Sorry, we couldn't find any results for your search.

    Close
    City to sky: riding and filming in the city of angels

    City to sky: riding and filming in Los Angeles

    Los Angeles is unlike anywhere in the world. A patchwork of city and mountain, it was the location of our latest shoot and a place where riding is the answer to life's daily challenges.

    07 June 2018

    The Rapha Los Angeles Clubhouse opened last year in Santa Monica, a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean. The Rapha Cycling Club quickly followed with a local chapter, and a community of more than 500 riders now ride with us every week. It is easy to see why. Riding in Los Angeles is a story of city to sky, with the mass urban sprawl of the landscape ebbing away as the mountains rise. At any time from sunrise to sunset, it is possible to ride from the congestion and chaos of downtown into the wilderness and tranquility of Southern California. For many cyclists in LA, riding is an antidote to the challenges faced every day in similar cities all over the world. It gives the cycling scene a very particular feel, exactly the feel we wanted to capture with our ‘Riding is the Answer” campaign.

    Angus Morton, a former pro cyclist who features in the film and is collaborating with Rapha to produce the upcoming documentary series Outskirts, is relatively new to the city. Moving to Los Angeles last year from Boulder, Colorado, he was warned of what to expect. “I was told when I first moved to LA not to look at it as one thing but as a hundred individual parts that have grown together over time,” he explains. “It’s not a place that can be classified in a lifetime let alone a sentence. I've tried to explain what it is to ride a bike here to people and I've always failed to capture it properly because riding a bike here doesn't make sense. Cycling in this city is a hundred different things that have grown together over the years to become a seemingly discernible mess. A brilliant mess that might just be one of the best places to ride a bike.”

    "Cycling in this city is a hundred different things that have grown together over the years to become a seemingly discernible mess. A brilliant mess that might just be one of the best places to ride a bike."
    – Angus Morton

    Angus appears alongside four other riders from around the world in the sunrise ride. Cole Maness, a Memphis native who lives in LA with his wife and son, rode the original Rapha Continental rides, a series of adventures by bike across North America that took place almost a decade ago. “If I didn’t ride a bicycle, I’d be the loneliest guy in Los Angeles,” Cole says. “Because of the bike I know my wife, I know all the riders in this film and I’ve been all over the world. It’s the fastest way out, the fastest way up into the mountains from the city and even faster down.”

    Bianca Pettinicchi, another local rider in the film, moved to the city and has since helped build a network of cyclists who share short and long rides all year round. She explains: “When I moved to LA five and a half years ago there were two women who really brought me into the community. They knew great routes, they knew who to take me on rides with, and the three of us have built up a community of women we ride with.”

    Even the creators of the film share a connection with the city’s cycling scene. Joe Staples, executive creative director at Mother and a longtime friend of Rapha, was another of the original Continental riders who calls LA home. “The city can be full on. Noisy and aggressive but there is a lot of beauty here,” he says. “Each neighbourhood has a distinct look and feel. Passing through them means you see and hear differences. It’s like the openness you experience on holiday where everything seems new but in LA it can be one area to the next. It’s an energizing place to live and ride.

    “I ride for lots of reasons” he adds. “I used to ride to suffer. In a world of subtleties and fakery, pain is always real. I ride now to escape from meetings, I ride to see the sun rise from the top of a mountain, I ride to spend time with friends. It’s rare now that you get to talk to someone for hours on end. A good climb will allow that. I also ride to the shops with my 6-year-old son. I get as much joy from this as I used to get from killing myself on climbs. I think that’s what I’ve learnt in the last few year and that’s what I hope this film can talk to. There isn’t one reason to ride. There are lots or reasons and as long as when you feel the push, you move…. you are doing it right.”

    "Riding in LA is unique because before your morning meeting, before the emails and the coffee, you can climb from the claustrophobic city streets to vast canyon gravel roads."
    – Max Weiland

    Director Max Weiland, who also directed Elton John’s Tiny Dancer, describes the city as “built for cars”, lending a particular energy to the riding. “Everyone is stuck behind the metal and the glass; shouting into phones, cut off from the world, suffocated by the traffic, and all alone. Riding in LA is different to other places in the world. Yes, it still means liberation. Yes, it’s an escape from the isolation. Yes, it’s tactile and you feel more. The rush of the ride. The drama and the fun. But, riding in LA is unique because before your morning meeting, before the emails and the coffee, you can climb from the claustrophobic city streets to vast canyon gravel roads. The noise suddenly fades and nature whips past. You reach the summit and look back to where you’ve come from. Ready to face the day. Riding is like what skateboarding used to be; it’s about interacting with your environment, and it’s about finding a community.”

    "It’s a cool city for riding because there are people at all different levels of the game. You’ve got all these different styles on the bike and they all bring this totally different flavour."
    – Ben Lieberson

    Rapha has a deep connection with the city. Ben Lieberson, a founding member of the Continental series and originator of the phrase ‘outside is free’, has become a pillar of the LA cycling community. “I see it like a secret society,” he says. “You have this city that everyone has a perception of - that is known around the world - but really as a cyclist, it is one of those secret places where you need to know some of the locals to find the good roads. But within 35 minutes of wherever you are, you have this really tasty riding you can disappear into. There are secret backways and little dirt tracks and fire roads that connect parts of the city and you need that local intel. Once you know, it’s hard to beat.

    “It’s a cool city for riding because there are people at all different levels of the game. You’ve got all these different styles on the bike and they all bring this totally different flavour. That’s one of the things about LA; whatever way you want to ride, you can find like-minded people to ride with. It’s the original social network; you’ve got this great community in an organic way. It’s dope. People need to check it out. It’s also got really good tacos.”

    Watch the film Shop the look

    By signing up to the Rapha newsletter you agree to our Terms and Conditions and that you have read our Privacy Policy, including our Cookie use.