Like a lot of people I know, I've had a bike my entire life. Even though I work for LACBC, I never considered myself a "cyclist" until just a few years ago. I did family rides growing up, biked to classes in college, and would find myself doing a two-hour ride every few years. For me, cycling was a hobby and a secondary form of transportation.
Instead of biking, my main form of recreation was running. Watching the Ironman Triathlon take place in Hawaii years ago, my imagination was fueled by where human-powered activity could take me. Out of the three disciplines, I started with running, but loved it so much that I never got around to the other two.
I ran 10k's. Then marathons. Then I even did an ultra-marathon. I enjoyed trail running and going deep into the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains to places where cars could never go.
Cycling has allowed Zack to explore new places in LA like Oat Mountain.
At the same time, I always hated driving a car because I felt like it was time wasted stuck inside a compartment. So I decided to run my commute. When I worked in Westwood, I realized I could cover the three mile commute from my West LA home faster by running than by car. Over time, I kept moving further and further away from work and as a compromise, I would drive to work and run home at night, then do the reverse the following day. I kept this pattern until I moved to Valley Village, 13 miles away from work.
I grew sick of this not because it was to far to run, but because it look me 90 minutes to cover this distance during rush hour in my car. The only alternative I saw was riding a bike, but I knew I'd have to learn how to ride on the road instead of all the sidewalk surfing to which I'd gotten accustomed.
I started by reading Ted Rogers' Biking in LA blog and all the stories he'd share about people cycling in Los Angeles gave me inspiration and proof that doing this commute would be possible. Next, I scoured Craigslist and bought a carbon road bike that would be able to handle riding up and over Mulholland Drive twice a day.
Zachary is ready for any type of two wheel action.
Around this same time, I injured my hip playing hockey, which all-but-ended my long-distance running career. I knew losing this activity was going to leave a big void in my life, but luckily it seemed like getting on a bike could be a great replacement - and so much more.
Cycling gave me the same sense of exploration as running, but my reach was expanded. I could ride deeper into the mountains, discover new roads, and escape the grind for hours on end.
To get a greater understanding of riding, I started joining group rides across the county and made many new friends. To better understand how cycling fit in around the region, I started following Streetsblog LA and volunteering for LACBC.
For Zachary, family rides are the best.
As my passion grew, I decided to use some of my previous experience writing for ESPN the Magazine, and started my own cycling blog called CiclaValley. I began racing, adding racks and panniers to commute, riding off-road and eventually joining the bike dad club. I was hooked.
While riding a bike has been fulfilling, being part of this community has been a greater reward. No matter what part of the county I'm in, I'm only a few minutes away from someone who rides.
All my paths led me to LACBC, and in June 2015, I joined the staff. It's an exciting time for cycling in Los Angeles, and we have a lot of work to do. I'm proud to be on the front lines of working for safer cycling in the county, and am looking forward to making LA a better place for CiclaValley Jr.
Zachary Rynew is LACBC's Communications and Volunteer Coordinator.
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