When the film industry shut down in 2020, Kevin Arnold had to figure out how to fill his free time. A stuntman, former skier, motocross rider, gymnast, skater and tennis player, it was probably going to be with something active. “I was running and I would see guys ride past me and then ride back past me. And I was like, “Why am I running? These guys are so much faster.”
So Kevin bought a road bike.
Two years on, and he’s covered thousands of kilometres on roads and gravel and picked up a MAAP endorsement. Which is pretty crazy considering the film industry opened back up, and Kevin went back to his day job as Don Cheadle’s stunt double as War Machine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, amongst other things.
When Off The Front catches up with him in his LA home, Kevin has just returned from a week filming Emancipation, a civil war period film with Will Smith in New Orleans. Kevin’s CV is so intense, you get the sense that Google is broken when you look him up. He’s tackled almost every sport you can think of. He’s a photographer. And yeah, he’s done stunts in Captain America, Infinity War, Endgame, Black Panther and Westworld. Getting into stunts was, as he describes it, “right place, right time.” One of his friends’ dads was a second-generation stuntman, and when Kevin showed some interest, he encouraged him to take time off from his day job at Apple to give it a shot. “I did a good job which led to another job, which then went to another job. And all of a sudden, you’re in a position where you’re working all the time,” Kevin says.
You get a sense from Kevin’s CV, that he’s pretty good at picking stuff up. And cycling seems to be no different. Being in one of the world’s great cycling cities didn’t hurt either. “Living in LA, we have endless mountains everywhere. You have Malibu, Santa Monica, you have all the stuff we can choose from.” And then you had an active guy with a lot of time on his hands. “It did help me get through COVID. It really did,” Kevin says. “I had moments of just like, oh, I need to go exercise. I need to just go feel alive. Go outside and just do my own thing and get my heart rate up and maybe get a little fitness or go explore something new or see somewhere new.”
It wasn’t long before Kevin was hooked and riding 350 kilometres a week. “The one thing about riding a bike that became really relevant to me was it’s about mental toughness,” he says. “It’s about, you’re going to be on the side of the road, you’re going to have your heart rate climbing up the hill. You’re going to be sitting at 180 beats. You’re going to be like, “Holy crap. This is really hard.” But you have to learn how to push through.” And despite all of his other sporting endeavours, getting into riding wasn’t as simple as he makes it sound. “Cycling’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he laughs. “But all I can say is that it is always worth it because I think as you get better at it, you start to enjoy the progression that you’ve had.”
Riding has also helped open up LA to Kevin, and it’s given him a few different rides. “If I have a solo ride by myself, I love to do Griffith Park. I can do Griffith Park by myself every single day. It’s an amazing ride. It’s challenging,” he says. And for a more challenging ride, it’s Latigo Canyon in Malibu. “It’s an eight or nine mile segment uphill, about 44 minutes for the average person. And it becomes a switch back all the way up and each turn, you have a better view of Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice, of LA basically. It just gets better and better until you get to the top. There’s just nothing like it.” His favoured post-ride coffee is at 10 Speed in Calabasas. “They have the best breakfast burrito in all of that area.”
Cycling in LA intersects with the creative communities – there are a lot of actors and creatives with time on their hands to ride. And it’s getting more diverse, too. “There’s more people that have the opportunity to get on bikes, whether it’s Specialized providing bikes to people, or whether it’s riders like (Legion Squad’s) Dante Young, that’s helping bring awareness to the sport. You’re seeing people of colour, of all races being diverse on bikes now. I think that’s what makes cycling in LA so cool.
Kevin will be spending a few months shooting the Marvel series ‘Armour Wars’ in Atlanta. He’s pulling on his War Machine suit again to double for Don Cheadle. “I’m going to bring my bike out and Don wants to ride as well. So we’re going to ride together out there.” Atlanta, keep a look out for two War Machines on the road.