Team Dream Extreme Volume 01: The Backboner
Photos and Words by Sean Talkington
Lyle from Acre recently moved to LA from SF and has been talking about “secret trails” near my home in Topanga for some time now. He kept saying that they were easily the best thing he had ridden in our area. I had skeptically tried to find the “secret trail-head” to the “secret trail” multiple times and always ended up lost. A few months ago I thought I had found said trail, so two buddies came with to rejoice in the new super secret discovery, only to end up trailblazing for 2 hours & schlepping bikes over loads of rock faces. I was bummed, my friends were bummed and I began to secretly hate these secret trails. ..
After hearing of my repeated failures Lyle sent me some topographical reference imagery along with some detailed notes and made me promise not to blow up the spot. I finally had my in! This is probably the closest thing I will ever have to being invited to a Country Club-type atmosphere. The day after I received this new golden key to secret shredding just so happened to be the day we were planning “Team Dream Extreme Ride- Volume 1: The BackBoner!”.
BackBoner was a ride that Ty and I had been planning for a while and was set up to be a two day out-and-back across the Santa Monica Mountains. I had no idea what the mileage would be but we estimated it at about 140 with 15,000-20,000ft of climbing over both days. This was sure to be toughie. This ride was scheduled to go from Santa Monica all the way to Sandstone Peak along the open sections of the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains.
We would be leaving at 6pm in order to ride a few hours of daylight, before tackling the bulk of the first day in the dark. Our route would cover the majority of the mountain range from west to east on day 1 and return inbound on the same trails day 2. Jen Abercrombie and Liz Browne were kind enough to offer their services and drive a sag support vehicle, so all bases would be covered.
Once we arrived near Sandstone we would have dinner catered by our friends at Pure Luck, camp, and pedal home the next morning. A weekend with lots of singletrack, pedaling, eating, climbing, epic views, buddies, camping, bonking, night riding, sunburns and smiles…what more could you ask for? I guess you could ask for beer & coffee too. I forgot both of those things but was hopeful that my signature Arnold Palmer drink would help to make everyone forget…It didn’t! Luckily Jen brought a coffee maker.
This was quite an ambitious out-and-back, but I decided to “update” the route and include Lyle’s new secret trails in hopes of taking our trip to “Ultra Epic” proportions. Friday at 6pm we were rolling and by 7 we all started riding new trails that were REALLY fun. At this point of the trip I felt like a mega stud. Everyone was ripping and stoked. I was a (self proclaimed) HERO!
We had started in Topanga instead of Santa Monica to try and offset the time we would lose by detouring to these new trails. The secret section was only about 20 miles long but took us 3 hours to get through. This put us way behind on time and after climbing the biggest/toughest climb of the day (Bulldog) for over an hour. The Bulldog climb is a bitch!
Even with fresh legs it can do you in. It became obvious that we wouldn’t be arriving to Sandstone until 2am.
Morale was low but we pushed through. Then one of us got lost and ended up descending back down the Bulldog climb! Luckily we found the person (whose name I will keep anonymous) before he got to the bottom, but now we were looking at a 3am arrival.
It was now 12:30 am. Dinner was originally scheduled to be served at 11:30pm in camp, and we were still at least 3 solid hours of riding from the camping spot.
At this point of the rip I did not feel like a mega stud and the smell of mutiny was starting to fill the air…or maybe that was just our well-soiled bib shorts? We all agreed that enough fun had been dished out for one evening and agreed to pull out at the Kanan Trailhead (roughly 15 miles from camp) Gerry called in a favor and 30 minutes later our bikes were all in the back of a pickup-truck. Soon after we were all fed and in bed and feeling quite dead.
Day 02 – Backboned
The next morning we were stuffed with vegan breakfast scramble from Pure Luck and sent on our way back. Day two was filled with lots of flat tires and it was hot! Big Mike flatted! Then Kyle flatted! Then little Mike flatted! Then Kyle flatted again! Any energy we had left was ripped out by the heat. We were all ready for it to be over but we still had Bulldog! Water can be sparse in the mountains, and food is basically nonexistent on the route.
Luckily, Jen and Liz were kind enough to stash a bag filled with cokes, burritos, water and snacks near Malibu Creek State Park (they also left more tubes that Kyle would later need). The best Coke(s) of my life seem to happen at Malibu Creek Sate Park. We slowly limped our way home. Eight hours after leaving Sandstone we arrived back in Topanga sun scorched & tired.
Almost 15 hours of saddle time in a 22 hour period with more climbing then I would care to know. We got BackBoned! In the end you could say that the ride didn’t go exactly as planned. We were all thrown into the unexpected. All of us. Even Jen & Liz, and Beth & Tuna, who spent their Friday night waiting hours for us in the middle of nowhere. Everybody took it in stride and all were cool.
In my opinion, that’s sort of the best part.
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