One thing is for sure when you are unemployed – you have lots of time to cycle and think. There really is only so much one can do on a daily basis before you hit your head against the wall. If I hurt, I’d rather hurt from cycling. I am going to spare you my emotional state and just focus on the ride recap, because the route deserves a report.
The ride was a 36 mile round trip with over 3000 ft of elevation gain. Starting out from Brentwood (CA), heading down to PCH and up towards Malibu. Along the way, around mile 11 Las Flores Canyon turns off to the right heading into the Santa Monica mountains. I have not ridden this route before but got a sense of it by looking at the CVC’s climbing chart.
The CVC (Conejo Valley Cyclists) has a great page which outlines the length, average grade % and peak grade % for many canyon routes in the Santa Monica mountains.
Climb: Los Flores to SchuerenDistance: 4.1 miles Ascent: 1910 feet Average grade: 8.6% Peak grade: 20%
The climb starts innocent enough on the first 500 yards, but once it turns up, there is no letting up. I did stop several times (my garmin says 5), whenever I could find some shade, but always tried to keep it short of a minute and combined the opportunity to take some photos. Oh, I learned something! – Zig-Zag – is the new magic mantra for me.
Why did I NOT know about this? And I learned this lesson after mile 3 the hard way by accident. At one point my tempo moving forward (upward) became so slow that I had to move the bike from preventing a stall and falling over!! Once I started zig-zagging (is that a word?), the ride became noticeable easier (it is all relative). Plus, the zig-zagging helps avoiding rattle snakes on the road (no picture, just tried to get away from the thing). Yes, that is another reason you can zig-zag, it is so remote, that you hear a car coming up or down 1/2 a mile away, and once you find your zone, what an awesome ride up.
Once you hit Schueren Road, things become a bit easier (avg. grade 5.7%) and the views are dramatic. Next you take the infamous Stunt Road and things are heating up a bit with an average of 8% grade, but only about 3 miles of it and then you reach the top and see: ROAD CLOSED!!! – wtf???
I talked to Cal-Trans guys and they were really nice. They are up here to rebuild old Saddle Peak Road and they indicated that they always leave a small strip of asphalt intact on the left side for ‘us’ bicycles to go through. Look at the picture and see the wonderful cycling strip to the left 🙂
One of the guys got on the radio and told the heavy machinery to stop working for 2 minutes and told me to go and so I did. Well, with the exception of some minor climbs, it is all downhill from here via Las Tunas Canyon, Fernhill Canyon and Topaganda Canyon.
Hold on to your brakes though, there are some insanely tight hairpin curves in that downhill and pay attention to the pavement. Potholes galore!!! A great ride, with plenty of challenge and I can’t wait to try my new found zig-zag skill on the first 3 miles of the climb the next time around.