Mt. Baldy

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.

Los Angeles skyline with Mt. Baldy looming large

Los Angeles skyline with Mt. Baldy looming large

A little ride report about my first ride up and down Mt. Baldy. Without doubt, this ride is and will stay on my favorite list. Route map including elevation data can be found here:

Garmin ride data link

Some 36 ride images are located here:

Mt. Baldy ride images

You will see from the ride images that we spent most of the day literally in the clouds. Translation: at times visibility was less than 10 feet. Luckily there is a beautiful photo stream to be found at merider incredible photo collection (you should head on over there and appreciate the views to on a clear day, if that does not get your juices flowing, nothing will!)

The route is roughly 62 miles and offers 6300 feet of climbing. You start from Encanto Park off Encanto Parkway in Duarte (enlarge Garmin map for exact location). This little community park is a great starting/end location because of well maintained restrooms and plenty of free parking.

A small group of us arranged to meet at this park with a clip in time of 0800. Coming from the West side of Los Angeles I really overestimated the drive time and arrived almost an hour early. Granted, I have this thing for punctuality and can’t stand being late, but this was a bit early, even for me. As it turns out I was not the only early bird because shortly after Kurt arrived, all smiles and giggles while showing off his new ride!

You have to appreciate the fact that Kurt, until a week ago, rode a 22 year old Trek with an 11-21 cassette and a big road ring in front. Pair this with the fact that shifting was such a pain that he avoided shifting altogether. That made this a ‘fixie’ for all practical purposes – not a setup I would want to climb a mountain with. Now, compare this to his new ride with a compact crank and a 11-25, all you can say (and none said it more often than Kurt) – a thing of beauty!

Let's go you sissy's

Let's go you sissy's

One by one our riders arrived, getting gear and bikes in order and our small band of seven clipped in at 0800 sharp (how I love that!) Most of the riders in the group know each other very well, for Kurt and I it was the second outing with them.

Our fearless captain (Mark) demonstrated his leadership skills and quickly pointed us into the right direction. For those of you who would like to make this ride, heed his advise given to us:

Food & Drink:

carry extra – you will need some fuel going up the mountain. Besides the food you usually carry add some of your favorites (for me an extra BB&J and banana worked). Around mile 15 and after only 1000 feet of climbing you will reach a small General Store on the shores of the San Gabriel East Fork river. Make sure to stop and top off your containers – this is the last chance for water until you reach Mt. Baldy village, a long, long way up from here.

Clothing:

just because it is nice and warm at the base of the mountain, the weather at the top can change quickly and is unpredictable. Arm warmers and a wind breaker are a must, if you have room, take some leg warmers too.

Company:

this is not a ride you should attempt solo – aside from safety reasons it is nice to have someone to chat with on those long climbs (sort of takes the focus of the climb)

Ride break down

The first 16.5 miles are a good warm up and get you to about 1800 feet of elevation. Most climbs are gradual, although long at times, with only very short stretches of steeper climbs (6 to 8% grade).

Our view in the clouds

At the "T" - our view in the clouds

The climbing starts in ernest at the turnoff from East Fork Road to Big Glendora Road. For the next 5+ miles it is all up and by the time you hit the T (little Glendora Ridge road intersects with the road you are on) you will be at 3340 feet elevation. This is a good place to stop and enjoy the view. In case you run out of gas, don’t feel well or just don’t feel like climbing another 12 miles, you could also turn right and head on down the mountain or return the same way you came but this is a bit more challenging).

Just because its called Little Glendora road, doesn’t mean it has no bite. There are 12 miles ahead of what Jason called ‘rollers’ – yeah, right! By the time you are done with the 12 miles you will be at 4520 feet elevation and you will have climbed about 5500 feet of elevation change since the beginning of the ride. From here it is a fast downhill into Mt. Baldy village (feels so good but it will hurt coming back up)

Mile 33 or thereabouts will mark your halfway point at the Mt. Baldy Lodge restaurant, a favorite watering hole for the locals and a welcome rest stop for us. I have heard that the potato skins are killer, but I don’t think so (or maybe I just had a bad batch). Sandwiches all received good reviews.

After lunch and some good natured bantering and best of all, rested legs (let’s hope) it is back up the mountain again. Once again, there is a bailout option for those who do not want to climb again. Mt. Baldy Road goes straight down the hill from here. For all others, remember that great downhill to Mt Baldy village?  - oh, it hurts so good climbing back up! Essentially the route retraces its steps to the “T” mentioned earlier and you’ll climb about 1100 feet before you get there, but then comes a glorious 6 mile screaming downhill section. What FUN!

The last 10 miles of the journey are easy rollers along the base of the mountain heading back through Glendora to the start point.

People make a difference! I really enjoyed this group’s non-judgmental approach. By that I mean that it is OK to ride within one’s limits. If you feel strong – go for it, and if you don’t feel like hammering just pick your own pace. There are always pre-arranged regroup stops which allow the faster group to take a breather and the slower group to catch up and still feel part of it all.

The only thing missing on this ride was the VIEW! There was none, in fact the cloud cover was so dense at times that riding through the clouds felt like riding in rain (only it didn’t), but believe me it feels just as wet. So, guess what? This is the PERFECT excuse to ride this mountain again, hopefully on a day whit clear views all around. But truth be told, I would ride it again in a heartbeat with or without clouds and I would hope that some or all of the people I met would be along for the journey.

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About GT in LA

Road cycling enthusiast
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11 Responses to Mt. Baldy

  1. Pingback: Riding Mt. Baldy when the legs stay at home | GT in LA

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  4. Kurt says:

    great read and thanks for letting me bend your ear on one of the long climbs
    did I mention that I love the new bike ?????
    after doing this ride. I have a whole new outlook on my punny little “hill” training run around PV

  5. Doug says:

    I’m glad your ride went better than mine. :-)

  6. 331miles says:

    Good job, and sounds like a great time! Makes me sad that I have to drive about 3 hours to reach anything that even resembles a climb.

  7. gtinla says:

    Tracy – you climb the Ozarks you climb anywhere
    MErider – I’ll split fries with you anytime
    Ron & Tom – see you soon

  8. Tom says:

    Gerhard,

    Nice to see you again and good to ride with you – if only for fifteen minutes! Looking forward to riding with you again.

    Tom

  9. ron says:

    Hi GT,
    It was great having you on the ride. This reads just like a magazine article … love the report. I’m glad I was able to catch up with everyone. I’ll have to check out your pics.

  10. MErider says:

    GT, you are too kind to me and I let you down. :( I would have normally have loved to have ridden up that mountain (fog and all) with a Baldy virgin. I was a loser for not going and the only way to redeem myself is to get up there with you on a clear day! I’m glad you went tho and love the report. Sorry your potato skins sucked. I never have a bad batch, but maybe that’s cause I’m so hungry by the time I get there that I don’t notice. Next time, go for the chicken sandwich and the fries. I’ll split the fries with you . ;-)

    Good Job!!!!!

  11. tracywilkins says:

    Wow! Here in the Ozarks, I consider myself a hill climber, but we’ve got nothing like that. One of these days, I’m going to have to get myself and my bike to the mountains at the same time and see how I really stack up. It sounds like a great ride!

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