Wowzers… Okay! Sean Talkington of Team Dream coming in a bit late on this one but hopefully it is worth the wait?! It’s been two months since the second installment of the Los Angeles Invitational, a two-day event hosted at The Cub House that included a day of riding on Saturday, then a Bicycle/Car Show and parts swap turned block party extravaganza on Sunday. This started off eight years ago as a half-baked and half-assed excuse to BBQ with friends and sell some old bike stuff. It has somehow grown into a pretty sensational (though maybe still a bit half-assed), fully-loaded weekend for thousands of people to enjoy. I can’t believe we pulled it off again AND managed to do it even bigger this year. Read on for a recap of the festivities, check out the video, and be sure to peruse the stacked gallery of cars and bikes from Traece Craig and Thibault Linossier.
The first day of this year’s LA Invitational started a little rough, but it turned around quickly. When we arrived at 5am there was no power on the entire south side of our block and hundreds of people were about to arrive hoping for coffee… no pressure! Patty and Spencer pushed the coffee cart across the street to our office. With an extension cord and a dream they made it work. We felt unstoppable and ready to serve up some of the best riding this city has to offer on a silver platter.
At 7am on the dot it was go time. Participants chose one of three routes with varying lengths and levels of difficulty. The large majority of gravel riding we have here in Los Angeles can easily double as amazing cross country mountain biking. This year’s course options were no exception. A solid mix of single track, double track and fire road dirt sections were pieced together, visually spectacular with steep ups ‘n downs serpentining through nature.
Our longest route for 2023, called the Triple Scoop, featured one of LA’s hardest climbs up Haines Canyon in the Angeles National Forest and was 55 miles with a bit over 7,500ft of climbing. The aid stations were packed with enough snacks to feed a small army, because 400 people is a small army! Cheech from Crust and Larry Ravioli killed it with their party aid station for the second year in a row.
Those two are absolute legends and a true highlight for anyone who stopped in to see them. To be honest, we couldn’t care less about who rides the course the fastest. Every year we hear about “bigger” gravel events built around the top 100 people that leave the slower participants stranded without food or water which blows my mind, so we wanted to be extra sure all participants are taken care of. The goal for our event is to be sure every single person feels like the ride was put on for them.
Back at The Cub House every finisher received an “I Did It” patch and our new neighbors across the street, Pizzanista, helped us feed them. At one point there was a line around the block as everyone waited to snag a slice. Pretty dang cool. And to cap off a really great day, this year we raised close to $10,000 for the Lowelifes trail-building organization and Los Angeles Bicycle Academy… insane! Thank you to everyone who registered and therefore donated to these incredible local organizations.
The 400 people we hosted for the ride on Saturday seemed like a lot, but then well over 1,000 people showed up on Sunday! The city closed the entire block in front of The Cub House for the day and we filled it with cool cars and even cooler bicycles. There was music and tons of great food options. Mastica, Pinko Coffee and our very own Patty Baby brought the heat. Tacos Arabes showed up in their food truck to serve one of the best tacos in LA. There were swap deals galore. I scored a Cinelli Gramo stem from my buddy Fergus that I cannot wait to put on something. Throughout the day attendees voted for their favorite bicycle, car, and bicycle/car combo. The winners received our highly coveted homemade trophies made from secondhand store finds, hot glue and lots of spray paint.
There is something about the block party that really pulls on my heartstrings. As great as cycling is, it can feel isolating and even selfish at times. It is something we do for ourselves but the energy on Sunday was the total opposite. Its really a bunch of bicycle people not riding their bicycles. There were kids running around like crazy, friends I haven’t seen since COVID started, old racing buddies who fell off from bicycles and even non-cycling friends enjoying the attractions. This all exists because of cycling, but the coolest part for me is definitely the community we’ve cultivated around The Cub House sharing their love for cycling with the people they care about. Does that make sense?
No way this event could happen without the following people/volunteers: Hoffman, Izzy and Jake Brown hiked in water for the Triple Scoop Aid Station. Traece Craig for his photos. Chuck at Velo Retro for helping us promote the bicycle show. Bobby from Mid South for giving us the kick in the pants to make this ride an actual thing. Carla and Adam for another set of amazing trophies for 2023. David Bangor for the hand drawn maps. Evan Weselmann for the flyer. The City of San Marino for allowing our weirdness to sprawl out onto public streets. Lowelifes for cleaning up the trail sections that were affected by this year’s heavy rain. Everyone at The Cub House. Even our mechanic Simon showed up early! It was the first time in history any of us had seen him before 11am, haha. Bobo’s Bars and Honey Stinger came through big for us. Shout out to Pocari Sweat for the drink mix, too. Cheech, Larry, Patrick, Emily – thank you for sponsoring the event. And to all the people who showed up, whether you live in LA or got on an airplane to be here, we were honored to have you. We will 100% be doing this again next year so mark your calendars for late May/early June. We promise to give you more than 30 days notice next time.
Below is a link to the riding photos by Traece Craig. If you attended this years ride and happen to find a nice photo of yourself feel free to donate a few dollars to the LA Bike Academy and/or Lowelifes on behalf of Traece.
See Traece’s ride photos here.