ride is not an easy feat for those not used to riding 40 + miles on their bike. However, be happy to know that you won't be alone out there on your trek. There are all kinds of people embarking on their own Marvin Braude Bike Trail Journey. Things to anticipate:

  • Segways
  • Skateboards
  • Motorized Skateboards
  • People standing in the middle of the bike trail
  • Dogs riding in baskets of bikes
  • Hippies
  • Bikinis
  • Volley ballers
  • Beach bummers
  • Tan and blindingly white people
  • Homeless
  • Jamaican Music
  • The smell of weed
  • Muscle Men at the outdoor gyms
  • More people standing in the middle of the bike trail
  • Intense road bikers
  • And if you're lucky, super sexy giraffe shirt wearing girls on mountain bikes