Griffith Park is a great ride that, with my usual route, throws three climbs at me, which I call the Three Bears: the first--Cahuenga Pass--is Papa Bear, a longish and moderately steep climb that unfortunately parallels the Hollywood Freeway, but that fortunately offsets that by often presenting the rider with wild mustard, purple sage, lavender, and other desert plants. Just past the turnoff to Mulholland Drive, the road drops down quickly to Barham Boulevard, where you turn right for a short climb I call Baby Bear. From the top of Baby Bear you drop steeply down (and dizzylingly fast, if you're on a coasting bike, which I was not) to Forest Lawn Drive, which runs between the LA River (hemmed in by various studios at this point) and the famous cemetery, which gives way eventually to the chaparral hills of the park itself.
A right turn brings you to Travel Town, the steam engine museum where I spent many happy hours as a child. Another right turn brings you face to face with Mama Bear, a two-lane road winding among oaks and sycamores. It is deceptively steep, actually the hardest workout of the ride. At the top of this climb you pass by the road that goes over the park back to Hollywood (now open only to bikes!). I wasn't that ambitious today, and dropped into the little valley behind the zoo, where I took the first two pictures. (And yes, I've seen plenty of rattlers in Griffith Park, and signs of the big cats too. Even though the park is nearly smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles's 15 million or so denizens.)
More oaks, interspersed with picnic lawns, golf course, and side roads leading to camps and more golf courses. (There are fire roads too, but riding on them gets you a ticket.)
A mile or so farther on is the merry-go-round and a huge picnic area, where I photographed the old oak tree and Crystal Springs Drive. A couple more miles of rollers and I was back in heavy traffic at the intersection of Riverside and Los Feliz, where I resisted taking the ten millionth photo of the Mulholland Fountain. Instead, I went on to a stairway that I use as a shortcut to Glendale Boulevard, which would bring me back to Silverlake, then Hollywood, then home.
To make it a utility ride, I stopped at one of my local resellers and gave them a sales pitch.
But the real utility was the pleasure of the day, the park, and the hills.
A couple of hours, twenty-five or thirty miles, and a Sunday morning well-spent on the bike.