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SGV Connect 102 Interview: Chris Greenspon interviews Vincent La Rocca – Streetsblog Los Angeles | Gmx Pharm

ACG: I’m here in front of the Blossom Market Hall with Vincent La Rocca. He is one of the members of the New Group SGV Cycling. And Vincent, why don’t you describe your last ride for us? I know you guys go out every Thursday right?

VINCE: Yeah, we go out every Thursday. We’re launching from multiple locations in the San Gabriel Valley last Thursday. We started in Alhambra at Alhambra Park in Alhambra. And we drove through the Alhambra. We drove west toward El Sereno, LA. We walked through the park, Ascot Hills Park, a very nice local park in El Sereno for people to go hiking and walking. We actually drove up the Fire Roads that lead to the top of the hill and we also had a nice view of downtown LA and the San Gabriel Valley. And from there we went north through El Sereno and then further north through South Pasadena and then looped back to the Alhambra. So it was a really nice ride with a bunch of guys, Phil and Justin von – he’s actually from Koreatown – but we actually drove to the trailhead from downtown LA after work. And we drove from Alhambra. It is very nice.

CG: What do you drive?

VINCE: So I ride a gravel bike and it’s basically my all-around commuter bike as well as an adventure and fun bike to ride. It’s a Ribble, it’s a British brand from the UK. And it’s blue, my favorite color, and it’s got some gravel tires on it now. So it’s great for dirt, but it’s also easy to ride on streets, and it’s got pretty wide tires, 38-millimeter tires, so it’s nice and comfortable on like some potholes or LA streets.

CG: How did you get into cycling? How did you get into commuting and you know, going on adventures?

VINCE: I’ve always liked nature, been a boy scout. From there I moved on to my own similar personal adventures. Backpacking through Yosemite or in the surrounding areas, San Gabriel Mountains, backpacking there, even, you know, a lot of hiking, and I really got into hiking at first, and I think during COVID I would do a lot, that was my primary sport – or activity hike and that evolved into running and then you know running is great fun but it’s really hard on your body. So I switched back to cycling and started cycling where I used to live in downtown LA. I biked around town for a bit to get to know you, to get groceries or to go to a restaurant or just to explore the area and then from there I was like okay I’ll stay downtown which is great but you only get the view, you know you get tired of the city views so you want something more nature. So I transferred my, you know, my love of hiking into you, you know, biking in the mountains or in natural areas like Griffith Park, for example, it’s a nice local natural area where you, you know already, birds can enjoy , hawks and trees and stuff like that. So I took, I took my bike, my original bike, I took up there, and then I wanted to go a little bit faster, and I got this bike, and I started riding to Griffith Park, which was nice. So yeah, just wanting to kind of progress and get fitter and more adventurous and want to explore the area, the San Gabriel Mountains and other areas where I can bike.

CG: Who would you like to see come out and join you on your group rides?

VINCE: I’d love to meet someone who’s interested in exploring cycling, you know, once I – I’ve tried to make the rides a little bit more beginner-friendly, but I haven’t really got that much interest so far. But basically most of the people that ride with me are fairly experienced riders who would like to ride a few times a week, so they’re quite more experienced. But you know, I’d love to have new cyclists who just want to explore the city by bike. That’s pretty much it. Anyone interested would get some value out of the weekly rides, I think.

CG: Yes, while we’re on the subject, where are the areas around SGV that you think should let beginners out and get them into a taste of cycling?

VINCE: Yes, if you are a beginner and want to get a taste of SGV. So I’m more on the west side of the SGV. So I would say, you know, explore, you know the mission area. Stop by – drive past the mission. It’s a little slow traffic, it’s a little safer Checkout Blossom Market which I like to ride to, you know, maybe ride through South Pasadena, they have pretty good bike infrastructure and they actually have a great bike shop in San Marino, next door South next to South Pas. It’s called Cubhouse and it’s a bike shop, local bike shop and SGV that a lot of people like to visit. So if you need any cycling needs check this out and this area is just great because they have bike lanes on Marengo and Raymond which are nice nice treats to ride during the day. And if you’re more adventurous at night, with lights and such, you can do that and drive safely.

CG: Do you want to get to the point with your group where you have someone at the helm, like some of the more professional hallmarks of horseback riding you know? Someone at the stern, someone with tools, stuff like that?

VINCE: Yeah, I mean, we all carry our own tools, but yeah, I’d love to have that at some point. I think it’s good to have it to be on the safe side. So once we have more people you know participating and newcomers, it’s good to have those people for those roles.

CG: What do you think of bike culture in LA? Is it welcoming, successful, inclusive?

VINCE: I definitely think it’s bike culture – and I’m pretty new to it – so it’s very inclusive from my perspective. LA has many rides that are inclusive of LGBTQ, transgender women. So there are many groups out there and if you feel that a group might be a little off-putting or too advanced or you might not get the right vibe from them you can always find a group that suits your style more, what i love, what i like. And I’ve tried a few groups and they all have their different aspects. Some are more street oriented, more sporty, you know, fast, others are more chilled and chilled and more for the view and for the social aspects. So there are many groups out there. It’s I guess you just have to explore and try social media and see which ones suit your style more.

CG: What style are you trying to project?

VINCE: I’m trying to project more of a chilled foodie style, having adventures, exploring the city with some every now and then, maybe exploring a little harder, you know, dirt and natural areas, which you know unfortunately are exploring the natural areas by bike is a bit more difficult because it is a bit steeper

CG: What kind of improvements have you been thinking about while cycling through the SGV?

VINCE: Maybe just…we definitely need a network of bike lanes that allow people to connect across different cities as well as within a city. That simply doesn’t exist at the moment, this network doesn’t exist in many SGV cities, which is unfortunate. You know, certain cities are trying harder and like South Pasadena and Pasadena I’ve noticed that they have good bike infrastructure. Others are slower or are slower but they are working on it. And then others don’t even try. But basically I’m trying to encourage more cycling and create more awareness. After all, we can have a nice network within the SGV.

CG: This might ask you the same question, or it could be entirely different, but if you could — that’s a question my friend Damien, who co-hosts the podcast, asks almost everyone — if you could wave a magic wand and change something about the SGV (doesn’t necessarily have to be a bicycle), what would that be?

VINCE: So more, more accessible bus lines, more frequent bus stops, more protected bike lanes that can take us to high traffic areas like different shopping areas or parks and nature areas. would be very nice. And also subways or, or more trains in our region would be really nice to get people moving without cars.

CG: Classic wave-one-magic-wand-to-get-Three more wands. Vince, before I let you go, so we’ll probably post that on Friday. Do you have a trip planned for next week?

VINCE: We have a ride for Thursday 15th and 22nd Yes.

CG: What do you have on the 22nd?

VINCE: The 22nd has yet to be determined. But there will be a ride on the 22nd

CG: Yes. Good. So keep an eye out for SGV Cycling on Instagram and for the weekly Thursday ride. Thank you for joining us at SGV Connects, Vince.

VINCE: Thank you for inviting me.

Updated: September 17, 2022 — 12:32 am

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