LOS ANGELES — Cruising through the streets of Boyle Heights, it was just one part of a ride through the heart of Los Angeles.
The 10th annual CicLAvia took place Sunday, an event that was supposed to happen a year ago but was canceled due to COVID-19. The event returned this year, attracting new riders like Eden Santos and her cycling group “Unfold.”
Some members of the group drove from as far as San Diego for the latest CicLAvia event. “It’s our first time. I think it’s a nice experience for us,” Santos said, as she prepared to take off.
Unfold was represented by a group of about 20 cyclists, who all had Brompton folding bikes. While it was their first CicLAvia, they were going to get some guidance from a veteran. Joe Neil, who has participated in more than a dozen CicLAvia events, asked if he could join the group moments before their ride. "I saw them pass by, and I just asked if I could join," Neil said.
As the group cycled through the heart of LA, they took in the sites and supported local businesses. Santos said they planned to shop in the area and "to have lunch later in one of the restaurants."
That’s good news for businesses like La Monarca Bakery & Cafe in the heart of Boyle Heights. According to CicLavia.org, local businesses along the CicLAvia routes see sales increase by as much as 57%. “So we’re actually really, really busy today, we had to make double of everything,” said La Monarca employee Lorena Castro.
For Castro, CicLAvia is a way to introduce new customers to La Monarca Bakery & Cafe., a Latino-owned business based in LA.
“It really did make my day just seeing everyone like that just up and at it. I haven’t seen Mariachi Plaza this busy since probably 2019,” said Castro.
"This is like history probably, after a pandemic, coming out here, it’s really nice,” Santos said.
It's a reminder that life in Southern California is slowly getting back to normal.