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Showing posts from July, 2013

Car-free LA: LA River Trail (Upper Section)

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The "Car-free LA" series profiles rideable terrain in and around Los Angeles that separates you from the endless stream on cars. All are rideable by road bikes unless otherwise noted.

Most people in Los Angeles do not even realize that there is river running right through the city. It is most famous for its appearance in film: a prototypical place for car races and chases. The river is not the most beautiful thing in the world with concrete lining and industrial setting, but it is something.

A seven mile trails run along the west side of the river in the Burbank / Glendale area. Seven glorious car-free miles along the west side of the river. You'll share the path with walkers, skaters, homeless people, and the occasional horse, but the path is generally pretty wide open and makes for a nice ride - fast or slow. Much of the river along the path has a "soft bottom," which allows trees and grasses to grow naturally and makes for a much nicer view and provides a ha…

Oodles of Poodles

So I went into the Angeles National Forest this past weekend to explore some trails that I noticed on the side of the road the last time I was in the area. Coincidentally, two others guys were in the parking lot and planning to do a very similar ride. We headed down and then up a lesser traveled portion of the Silver Moccasin Trail (SMT). The trail was fun in some sections and absolutely brutal in others. With a mix of sharp switchbacks, steep sandy ascents, and super steep hike-a-bike ascents, it took us over an hour to cover 2.7 miles.

I was beat at the top of the climb. I walked over to a bush to take a nature break, and as I finished my business and walked away one of the other cyclists asked, "So, do you know about the Poodle Dog Bush?" "Uh, no," I responded. Sounded like a made up thing to me. What is this guy going to give me a lecture about the types of plants up here? He continued, "the plant you just visited is a Poodle Dog Bush. They can give peopl…

Do-it-yourself bike repair in Los Angeles

Do it yourself (DIY) bike shops is a concept with growing popularity, and there are a couple of great locations to check out in the LA area.

You might be asking, what is a DIY shop? Well, it is a workshop that usually consists of some bike repair stands, tools, old and new spare parts, and volunteers to help you along with whatever job is at hand.

Which may then lead to question number two: why would I want to use a DIY shop? People come in for lots of different reasons, such as:

It's cheap. Most places ask for donations based on how long you are using the tools and floorspace, roughly in the range of $7 per hour. Plus, there is a huge advantage in not having to collect all the required tools yourself. Bike stands, wrenches, grease, and many other odds and ends are necessary for many repairs, and for most people it doesn't make sense to buy it just for the occasional job.You can learn new skills. Whether is changing a tire or building up a new frame from the ground up, DIY sho…

Car-free LA: Mt. Hollywood Drive

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The "Car-free LA" series profiles rideable terrain in and around Los Angeles that separates you from the endless stream on cars. Most are rideable by road bikes unless otherwise noted.
Mount Hollywood drive is 4.1 miles of pure car-free riding in Griffith Park, just about 6 miles northwest of downtown LA. The road was originally used by automobile traffic, but was closed to cars many years ago. It is a great way to get from the Valley side of Griffith Park to the LA basin side if you are looking to get in a bit of climbing. The views in both directions are fantastic, with great vistas of the San Gabriels, Griffith Observatory, downtown LA, the Santa Monica Mountains, and even the Pacific Ocean on a clear day.




The other great thing about this stretch of road is that it is easy to connect up with other car-free and traffic-light bikeways like the LA River trail, Vista del Valle, and Zoo Dr. 
Be aware that it is not maintained like a normal road anymore, so expect some gravel, …

New mayor in Los Angeles - what does it mean for cyclists?

Over the weekend Los Angeles inaugurated it's new mayor, Eric Garcetti, concluding Antonio Villaraigosa's 8 years of leadership over the city. The change of faces in the mayor's office has many folks wondering what the future looks like for cyclists in the city.
In an interesting twist of fate, a broken elbow became a watershed moment for cycling policy in Los Angeles during the last administration. Under Mayor Villaraigosa, LA saw the creation of CicLAvia and the addition of hundreds of miles of bikeways. With a mayor that understood the joys and challenges of LA cycling himself, the progress was real and lasting. 
Back in February, the LA Bicycle Coalition surveyed candidates on bicycle issues, and Garcetti's camp responded by saying all the right things. He stressed focus on safety and promoting cycling with activities like monthly CicLAvias. His track record as a council member is promising, and I wish him all the best in his new role. It is important that the voi…

Monday night rides in LA

Riding your bike through the streets of Los Angeles in the dark? Believe it or not, it is somewhat of a normal thing for a small group of folks. With all of the traffic, a night ride can actually be a rare opportunity to escape the peak congestion hours and see LA from a new angle. There are two ongoing "eastside" rides that are most well known:
Wolfpack Hustle - Departs from Tang's Donuts at 10p on Mondays. This ride has a mix of fixie and road riders. Distance generally ranges from 25-60 miles, with pretty high speeds for much of the ride. The group gets a B- on average for safe riding -- traffic lights are observed in some cases, but the pack has a tendency to keep rolling. All rides start and end at Tang's: 4341 W Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90029.
Cyclones  - Departs from Velo Love at 8p on Mondays, I have yet to do this ride, but I heard that they are more safety conscious than the Wolfpack Hustle and the pace is a bit more mild. Velo Love (AKA SWRVE): 3421 Ver…