Fixed gear? Check. Helmet? Check. Lights, lock and water bottle? Check, check and check. All that's left for a bike tour of the city is a plan for where to ride. "City Cycling USA: Los Angeles," a pocket-sized tour guide to seeing Los Angeles on two wheels, is ostensibly for visitors; for locals, its series of bike-friendly paths and itineraries are a road-map to becoming tourists in their own city again.
"City Cycling" explores five neighborhoods in the Westside and Eastside and generally north of the 10 and south of the 101. (South L.A. and the Valley are conspicuously missing.) Itineraries fit the span of a day, beginning with spots for coffee, ambling along museums and shops, and finishing off with recommendations of where to grab a well-deserved, post-ride drink. Published by Thames and Hudson in association with London cycling brand Rapha Racing, the guidebook is among the first U.S. installments — alongside New York, Chicago and San Francisco — in a series launched in 2013 with biking tours of eight European cities.
The text by Kelton Wright sounds distinctly British ("take a pootle round on your bike and see what suits you") while Kelly Carpenter's watermelon-colored illustrations are pure pop.
Greatest hits such as the Bradbury Building and Echo Park Lake anchor neighborhood tours, with plenty of trendy suggestions for where to eat — Eggslut, Pine & Crane and Gjusta. Cyclists hitting the Silver Lake and Pasadena routes stop at Skylight Books and Vroman's Bookstore, both well-known haunts for local readers, but "City Cycling" isn't trying to reinvent the wheel. The guide is a reminder of how densely packed each enclave of L.A. is with unique destinations, the sheer amount of places to explore within a few square mile radius, easily done once we step out of the car.
Los Angeles' famously pleasant weather makes it an ideal city for exploring by bike; neighborhoods have different styles — "beach cruisers on the Westside, fixies on the Eastside and roadies climbing out of every canyon." Recommendations include gorgeous routes on the edges of the city: the road to Mt. Baldy and Marvin Braude Bike Trail, a.k.a. The Strand. "The tongue-in-cheek hashtag #lasucksforcycling shows the wide variety of views and climbs available in and around Greater Los Angeles" and while "the car still reigns supreme," cycling culture, like CicLAvia, already has substantial support, and is poised to grow with the implementation of Mobility Plan 2035, which aims to make the city more bike friendly. "City Cycling USA: Los Angeles" is a start.