This Actually Happened! A Ride across the Western San Gabriel Ridge.

This Actually Happened! A Ride across the Western San Gabriel Ridge.

This Actually Happened! A Ride across the Western San Gabriel Ridge.Last October I had this hair brained scheme, I’d ride from my house at the base of the Big Tujunga Canyon and ride to the top of Mount Pacifico, across the range over and down to chilao, Red Box, Eaton Saddle and down the Mount Lowe Rail Trail. If you’ve known me long enough I’ve had a few of these ideas and that one was a doozy just ask Curtis.

You can read about that ride here.

Fast forward to the turn of the new year and a few months ticked off and in mid April our buddy Mike posted an all points round-up to see who was game to ride across the Western San Gabriel range, and yeah our old nemesis Pacifico was on the platter. This didn’t take much arm twisting for yours truly to jump on board. I really wanted to get to the top of Pacifico and I knew Curtis did too!

This time around we’d  take the Antelope Valley Metrolink line to the Vincent Grade Acton Station and cut out 3000′ and 17 miles riding up the Angeles Forest Hwy to Mill Creek Summit and then to Pacifico for the night.

A day before this ride was going to happen we got an email from our pal Mike that he was having some right knee pain and he was unsure he’d be able to make it. If you’ve ever had knee pain a long day in the saddle climbing isn’t a good idea. It was a huge bummer Mike couldn’t make it, he’s a great trail partner and a wealth of knowledge.

The plan for Saturday was to ride down to Chilao, breakfast at Newcomb’s Ranch to Red Box up the Wilson Toll Rd to Eaton Saddle and down the Historic Mount Lowe Rail Trail back to civilization.

I boarded at the  Sun Valley Metrolink Station train # 205 and met Mario and Curtis who’d been traveling since 4:20am. The ride up was pleasant and a good time to chat before getting on the saddle.  I gotta say I was amped to get in the saddle and reach Pacifico.

Mario & Curtis on the Antelope Valley Line
Ready for Adventure.
Vincent Grade Acton Metrolink Station
Vincent Grade Metrolink Station, there’s literally nothing here so it’s a good idea to bring your supplies.
Mario on the Angeles Forest Hwy
Mario Climbing the Angeles Forest Hwy
Mill Creek Summit
Reaching the junction at Mill Creek Summit.
Mill Creek Summit & Salsa II
Mill Creek Summit.
PCT Through Hiker
PCT Through Hiker.

We reached Mill Creek Summit in good time and at this point we were ready for lunch. On the way up to the Fire Station we met a PCT hiker, since Curtis is an avid hiker he always has a series of questions for these folks. When did you start? How many miles are you hiking a day?  And when do you plan to finish by?  This fella started on April 20th and was hiking about 20 miles a day give or take. He figured he’d be done in Mid September.

Through Hikers Beating the heat
PCT hikers beating the heat.

These folks were taking advantage of the shade, we asked them some of the same questions and they were roughly the same, though the girl in the fuchsia sleeping bag admitted they’d already taken 9 non moving days since starting. A trail angel brought popsicles, water and green apples and all of them jumped up and disappeared.

With lunch in our bellies and most importantly water bottles refilled we continued onward and upward on the Mount Pacifico Rd. This road has been closed to motor vehicles since the 2009 Station Fire which makes for a wonderful segment.  Another note about the Mill Creek Fire Station, this first climb is basically a desert climb and you’re totally exposed and as these thru hikers illustrate is a welcome oasis to beat the unrelenting sun.  I can tell you personally getting off the bike and sitting in the shade drinking water a while really helps on the final push. I was carrying two 2 litre platypuses but decided not fill them the whole way. I can tell you next time they will be filled to the max! It’s amazing how much water oatmeal and a cup of coffee consumes not to mention how much water you drink on the constant climb.

Curtis & Mario
The dirt climb.
Stark Contrast.
Mount Pacifico Rd Wild Flowers
More Wildflowers.

It’s interesting that seven years after the fire few evergreen trees are growing back and the ones that didn’t completely burn struggle to survive in the wake of years of drought, on the brighter side the wildflowers are in full bloom and add so much beauty. The beauty of this climb is the look back to see the elevation you’ve covered, big sky vistas, wildflowers sweet aromas and the sun beached decay of pine needles wafting from the ground.

Mount Pacifico JunctionMario & Curtis
One mile to go.

WordPress has these engineers, and they call them happiness engineers. Yep you read that right. I can’t help imagining a bright white room full of these IT engineers with huge grins spread across their faces only to receive an email and and the smile fade, that email was probably from me and well more on those guy’s in a moment…

I took a few Panoramas but decided not to embed them in the write up. WordPress wants another $99 for the premium suite, so right now you can’t enlarge the images, you can’t really navigate the site. You can go to my Flickr page and check out the Pano’s and blow them up. They give a feel for the vastness of the area.

On being a wordpress deadbeat, now the truth is I’d like to pay wordpress. I like the features of clicking on an image and it enlarges or the ability for a visitor to navigate my blog posts but you see I have another problem! I have this bookie named Rocky and well I’m into him for a little bit, I really shouldn’t have made that bet that the Sacramento RiverBirds would beat the Memphis RedBirds just goes to show what I get for betting on birds anyways. Like I said I’d like to pay wordpress and keep the happiness engineers happy but I don’t think Rocky is the sort of fella who’d appreciate me paying them first over him, he’s just that sort of guy, besides I need my legs to pedal on more adventures. So those happiness engineers will need to be a little patient with me. But I digress…


Mount Pacifico Camp
Our destination for the night.

We made the campground by about 3:30pm so we had plenty of time to lounge around. I noticed Curtis taking a nap and concluded that wasn’t a bad idea.

Forever Views
Forever Views.

A while later after our nap and relaxing in camp we reflected on the fact we had the campground entirely to ourselves, no sooner than we said that we were joined by another cyclist Wesley of Santa Clarita.We invited him to join us and of course the bike talk commenced. Wesley described himself as a Bikepacker, and the question arose what were the principal differences between a Bikepacker & Cyclotourist? I personally believe a Bikepacker utilizes a MTB type bike with plump tires & soft frameless luggage as opposed to a Cyclotourist who uses racks and panniers and typically but not exclusively narrower tires. As I see it a Bikepacking rig allows for a more off the beaten path route. I do though see overlap in that a bikepacker who needs more room for extended forays into the wilds will attach a rack and panniers to increase capacity. So for me the terms are kinda interchangeable and makes little difference to me. What do you think?

Weasley Setting up
Wesley Setting up.
Catching the last Rays
Catching the last rays.
End of a great day
End of a great day!


A top Pacifico there was a steady wind and despite the weather forecast declaring a low of 50º the wind made it feel closer to 40º. Curtis & Mario hit the hay early, can you blame them they were up before the sun. So Wesley and I decided to start a fire in a cave of piled on rocks, sorry no picture, the climb, a full meal, two beers and some sipping rum left me unmotivated to take pictures. Despite my lethargy we had some good conversation and discussed our future adventure plans. See what I did there I could have said Bikepacking plans or Tour plans but I chose to use the old “Adventure”card. Wesley mentioned heading to Oregon and the Steen Mountains and I tossed around a few choice ideas. Nothing concrete yet but plans are in the works. With the fire settling down to embers we both decide to retire for the night.

Riding to Chilao II

Back down off the Mountain.

The morning brought about quiet contemplation as we each broke our respective camps and readied our rigs for the day of riding to come. But first some coffee was brewed and oatmeal warmed up. I must confess that I didn’t haul up my full coffee making kit. I elected to bring up a Trader Joe’s pour over in a bag! Since I knew there was a bunch of climbing I was going as light as possible. Breakfast finished, down we rolled to Mount Pacifico Rd (3N17) and to Chilao.

Dropping down 3N14 III


Dropping down 3N14 II

Wesley & Mario


Dropping down 3N14 IV

The guy’s.

Dropping down 3N14


Group Shot 3N17
Rigs & Fellas.

The Mount Pacifico Rd treated us to wonderful big sky back country views and rolling on the tubeless 2.1 Thunderburts made the descent a real pleasure. As we rolled away from the gate and towards Santa Clara Divide Rd we met two guy’s in a pickup who asked if we’d confirm that the gated road we’d just come down led to Pacifico. They were riding up and then doing some rock climbing around the peak.

A short climb up Santa Clara Divide Rd  and we were rolling down 3N14 a jeep road that connects with the Chilao Picnic area and Hwy 2.

3N14 Riders
The start of 3N14
Mario 3N14
Westley On 3N14
Wesley 3N14
3N14 Curtis
Curtis Shredding 3N14
Curtis Chilao
Water refilled and ready to roll.

The original plan was to backtrack a bit to Newcomb’s Ranch for a second breakfast however Wesley gave us the low down on Newcomb’s, the service was slow and there’d be a ton of people by the time we arrived. The guy’s were concerned about catching their Metrolink train back home so we ditched the second breakfast idea. Wesley hadn’t had breakfast and was headed in a different direction towards Wrightwood to meet friends at the Little Jimmy Campground. We said our goodbyes and Wesley took the left fork and we took the right fork. Strategically we refilled our water bottles and proceeded out onto the highway.

Out on Hwy 2 we made some quick time, there was some climbing involved but we made it to Red Box by 10:45am pretty darn quick if you ask me. We discussed the train situation and I assured the guy’s that I’d get them to the Del Mar Station to catch the Gold Line into Downtown Union Station, I assured them it would be all down hill plus I reminded them of the tunnel. So now that I suckered them I mean convinced them we rode the 2 miles up the Wilson Toll Rd to Eaton Saddle and the start of the Mount Lowe Rail Trail.

2N50 Eaton Saddle
2N50 Eaton Saddle.
Bike talk
An admirer.
Above the clouds
The Mists of Metropolis.
Mueller Tunnel
Mueller Tunnel.
Mueller Tunnel II
Nice and cool.
Curtis Mount Lowe Rail Trail
Curtis enjoying the descent.
Mario Mount Lowe Rail Trail
Mario Shredding.
Double Lay Down
Above the  Millions.
Historic Marker
Historic Markers.
Mist, Sun & Color
Sun, Mist & Color.
Back to Civilization
Back to Civilization.
Back to Civilization II
Mario & Curtis arrive above Chaney Trail.

I waited at this gate for a while but eventually Curtis and Mario made it down, Curtis had the second of his two rear flats. The first one was higher up I think on the 3N17 segment, that one was a valve stem separation at the tube. This last one was a pinch flat.

One of the interesting contrasts dropping down in elevation so quickly was the temperature. Looking from above I thought we’d be entering into cool mist but rather it was warm and muggy.

We wended our way through AltaDena neighborhoods passing through the the center of Old Town Pasadena a stark contrast to the wilds of the San Gabriel’s. Crossing through Central Park to the Del Mar Station there were various parties in progress, a little boy made an indecisive maneuver darting out in front of me.  I was able to break but not to a complete stop and my tire collided with this little guy and down he went! Mario later commented that after all the terrain we covered the greatest hazard we encountered was running over a little boy in a park. I’m glad to report he was a durable guy and weathered the encounter just fine.At the station no sooner had Curtis & Mario purchased their tickets than the train arrived and whisked them Downtown and ultimately to an early Metrolink train back to San Diego.

Yours truly had beans, rice and tortillas on his mind or stomach, so I high tailed it out of Pasadena and rode through Eagle Rock, up through Glendale and into the Town of Montrose with a stop at La Cabanita for the best corn tortillas around. when I walked into the restaurant I was slick with sweat and the cool interior and ice cold water was the right prescription. During my lunch a lovely family chatted me up about my ride and they were impressed with the route we’d ridden. I wish I could remember their names the father made a point of me knowing all their names but alas I have a terrible memory for names. Re-fueled and hydrated I had it in me to ride the last 7.5 miles  and 1100′.back home and a great adventure under my belt.

My greatest takeaways from this adventure were, what great riding partners I have, how really vast, beautiful and formidable the San Gabriel’s are and right next to a huge metropolis. And lastly how bad I want to get back up and explore more of it.

A note on the route, I mapped it out with the first segment my ride to the Metrolink station last. Not that it makes much difference but I thought it worthy of note.

Here’s the full route.

And here are Curtis’s images.

As Always thanks for taking the time to read and keep the rubber side down.

Next up a Late June revisit of the birthplace of Klunkers and MTB racing. I head back up to Marin’s Mount Tamalpais and the West Point Inn.

And don’t be shy I’d love to hear from you.



Cottonwood Urban Farm MTB Ramble

Cottonwood Urban Farm MTB Ramble

Let me forewarn you I snapped a bunch of images and I feel lazy so didn’t do a ton of culling.

My friend Elliot has the Cottonwood Urban Farm smack in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. I’ve been meaning to check out hs operation and this weekend lined up perfectly. Perfectly timing wise and the weather was fantastic with two days of rain and wonderful cloud cover, this was an ideal day to ride a bike.

My buddy John and I did a mostly pavement urban ride to the farm to make some time. Our route took us through a fairly dense industrial zone and I wish I’d made time to capture some of the interesting businesses I saw, next time I will. We made it to the farm about an hour after the get-together started, friends of the farm helping out along with outreach from the Los Angeles 6th district council woman Nury Martinez’s office.

Check out Elliott’s mission statement or about on his web page I linked above. This is really good work this guy is doing. I hope to see more of this in Los Angeles into the future. Things are changing for the better here in the Metropolis.

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Cottonwood Urban Farm
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Cottonwood Urban Farm
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Native Plants

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Chatting it up
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Elliott center keeping things rolling.
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Original Farm house.
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Green house

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Reedley Street
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Inside the greenhouse.

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Pulling suckers. The shoots that take nutrients from the main part of the plant.

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It was great to see what Elliott has created in a largely urban environment.  Keep in mind that the farm is located in the Tunjuga basin where silt has been deposited over millennia from the San Gabriel’s and this whole area in the early days of Los Angeles was all farm land. It’s great to see nature reclaimed from the urban sprawl.

Afterwards John and I rode through neighborhoods up to the Hansen Dam Golf course, we rode the dirt service road around the perimeter of the golf course then climbed up and over the dam and behind. We crossed a stream and found new trail,  the majority of which are horse trails.  We traveled through the Little Tujunga wash and the Big Tujunga wash back into Sunland, the gateway into the San Gabriel’s. All in all one of the best local rides I’ve done and so much territory uncovered.

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Beware! Another old house when this area was farm land.
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New Dirt.
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Stream Crossing and a new friend.
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Little Tujunga Wash and the 210 fwy
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More new dirt

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Lived out here for the last 20 years.
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Hard existence.
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Under the 210 fwy in the Big Tujunga wash
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Urban Art.
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Soaking in how great a ride this was.
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End of the ride.


Just for continuity sake the SCAR group did do a bike overnight s24o but I’ve been busy and not really in the mood to do a write up. I’d like to do a follow up soon of Sean the really cool fellow who bought my 2003 Rivendell Atlantis. I’d also like to do a post on the changes I did to the Salsa Ala Carte.

Next up if all goes well a bike overnight to the top of Mount Pacifico and down the old Mount Lowe railroad grade. I think I finally dialed in the old 1995 Salsa Ala Carte so looking forward to some adventure with this old friend.

As always thanks for reading and in this case viewing and keep the rubber side down.





Okay this happened and it happened last month. Yeah I suck! But as some say better late than never.

This ride almost didn’t happen for me. The third iteration of the Redlands Strada Rossa mixed terrain bicycle festival happened  March 19th with three different ride lengths, 50k, 100k and a full century for the real athletes.

Yours truly wasn’t sure this was going to happen? I’ve been dealing with a nagging right knee ever since my mini-tour in northern Santa Barbara county with my two Brother’s and my lower back wasn’t cooperating either! I usually drive out Friday to Redlands and stay at Che Estes Aka Cyclotourist residence but I opted to visit the chiropractor instead and sleep in my own bed. Crack, snap, pop and I was adjusted and hopefully ready for some two wheeled dirt fun.

Crossing the Santa Ana River.


Old Bridge.

Early Saturday morning at an ungodly hour I met my buddy Jim Warren  who I arranged to hitch a ride with.  We had lots of great bike talk and arrived in good time about 8am at the Estes residence. The start time for the 50k was 9am and as we readied our bikes I noticed my front tire wasn’t holding air! Pulling the tube I inspected the tire and sure enough there was a tiny goat head conveniently making trouble.  I threw another tube in and immediately ruined it! The Panceti PL23 rims are tubeless compatible and getting the tire bead over the top of the rim is agony, while using levers I destroyed the tube, tick, tock. I had another tube so I carefully installed it while Jim patched the other tube. With the tire holding air we finally rolled over to the start, definitely an inauspicious beginning.

The start is in the alley next to Augies and the Redlands BikeBBQ and we made it with two minutes to spare,  quickly signing in wristbands on we got in queue with Doug for the start. The ride started with a relaxed pace as we rode through Redlands trail system wending its way through neighborhoods, crossing the Santa Ana River then slowly climbing into the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains. Around 8 miles in we had the one true water crossing an oasis tucked in at the base of the mountains and well below Running Springs. Riders had to dismount and carefully negotiate the water carrying your bike. Once on the other side riders regrouped and mingled before setting off again.

Riding East crossing Mill Creek there was an aid station at highway 38 for refreshments. A short ride up Hwy 38 and a right turn into a stalled housing development with a post apocalyptic vibe added to the awesomeness of this section of the ride.

Those Views.
Top of 38 Special.

I had made a statement to  someone that I planned on walking up 38 special and that’s what I sort of did. On the lower portion I ran into a old RSR mate Mike Beebe and some compatriots chilling in the grassy lower slopes of 38 special. In the past I’ve met Mike and friends packed with refreshments and this meetup was no different some fine whiskey was passed around and some suds before heading up the switchbacks behind Crafton College. I started out walking but soon re-mounted and chugged my way up. The views of the San Bernardino’s to the North and Redlands spread out below were as always worth the effort and the down hill single and double track coming up were in my near future. I don’t know whether it was the whiskey or the fact I’ve ridden these hill before or the Soma Cazadero’s tires but I was a downhill freak carving the turns with a sense of joy and confidence and the newly installed Paul Racers helped me modulate my speeds just right.

I was moving so fast I missed one of the turns and ended up making a right hand turn out of Crafton College and down the Sand Canyon descent headed back to Redlands. Because of this I missed about four more miles of the Oakmont dirt single track. My legs were already pretty thrashed and I didn’t feel like climbing back up Sand Canyon so I continued back to Redlands and rode in with a Canadian rider who had been on the century ride. He too was making an abbreviated course but his reason was because he’d gone down really hard. The evidence was in his cracked helmet from front to stern. Back at David’s I hung out and relaxed with the Family and waited for Doug and Jim who also cut the 50k course short.

All showered up Jim and I walked over to the festivities, live music, homemade food and Ritual Brewery selections on tap. The hometown feel was  further accentuated  by David’s wife serving me a  hoppy brew and then running into Nils(he did the 100k) from LARCC (LA River camp coffee) who joined our little table for our RSR debrief and bike talk.

The Crew.
Doug. Such a great friend.
Nils. How can you not like this guy.
Holly & David some of my favorite people on earth.

My take away from this years ride, the crew who organize this grass roots dirt fest pulled out all the stops to make the routes even better than I thought was possible. The three routes have something for everyone and with numerous bale out points anyone can participate. And next year I’ll study the map a bit better so I don’t miss good dirt.


Another note our David cyclotourist while out scouting the various sections of this year’s RSR went down really hard after getting his handle bars snagged on a protruding bush/tree limb and broke his collarbone. Amazingly, he was out being the congenial host as always yet under heavy medication to handle the pain. Heal up quickly buddy.

Next up an April bike overnight in Orange County.

As always thanks for reading and keep the rubber side down.

Guadalupe Mini Tour.

Guadalupe Mini Tour.

My Brother Bruce had an idea to do a mini tour down the coast. I have really bad luck when it comes to making plans in February as it always seems to rain. This year was the exception and we hit the jackpot.  The forecast was an extended warm spell one of the benefits of global warming, I can’t imagine what Summer will be like.

This past Friday the 12th  the start of the long presidents weekend my Brother Andrew caught the northbound Amtrak at Los Angeles Union Station and I boarded at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. The ride North was enjoyable as we could relax and catch up on life. We disembarked in the small farming community of Guadalupe located in the Northwest part of Santa Barbara County. Bruce met us at the train depot after riding over from Santa Maria. Before heading south we grabbed a bite to eat at the local Subway* and headed South to Lompoc where we made camp and had a fantastic meal at Sissy’s Uptown Cafe.

Guadalupe, CA
Our starting point.


Guadalupe Station
Amtrak Station Structure.
Bruce & Andrew
Wide open pastoral landscapes and wide shoulders made for an enjoyable ride.
Hilsen and barbed wire.
Forever views.


Sissy’s Uptown Cafe

Saturday morning we woke to all our tents soaked from the dew. Since our tents were wet we had a leisurely morning drying out and prepared for another day in the saddle. Since we had a full day there was lot’s of time for lollygagging and picture taking. Before leaving Lompoc we grabbed sandwiches at Subway again and supplies at the local discount market. As far as we knew there were no services** between Lompoc and Refugio along our route.

Blue skies, rolling hills, pastures, perfect temps and the company of my brothers’s made this day spectacular.

Hilsen Cockpit.
Picture, picture
Gaviota, CA

After some climbing we had a miles long descent down to Gaviota State Beach for lunch before making for our final destination  Refugio State Beach. When we arrived at Refugio there was some question as to whether there was room for us. There was a party in the hiker biker area, Cal Parks State trail clearing volunteers. The ranger inquired whether they were comfortable with some bikers making camp? We were given the greenlight and pulled into the fantastic site with front and center beach access. We were greeted with candied almonds and upbeat Denise Ludwig of Ventura. Treated to a quintessential California sunset we shared a campfire with Denise and friends.


Refugio Hiker Biker
Refugio State Beach Hiker/Biker site.
Rock Structures
Beach Rock Art.
Beach Twilight
South Bound
Heading South and home.

Sunday morning we had a 9:08am train to catch in Goleta so we woke up before sunrise, brewed coffee made breakfast and high tailed it to catch that train. Along the way I had a rear flat so Bruce and I made the roadside repair rather hastily then Bruce pulled, me sitting in on his rear wheel making the station and train with time to spare!

I made changes to the A.Homer Hilsen and with the load I carried Homer was superb. Now that I know the Hilsen can be a decent light tourer I can let the Atlantis go. I’ll make a follow up post about the changes I made in more detail.

On the trip, I’d do this trip again in a heartbeat maybe start from San Luis Obispo.

More Flickr images of the trip on the left sidebar.

As always thanks for reading and keep the rubber side down.

*I’ve been going meatless these days and was a bit apprehensive on this trip as to whether I could do it. I have to say the vegetarian sandwich at Subway is fantastic. Everywhere I go people have been super supportive.

** We were later told there was a small snack store at Refugio but we didn’t verify that nor do I know its hours of operation.


Hiking with a bike an under-biking experience

Hiking with a bike an under-biking experience

In my last post i mentioned the problem with all the sunny days and i posted a picture. And well yes, technically it was overcast but mother nature just seems to want to tease us here in Southern California. There was some moisture that fell to the ground in the evening but nothing to write home about,  certainly nothing to keep one from venturing outdoors. Don’t get me wrong i’m not complaining just pointing out that there is a downside. Hope that helps you folks in the frozen climes. To be fair, i can see the allure of winter snowy activities.

So since i’m talking about getting outside here’s what i did~

Sometimes, you’ve exhausted your usual rides and some exploration is in order. I woke up feeling that way yesterday. There are ton’s of trail above my community and i’ve been meaning to explore above Haines Canyon, to see whether the trails link through Deukmejian Wilderness Park to Dunsmore Canyon. I’ve been told it does.

I entered Haines Canyon at the  flood control catch basin and climbed up to a fork in the trail. To the left I’d ridden a few times and knew what to expect, to the right i was in new territory. The trail lures you in but soon i found myself all the way in using my lowest gear not capable of keeping traction in the loose rocky trail. So began my on the bike and off the bike ride. I used the term “lure” because that’s frankly how it felt (to tempt a person or an animal to do something or to go somewhere, especially by offering some form of reward.), there were MTB tracks which made me feel like it’s been done before.  i continued to push my bike over a difficult rocky section where it would open up to a ridable section but soon lead me into another unrideable part of the trail.  Also i had this crazy determination to make it to Dunsmore Canyon so i pressed on!

Obligatory shot
A. Homer Hilsen View

As i continued up the Haines Canyon Mountainway i could make out a slash in the hillside which looked like a fire road. The trail crossed a debris field with the trail meeting up with a gate, here again i was lured into thinking this might be an actual fire road and ridable. Moving past the gate the climbing began in earnest. I was able to ride some of this section as it rounded a ridge and afforded some spectacular views of the valley below and beyond.

Hard to get a good selfie
Up above the Valley.

I paused long enough to let it soak in but knew i was short on time the work thingy don’t you know. The Haines Canyon Mountainway links up or shares the name with the Rim of the Valley Trail and a spur called Azteca Spur/ Sister Elsie trail that climbs up the backside of Mount Lukens. In hindsight, i chose wisely to continue on the Rim of the Valley as i knew i needed to get off the mountain.

Gotta get off the Mountain
This is the upper Rim of the Valley Trail super steep.
Of course I'm on the most difficult
What i came down.

The terrain here is wide open at elevation (there’s no tree cover to obstruct views) wide open skies and from my elevated viewpoint i honed in on what i thought was the Deukmejian/ Dunsmore Canyon Flood basin, so off i went down what i like to call the “Billy Goat Trail” but is actually “The Cooks Canyon Trail” it plunged me into the depths of a beautiful watery retreat.

Would have liked to spend more time here but work calls
Would have liked more time to spend here.

The last deluge two weeks before had blocked the trail with deadfall,  here i also had to negotiate where the stream shared the trail. A while later I emerged out on La Mesnager Trail which t-bones into Dunsmore Canyon Trail (this lower trail was a blast to ride) and onto Markridge where I hightailed it home and made it to work on time.

Even though this was only a 12 mile jaunt i felt like i’d done something worthy.

Here’s the Strava route.

My conclusion,  I’ll never take any bike in this direction again! Not even a MTB, I can see riding off of Mount Lukens on a MTB would make sense and of course this is a fine hiking trail but never will i take Homer up that trail again. Was there a reward? You betcha! I had a pre work adventure which i’m always up for and i learned some valuable information for the future.

Thanks for reading and as always keep the rubber side down.

Tail Winds,


The problem with too many sunny days.

The problem with too many sunny days.

The problem might not seem obvious beyond the drought issue. Folks from all over see the Rose Bowl Parade and turn to their spouse and under frosty breath exclaim some determination to move to a warmer clime.

Okay so what’s the problem with all this sunshine? Well there’s no reason not to get outside, sometimes to the detriment of other responsibilities, bike builds, home repairs the list goes on.

They say we’re in an El Nino year, but other than the last big down pour two weeks ago squat!

What’s a cyclist to do! Ride son, ride!

Next up a ride or is that a hike?

Thanks for reading and as always keep the rubber side down.

Tail Winds,


Climb-y Ride with a view.

Climb-y Ride with a view.

My friend Tim wanted some dirt riding to try out his new gravel grinder, how could i refuse?

Since I’d ridden Hansen Dam the day before with Elliot i decided the climb to the top of the Verdugo’s would be a good ride because of the payoff,  360º views and the down hill down Beaudry North Motor Way is a blast. We started kinda late because that’s how i tend to roll. There was still some foggy remanent in the air and i knew that we wouldn’t get the long view to the west and pacific beyond but the San Gabriels were basking in the winter sun with a mix of high clouds and fog caressing their lower reaches.

A. Homer Hilsen Views
A. Homer Hilsen Views

The trails were initially crowded with hikers but the higher we climbed the crowds thinned. We took rest breaks and marveled at the different views. Up top we met Alex of Silverlake an Englishman living abroad in Los Angeles. He was riding his Niner Mountain bike a worthy steed. In our chat he mentioned how enamored he was of Southern California. As he put it you just can’t do this living in London as he swept his arms around to indicate the vast outdoors and it’s proximity to the sprawl.  Alex moved to Los Angeles for love the love of a woman and now his wife, wise move Alex!


We had a spirited descent of pure joy! The air temperature was so ideal I ditched the windbreaker it was so balmy. We emerged from the fire road by the Oakmont Country Club and made our way up into Montrose and Berolina Bakery where we ate lunch and had Jones Coffee Roasters coffee. A funny side note, Tim’s on a cleanse or detox from sugar and wheat and well I’m not! I asked Tim to pick me up four peanut butter cookies and the friendly lady behind the counter overheard our conversation…she filled a bag stuffed with cookies? Apparently, they’re closed Sunday and they need to get rid of their stock. Tim, “you know I’m on a cleanse and you’re ordering my all time favorite cookie”, he exclaimed. All in good humor he said i was a so & so 🙂 Sorry Tim! I’m not on a cleanse.


Tim’s conclusion:

What i heard a lot from Tim was how much he was having a child moment discovering something new and wonderful, it seems off road riding is in his future. Beyond Tim’s joy of off road riding he also discovered some mechanical disadvantages with respect to his rig. Namely, tires and braking…since he’s a Mechanical Engineer he’s going back to the drawing table. All in all a great ride with a good friend and another mix terrain convert. Look out roadies!

Strava route

Thanks for reading and as always keep the rubber side down.

Tail Winds,