Exploring the Santa Monica Mountains

Link to Garmin Ride Data: Garmin Connect

Quick Ride Information: Route Distance = 55 miles, Elevation Gain = 5600 feet, average grade = 6+% with 10 sections between 11% to 14% grade, Ride difficulty = hard

Ride report:

I couldn’t ride with my friends from SoCalCycling on Saturday for their ‘Mystery Ride’, and was contacted by Kurt and Mark earlier in the week about a Sunday ride. I thought it would be fun to do a little climbing and put the route together. Unfortunately, as we got closer to Sunday, Mark dropped down to a 33% chance of making it, Kurt dropped out, Jason popped up for a 50% chance and by roll time on Sunday at 7:30 am I found myself rolling solo.

Route detail for canyon ride

Route detail for canyon ride

Although it would have been nice to have had company, I am used to riding solo, and I understand that our ‘want to ride’ doesn’t always fit with other obligations in our lives. I gave it 5 minutes extra and then headed off. I have done segments of this ride before, but never combined them all, except Stunt Road, which I have ridden down, but never up. I love exploring and new routes, therefor my spirits were high.

Brentwood, Santa Monica and the coast were fogged in, but after a short climb up on Topanga the fog stayed behind and I was greeted by the sun to an absolutely amazing fall day in the mountains. Climbing up Topanga, Fernwood and Saddle Peak Road is something I have done quiet often lately, and I knew what was in store for me. When climbing this route, right after the right turn onto Saddle Peak Road, the first house to the right has a water spigot installed for cyclists and is one of the very few water sources found in these mountains.

don't forget to fill up on water - this is the address

don't forget to fill up on water - this is the address

Cyclists were out in strong numbers today, which is always nice to know when you ride solo. The ride continues up to the Saddle Peak Road/Van Schueren/Stunt Road intersection on top of the mountain. Today’s route drops down to the left and connects to Piuma Road, where a right turn starts the Piuma climb.

Route profile with key milestones, max grade and HR info

Route profile with key milestones, max grade and HR info

Once atop Piuma a long downhill follows, which ultimately dumps into Cold Canyon Road and connects to Las Virgenes Road (also known to some as Malibu Canyon Road). Turning right will bring a series of climbs and connect with Mulholland Road, right again and the next few miles are strong rollers.

Riding the rollers

Riding the rollers

Eventually Stunt Road turn comes into view and a right marks the beginning of a very long climb back up to the top of Saddle Peak. Stunt road was a good strength test for me and it is plenty challenging, serving up an average 8% grade. I really liked the road, but have to admit that I was plenty happy when I got to the top.

Back at the top looking towards the Pacific Ocean which is still under heavy fog on the coast

Back at the top looking towards the Pacific Ocean which is still under heavy fog on the coast

From here it is just a little climb over another ridge to backtrack my steps from earlier and return to the coast via Fernwood Canyon and Topanga. The 55 mile ride took me almost 4.5 hours with a moving average of 12.5 mph. I am not sure if this is good or bad, but I do know that this is a beautiful ride and I highly recommend it.

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About GT in LA

Road cycling enthusiast
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2 Responses to Exploring the Santa Monica Mountains

  1. sevencyclist says:

    Damn, sorry dude. I wanted to finish early, so I can spend some time with dad … after all, that is the reason why I’m down here. I echo ME’s sentiments … great report and great pics. Our thermometer shows 95 F, so I’m glad I finished the ride early.

  2. MErider says:

    you rode solo 😦 I love this ride but had committed to a mtn bike ride with Herb. well, that and…um…I wasn’t invited!!! J/K 😉 Nice pics as usual. It was glorious out there today for sure.

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