#LASucksForCycling Revisited

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…

Golden Saddle Cyclery

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:
Fuji X100t
iPhone 5

  • Eric Wang

    I lived and loved ATX, but have you considered one day shifting to the best coast? With what you’d save on airfare in a year given how often it seems you’re in LA, you could hook yourself with a nice new custom frame every year!

    Great stuff either way, keep it up!

  • breed007

    I think this is probably true of a lot of cities with strong “car culture.” When freeways are cut in they leave behind miles of little used roads that are great for cycling. But it isn’t super obvious when you first start riding there.

  • boomforeal

    do you even ride road any more bro?

    ;-) welcome to the dark side

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I ride road to stay in shape and zone out. :-)

  • trackosaurusrex

    LA is the worst!

  • ctmo85

    You ever think about doing some cycling-focused travel/city guides? I realize all this info is already on the site, but it’d be cool to have it all in one spot. Rides/shops/restaurants and whatnot. Call me lazy if you want.

    I have some upcoming time off work and need to know where to go and ride!

    edit *and you just posted one for Austin, excellent*

  • barry mcwilliams

    I love my city, for sure!

  • Cptn Penguin

    Whats the “new trail” and the one within LA city limits you were on? or can’t you say

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson


      • Cptn Penguin

        That’s what I figured. I’ll have to find it on my own then.

  • tony365

    when i first moved here 2.5 ago to Claremont. at first I hated it then I took my cross bike up in the Mountains and it was love, then I moved to Pasadena, and I even more options now. I lived in Portland for 15 years and miss it dearly but I am learning to love LA and all its messiness.

    • Josh Siegel

      Mess is a great word. You have to find your corners in this messy town, then it becomes a very different story.

  • AKKC

    #HongKongSucksForCycling also, but I have learnt to love it ;-)

  • Kyle Deven

    Cycling is the reason I haven’t left Los Angeles. I can’t imagine a better place to for people that want to ride their bikes every goddamn day.

    • Jonathan McCurdy

      Loved this spot.

  • Jonathan McCurdy

    I will say that there are better places than others for cycling within the LA metro. For instance, from where I was near the airport, my options for a quick after work spin were pretty limited and all involved lots of lights. Granted, I started finding better routes (Baldwin Hills and Angeles Vista in the Ladera Heights area are great for #teamdreamsunsetchasingteam). I would have loved to experience more of the mountain riding up north, but the 45+ minute drive from my house, plus a lack of cycling friends (that one’s on me, I know) and only weekends to do it, ultimately limited my time up there. I’m still kicking myself for never riding Hwy 2 before I moved to Phoenix, but it’s still on my list (only 5 hours away, right??)

  • Western Rapid

    It’s probably a pretty similar story in London, where I live. On the surface, it’s just a mangled network of traffic-filled roads, but push out for 40 minutes and you’ll hit the suburbs and the outskirts. Then, north or south, you’ll hit the countryside, and the hills…

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Yeah, but these are giant mountains. ;-)

  • Josh Siegel

    I lived in the Bay Area which was an early spot for bike culture and amazing cycling in the US. In moving to LA 10 years ago, I was worried it would be a wasteland for cycling and not compare.

    Not true. The trails and roads may take a little creativity, but the “shoulder areas” have ex urban adventures that are fantastic. That includes road and trails. And the depth and breadth of talent is truly remarkable in cyclists. I am lucky to live in a suburb that decided to invest in a network of paths that I can loop for training and use the longer weekend days to do extended rides or climbs.


  • Area45

    Born and raised here but the guys from GSC always school me on the hidden gems of my hometown. We’re lucky to have those guys set up here.

  • Bill in Pasadena

    Wrong! LA & surrounding areas are great for cycling. Big cycling culture & clubs, great group rides, & the mountains (Mt. Baldy 10K+ ft) are a challenge for even the best climbers. The Simi Ride (Sept-Jan) is a true racers’ training ride, winding through some beautiful scenery & ends with some challenging climbs in Malibu Creek State Park. LA Sucks: oh yeah? C’mon down & play in my backyard!

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Dude… It’s sarcasm. The whole article talks about how RAD la is for riding…

      • Bill in Pasadena

        i know, I know. I read the article.
        Just defending the hood.

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          You don’t have to defend it! I wasn’t attacking it. ;-)