At first glance, induction into the world of Los Angeles cycling might seem like baptism by fire. 4 million motorists all jockeying for position on traffic-clogged roadways is enough to make even the most seasoned road riders shudder with Orwellian dread.
Fortunately for us, however, there’s Bo Mopera. The long-time cyclist and Angelino has set out not only to break the misconceptions of what it means to bike in LA, but to bring more riders into the fold as well.
“I’ve been in LA since the late 80’s,” Bo says, recalling his early days at UCLA. “The city certainly is accessible by bike: the weather is mild and the streets are on a grid system so getting lost is difficult.” Then he adds, “but you still have be comfortable mixing it up with cars.”
It’s this emphasis on comfortability that motivated Bo to begin volunteering his time at Bikerowave, a cycling cooperative in Mar Vista. The community-oriented shop focuses on equipping cyclists with the education and tools they need to service their bikes and ride them confidently around Los Angeles.
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“I’ve always maintained and repaired my own bikes since my bmx days in the late 70s,” says Bo. “Even with YouTube as a guide, repairing bikes is not always as simple as the video shows. And many people want to learn.”
But his commitment to spreading the joy of Los Angeles cycling doesn’t stop there. Since 2013, Bo has been sharing his own personal fleet of bikes with travelers via the Spinlister platform, taking the time to get to know each rider’s needs before sharing insight on where to go and what to see.
“For roadies that like to train hard, I point them to the canyon roads that cross the Santa Monica Mountains,” he says. “For mountain bikers, I give them names of the trails I ride in the San Gabriels and Santa Susanas. I always ask their level of fitness to determine if they should be riding the steeper roads. Sometimes it’s just best to stay along the coast where the views are nice and the the roads flat.”
So reliable have some of his renters become, in fact, that Bo has gotten to know their personal stories and what excites them about cycling. There’s Caroline, for example, who loves riding vintage road bikes when she’s in town from Barcelona to see her brother. Kustaa, on the other hand, prefers a geared bike in LA even though she rides a fixie back home in Finland.
“Everyone has a unique story,” he says. “But it’s the love of cycling that brings us together.”
No matter where you’re from or what skill level you’ve achieved, it’s hard to think of a better introduction to the LA cycling scene than that.