Mother Nature Did That Thing Again

NOAA predicts this year’s El Niño will be one for the record books. While Los Angeles is in dire need of rain, it doesn’t mean our trails are happy when the sky does open its glands and weeps onto our mountains. Last week, the 5 got hit with mudslides, cars were washed away, property damaged, etc. If this is a vignette into the future, we’re in for a bloody muddy winter.


That said, when I see cloud cover, I immediately run to the hills and the mountains. While it’s a risky endeavor, a quick look at the radar shows that rain is usually unlikely. The last thing you want to hit mid ride is a torrential downpour. A little drizzle on the trizzle is ok, but heavy rains mean mudslides and adios muchachos.


Brian Vernor and I are the only two in our circle of friends who don’t log into a 9-5 job. Sure, we both put in our hours behind the desk, usually resulting in a 10 hour work day give or take, but we’re able to free up a few hours for a ride. So when a text goes out, it’s usually met with a “roger that, see ya in 30.”

I picked him up in the Tacoma Thopter, skirted traffic and were in the Angeles National Forest within 30 minutes.

Socked in

The last time Vernor and I rode Strawberry peak, it was amazing. Unmatched. This time it was good, but there was no snow and it wasn’t as socked in. This particular ride was a maiden voyage on the new Santa Cruz Bronson 2 in LA for me. Let me preface this by saying Strawberry Peak is hardly rowdy enough to merit a sledgehammer like the Bronson, but I really, really, really wanted to ride the new bike, so I did.


Regrettably is a heavy word.


800mm of knuckle clippin’, OTB buckin’ fun had me pretty chewed up once we got to the descent. Funny how XC trails that skirt passes are super narrow and this time of year, overgrown. A rock stuck out a little too far, or maybe I was dipped a little too low. I smashed my knuckle hard against granite. Spoiler alert: the rock won.


Like a catapult, I was over the side of the trail, shin smashed against the nearest rock but luckily a pile of dried out Poodle Dog Bush saved my fall. Ouch. Blood. Rocks. Bike.


I pulled it together, laughed and proceeded. Vernor and I took photos, fucked around and made it to one of my favorite XC trails in the Angeles area.


We smoked the singletrack, cooked corners and before I knew it, Vernor’s off the side of the trail after some loose rocks (remember, rain) slid out from under him. Two men down.

The rest of the ride quickly entered that kinda hungry, kinda thirsty, kinda sore zone where the two of us just put our heads down and hauled ass back to the truck. Egos bruised, bikes unscathed, skin scraped and so far, no Poodle Dog Bush rash. Yet.


The sun did its thing and we were back to town before the rest of Los Angeles had made dinner.