SGV Connect 102 Interview: Chris Greenspon Interviews Vincent La Rocca

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

VINCE: Yeah, we go out every Thursday. We start in several locations within the San Gabriel Valley last Thursday. We started in Alhambra at Alhambra Park in Alhambra. And we rode through Alhambra. We went west toward El Sereno, LA. We went through the park, Ascot Hills Park, which is a very nice local park in El Sereno that people can hike and walk. We actually biked up the fire roads that go up to the top of the hill and we had a nice view of downtown LA and the San Gabriel Valley as well. And from there we went north through El Sereno and then further north through South Pasadena, and then made a loop back to Alhambra. So it was a really nice ride with a couple of guys, Phil and Justin from – he’s actually from Koreatown – but we actually rode from downtown LA to the start point after work. And we rode from Alhambra. It’s really nice.

CG: So what do you ride?

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

CG: So how did you get started biking? How’d you get into commuting and you know, taking adventures?

VINCE: I’ve always kind of liked the outdoors, used to be a boy scout. From that I transitioned into my own like personal adventures. of backpacking through Yosemite or there’s a local areas, San Gabriel Mountains, backpacking there, even, you know, hiking a lot and I really got into hiking first and I guess during COVID a lot I would that was my primary sport or activity hiking and that that kind of transitioned into running and then you know, running is great fun but it’s really taxing on your body. So I transitioned back to cycling, and I started up cycling where I used to live in downtown LA I used to cycle a bit in the city to get you know, groceries or go to a restaurant or check out just the area and then from there I thought okay, I’m staying within the downtown area, which is great, but it’s the views you only get, you know, you get tired of the city views so you want some more nature. So I transitioned my you know, my love of hiking into you know, riding a bike in the mountains or nature areas, for example, like Griffith Park, it’s a nice, like, local nature area where you can enjoy, you know, birds, hawks and trees and stuff like that. So I would take, I would take my bike, my original bike I would take up there and then I wanted to go a bit faster and I got this bike and I would start taking up to Griffith Park, which was nice. So yeah, just kind of progressing and getting more and more fit as well as just more and more adventurous and wanting to explore the area, San Gabriel Mountains as well as other areas where I can ride my bike.

CG: Who do you want to see come out and join you on your group rides?

VINCE: I would love to see anyone who is interested in exploring cycling you know, once I – I’ve been trying to make the rides a bit more beginner friendly, but I haven’t really got a lot of interest so far. But in terms of, you know, basically anyone right now most of the people that are cycling with me are pretty experienced riders like they’d like to ride few times a week so they’re pretty more experienced. But you know, I’d love to have newer cyclists to want to just get exposed to exploring the city by bike. That’s pretty much it. Anyone who would be interested in that, I think would get some value out of the weekly rides.

CG: Yeah, speaking of that, where are some areas around SGV that you think beginners should get out and get their taste for cycling?

VINCE: Yeah, if you’re a beginner and if you want to get a taste of the SGV. So I’m kind of toward the western side of the SGV. So I would say, you know, explore, you know the Mission area. Take a look – ride by the Mission. It’s a bit slower traffic it’s, it’s a bit safer checkout Blossom Market, which I like riding around to, you know, maybe go through South Pasadena they have pretty good bicycle infrastructure and they have a great bike shop in in San Marino, actually, next door to South next door to South Pas. It’s called the Cubhouse it’s a bike shop, a local bike shop and SGV that a lot of people enjoy visiting. So if you need any bicycle needs, check out that and that area is just great because they have a bike bike lanes on Marengo and Raymond, those are nice, nice treats to ride during the day. And if you’re more adventurous at night, with lights and stuff, you can ride that and safely.

CG: Do you want to get to the point with your group where you have, you know, like some of the more professional hallmarks of riding like you know, someone at the front. someone at the tail somebody carrying tools, things like that?

VINCE: Yeah, I mean we all carry our own tools, but yeah, I we I would like to have that eventually. I guess for safety that’s good to have. So once we get more people that are you know, participating and new beginners, it’s good to have those people dedicated to those roles.

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

VINCE: I definitely think it’s the bike culture is – and I’m pretty new to it – so from my perspective, it’s very inclusive. There’s a lot of rides in in LA that are inclusive to LGBTQ, transgender women. So there’s a lot of groups out there that if you feel like one group is maybe a little off putting or too advanced or maybe you don’t get the right vibes from them, you can always find a group that is more is more your style, which I love, which I like. And I’ve tried a few groups and they all have their different aspects. Some are more road focused, more like sporty, you know, fast paced, others are more chill and relaxed and more for the views and for the social aspects. So there’s a lot of groups out there. It’s, I guess you just have to explore and check out social media and see which ones is more your style.

CG: What style are you guys trying to project?

VINCE: I’m trying to project more of like a chill like foodie style, adventuring, exploring the city with some every once in a while maybe checking out some more harder, you know, dirt and like nature areas, which are which are you know, unfortunately the the nature areas are a little bit harder to to explore by bikes, because it’s a bit steeper

CG: As you’re biking your way through the SGV, what sorts of improvements have you been thinking about?

VINCE: Maybe just… we definitely need a network of bike lanes that can, you know, allow people to connect through various cities as well as within a city. There’s just not that currently, there’s not that network within a lot of the cities in SGV, which is unfortunate. You know, the certain cities are putting more effort into it and like South Pasadena and Pasadena, I’ve noticed that they’ve got some good bike infrastructure. Others are slower or are slower but they’re working on it. And then others are not even attempting to do it. But so basically I’m trying to promote more cycling and promote more awareness. Eventually, we can have a nice network within SGV.

CG: This might be asking you the same question or it might be totally different, but if you could – this is a question that my friend Damien who co hosts the podcast he asks almost everybody this – if you could wave a magic wand and change something about the SGV (doesn’t have to be about cycling necessarily), what would it be?

VINCE: So more, more easily accessible bus lines, more frequent bus stops, more protected bike lanes that can get us to highly trafficked areas like various 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-magic-wands. Vince before I let you go, so we will probably publish this on Friday. Do you have a ride lined up for next week?

VINCE: We have a ride lined up for Thursday, the 15th as well as the 22nd Yes.

CG: What do you got on the 22nd?

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

CG: Yeah. All right. So look up SGV Cycling on Instagram and keep an eye out for that weekly Thursday ride. Thanks so much for joining us on SGV Connects, Vince.

VINCE: Thanks so much for having me.