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.
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… 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.
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…)
Bikepacking. It’s one of my favorite ways to travel and for Blackburn, it’s not only a passion for them, it’s a challenge. How can design be intelligent, intuitive, reliable and most important, resilient to constant wear and tear? You can spend all day designing products in an office, but the real test is out on the open road.
One of the ways Blackburn vets their products is through the Ranger Program. Each year, they send out a call for entries before selecting six or seven Rangers to get kitted out with a bike from Niner and full Blackburn product. Their journey begins, oddly enough, at the San Jose Airport… Well, parking lot B at the San Jose Airport. (more…)
With all the time I spend away from my new home base of Los Angeles, you’d think I’d want to stay put in between traveling. Well, at least sleep in my bed. This time of year, we’re on the precipice between the cool, early spring days and scorching, on-coming summer days. It’s hit or miss, but when the city of LA spikes to 90º this early in the season, there’s but one refuge from the heat: 5,500′ and up.
Chilao is an all-time campsite in the Angeles National Forest and knowing its popularity, it’s a crap-shoot trying to stay there on the weekends. Especially this time of year where aforementioned weather pushes the outdoorsy city dwellers en masse up Highway 2 and to the campsites surrounding some of our favorite singletrack and fire roads in LA.
Last week I slept outdoors more than in and having the week crescendo into a tent just high enough from Downtown LA to block out the ambient light and noise, yet far away enough to open up the sky to the stars was an unexpected treat. All this from only a 45 minute drive from my comfortable, yet still indoors bed. Check out some more photos below. (more…)
Roll With It in the South
Photos and words by Brian Vernor
There’s a shocking casualness to the hallucinatory contradiction of culture that is The South. I’d seen this place in great detail as a child, often visiting family throughout Tennessee and Alabama. Though I grew up in Santa Cruz, and went to college in California, I wanted to reconnect with The South in that awkward period of life right after college, before I could say “I want to do _____ with my life.” In 1998 I had finished school, got heavily into nothing, and spent seven months playing with cameras in Santa Cruz, enough time to forget what my degree was in. (more…)
Yeah, technically I live in Los Angeles, yet this time of year, with all my travel, a duffel bag feels more like home. So when I do find myself at my home address, I like to get out on the bike as much as possible, with camera en tow. Earlier this week, I asked Kyle if he wanted to do a ride. Initially I was thinking of riding up Hwy 2 on a road ride, but that quickly evolved into a bigger undertaking.
Mt Lowe has been the subject of many rides here on the Radavist and rightfully so. It’s a doozie of a climb, much shorter than any other route up to Mt. Wilson’s 5,712′ peak and consequently, much, much steeper. The kind of steep where even MTB gearing is quickly bottomed out and your legs burn with each rotation as you climb in a series of necessary zig zags along the broken paved roadway. Eventually, the grade levels out once it turns to dirt, but for the beginning 6 miles or so of this climb, you’re in a dark, painful place.
No matter how many times I’ve ascended Lowe, I’m always humbled by it. Not necessarily through some suffer-induced form of personal gratitude, but through taking in the majestic views the San Gabriel mountains have to offer. These dry and arid peaks have been getting some rain this winter, resulting in a bloom unlike anything I’ve witnessed in Los Angeles. Every plant is a full-on pollen factory as it blooms with life after living for years, parched by the unforgiving sun. Plants weren’t the only thing sated on this ride. It’s exactly the warm welcome I was hoping for.
Once Kyle and I exited Mt. Lowe we headed up to the top of Mt. Wilson before heading back down Mt. Wilson Toll Road, a road I’ve only heard of. Here’s where it got fun, especially on my Crema 27.5 x 2.2″ machine. I railed everything, hit all the water boards with speed as they booted me into the air and further down the trail, only slowing up to roost a corner and wait for Kyle, who was having a slight mechanical issue.
We railed the dirt and surfed the somewhat sticky sand, stopping for photos, or appreciating the nuances that exist in a mountain range that is in a constant state of erosion.
As the sun fell, we descended back to the city of 10 million people, where fish burritos and coconut water awaited us, and where Max greeted us with a wagging tail… The route provided 55 miles and around 6,500′. All within the city of Los Angeles.
With a title like that, there isn’t much more to the story, yet there is so much more to the story.
Press camps are fun. Bike launches are fun, yet Maxxis wanted to try something a little different in their recent Appalachian Summit. With the popularity of their tires and only a few new models on the horizon, this “launch” was more of an immersion. Not so much into their product but into the dirt and riding that inspires all their tires, from gravel to downhill, the mountains of Northern Georgia are in Maxxis‘ back yard. PR&D for new tires begins and ends in these mountains. The team of designers conceive of a pattern that would excel in a certain condition, then the product designers work on the tread pattern, samples are made, athletes are seeded these samples, feedback comes in and before too long, a new tire emerges from the already plump lineup. This is all pretty standard for most component companies and honestly, is interesting but the purpose of this press camp was far deeper than that.
Look. The South doesn’t get a whole lotta love. Maybe it’s the wayward political system, or the fact that it’s perceived to be flat. The Appalachian mountains are some of the oldest in the USA, meaning after millions of years of erosion, aren’t as high as the Western US’s offerings but don’t be mistaken. There’s a lotta elevation change happening below the Mason Dixon line. (more…)
Since Golden Saddle Cyclery doesn’t open until noon on Fridays, when I’m in town, I like to get in a good ride with a few of the guys. This morning Mike, Kyle and I took to the local dirt roads and singletrack found in the Verdugo Mountains, just 8 miles from the shop. These climbs will put fire in your legs, without a doubt, but once up at the top, you’ve got nothing but ripping singletrack and dirt roads taking you down. If you’d like to add in a bonus trail, La Tuna Canyon trail is a rutted, steep good time with plenty of scenic vistas – particularly of the gridlock traffic as people commute in their cars to work…. #LASucksForCycling, right?
Check out some more photos below! (more…)
There’s no better way to shake jetlag than to take on a big ride. After riding in a relatively flat city for a few days, I was ready to head up into the Angeles National Forest, climb Mt Disappointment and Mt Wilson before taking off down Mt Lowe and back to town. It ended up being around 65 miles with over 8,000′ of elevation (not including the ride up Griffith asterwards) and my legs are feeling it today. As always, I try to take some photos while riding and while there isn’t necessarily enough for a gallery, I posted them up below.