First Time up Cloud Burst Summit

Ever since I left Southern California, about 19 years ago, I would keep visiting LA and actually doing more climbing than when I used to live in LA. Yes, I’ve done all the epic climbs

  • Mt. Baldy
  • GMR/GRR
  • Mt. Wilson
  • Deer Creek Challenge
  • PV Loop
  • Potrero
  • Grimes

But one that I have not done is Cloud Burst Summit. Ken Mathis posts a ride, going up Hwy 39 to Cloud Burst .. Hey I’m in, and more importantly, a chance to hang out with my So Cal friends, and hanging out with some new friends too.

We started at the first parking lot above East Fork Road. I’ve never started a ride from here, but it’s actually nice, not having to fight the traffic from Azusa up to this point. However, next time I’ll have to remember to get an Adventure Pass (thanks Ken for the spare pass).

The temps were mild, but was unsure how cold it would be in the shade, so I brought my windbreaker just to be on the safe side.

There’s something about Ken’s group rides … he always attracts hoards of riders to come along. I guess that’s why I love coming back all the time.

It felt odd climbing this part of Hwy 39, with less than 2 miles into the ride.

Part way up the climb, there seemed to be a search and rescue chopper hovering over the canyon. That chopper was loud, and of course, we had to stop and check out what’s going on. We didn’t see anything, but it was cool to see that big chopper hovering overhead.

One concern was availability of water on this ride. Other than Crystal Lake, there is no water, with the exception of the spring off the mountain. About 2/3 the way up the hill, there is one such spring. It’s fresh, and cool, and most likely more clean than any water we’d get from a drinking fountain.

When we get past Crystal Lake, someone drove up with refreshments just before we continue past the road closed gate. That was a welcome sign, with cold water, soda, and potato chips. Aww, that was really refreshing, before continuing up the climb.

Now onto the climb. First getting around this road closure. It didn’t say anything about no bikes, so off we go.

The road conditions up here are not that great. You had rocks falling down from the hillside, to the point where it is not driveable. It’s a technical ascent on road bikes, but at least it wasn’t a steep grade. I’ve heard some of the rocks can be so sharp that it would gash a tire.

The last time I attempted this section of Hwy 39, it was cold, I had hot feet, and I was aching everywhere. I was so exhausted I bailed about a mile from the top. As Ken mentioned, I fumbled at the 99 yard line. Not this time … I was determined to make it at least to the other side.

Onto Cloud Burst … I didn’t know I was going to go through a tunnel. Damn, I didn’t have my blinkers with me. Luckily there weren’t any cars out here. There’s always something about riding through a tunnel though.

Even though the grades to Cloud Burst is not too bad, it’s still the amount of climbing in the legs, up to 7000 foot elevation. Of course, being one of three newbies to this climb, we had to take a few pictures.

Of course, this deserves a group photo.

Whew now for the return back, however it is not just a simple downhill … On the way back are a bunch of rollies.

Oh and there is the 2 mile climb up to Crystal Lake Cafe. After this epic climb fest, Crystal Lake is a must. Mmmm … Food!!!

Oh one more group picture …

And the rest of the ride??? Well give into your tight tuck, as we are bombing down this mountain. Strava says I got 47.5 mph …. Well that was fun.

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When You Close the Door, Make Sure Your Thumb Isn’t in the Way

Holy shit, that hurts. Was closing the door in my car, and my thumb got in the way. Ouch … I’ve got a piece of advise … make sure your thumb is not in the way when you close the door.

It’s amazing how much we rely on our thumb. It’s almost like I lost complete use of my right hand. Luckily, I was able to put some force on my thumb, but may take a good part of the week to regain full functionality … But man, that hurts.

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Time to Revisit Crystal Lake

It’s time to visit Southern California again, but this weekend, most of my buddies are out doing Solvang Autumn Double. I’m not in double shape at all, so that is out of the question for me. My friend Rick was doing Crystal Lake, and I haven’t done that in a long time, and conditions look great for this.

We met up at Encanto Park, and there was a big group of riders there (thinking that’s the group Rick was riding with, but no, it was just a solo ride). There were a large number of Filipino riders, but not what you would expect. There were only a few Adobo Velo jerseys there. I think they were going to Baldy, because we didn’t see any of them pass us up on they way up to Crystal Lake.

It was a bit chill to start off with, but was comfortable for vest and arm warmer weather. I think a full jacket would have been way too warm, and too much to carry. While on the climb, we saw a lot of runners running down the mountain. We even saw runners coming down even above East Fork Road. It’s kinda weird … I’ve never seen a large group running down a mountain. Rick tells me he saw a group of runners doing a marathon, all downhill.

We kept going in and out of the shade, and that kept the ride interesting.

On the way up, we heard a loud rumble, and it was the sheriff or some surveillance, hovering over the mountains. I’m not sure if they are looking for someone lost, but it’s strange how this would be done this early in the morning.

The grades were not intense, but this was a long climb. It’s not like Mt. Hamilton climb, although it is long … it’s just different. It’s about 25 miles from the park up to Crystal Lake. As you can imagine, with the length of the climb, it would wear on your legs eventually. Lucky I brought my triple.

Oh yes, 5000 ft elevation … This is an indication that I am close to the final destination, but also a sense of accomplishment. I’m 5000 feet up! We don’t have hills that go to this elevation. In order to get up this high, we’d have to go to the eastern sierras. I looked at my Garmin at this point, and notice my elevation was only at 4850 feet. Hmm … I wonder which one is calibrated wrong?

And the road to Crystal Lake is around the corner. I could feel the fatigue creep into my right leg, but I didn’t shift into my absolute lowest gear, which tells me I wasn’t completely spent, and still had some energy left in reserve.

As with any remote coffee shop, you see all types here, including motorcyclists, bicyclists, hikers, and of course, firefighters. I know the grilled cheese sandwiches are great here, but I’m not sure that would be the best thing for my stomach, after climbing 5000+ feet (although the rest of the ride is a long descent).

The descent allows you to pick up some very high speed, in a short time. Without trying, you could get to 40 mph. This was fun … up until I see a bunch of cyclists slowing down, and the horrifying look of fire trucks and sheriff trucks stopped along the roadway.

Approaching the scene closer, unfortunately it is a downed cyclist. Damn, that sure puts a downer for the group of cyclists, and this was probably still about 3500 feet up, so still a bunch of descending to go.

On the way back on the bike path, we see a formation of National Guards, and they were on the bike path. At least they were formed on either side of the bike path, so we had a lane to ride through. When’s the last time you’ve seen that!

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Living Through Smoke

What a difference one week makes. Last weekend was a picture perfect post card weekend (although I didn’t take advantage of it, due to some bike mechanical issues). As you probably know, California (specifically Wine Country area), has been under record brush fires. Lots of homes destroyed, and yes, there were a number of deaths. This meant the clean air we are normally used to, is now smoke filled.

Each morning, I look on the news, just to see what the air quality is. It is not good … in the North Bay, it is very unhealthy, while down here in Silicon Valley, it’s not as bad, but still, unhealthy. It’s so bad that I had to drive in the last 3 days.

Yesterday, as I walked outside of my building, I could smell the smoke. It smelled like a crowd of a 100 folks, all smoking cigars, in a small confined area. It’s similar to being in a smoking room.

I normally would be out riding, and I normally don’t let anything get in my way of my bike ride. Rain won’t stop me, severe cold won’t stop me … however, I think I found the following items can stop me from my ride:

  1. Severe thunder/lightning storm
  2. Errands immediately after work … or a hot date!
  3. Mechanical Issue
  4. Smoke from a local out of control fire

Now what will this mean for the weekend? The air seemed okay today, but I hear the wind will shift some time tonight/tomorrow. Maybe I’ll stop by Lowe’s and see if they have any masks.

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Changing a Flat Can Be Such a B***ch

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I love my Williams wheels, but changing a flat on this can be such a b**ch.  Normally, when changing a flat, you should be able to get any tire iron in, to pry off the tire, so you can get the tube out.  However, not with this one.  I figure I have to get all the air out of the tube, as much as I can, and then I have to wiggle the tire, so that I can get enough space to insert the tire iron under the tire.  Tire makes it really tough when changing a flat, out on the road.  So if you think about how long it takes to normally change a flat … double, or in some cases, triple that time.

Maybe it’s a combination of the wheels and the Continental tires?  Or maybe it’s because I’ve got 700×25’s on them.  I might try putting on 700×23’s sometime, and see what the difference is.

What’s also annoying is knowing you put a good tube on, and you inspected the tire, free of any wires, or nails in the tire, and after you pump it up, it gets another flat … a pinch flat.  Arghh ….  Yes, this is how I spent part of my weekend.  Originally was going to fleet week, but not this time.  I decided to watch football instead.

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Mt. Umunhum to the Top

Finally, Mt. Umunhum is open to the public … no longer do I have to do this partial hill climb … no more “No Trespassing” signs … and we can climb all the way to the top. The road was officially opened to the public Monday. I was itching to get up to the top, but unfortunately, a co-worker already has Monday off for PTO. So I went ahead and schedule to take Tuesday off.

Plan was all set, but then I caught some cold/flu bug at work, and that put me under the covers, in bed, from Saturday all the way through the weekend. Ugh … this is putting my plans for climbing Umunhum on Tuesday in jeopardy. If I didn’t go Tuesday, I would have to wait two further weekends, as I’m on call this coming weekend.

I woke up on Tuesday, and just decided to tough it out. See how far I can make it, and if I can only do partial, well at least I tried. I definitely am not climbing in the best shape (being off the bike for the past 4 days). Getting to Hicks is a good 10-15 miles, so at least I could get a nice warmup.

I was probably going at 80%, and surprisingly, I was making good time, and legs strength is still in good shape.  One thing I noticed is there is a lot more traffic on Hicks, than I’m used to.  I guess this is expected, if people are going up to the top of Umunhum.  In the past, I’d be lucky to see 3 cars on my Hicks climb, but there have probably been about 20 cars in my stretch.

Whoa, that is one smooth road.  This is going to be fun!  No potholes?  No cracks in the road?  This is awesome.  And that box on the top of that hill … that is my destination!

There were several people who had the same idea that I had.  About 5 other people decided to ride up, on a Tuesday morning … although a couple of them may be retired, but at least it’s good to have some company.

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Well, whaddayaknow … no gate here.  And the road continues to be smooth.  One thing I noticed I didn’t run into … cattle grates!  Wow, it’s worth doing this, knowing you won’t even have any cow grates.

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I remember the no trespassing point, and as I climbed further, it just seemed to level off a little bit, so it turns out the toughest part of the climb was before the white line of death, something I already climbed on LKHC before anyways.  The rest of the climb was nice … it flattened, with some descents, before kicking up again at the end.

And here’s the final push

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A finally, getting to the final destination … all I could say is wow!

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Oh and probably the biggest reason to climb this, is to see the views.  Tremendous views up here.

 

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Now descending down the mountain … this is going to be fun.  In the past, the road was full of crater sized potholes, tons of cracks in the road.  This time though, with smoothly paved road, it’ll be a pleasure.  No more stress on the wrist trying to reduce your speed.  Now if we could only get Hicks Rd to be repaved this smooth … but that’s asking for a lot!

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Heatwave to Remind Us It’s Still Summer

All of California is under a massive heatwave. Of course, this is Labor Day weekend, so that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Triple digit temperatures wherever we go!

When I left the Bay Area, it started out fine. At 5:40 am, it was a nice cool 57°, but as I got closer to LA, the temperature kept rising.

Before seeing dad, I thought I’d do a short ride around the Rose Bowl. I know it’s got, so it has to be short.

This is what it was when I left the parking lot. I did some rolling hills, and then fatigue set in, only after 8 miles of riding. Then I looked at the temperature again.

At 112°, I had to throw in the towel … No mas. No legs, so I limped back to my car.

Nice welcome home present, eh? Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!

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