If there’s one route people ask me to show them when they’re visiting Los Angeles with a road bike, it’s how to get to the Hollywood Sign. It turns out, cyclists can fall victim to iconic destinations just as commonly as non-cyclists. That’s what you do when you come to LA right? The one thing that separates this spot from other tourist destinations like the Chinese Theater or the Walk of Stars is you’ve really got to work to get up close and personal to the Hollywood Sign.
There’s an old joke in Hollywood, stemming from a conversation between Johnny Carson and Bette Davis. Carson asked Davis for advice on “the best way an aspiring starlet could get into Hollywood,” Ms. Davis replied without hesitation, “Take Fountain!”
Fountain Ave is a bicycle-friendly connector between Silver Lake and West Hollywood. It runs east to west and is parallel to Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, two very congested arteries and very dangerous to ride bicycles on, especially during rush hour. By contrast, Fountain takes you past cafes, farmer’s markets and while the beginning is a two-lane road, it widens up once you reach Hollywood. There are “sharrows” the whole way, reminding motorists to share the road with cyclists but don’t be surprised when a Maserati goes 80mph past you, tailpipes brapping.
If you’re staying in our neck of the woods, or need to grab a tube, some snacks, and a few high fives, you can begin at Golden Saddle Cyclery or Intelligentsia Coffee, where we begin the TGSCIF rides, coincidentally, where these photos came from. From there, take Fountain into Hollywood, a flat and easy warm up before climbing through Nichols Canyon, a windy, mellow climb to the fabled Mulholland Hwy. From there, the real steep stuff begins, but at least the jump in elevation is broken up by a spin around the Hollywood Reservoir. A local’s secret path reconnects you with Mulholland Hwy again – in reality, it’s a bit of sandy singletrack – as it’s noted on Google Maps.
Once you pop out, expect to see lots of tourists, photographers, and locals in the mix, trying to meander through the twisty streets. Beware of distracted drivers! It’s not long until you’ve climbed up to Mt. Lee, where the sign sits protected by 24/7 surveillance and a 10′ fence. On a clear day, you get 360º views of Los Angeles, from the coast to the mountains and everything in between. Make your way back down, through the crowds and to the base of Griffith Park, before cruising back to Golden Saddle to share your stories.
See the route on Strava. As for a bike, I’ve seen everything from singlespeed commuters, to track bikes, to flat bar ‘cross bikes make the journey. Hell, run what you brung!