626 Golden Streets: A Little Like the Ould Sod
Have I ever regaled you of tales from time spent in Ireland? If you rode the 626 Golden Streets today you would have a pretty good idea of what some of those tales involved. If, like I did, you had popped into Griffins of Kinsale, there at the end of the line in South Pasadena, to sit out some of the rain, while nursing a pint of Guinness and a pipping hot shepherds pie, you'd have an even better idea.
the CX crew heads out for an early morning spin from the Irwindale hub.
very busy at the Monrovia hub.
a lot of chalk art along the route, at least before the rains came down.
the spin art bike was designed by a high school student - you could have
done it at Two Wheels Good, South Pasadena
umm, I think he wants your beer
steaming hot shepherd's pie on the menu
dancing in the rain
If I bought in to such things I might be tempted to believe that the 626 Golden Streets event has a bit of a curse upon it - I mean, first being cancelled due to fire last year, and now being, nearly, washed away by rain, which at times became a near downpour. I will not be surprised if a plague of locust descend on the next try.
Fortunately the rain held off for the morning hours, so there was plenty of time to ride the entire route from east to west, or which ever way you happened to do it, even spending some time at the various hubs along the way. The further west we rode, the larger the crowd became, especially at the hubs where all kind of activities were taking place.
Eventually, however... Ireland, Eire, the Emerald Isle, rain. It was while sitting in Griffins of Kinsale, along the Sarah and John, who we had discovered just up the street, that it began to drum down. It came down on helmeted heads, saddles, whether or not there were butts perched on them, umbrellas popped out and up. Some people sought shelter - Griffins filled up quickly as, I imagine did other establishments, while other people crowded under awnings and building overhangs. Through it all, though, there were other people who, in true Irish sprit, just did not seem to care. The music went on, as did the dancing, and the walking, and the riding; maybe not the chalk art, but then that was to be expected.
Finally finding a window of opportunity, we gave up our nice warm table at the pub and got back to the road, the one that would, ultimately have to stretch all the way to Azusa. Unfortunately I put my head out that window, and it closed quickly. We had hardly gone a half mile before the rain returned and came down with progressively more force. As the rain increased the number of riders riding the road decreased, until the flow heading either direction was barely a dibble. Reaching Arcadia station, we had a choice to make, continue along, knowing that the streets would soon reopen, or hop on the Gold Line. It was only a few stops back to Azusa, but we took the easy way out.
For a first attempt the 626 Golden Streets was a measurable success, large numbers while the weather cooperated, great diversity of riders, and modes of transport and a, mostly, interesting route. I did think some sections, especially turns, were more sketchy than they needed to be, and some of the volunteers at crossings could have used a little more training. Another hour or two would have been nice as well; two more would have made riding from one end of the route to the other, then back, with activity and food stops along the way, much more realistic. I did not get to see any of the city cross events which, funny thing, was originally my main reason to ride the 626. Overall, though, this first Golden Streets open streets event gets a thumbs up.
Unfortunately the camera had to be put away, but there are more photos you can view by going to Flickr here.