Taking Over L.A. On Two Wheels

Riding fast is his thing. “Only talking about it makes me smile like a child,” says the 31year-old cycling Angeleno. Sean Martin started riding bikes more than ten years ago, first on a BMX.

Now he feels “one” with his fixed-gear bike while riding through the streets of LA. A fixed-gear bicycle (fixie) is a bicycle that has no freewheel, meaning there is no time for coasting. The pedals are always in motion when the bicycle is moving. “That makes you feel one with your bike, you are in control, and if a car comes out of nowhere you have to be in control to bring you self into safety.”

Urban legend has it that the bike messengers in Manhattan were the first ones to take fixies out on the road. Low-maintenance and fast starts and stops were the draw for fast-passed messengers in the Big Apple. Fixed-gear cycling has now been popularized in a number of US cities. Beyond being popular, fixie riding has become a whole new sub-culture to witness in LA. From east side to west side, a wide variety of people can be found riding all different colors of fixie bikes on the streets of LA. This is an even more curious phenomenon given that LA is a city where automobile traffic rules the streets. Cyclists are very much in the minority and still must strive to earn their rightful spot in traffic on the streets. Cyclists routinely organize and form groups, throwing unofficial street races and riding together as a ‘critical mass’ to make their presence known.

Years ago when Sean moved from Seattle to Los Angeles, he had been used to joining several bike events per week. At that time, in LA, only the bike messengers would throw a race, and far less frequently. While Sean was on a training ride around Griffith Park, it hit him: “This route could be a race!” Sean’s first race was The Lord of Griffith, described by some people as the most epic fixed-gear climbing race in LA. Sean soon organized more races (including one called Stairway to Heaven), and started working with good friend Joseph Lobato on Take Over LA, a blog about bikes and other random sh*t we like. In 2010, Sean was featured in To Live And Ride in LA, a documentary about fixed-gear riders in Los Angeles.

  • Credits
  • Directed by
  • Joris Debeij
  • Cinematography by
  • Joris Debeij
  • Edited by
  • Joris Debeij
  • On Camera
  • Sean Martin