Category Archives: Rides
A Pushwacker’s Guide to Peppermint Falls in the Sequoia National Forest
... like a rollercoaster!

There’s an old saying: “wherever your relationship is going, it’ll get there faster on a _____ ride.” Whether it’s a bicycle tour, mountain bike, group, or tandem ride, new relationships often encounter stress that can either solidify or deteriorate your bond. Acknowledging this, I planned out Cari’s first bikepacking, or rather bicycle camping trip together with a certain degree of trepidation. Knowing Cari’s background of extensive backpacking, I planned out a quick, but somewhat difficult ride for us to undertake in the Sequoia National Forest.

Let me backpedal a bit here and give you a brief synopsis of Cari’s background. In her 20 years of backpacking, she’s undertaken a series of difficult multi-day trips throughout the Western United States. She’s hiked Whitney, Half Dome, Rae Lakes, Lost Coast and various other undertakings that are far from beginner. When she and I first started dating, she had a commuter bike but other than riding around Los Angeles, she had very little experience, especially on dirt. I explained the premise behind bicycle camping, touring and bikepacking, with the differences in each outlined. “You basically carry everything you need on your bike, rather than your back, and you can cover more ground on various terrain…” She seemed to gravitate towards bikepacking since the idea of dealing with cars isn’t all that appealing to a backcountry explorer. I agreed and began planning.

Initially, I had one ride planned in the Eastern Sierras but this time of year meant it could still be snowing at 10,000′, so I began looking a little further south before landing in the Sequoias – one of my favorite parts of California. (more…)

May 17, 2016 31 comments
No Reception in Northern California – Michael Armenta and Brian Larson
No Reception in Northern California

No Reception in Northern California
Photos by Michael Armenta, words by Brian Larson

There’s never a perfect time to escape. Chores, obligations, monetary deficits, or priorities—it seems the doldrums of the day to day too often take hold with gripping force. We can’t always hop on plane to the backcountry of the Chilcotins or ride ribbons of trails through the Alps; sometimes planning a trip can seem more complicated than landing a rover on Mars.

And in some instances even more so.

But on the rare occasion a trip can manifest itself without a formalized plan or strategy. The right players show up with the right gear and seem to have a rare abundance of time to spare. It’s like watching ripples forming from the wind blasting a sand dune. From a seemingly chaotic environment comes a perfectly organized pattern: from entropy emerges order. We’re not going to pretend to understand it, but that is what happened with this trip. A few emails were sent to a handful of folks and almost magically we were standing speechless in awe of Northern California coastal viewshed. No itinerary, no schedule, no obligations, and no reception. (more…)

May 16, 2016 29 comments
Eroica Rolls to South African Soil – Stan Engelbrecht and Tyrone Bradey
Eroica Rolls to South African Soil

Eroica Rolls to South African Soil
Words by Stan Engelbrecht and photos by Tyrone Bradey

When Giancarlo Brocci imagined what would become the now world famous L’Eroica vintage bicycle homage in 1997, he surely never thought that rubber would crunch on gravel all the way at the Southern tip of Africa, in honour of his humble concept. Giancarlo saw the first L’Eroica rides as a way to bring attention to, and thus encourage the preservation of, the beautiful ‘strade bianche’, or white marble gravel roads of the area around Gaiole in Tuscany. At the same time it was a way for him to honour and remind others of the perfect peak of the sport he loves so dearly – the heady, fiery days of Anquetil, Poulidor, Coppi, Bartali, Merckx… (more…)

May 13, 2016 14 comments
Unpredict Your Wednesday with Topanga Creek on Catalina Island
Gahhhhh

“I fear for the shops that still use pegboard…”

This saying really resonated with me, after talking to Chris at Topanga Creek Outpost about the survival of the local bike shop. Now, I’ve been to TCO before, but in the time passed, a lot has changed. It’s more of a mercantile now, with carefully merchandised horizontal surfaces and only a select few bike models for sale. TCO rents mountain bikes as well, making their Saturday morning rides easy for out-of-towners who make the trek from wherever to lil ol’ Topanga.

That’s what Chris was saying… Shops need to be a destination in order to survive. The convenience of the commuter chain store is drastically outweighed by Amazon Prime and other online retailers. Yet, group rides and free banana bread doesn’t pay rent, especially not in Topanga. So they need to sell people on experiences and offer products that suit them. Sure, you can just sell someone a bike and some bags and send them on their way, or you can be a part of their new experience.

That’s where Unpredict Your Wednesday was born. (more…)

May 10, 2016 19 comments
Buck Macho and Chet Bearclaw’s Adventure Cycling Team – Ty Hathaway and Jesse Scarantino
Buck Macho and Chet Bearclaw’s Adventure Cycling Team

Buck Macho and Chet Bearclaw’s Adventure Cycling Team
Photos by Ty Hathaway and Jesse Scarantino, words by Buck Macho

Buck Macho checking in. You won’t find any pictures of me here, because one of the conditions of me bringing outsiders to Central Texas was no photographs of me on bike websites. I was there, though, and I’m probably in the best position to tell the story, since it’s obvious my guests– Jason, Ty and Jesse – have a hard time handling their liquor.
Jason, Ty and Jesse are members of “Chet Bearclaw’s Adventure Cycling Team”, and I’m a longtime friend of the team’s owner/founder, Chet Bearclaw. My friendship with Chet started in 1998, when he crash-landed his hot air balloon in a field of my ranch. He had intended to circumnavigate the globe, but that’s a story for another time.

From what I was told, the last time Jason, Ty and Jesse had ridden bikes together was on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in the winter. Seemed like a dumb as dog shit idea to me, but to each their own. It’s not that I don’t like winter, but if I’m gonna be freezing my dick off, I’d rather be on a snowmobile going 75mph. (more…)

May 9, 2016 25 comments
Riding With Ringtail and Stinner Frameworks on Mt. Lukens – Kyle Kelley
The whole gang!

Riding With Ringtail and Stinner Frameworks on Mt. Lukens
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley

A while back the boys at Stinner asked Sean from Team Dream / Ringtail if he’d host a ride beginning at Los Angeles’ hub for the discerning cyclist, The Cub House. For those of you who don’t know, The Cub House is the Team Dream Team and Ringtail headquarters. It is located just below Mt. Lukens, the highest point in the city of Los Angeles. With an elevation of 5,075 feet it makes Los Angeles the largest city with the highest and lowest elevations in North America. So, why not take everyone up there? Well… maybe because it has a steep, rocky and rutted 7 mile fire road climb with a 4.5 mile single track descent back down to Highway 2. And this was supposed to be a road ride after all. No matter, good sense shouldn’t get in the way of a good time.

We gathered at The Cub House at 8:30am and filled up on Nitro Cold Brew. Everyone was there, from racers to randos. Tires ranged from 25c to 40c. Some people bought vests and jackets because it looked cold up in the mountains, but I just stole a patch for a photo at the top! (more…)

May 4, 2016 4 comments
Sea Otter, ORNOT – Nich Barresi
Sea Otter, ORNOT

Sea Otter, ORNOT
Words and photos by Nich Barresi

Sea Otter is great. There’s lots of new bike stuff, racing, camping, beer, and friends, but we had a hankering to get out on some dirt roads after hanging out with Ritchey on Friday. We had heard of an abandoned dirt road down in Los Padres National Forest and we felt this was the perfect opportunity to check it out (and maybe test out a few new products). Indians Road can be accessed by Arroyo Seco Campground and leads south into the wilderness. Our plan was to camp near the trail, ride it in the morning, and then get back to Sea Otter in the afternoon.

We spent the evening in the woods and woke up to birds chirping and warm morning light kissing nearby hilltops. Try waking up like that at Laguna Seca campground… After a bit of camp coffee and ride preparation, we were on our bikes and headed up the hill.
The pavement ended first, and then our ride, temporarily.

Matt managed to slash a nice hole in his brand new tires’ sidewall 10 minutes into the ride. We booted with a greenback, threw a tube inside, and were on our way. Enter ‘day long anxiety about being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a blown out tire’. We knew we were on borrowed time with a boot, but we weren’t about to give up so soon.

Indians Road is a pretty special place. The road was shut down in ’94 after winter storms caused two landslides along the road, and it remained closed due to pricey and non-ecological repair estimates. The military finalized the closure after 9/11 when the stated the road, which is right next to Fort Hunter-Liggett, would ‘require an increased law enforcement and USFS patrol’. The double track road is now overgrown and full of fallen rocks and sand. There is some dodging of said rocks, and of course a climb over the landslide, but it is certainly rideable on skinny(ish) tires. All together, it is an extremely enjoyable ride very similar to what you might find in Marin, but with a more Southern Californian look.

While you’re only 20 miles from Arroyo Seco campground, the remoteness of the ride and the great expanses you see along the way make it feel like you’re really “out there”. Be sure to pick an instagramable lunch stop…don’t worry, there are plenty.

Little did we know, Murphy Mack (Super Pro Racing) went and planned a route straight through Indians Road for his Spring Classic this weekend. Their ride starts down south and heads up through this same portion of Indians Road, and then into the valley via Arroyo Seco, and up to Gilroy. Should be an epic day for those who go. We never did make it back to Sea Otter, but it was a fair trade by every measure. After sampling a bit of the Indians Road goodness, it’s safe to say that we’ll be planning another longer trip. Hopefully not in the middle of the summer when this place must get HOT, Ornot.

____

Follow ORNOT on Instagram and Nich on Instagram.

Apr 29, 2016 8 comments
Salton Sea Bikepacking – Spencer Harding
Salton Sea Bikepacking

Salton Sea Bikepacking
Photos and words by Spencer Harding

I had ridden around the Salton Sea many times for work and visited the Slabs many times in the past few years, but when Brad posed the idea to traverse the east side of the sea on dirt it got me stoked. The plan was to ride along the edge of the sea south toward Slab City, camp out for the night, and then return on the road paralleling the aqueduct. We drove out late Friday night and camped up in painted canyon. We had a gang divided between two 80s stunt jumpers and two fatbikes. The route south was pretty much unplanned and we crossed all manner of path; dry drainage ditches, beaches of dead fish bones, borderline impassable swamps, and even just riding straight across the desert in places. We got turned around a few times and had to succumb to the road for part of the day.

After sunset we arrived at Slab City, “The last free place in America”, a desert oasis of squatters living on the remains on an abandoned military base. After a quick dip in the hot spring we headed to The Range, the local venue that hosts an open mic every Saturday. We chilled out on one the many rows of dusty blown out couches and enjoyed the tunes. We made camp for the night in an installation of burnout cars and bikes some friends of ours have been working on for a few years now. As we faded out from the long day someone in the Slabs lit off a massive firework and a beautiful little desert fox quietly ran into our camp and peed on Alex’s sleeping bag.

Sunday we cruised out of the Slabs, stocked up on plenty of water in town, and made for the aqueduct. This concrete river flows gently down from the California/Arizona border bringing water to Southern California. When a levy broke in 1905 it spilled the entire flow of the Colorado River for a year into the Salton Sink creating the Salton Sea. We were stoked for the icy waters as the temperatures reach the high 90s. Sorry not sorry for swimming in your drinking water LA.

____

Follow Spencer on Instagram.

Apr 25, 2016 16 comments
The Weekend Ended Like This
LeicaM-338

… outriding storm clouds at the highest point in the City of Los Angeles and then finding myself on a MTB trail on my ‘cross bike, completely covered in flowering Spanish Broom. Hope yours was filled with lots of riding and your steeds are sated.

Apr 24, 2016 15 comments
Birthday Bash Up To Josephine Peak
See Downtown LA in the distance on the left?

Back at NAHBS, my lady friend Cari bought an Elephant NFE for her around town and touring bike. While we’ve done plenty of local, in the neighborhood rides and even a few fireroad jaunts while camping, we’d never done an official ride – to a destination anyway. For a few reasons, the most pressing issue being her general fear of descending down rocky, rutted and steep fire roads. Which, as you’ve seen in the Reportage here on the site, is pretty much all we have in Los Angeles. (more…)

Apr 24, 2016 16 comments