Locations: Riverside, Rubidoux, Grand Terrace, Colton, Valley View, Jurupa Valley
I lived in Riverside while in high school. It ain’t exactly the prettiest place in the world. Then again, there are areas of Tulsa that can make you shudder. But you take the desert-like vistas and put a nice morning hue to them (could be the smog) and there’s a rather serene feel to it all. Especially compared to riding in LA.
I rode along the Santa Ana River Trail. Not a 50th as crowded as the trails in LA, but very well maintained. Again, it’s Riverside, so there isn’t a lot of green to be seen. The predominant color is brown, and the landscape is hills, dust, and rocks. So the I wouldn’t ride here for the views.
Also on the downside – because I like to get negatives out of the way – it’s hot. Whereas LA was in the 80’s (70’s at the beaches) Riverside was in the 90’s and 100’s, much like Tulsa. However, there was very little humidity, making it for a dry heat. Some people prefer that. I’m not sure it’s any better (kinda hurts my sinuses).
Next, there’s the smog. The west-end of Riverside county (Riverside county is huge – about the size of the entire Oklahoma pan-handle) is bordered by lots of hills, and winds from the west tend to drive the smog from LA into Riverside, giving you a haze so thick you can practically chew the air. After an hour of good pedal-work, I could actually feel it in my lungs.
For the positives though, the people are friendlier than in LA. They were more relaxed, not nearly as pushy. I even had a nice conversation with another rider when inquiring how for the trail went. People seemed to be enjoying their time riding or running, despite the deserty surroundings.
There’s also some very nice areas in Riverside, such as Fairmount Park and Lake Evans. And when you venture away from the trails into the communities, you’ll find more than enough hills to keep you huffin’ and puffin’ without having to ride 20 miles to find a good climb.
So, not the prettiest riding you’ll find in SoCal, but a mixed array of sprint paths and challenging climbs, with heat and a laid-back feel very reminiscent of Tulsa.