In Southern California, the car is often the undisputed king of the road and we cyclists are reduced to mere serfs fighting over transportation table scraps. However, on a few rare occasions, things get all Bizarro world – like this weekend. There wasn’t just one, but TWO great events exploding with bikey happenings.

The first was Tour de Fat in Los Angeles, where we met up once again with our friends Bryan and Cynthia (aka Orange and Purple) and Gary of BikesVsFlight fame. We rode from Santa Monica deep into the heart of Los Angeles to partake in some bicycle and beer debauchery.

One of the highlights of TdF Los Angeles was riding through the 2nd Street tunnel and hearing all the bicycle bells echo inside.

After the bicycle parade through downtown LA, it was time for music, beer and bike fun.

Our favorite part of every TdF is when someone trades in their car for a new hand built bicycle. At this TdF, the occasion was doubly special since it was our friend Jessica who was trading in her car! Jessica was our neighbor in Long Beach and, when we first met, she and her husband were just getting into bicycling. Over the years, they grew more and more involved in local bicycle advocacy, took the League of American Bicyclists traffic course, and used their bikes for commuting. It was great to witness the transformation and see it culminate in her trading in her car for a bike!

The next day, we woke up bright and early to once again ride from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles for CicLAvia, an event where streets are closed to automobile traffic and left open to cyclists, pedestrians, walkers, joggers, skaters – or in a word, PEOPLE. It’s hard to explain in words quite what the whole scene was like. Although we have attended Sunday Parkways in Portland (which is very similar conceptually), CicLAvia was somehow more powerful because it was happening in Los Angeles. People were smiling and relaxed. The streets were quieter without the car traffic. For a second, everyone got a brief glimpse of what Los Angeles could be like when people, and not automobiles, filled the streets.

While there, we saw several freak bikes that could have come straight out of Portland.

We also got to meet up with some very long time readers in the Los Angeles area, Errin and Carl. Errin brought his Salsa Mukluk out with his bikepacking setup, and it totally dwarfed our Bromptons.

Carl has a 30 mile commute and recently built up a sweet new bicycle for touring.

It was an amazing weekend for bicycling and bike fun in Los Angeles. We haven’t heard official numbers for CicLAvia, but the feeling is that it is the largest one yet. While an event like CicLAvia may not create instant change in Los Angeles, it does give people a vision of what a more pedestrian and bicycle filled city would look like, and that is just as important. Many people lack the imagination to dream big or see the benefits of encouraging cycling and walking in Los Angeles. Hopefully, this weekend will have opened up new minds and hearts for a different vision of Los Angeles future.

(We’re giving one final Southern California presentation on Tuesday in El Segundo, CA. Hope you join us. Details here!)