Let’s play a quick word association game. Think about Los Angeles for a second. What comes to mind? Chances are if you haven’t spent much time there, or even if you have, you’ll quickly rattle off something along the lines of: traffic, congestion, Hollywood, smog, sprawl and road rage.
As the roughly 3.8 million residents move about the city’s crowded freeways in their cars, the ever-expanding population of cyclists take to both the urban streets as well as the surrounding hills and mountains. While LA is flat in some areas, it packs in its share of elevation. With Mount Lukens being the highest point within the City of Los Angeles at 5,074′, Mt Baldy breaks 10,000′ in LA County. Everything from sea level to around 9,000′ is accessible by bicycle. If you know where to look.
It took me a few trips to find my place within this sprawling urban fabric and it wasn’t until I began to explore both the city parks like Griffith and the Angeles National Forest that I truly fell in love with LA. In fact, a quick query through the archives of the Radavist reveal many rides, on both dirt and asphalt that would rival even the most secluded European landscapes. Even if you live and ride bikes extensively there, there’s a good chance you haven’t even scratched the surface…
My experience with LA was largely shaped by the owners of Golden Saddle Cyclery, who have shown me places I would have never thought existed in a city that carries so many stigmas and connotations associated with that dreaded “car culture.”
Looking back at my last trip to Los Angeles, I realized something. No matter how often I visit, there are always new road rides to tackle, or new fire roads to climb and new trails to hit at high speeds. Whether navigating hobo trails, or freshly cut singletrack on the side of a mountain, my experience of LA continues to expand.
It’s true, I have a love affair with a city that’s often deemed as inhospitable for cycling. While that might be true for some areas, LA is the cycling destination that you never thought existed.
The #LASucksForCycling hashtag is strictly sarcasm, check out what cyclists in Los Angeles see on their rides at Iconosquare…
Tools of the trade: