Abandoned Places

My road bike takes me places. My mountain bike takes me other places. My cyclocross bike, I have discovered, is adept at taking me places in between those other two. I would not be as comfortable, nor as confident if I let the road bike attempt to take me to these places; the mountain bike could do it, but these places also, and often, involve some pavement miles, the type of miles that something a little less mountain bikey are better at.


Some of the places, once useful now abandoned, carry a weight of historical interest, places like the folly of Shoemaker Canyon, while others are more utilitarian in nature and, well, not so interesting. Like this old piece of road in the channel of the San Gabriel River. 

Its surface is buckled and pocked, its edges crumbled and undercut. Floods have washed over it, rushed along its foundations. Piles of dried brush, carried downriver have washed up against its sharp edges, pushed over the top by the current and look like outsized rats' nests overflowing from the surrounding brush. Yet it remains (such as the remains are). Considering some other, more modern roads I frequently travel, I feel I must say it: They just don't build them like they used to.

Archaeologists and engineers both, would note the exposed layers - hard and sun-baked surface, aggregate base, larger aggregate sub-base, compacted native soil. Along a river course - not an especially great place to build a road in Southern California - but, and without studying early maps, my guess is it followed along the river up to the canyon. Until someone wised up, built the levee, and other roads on higher ground. Maybe it was travelled by outdoor enthusiasts during the Great Hiking Era of the 1930s, maybe by urbanites heading to one of the old East Fork resorts for a weekend retreat during the 40s and 50s.

By Sunday Mother Nature is supposed to lift the lid off the broiler we have been cooking in the past few days, and blow a little cooling wind our way, so get out and discover something new, something you haven't seen before, maybe something abandoned that you have been wanting to "discover".

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