Gabriel Enamorado has packed the car and is on his way to adventure, heading out of town, away from everyday life in Los Angeles and into the desert.

His destination is the Joshua Tree National Park, part of the Mojave desert in southeastern California, a location considered sacred by many and one that Gabriel has visited many times before. This trip, however, bears more significance because he is setting out on Earth Day, April 22 - a day for us all to stop and think about the world's growing environmental problems. This day is also spent by many paying tribute to the earth, marveling in its splendour.


Joshua Tree National Park is so named because of the unique tree that grows only in the Mojave desert. It was named by Mormon pioneers when they passed through in the mid-19th century. The tree’s limbs, reaching up to the sky as if in prayer, reminded them of the biblical story of Joshua, who asked for help after the death of Moses.

The story is symbolic of this harsh, unforgiving place, where help is rarely close by. The desert stretches off to the horizon, seemingly endless, but equally alluring to Gabriel.

The survival aspect of this environment clearly appeals to him - here you must be prepared to deal with any eventuality, whether riding a bike or on a camping weekend, when Gabriel travels with his partner Juliana.


Gabriel grew up in south east Los Angeles as a first-generation Latino. Today, he lives in Long Beach, and works as Executive Director of Stay Arts - a non-profit organisation in Downey - which exists to bring the local community together through the arts.

The gallery Gabriel is based in offers workshops and art exhibitions by locals, for locals. "Stay Local" is one of Stay Arts' core mantras.

Gabriel spends the vast majority of his waking time at Stay, which he says is suitably fulfilling to justify this commitment, and besides, it defines him. He will usually cycle between his home and the gallery in Downey, a return ride of about 30 kilometers through the heart of south central LA. Taking the bike offers an entirely different perspective on the city. The scents and sounds are intense, as is the experience.



Gabriel has committed himself fully to the Stay project since 2012, and with his background as a graffiti artist, graphic designer and photographer, he has always had the desire to create something that others could touch and feel. With Stay, he has the opportunity to not only create - but also to give back.

Through children's workshops, the local children and young people have the opportunity to be creative.

"Your creativity really means something," says Gabriel. “Therefore, it must be lived out.
And the desire and ability to be creative must be exercised in the same way that children are physically exercised through sport.”

Throughout his upbringing, he has had a strong desire to express himself through art - and spent countless hours of his childhood in Downey drawing, painting and playing the guitar, while his peers played sports. 

He has always been an entrepreneur - in high school he arranged art exhibitions in the school canteen, and after graphic and computer programming courses, he volunteered to work on the school's website as a designer and programmer.
After High School, he studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, specialising in Digital Media. However, the high financial costs for his mother and himself forced him to drop out of education. A difficult choice. But an important one.
Instead, he volunteered at a newly-opened graffiti art gallery in downtown LA. Here he exhibited his own work and also learned how to run a gallery. He felt drawn to the culture and friendships around the graffiti scene.

The story is characteristic of Gabriel and just as he himself believes Stay is strongly defining for him as a person, so is his condition and past. Learning by doing - practiced at its best.


In addition to his work at Stay, Gabriel runs his own creative Studio - Estevan Studio - with Juliana. Here, they draw on Gabriel’s 15 years of creative experience in Downey to provide  Branding consultation to startups.

Gabriel describes himself as a self-taught photographer, designer and art director. He has grabbed the opportunities he has been given in life and sought to learn as much as possible from them to help develop himself and his career in the best possible way.

The interest in cycling arose spontaneously back in 2008. Gabriel had never had an interest in training or sports as such. But one late night as he was on his way out of the Fashion Institute, he stepped out onto the busy Grand Avenue and experienced something he had never seen before. A large group of cyclists from the club "Wolfpack Hustle" was roaming the streets in very close formation.

The flash of the bicycle lights, the sound of chains, gears and wheels humming on the asphalt was momentarily overwhelming, drowning out the traffic noise. Then in a split second, they were gone.   

Shortly after this episode, Gabriel bought his first bike - a Fixie by the brand Skinny Benny.  He started riding with local groups in the evenings, and began to fall in love with cycling.  He started shooting movies with the group and taking pictures and generally running riot on the streets of Los Angeles.
All the time Gabriel was becoming more immersed in the cycling culture. His rides became longer and longer, and he took an interest in cycling as a sport - the races and events.  Then, last year, he bought his first road bike with gears, to allow him to go on longer trips with old friends.

However, he usually rides alone. This gives him plenty of time to think about life, both the private and professional aspects.


Which brings us to the Mojave desert, where Gabriel finds a unique sense of calm. In many ways it’s a strange place to seek freedom - the area is harsh and unforgiving. Dry, dusty and hot, with temperatures that leave you in a permanent sweat Emptiness is all engulfing. The desert covers 3,195 km2 - an area larger than Luxembourg. Cougars, coyotes, snakes and kangaroo rats emerge after sunset, simply because the landscape is too harsh when the sun is at its highest.

This is lucky for Gabriel, who is planning a trip of about 80km in the beautiful surroundings today. He should be finished well before darkness descends. 

Sometimes he takes the big lap out here - it's 225km - and it really puts it all to the test.

But why is he drawn to this very place?

Nowhere else provides the same level of solitude and the opportunity to reflect on things. He says he feels in many ways enormously small in a giant universe.


The colours - soothing, easy on the eyes, low contrast, pastel earth tones and not least the very special light. This all appeals to the designer within him.

The landscape is jagged, not particularly mountainous. The roads wind rather slowly, the climbs max out at around 5-6 per cent,  - but can last for anything up to 15-20km. They feel endless - the sort of climbs where the road disappears, arrow straight to a point on the horizon. Mile after mile.

On one hand, it is mentally demanding not to be able to see an end, but that is precisely why he feels the freedom. He connects with nature - all he can hear is his own breathing and the sound of the tires against the asphalt.


Fortunately, Gabriel’s route is mainly downhill on the way back, and he can ride at more than 65 km/h over long distances. The descent ends the trip perfectly. He in no way feels stressed or exhausted and will return home high on  joy and full of renewed respect for this area.

The area that has become a free space for him - it means something very special now. He spent his  first "get-away" with Juliana right here. The place gave them the freedom to find each other, to understand each other.
Today, they still come out here together to enjoy the tranquility - the same reason Gabriel rides these roads.


Photos:   Estevan Studio
Retouch: Attentive Retouch

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