Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday: Nichols Canyon, West Hollywood

La Grange Velo Club of Los Angeles' Sunday Nichols Canyon group ride is infamous. The club was established in 1969 and their Sunday group ride has been going ever since.

From the La Grange website, I read that 40 to 100 riders each week meet at 8.00am in Beverly Hills and proceed up Santa Monica Blvd to West Hollywood, where the Nichols Cyn climb starts at Hollywood Blvd. The canyon is 4.4km long averaging 4.5% and ends with a steep last 200m grunt (the wall),  at Mulholland Drive.

The full ride continues along Mulholland, in a series of rollers, all the way to Sepulveda Blvd, re-grouping for the mad rush down, culminating in a sprint opposite the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

I'm immediately interested. To see why this ride has been such a big deal for so long, I decide to check it out. Well ...... Nichols Canyon, up to Mulholland at least.
I know that Sepulveda would probably be carrying too much traffic by the time I get there.  I'm thinking, so too Mulholland .... ?

So I make a plan for this late Sunday afternoon ride ..... and a map for my Garmin.

I pick a convenient spot to park in West Hollywood, with my map taking me up Nichols, then only half the distance along Mulholland to return via Coldwater Canyon into Beverly Hills. 
Continuing along Coldwater, it becomes Beverly Drive ..... the famous palm tree lined avenue where the Beverly Hills Hotel is to be found .... and loads of big, Beverly Hills homes. Rodeo Drive is right where I plan to turn back towards West Hollywood ..... back along Melrose Ave and then the quiet streets to where I parked. 

I thought this would be a much more interesting, touristy route. Following the actual La Grange Sunday ride route was not for me today. 

If you go to the La Grange website there is more info and even a video of this "crown jewell of all the La Grange rides".

Park and ride .... West Hollywood.

Quiet back streets at the start in West Hollywood.

Nice shading from Jacarandas.

Wonder if they have a Von's card like me ?

Coming up to Santa Monica Blvd

No time to stop to look for any bargains ......

I love exploring back streets.

Soon it is Sunset Blvd I need to cross.

Cosy home in West Hollywood.

.... another, this time a more modern one.

Spanish style ..... wonder how much ?

At Hollywood Blvd ..... straight ahead, that's the start of Nichols Canyon.

Road narrows and the climb starts ....... nice and easy here.
Stay right, to give cars going up plenty of room ..... yeah, right !
Soon enough the houses thin out .....

Pay attention. These canyons wind about and it is easy to get off onto the wrong road.

This ain't a limo. LA streets used to be full of these tanks.

Towards to top, houses reappear.

The steady climb suddenly flattened out and I thought I was done. But where's Mulholland ?
Oops ..... of course, at the top is "the wall", the final 200 metres averages 11%, with the kicker approaching 15% as described in the La Grange ride.

This is Mulholland. Hey ..... it isn't a busy road !
And I'm surprised how poor the road surface is.

Soon Mulholland opens out into a big viewing area. A perfect Sunday touristy ride, for sure.

Bit narrow for motoring tourists though ......

Looking out over the San Fernando Valley. Burbank to the right, Simi Valley way off to the left. In the middle, Hwy 101 that will take you back to the coast and all the way up to San Francisco.

Plenty of these open vehicles are going past. The tourists on board all have earphones in .....
no doubt listening to a commentary about which stars live/lived where ?

I'm surprised about this section of Mulholland. It isn't too busy and I'm getting the idea that it may be possible to ride the entire length from the start in the West at Pacific Coast Highway, all the way to Griffith Park in the East. That's a long way. More than 100km. I know that the middle section is dirt and closed to vehicles. I plan to look into this as a ride.
I could try it when I am back next ....... ?

Mulholland crosses Laurel Canyon.

Here's a park I was hoping to spot. Another Dog Park .....

Yes, here it is .... full of dogs too.
Sign, just off Mulholland.

Protected areas are all along here. Development has been restricted, to protect the native habitat. 

Here's my turn off, down Coldwater Canyon. The La Grange ride continues on, at speed, along Mulholland, all the way to Sepulveda Blvd, winding its way down beside the huge 405 Fwy.

The beginning of Coldwater is quite steep and my speed quickly builds.

Here's another load of tourists. Finished viewing homes of the stars in Beverly Hills, now on their way up to the views from Mulholland.

Whoa ..... suddenly Coldwater gets wide and urban. Big houses on both sides.
Its still pretty steep too. Around 7-8% ..... BRAKES ON !

Is this Beverly Drive? No, keep going, it's only Lexington .....

Ah, this is Beverly Drive. The scene of many movies. Wide, with very tall palms .... and nice big shadows in sunny California.

Beverly Drive is quite long.

At Beverly and Sunset Blvd is the famous Beverly Hills Hotel.  This is the hotel featured on the Eagles album cover "Hotel California"

Trees ... plenty of trees in Beverly Hills

Heading back to the car .... looking for Melrose Ave now.

Found Melrose. This is the quiet start at Santa Monica Blvd.

Yeah, the quiet section where upmarket decorators, designers and galleries abound.
A quarter of the shops are empty .... a sign of the times.

Sunday on Melrose. This is certainly not the busy end, with fashion and food. That's further down. This section is perfect for me to safely get back to where I parked in West Hollywood.

Pop-ups love these empty shops. Wonder how their business is ?

Hmm ....... established in 1969. Cruel times in America.

Cafe's still doing good business. This one is packed.

Convenient self-portrait opportunity

Safely back in West Hollywood. Here's the street I parked near, just a few more blocks up ....

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