Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Friends of the Pacific Trail
 With the resurgence of bike riding across the country, many are discovering the adventures that can be enjoyed while cycling in town or on vacation.  Often, we forget the treasures that await discovery, sometimes right in our own backyard. On a recent vacation to Colorado, we visited the stunning town of Boulder that sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains.  Boulder is not only a college town but a bike friendly destination city that supports cycling through a vibrant Active Transportation Plan.  Boulder has an active bike community that benefits from bike lanes, bike parking, bike trails, etc.  Bike shops were abundant and electric bikes were available to rent for those who enjoy the convenience of commuting by bike but do not presently own one, yet. We witnessed for ourselves how charming the city is when you slow down to a comfortable pace and enjoy it while cycling.  Everywhere we went, there were people commuting on bikes.
Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels

Touring by bicycle is not exclusive to just vacations.  You can take a bike tour in your own community if you remember to see it like a visitor.  Several months ago, we decided to entertain our cousin who was visiting us from Oregon.  We jumped on the Pacific Electric Trail at Vineyard and pointed out the John Rains Museum adjacent to the Trail.  I am constantly surprised when I meet residents who do not know that there is a county museum right next to the PE Trail.  Fortunately, there is a rich historical history here that needs to be preserved.

The Cucamonga Rancho

The name "Cucamonga" may have been derived from a Shoshone word meaning "sandy place." The area, watered from mountain streams, was the site of a Native American settlement. The Mission San Gabriel established the Rancho Cucamonga as a site for grazing their cattle. In 1839, the 13,000-acre rancho was granted by the Mexican governor of California to Tiburcio Tapia, a wealthy Los Angeles merchant. Tapia transferred his cattle to Cucamonga and built a fort-like adobe house on Red Hill. The Rancho extended easterly from San Antonio Creek to what is now Turner Avenue, and from today’s Eighth Street to the mountains.
The Rancho Cucamonga lay along the route of the Old Spanish Trail from Cajon Pass and the road from the Pueblo of Los Angeles and Mission San Gabriel to San Bernardino. Each followed the Mojave Trail. Cucamonga welcomed travelers including Native Americans, padres, explorers, mountain men, pack trains, wagon trains, and stage lines.

The Rains House

Courtesy John Rains Museum
"The Cucamonga Rancho was sold in 1858 to John Rains by Tapia’s daughter, Maria Merced Tapia de Prudhomme, and her husband Leon Victor Prudhomme. Rains in 1856 had married Maria Merced Williams, the daughter of Chino Rancho owner Isaac Williams and granddaughter of Don Antonio Maria Lugo, owner of the San Bernardino Rancho. Maria was thus a wealthy heiress, and Rains invested in three ranchos and the Bella Union Hotel in Los Angeles. He purchased Rancho Cucamonga for $16,500 and constructed a burned brick building on the property at a cost of about $18,000. The Rains House was built in 1860 by Ohio brick masons from bricks made by Joseph Mullaly from the red clay on the site. Its flat roof was waterproofed by tar from the Brea pits in Los Angeles. An open flume carried water from springs through the kitchen, into the patio, and under the house to the orchard, thereby providing cooling for the structure. The original house had an entry hall, a parlor, and three bedrooms in the front, with a patio area flanked by a dining room, a kitchen, a padre’s room, and two guest rooms.
Courtesy of John Rains Museum
John and Maria Merced moved from Chino to the new brick house with their three children in the spring of 1861. By that time, Rains (a former cattle driver) was recognized as a rich and politically influential man, generous and well-liked, who provided abundant hospitality at his strategically located Cucamonga home.
John Rains planted 160 acres of vines in 1859. Wine and brandy made at Cucamonga gained wide popularity. An earlier small vineyard and winery is said to date back to 1839, thus establishing the claim that Cucamonga has the oldest commercial winery in the state."
- Courtesy San Bernardino County Website

Courtesy of the Sycamore Inn

We headed west past the Route 66 Trailhead that was busy with runners and cyclists and crossed over the Foothill pedestrian bridge and rode past the Sycamore Inn that was established in 1848.  The main idea that day was to stop and eat at our favorite spots along the Trail.  We headed into Upland for breakfast at our first stop; Molly’s Souper.  Molly’s caters to pet owners who regularly bring their pups with them and provide ample bike racks for the regulars who ride there. Molly’s is a popular spot because she treats all her customers like family.  If you wear your pajamas to Molly’s each December, she will serve you a free hot chocolate!

Courtesy of Molly's Souper

There was so much more to see along the way and when you glance up at the mountain range, you can see Cucamonga Peak, Mt. Baldy, Mt. Harwood, and Telegraph Peak.  We got back on our bikes and continued to travel west through Upland past Montclair and arrived at our next stop in Claremont, Casa Moreno for lunch with more friends.  Casa Moreno is another regular stop for cyclists who enjoy a delicious meal after riding.  After lunch, we all hopped on the Metrolink in Claremont with our bikes West-bound toward Los Angeles.  We spotted a large group of cyclists heading southwest on the popular San Gabriel River Bike Trail that parallels the 605 freeway all the way to the beach.  It is always a treat to see how many folks take their bikes with them on the train.  As we walked through Union Station, we enjoyed musicians taking turns playing the piano in the main lobby.  

Courtesy of Union Station LA

Across the street from Union Station is Olvera Street and of course we had to make a quick stop for cervezas and taquitos.  We did not want to overeat because the next stop was just around the corner, Chinatown for Asian fusion fare.  Visiting Chinatown never disappoints with the many pagoda style buildings with red lanterns, dim sum houses and bakeries to sample. 

Postcard: 1948

The entire bike tour provided us with easy transportation access and a variety of restaurants to choose from.  We met other travelers with bikes on Metrolink and on the return trip we reviewed the pictures we took of our bike tour to share with our friends.  After a day full of eating, sight-seeing, eating on our bike tour, posing for pictures, more eating, riding, eating and more riding, it was a relief to eventually get off our feet and enjoy a comfortable ride home on the train.  There was a full moon in the eastern sky that evening as we enjoyed the final leg of our tour on our bikes. My cousin enjoyed our bike adventure and asked us if we could discover other areas on her return trip next year.  She helped us remember the treasures we have right here in Southern California.

Biking has been under the spotlight lately with thousands of folks eager to get some exercise and enjoy the almost empty streets due to the shelter in place mandate.  For some who previously used public transportation to commute to work, many do not feel that the busses and subways are safe, so riding their bikes is a great option.  Bike stores have inventory on back order and there is a waiting list for those who just want to tune up their old bikes and start riding again.  It's encouraging to witness this bike popularity making a strong presence today. 

Share your story, tell us how you're sheltering in place in the comments below.
 Until next time, “See you on the Trail.”

Friends of the Pacific Trail

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