I can’t say enough good things about my Swift Industries Ozette Rando bag. Wow, that was a lot of words. Any ways, they are rad, they do rad things and they make rad things. If’n you don’t know about them now you do. This post of theirs about starting your own “Get Lost Adventure Club” makes me think of what Mike Watt says at the end of his shows. “Start your own band! Paint your own Pictures! Write your own book!”
Last month the Yonder Journal was launched. A soon to be collection of “American Field Studies”. The Ridge Route, a local historical road, was selected for their first “guide”. I only became aware of the Ridge Route in 2005. I believe it was from an episode of California’s Gold with Huell Howser. Around that time a storm had washed away sections of the road. It was closed and I don’t think it’s been open since then. What bad timing. I wanted to go up there and explore it, but I could not.
Years later, I’m a cyclist. I like riding to far away places in remote areas. Then the Yonder Journal drops the Ridge Route Brovet in my lap. I’m in. When to do it though? The route is not the straightest to the Ridge Route. Instead of going around mountains, it goes over every one on the way out there. Damn, this is gonna be tough. I need some time to prepare.
Enter Joshua Bryant from Portland, Oregon. A fellow randonneur, Joshua set a date to do it. Bought tickets, booked a room. This was going to happen. Sooner than I’d like, but what the hell. I was able to arrange a hall pass for the day and jumped in. Nervous as hell, but I jumped in.
We met up in Chinatown at 6:30am. Then pedaled over to Golden Saddle Cyclery where Ty was waiting for us. A quick cup of coffee and it’s time to roll. An earlier start would’ve been better, but Serbrina and I went to see Morrissey the night before. I was running on only 4 hours of sleep and Joshua was kind enough to adjust to my draggin’ ass. Ty joined us for the ride to La Canada. A nice warm up for the climbing to come. We parted ways at start of the ‘Crest and headed up and up and up.
It was a warm day and many cyclists were out enjoying the road. A film crew had part of the ‘Crest shut down so we were rewarded with very little traffic. It would just come through in groups of 8-10 cars at a time, then nothing. It was the best I’ve ever seen it up there. Very few cars and very few motos. We were pretty lucky. Our fendered bikes and rando bags stood out though. We got quite a few questions as were riding up. “How heavy is that?”. “How far you guys going?”, to which I proudly replied “GORMAN!”. That usually got a headshake or an “oh shit” reply. We weren’t there to mess around. We came to play.
I’ve never ridden past Red Box on the ‘Crest. I’ve moto’d it. I’ve driven it, but never pedaled it. The world is so different on a bike. People don’t feel the undulations of the road in a car. The 45 mph downhills are slow in a car. On a bike it’s kinda scary. A drivers foot doesn’t have to adjust much to a 4% grade in a car. Miles of that on a bike though, it’ll get your heart pumpin’. Do that, then add miles of a 7% grade to it and you’ll eventually get to the saddle near Mt. Gleason. We crested at about 13:00. It was warm. I was tired, but excited about being somewhere new. This ride was three parts in my head. The San Gabriels, across the valleys to Castaic and then the Ridge Route proper. Felt good to be a third of the way through.
Miles of the downhill pointed road felt well earned. Hardly any traffic and mild rollers made for few quick miles. I think we managed 10 miles in like 20 minutes. That and losing about 1300 feet of elevation. No worries we’ll get it back. It’s out here somewhere. Around a corner we see the Shambala Preserve below us. It doesn’t look like much, and then we hear a growl and see some action. Are they pissed that we are here? Let’s take a pic and roll! The wind started up and made for some slow pushing for a while through Acton and Agua Dulce. We spotted a general store and pulled over for a snack. Paying for my ice cream sandwich the proprietor spotted my last name. Vasquez. We were in the land of Tiburcio Vasquez. He wondered if I was related and if I knew where the treasure was hidden. I told him I didn’t know, but I think I should follow up with my family. Have they been holding out on me?
Before long we made it to In-N-Out on Bouquet Canyon. I had been dreaming about a Vanilla shake for hours. It was exactly what I thought it would be. The Double-Double and fries rounded out the meal and then Joshua blew my mind. He said he was going to take another one with him. To eat up on the Ridge Route! What a great idea! I ordered a second burger, asked for it to be double wrapped and we rode off with a secret stash. We made quick work of the miles between lunch and the final climb. Before long we were in Castaic. Looking at the mountains in front of us. They were intimidating. I knew we weren’t going all the way over, but we were going MOST of the way over. We were going to climb as much as we had earlier in the day in less miles.
Nothin’ to it but to do it. We headed up as the sun was setting. We would be doing this in the dark. Our legs slowly crank the pedals that slowly turn the wheels that slowly run our generator hubs. Our lights illuminate just the road ahead of us. Who knows what’s lurking in the shadows of the road. The only time the shadows light up is when the road is so steep that I weave up the grade instead of powering up it. Miles and miles of climbing have made my legs like rubber. Every little downhill only makes it worse. The downhills are short and when the road kicks up again I don’t have much power. We have miles to go and it feels like it’s going to take all night. We’ve got plenty of food though, plenty of water. Maybe spending the night up here won’t be so bad. It’s probably pretty scenic during the day. That’s for another day though. Tonight we pedal!
Arriving at the site of the Tumble Inn came just in time. I was starving. I needed to eat and I needed to feel like we were getting somewhere. I needed some motivation. It was all there in those crumbling walls. I knew we were gonna make it. We took some pics and pulled out our burgers. Cold and messy. In other words, the best burger you could get at the Tumble Inn. They were perfect.
Before getting too cold we get rolling again, thinking we are heading downhill now. I mean, we must right? Nope, up again, but it isn’t long before we start to feel a downhill trend. Yep, that’s better pavement. It’s going steeper downhill! Holy shit! This is happening! We ride side by side down the hill to the 138. Our lights letting us go pretty quick down the hill. A short connector on the 138 and then the 5 mile climb up to Gorman. The lights are up there and with every pedal stroke they get closer. It seems to take forever, but they are getting closer. About 22:00 we roll into Gorman, a little later than we’d hoped, but we are in Gorman. 134 miles later and over 13,000 feet of climbing done! We have just completed the Ridge Route Brovet!
We are greeted by my Pops who has patiently been waiting for us. (Thanks Pops!) The Ranch House is closed, so we head next door to the Carl’s Jr. We must’ve looked like a couple of zombies as we walked in there. I know I felt like one. Time to eat. And eat. And eat.
The final step was to fill out the paperwork and send it in. This part was just as rewarding as doing the ride itself. Reliving the entire day as I filled out the route slip. My reward for this effort will be a patch. Not just any patch, but a patch you have to earn. And earn it we did. Get out there and do fun things. Explore your own area. Go Yonder!
Yep, back at it. The holidays are over. Nobody died in a Mayan Apocalypse, or a family gathering. Nope, nothing too exciting. Oh wait, maybe one thing. What’s it called again? Oh yeah. NEW YORK!!
Serbrina and I went to New York for Christmas. Neither one of us had ever been. She’d never even been on a plane before! I know, right? Well all I can say for that place is that it is dirty, and grimy, and awesome. I never went outside without my camera and I took pictures of the things that stood out to me. Probably not your normal touristy photos. Who gives a #$%@ though. It’s the New York that I saw.
For the holiday break I didn’t turn any pedals. Didn’t get any camping in. While friends were killing the Festive 500 I was learnin’ spanish in Rosetta Stone. Learning more about Lightroom and Photoshop and watching Arrested Development. Oh, and Anchorman too. Yep, that’s it.
Now it’s time to get back to work. Back to the grind. Like they said “The Beat Goes On”. Just watch out for those trees ok?
Check out this new bike project from Volagi. Called the Viaje it’s a road bike that is intended for everything. Road, gravel, singletrack, whatevs. Sounds like a great idea. Disc brakes and room for 42mm tires!
Volagi is launching it through Kickstarter and needs to hit a certain amount before they go into production. If I hadn’t just purchased a frame, this would’ve been one to consider greatly.
Details on my fundraiser for the Tour Divide! Check it out and donate!
We awoke to clear skies on Sunday morning. After the steep climb out of camp we enjoyed a long descent down to Middle Ranch. Along the way we finally saw one. A real life Bison! In 1924 fourteen bison were brought to the island for the filming of a movie. After production ended, they were left on the island. Seeing one of them was one of the highlights of the trip.
Parts of this ride reminded me of motorcycling through Baja. Dirt roads, few people and amazing vistas. The only thing missing were the taco carts. The road started to climb again and before long we were granted the view of the far side of the island. We spotted a hawk, or an eagle maybe, sitting alone on a rock overlooking the ocean. This was a special place and we were lucky to be here.
We eventually made it to Little Harbor and stopped for some snacks. We had a boat to catch in Two Harbors for the return home, but we had to climb back to the other side of the island. We arrived with time to spare and after lunch we relaxed on the beach, listening to the waves and enjoying a (strong!) beer. We couldn’t have timed it better as the skies grayed as the storm moved in. What a weekend.
Pics from the Ride The Divide movie weekend.
Yesterday the guys left on their bikepacking trip down the coast. Four guys and their Fargos. Eric, Erik, Jason and Joe. Making their way south to Los Angeles for the “Ride The Divide” screening. Did you get your tickets yet? It’s this coming Saturday in Santa Monica. Please help to spread the word. Retweet it, blog it and email it! We need your help to get the word out.
Erik and Joe both have SPOT messengers with them so you can follow along here and here. Also, check out the widget that I installed on the right. There are two tabs, one for Erik’s SPOT and one for Joe’s SPOT. That should make it easier to follow along. Hopefully we’ll get some pics soon. I’ll post them here if I get ’em.
In the meantime, get ready for the movie screening this weekend, and spread the word!
The end of the year is just about here. I was hoping to get up to the Sierras this fall. It hasn’t happened. Work always seems to get in the way of the fun stuff. Will next year be different?