Our friend, Director and Editor, Mitch Marcus has lived in Los Angeles his entire life. It’s no surprise that he embraces the active life: always out biking, hiking or at a yoga class. Mitch told us that the stereotype goes that the city looks ugly and the people look pretty unless you look closely and that Los Angeles is a city of cars. These stereotypes are disputable. What is not disputable is that the sun shines relentlessly on a fairly flat basin sitting between partially wild hills and mostly open coastline. Perfect bicycle conditions.
Not much of an urban bike rider? Rent bikes on the beach at Santa Monica and cruise all day on a completely car free flat path. You can still jump in the ocean and watch the sunset.
It’s well worth visiting The Griffith Observatory, either by foot or bike, and then exploring nearby hip Silver Lake.
Challenge: If you are not afraid to sweat, Saturday in LA on a bike.
Start: Your day begins at Disneyland – no, I’m joking. That’s a horrible way to start your day. But near Disney’s corporate offices in Burbank lies Griffith Park, a massive park in the hills. Inside Griffith Park is a tiny, weird little park called Travel Town where they have a miniature train conducted by a full grown human who looks like a pied-‐piper giant sitting in the mini-‐locomotive (so for those of you who want a Disneyland experience, this is a low-‐rent version). For the rest of you, don’t go into Travel Town. The parking lot is our starting off point.
The Park Ride: Get on your bike and make a left out of the Travel Town parking lot. Ride up the hill along Griffith Park Drive. After what feels like a hundred, but is probably closer to one mile, make a left onto the first paved road (it appears to be closed because it has a locked gate). From here you've got a beautiful quiet paved road that will take you miles and miles through the hills and make you forget you are in a city. (If I had a pedometer on my bike I could tell you how far it really is. Figure on an hour if you’re not in scary bad shape). You will enjoy the challenge of a long winding climb – make a left when you get to a T intersection at the very top of the mountain. Now enjoy the rush of a long winding downhill. Go sharp right after you go through another locked gate toward the bottom. (However if you want the added perk of the iconic Griffith Observatory, you’ll go loose right and a little more uphill. See the site; retrace your ride back down the hill to be back on course.) Note: now you've got cars again, so try not to get killed as you race down rest of the hill.
Breakfast at Trails Cafe: Toward the bottom, you will pass a quaint looking wood building in the trees. This is Trails Café where you will find amazing, delish, funky, fresh baked goods (a fave are the bacon scones) and coffee. I call this breakfast and well ‐earned. You might just find that your racing modern mind has found some peace. And it’s still early... depending on when you actually got moving.
Back on your bike: From Trails you continue down and out of the park, make a right on Los Feliz Blvd. Prepare for a steep downhill that’s as urban dangerous as the earlier ride was country peaceful; but it’s super quick and short (probably 1⁄2 a mile) to Hollywood Blvd where you will find the Subway stop. Yep, in LA subways does exist. Get on with your bike(s) and head toward downtown.
Downtown Cruise: Get off at Metro/7th. Ride around. Get lost. Downtown is fairly small and oddly bike friendly on the weekend. Just end up at Bar Ama or Baco Mercat, Chef Josef Centeno’s delicious fusion takes on Mexican and Spanish. Both are so good I can’t choose. (You’ll just have to ride again next week) Then find your way back to the same station and take the Expo route toward Culver City. Get off at the La Cienega/Jefferson stop.
Ride to the beach: Go right onto the expo line bike path for .2 miles, cross Jefferson Blvd and go right onto the Ballona Creek Bike Path. This “river” ride will take you six miles to the ocean without cars. You go right on the Marvin Braude bike path, which will become the beach bike path along the sand. You've now crossed LA from North to South and East to West. If you still have legs you ride up and down the coast for miles and miles on this path. Or you can just take your clothes off, jump in the ocean and celebrate. Try and stay for sunset. The shitty L.A. air usually makes for nice colors.
A well deserved dinner: After you give your bikes back, get a short cab ride to Superba in Venice. You’ll never have better toast for dinner, plus many other tasty, small plates. And screw the other diners if they’re bothered by your body odor. You killed it today.
Tip: You can rent bikes from “Bikes and Hikes LA Ecotourism”. For eighty bucks (plus competitive bike rental fees) they’ll drop bikes for you at Travel Town and pick them up at the beach, so all you've got to do is pedal and pay.
Just for the record: I do not hate Disneyland.