Montebello On and Off Road

Montebello is the local hill that anyone in the area loves to climb.  It’s about 5.1 miles, and ~ 2000 feet climbing.  However, the road ends at that point, and there have been rumors that you can cross the gate there, and continue on the fire road, which turns into a dirt path, to go all the way to the other side of Page Mill Rd.  At that point, you can continue to bomb down the mountain, and not have to rely on an out and back.

Well, I decided to go for it.  The road starts out with hard pack, so it is fairly rideable.  Keep in mind, I’m riding my road bike, with 23’s and not really meant for off-roading.  There are some pretty fantastic views from up on top.

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Now the one thing that worried me was finding the right trail to get to my final destination.  I figure that there would be signs pointing me the way, and there was.  I see a sign that says “Montebello Parking 2.8 miles”, with an arrow pointing the direction.  I figure perfect, I should just be able to follow the sign, and be home free.  The trail that this took me on gave me fantastic views, but some of the grades were pretty steep, and yes, the were full of dirt.  It got to a point where the dirt was loosely packed, and when I’m going down a 10+ % grade, with no traction, on a road bike, that could only mean trouble.  Instead of continuing down with questionable traction, I slowed down, but even then, I lost traction, and fell over.  I was smothered with dirt, as if I was sliding into second base in a baseball game.

I dusted myself off, and continued on, and the grades only got steeper, but at least the views got more spectacular.  I eventually got to a section, where it mentions Montebello Parking, so I follow that sign too.  Bad move … this took me to what looked like a hiking only trail.  I couldn’t find any other signs, so I just kept going down, until there was no road to ride on.  OMG … I even tried walking across, but I couldn’t find anything resembling a trail to get onto Page Mill.  So I had to backtrack my way to where I came from.  This also meant climbing on soft packed trails, and that meant no traction, and no way to climb, no matter how hard I pedaled.  I had to walk portions of this, and ride portions of it.  This was very tiring, exhausing, and frustrating.  When I got back, I double checked the sign, and it did say Montebello Parking … damn.

The sign originally took me to the left, so when I got back to the junction, I instead went straight on ahead.  I saw a sign to go to Page Mill, and took that direction, regardless of what the sign said for Montebello Parking.

Ah, concrete pavement.  I never that I would be so happy to see pavement.  If I weren’t in such a hurry to get home, I’d kiss it!

By the time I got home, I had gotten in about 36 miles, and 3600 feet climbing.  I think I’ll have to make a special asterisk for this ride.  This was a hairy ride, doing a mountain bike ride on a road bike!  Now I know what it’s like to do cyclocross.  My reaction to those racing cyclocross … why?

Later on, Eric (aka ahpook) sent me his GPS tracking of the ride he did, and looks like I made a wrong turn.  Damn!  Here is his ride trace …

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Now compare this with my route

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I did make a wrong turn.  I don’t think I’ll attempt this ride again solo.  If I do it again, it will be with someone else, so that I am not out there all by myself.  I only saw one other person on this route, and that was a mountain biker, coming up on the hairy trail designed for a mountain bike.  I must have gotten off my bike about 10 times on this off-road detour, and took a spill twice.  I had so much dirt on me, I felt like I was mountain biking.

I was fatigued by the end of the day, but it was a little different type of fatigue.  You get a different type of fatigue, losing traction on dirt, and walking on dirt, as opposed to climbing 20+ % hills on concrete pavement.  This affirms why I love road biking a lot more than mountain biking.

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