A while back I joined a group of LA Wheelmen riders for one of their longer and steeper training rides, and blogged about it in the article called “Excuse me, do you have another hill?” This is an 80 mile ride, just shy of 6000 feet of climbing, with a big climb of 2300 feet between miles 32 and 39. There is one more significant climb (about 800 feet), but compared to the initial climb not bad at all. The rest of the elevation gain is a constant up and down the canyon walls, occasionally with a steep grade, but never for an extended period of time.
I thought that it would be befitting to do this ride again and call it my Independence Day ride, and I am so glad I did. Dressing right today was a bit tricky as the coast was cloaked in heavy fog (it was really chilly starting out), but I know that the fog usually hangs up at the coastal mountain range and once you crest or climb above the layer, it gets hot very quickly. I was right, after the initial 30 mile approach to the turn off to Yerba Buena Canyon, I stopped at the base of the coastal range, and shed my layers, had a quick banana and some fluids and settled in for the climb. About 300 feet up I broke through the marine layer and said hello to the sun. A strange feeling, one moment you are in cool, moist air and the next you are riding in a furnace, but a gorgeous furnace nevertheless. I didn’t bring the camera and my iPhone didn’t do justice to the marine layer below and the azure sky above, but I managed to get this shot with the phone, taken at the ranger station, which sits about 600 feet below the first summit.
The most amazing thing during this ride was probably the fact that once I turned up the mountain range from the coast, I did not see anyone for the next 15 miles. Since most of those miles are all up, that is a long time. What wonderful solitude, all you hear is the turn of your wheels, your breathing and the sounds of wildlife around you. I think these 15 miles probably rank as the most enjoyable miles ridden, there was something magical about the rhythm of the climb and the stillness of the surroundings.
That magic was broken when I reached Decker Canyon and connected to Mulholland Drive, both known as ‘the premier motorcycle mountain raceway’. I finished todays ride with a 14.5 mph average, which is 0.5 mph better than my last ride, despite being solo today and in a group back then. Slowly but surely all my riding is showing small signs of improvement and I am starting to look forward to my Eastern Sierra mountain century with less and less hesitation.
I spent a couple of hours stripping down the bike for a thorough cleaning and get ready to BBQ our dinner, a tasty way to end a wonderful 4th of July!