Training rides: when I have time, I like to go out and explore. Yesterday, it was Griffith Park. On Saturday, I rode up Fern Dell, took the left onto the no-cars road that leads away from the observatory and the Greek theater, and at the top, took a right onto Vista del Valle.

The roads that are blocked to cars see their fair share of hikers and bikers, but they’ve fallen into disrepair. About a year and a half ago, I rode up Vista del Valle on a mountain bike, and those tires are far better suited to the task than the skinny tires on my road bike.

It’s also worth noting that I’m a very timid descender. Even the worst climb that leaves my lungs and thighs screaming, that leaves me heaving, terrified, on the verge of crying and vomiting, is preferable to a steep descent, on a crummy road, in shade.

So, down Vista del Valle Saturday, down Mt. Hollywood Drive Monday. Every noise in the bushes reminds me of the episodes of Six Feet Under that started in the park.
Every weird nook and cranny in the road has me wondering if today is the day I go over the handlebars and break my collarbone. And then I look up and see a pair of coyotes trotting my way… And past me on up the hill. Much better behaved than many of my students’ dogs.

When the road finally rejoins civilization at Griffith Park Drive, I stop to consider: left or right? Right gets me home a little faster, and not just because the decent is steeper. Left is the long way around, with a more gradual decent. I know both well from training here for the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon over the summer. I suffered a lot in this park, envying the cyclists with every step I took.


Down the long way around. Up Los Feliz Boulevard, which seemed aptly named at the time. Home.