Wednesday, October 13, 2010


This Sunday (10/10/10), Los Angeles hosted CicLAvia, a ride on closed streets that stretched from Melrose to Boyles Heights in downtown L.A. Although similar events have happened in other cities around the country, Los Angeles had never hosted a cycling event of this magnitude. Los Angeles has historically been a very car-centric city, so getting approval of the event was a great accomplishment by the organizers.

CicLAvia is based on Cicloviá (meaning bike path), a social event that began in Bogotá, Columbia in 1976. The purpose of the event then, as it is now, is to promote community interaction and cycling in urban environments. Since the inaugural event, Bogotá now hosts Cicloviás every Sunday and on every holiday. The event has grown from merely an event for cyclists to a cultural experience, featuring aerobics classes, yoga, performance artists, musicians, and lectures. In addition to growing in scope, the event has also grown geographically, spreading throughout Latin America.

As a company based in Southern California, we really want to stay active in the local and regional cycling community, so we were excited to be part of the event. After picking up some bikes and some companions, we embarked for the corner of Heliotrope and Melrose not really knowing what to expect.

The Route began in the “bicycle district” of L.A., home to several independently owned cycling related or themed businesses. From there, the route went South through MacArthur Park, then City Hall, and ending at Hollenbeck Park.

The Route

Upon arriving, we immediately realized that there were more people in attendance than we had anticipated. I honestly thought that the ride would only be a few thousand strong. However, there were probably about a thousand people just at the bicycle district! At any one time, that street was packed with people talking about bikes, dancing to one of the live DJ’s, getting food from a local restaurant or food truck, or just walking their bike to get to the route.

The view of the Bicycle District. Street View

The only thing more impressive than the number of attendees was the diversity of riders. There were kids riding their first tricycle, octogenarians and every age in between. There were roller bladers, roller skaters, skateboarders, human powered vehicles, food cycles, fixed gears, scooters, tandems, tall bikes, bikes with trailers, bikes with boom boxes, etc.

We rolled down New Hampshire Ave., and I quickly lost track of my duty to take pictures. Before I knew it, I was just smiling, talking with others as we rode, and enjoying the L.A. streets devoid of cars. It was probably the best possible way to see so much of Los Angeles, and we were able to do so in the company of fellow bike enthusiasts. The rest of the ride was a blur, so here are some pictures, and some links to Google Street View so you can check out where we rode:

The bikes are ready to go.

The entrance to CicLAvia. Street View

This is probably the least crowded stretch of road on New Hampshire. Street View

Waiting on traffic. There were several points where car traffic was allowed to cross at red lights. A good compromise considering how long the route was. Street View

Riding by the bowling lanes. Street View

Another light. These were good chances to socialize.

Passing the soccer field on 7th St. Street View

The chalk messages on the road were a nice touch.

Heading back up 7th. Street View

Like many people on the ride, we dropped by several businesses along the route for snacks and drinks. (What is better than a mid-ride cupcake?) Businesses seemed to enjoy the increased Sunday sales. The estimated 100,000 attendees made such a strong impression that the organizers are already planning 4 to 5 events for 2011 and hope to make it a monthly event in 2012.

Check out CicLAvia's homepage for more details.

Monday, October 11, 2010

OC Gran Fondo

This weekend, I attended the Orange County Gran Fondo based out of Irvine, CA. I am a fairly recent addition to the Felt team and California, so the route looked promising. In one trip, I would be able to knock off two of the biggest Orange County cycling milestones: 1) ride on the Pacific Coast Highway and 2) ride Santiago Canyon Rd. While the route was only briefly on PCH, and the climbing on Santiago Canyon was fairly mild in comparison to some of the other local climbs, I was excited nonetheless. There were several route options, and I chose the 63 mile trip over the 100 mile trip in part because I wanted to head home a bit earlier and in part because I didn’t make it there in time for the 100 miler start.

When I got to the start area, I was greeted by Felt’s Demo Truck Manager/Master Mechanic Q. Some of you may remember Q from the Interbike photos. Q hooked me up with a Felt F2 demo bike for the ride. Equipped with Di2 and weighing in at around 16lbs with bottle cage and my ancient MTB pedals, I couldn’t help being a little giddy over the ride. After getting signed in, getting my bike in order, and chatting with the guys from Bike Religion, the whistle blew at 8:00 signaling our start. I quickly grabbed the route cue sheet and headed off a bit behind the main group.

Q manning the Felt Demo Truck Area

Q doing his thing.

Some Felt bikes ready to go.

My bike for the day - a 58cm F2.

For those of you unfamiliar with Gran Fondos, the purpose of the ride isn’t to race; it is kind of like a supported group ride with food stops along the way. The point is to ride, socialize, and generally enjoy yourself for a day. It is also a chance for fairly new riders to experience riding in a group setting. The weather was beautiful, the The ride was a blast, and before I knew it, I was riding along PCH. From there we m ade a turn onto the Santa Ana River Trail and hit the first Sag Station.

Sag Station #1

The Sag Station was nice, featuring sandwiches, fruit, energy bars, cookies, brownies, and many other tasty items. After taking some pictures and talking with several riders, I set off for the second leg of the journey. Up until Sag Station #1, I wasn’t really putting much effort into the bike. I was mainly in groups of riders or cruising by myself at moderate pace. The second leg had more climbing (for my route, there was nearly 2000ft of elevation gain), and would really be the place where I could feel the bike’s characteristics.

Prior to the ride, I knew that there was a timed KOM section set up somewhere along Santiago Canyon. I wasn’t entered into the competition, but I still wanted to put in a decent effort for that stretch of road to test out the bike and get a feel for my own fitness. Unfortunately, about 2/3rds done with the timed section, I got a flat. Up until that point, I was really feeling good and the bike felt extremely efficient. I was able to change the tube and set off again, but my enthusiasm to go hard faded a bit, so I just sort of enjoyed the rest of the ride up.

Almost immediately after the KOM segment, the second Sag Station appeared. Again, this was loaded up with delicious mid-ride treats. The volunteers were amazing, snagging water bottles and filling them so that riders could socialize and rest a bit. While taking pictures, I noticed how arid the climate was up in the hills. It was quite a contrast to start the day in the verdant Irvine area, make it down to the ocean, and then be in a mountainous sandy location all on the same ride.

Sag Station #2

Bike mechanics ready for mechanicals at Sag Station #2.

Descending back into Irvine, I was pretty much on my own for the first time since I had started the climb. The only problem was that I am not very familiar with the area and needed to look at my cue sheet. Unknown to me at the time, the cue sheet for the 63 mile ride was printed on the back side of the 100 mile ride. I just unfolded the cue sheet, saw Santiago Canyon, and began to follow that route. Inevitably, I would stop and look for the next road and would unintentionally alternate between the 63 and 100 mile cue sheet. The result was that I was very lost, and ended up stumbling across some riders who directed me in the correct direction. Back on track, I actually passed right by Felt’s corporate headquarters in Irvine! Within a mile or so of the finish, the Bike Religion riders and a few guys that I had ridden with on the trail joined me, and I was able to finish the ride with some familiar faces.

View Interactive Map on
The Route I was supposed to take.

View Interactive Map on
The Route I ended up taking.

Waiting for the riders at the end was all you can eat spaghetti, which was heavenly. It was also a great place to talk to other riders in the area who participated in the event. All in all, it was a pretty fun day, and a great way to experience Orange County. I can’t wait to see what route they do next year!

Post-ride food and drink.