Mulholland Drive is the quintessential road to ride in Los Angeles. Not only does it provide iconic views of downtown, the San Gabriels, the beach and if visibility is good enough, Catalina, but it also divides the San Fernando Valley from Hollywood and the westside.
For cyclists, the road offers a bunch of rolling challenges atop of hillsides that preserves a good portion of its natural beauty.
Mulholland. The promised land.
One thing we tend to overlook is the condition of the road itself. Cyclists know that Mulholland is a constellation of potholes, but overall, the street is relatively trash free, amazing when you factor all the tourists taking a spin up there.
If you ride there enough, you’ll notice an orange vested man with Stryper length hair picking up refuse, mainly between Coldwater and Laurel Canyons.
At first, you may think he works for the city, because who else would be out there? But when you see him out there alone with no vehicle in sight, you know something else is happening.
Last Sunday, I was riding back from the La Grange Nichols Ride when I saw him walking by Tree People and I thought my time had come to meet the man.
I startled him a bit as he had the tunes flowing, but he took off his earphones and welcomed me with a big smile. The first thing I did was to thank him for ongoing work he does to keep Mulholland clean and tell him how appreciated he is.
The funny thing is that he doesn’t do it for the complements, he just loves the hills. Yes, he does landscaping for a local homeowner and does accept donations, but you can tell that he does it for a deeper meaning. It’s almost therapeutic.
His name is Raoul and he just feeds off of the vibes and views of the area. He was telling me about the famous musicians who live along here and how it’s an experience to listen to the people he sees.
Raoul also talked about all the crazy pieces of trash he sees out there and how he had to do something about it. He has a super positive attitude and our conversation could have gone on and on, but he wanted to get back to the trash. He was a bit camera shy, but I just wanted to make sure that people knew about his selfless acts.
I gave him what few dollars I had and my card (ciclavalley’s secret number) hoping he would contact me. I haven’t heard back from him yet, but I’m not worried. I’ll see him out there again.
Next time you’re out there taking in this magnificent stretch of Southern California, make sure you give Raoul a wave. I’m sure he’ll hit you back.