Balmy California Winter

While the east coast is being pelted by snow blizzards, with temps in  the 20’s or even lower … How is it in California?  Do you really want or need to visit family back east? What’s the weather like in Chicago?  New York?  Philadelphia?  20’s?  Well, while they are digging their snow out so they can drive their car, I had to wear shorts, in mid-70 degree weather.  Ah, gotta love California winter.

I drove down for a visit to SoCal (since I won’t be able to make it during Christmas).  I forgot to email the usuals that I ride with when I come down to SoCal, so I couldn’t arrange to ride with the usuals,.  I decided to take my time, and do a solo ride.  My route was to go climb up Chantry Flats, up to the helicopter pad, then hop over to St. Katherine’s and St. Augustine.  My ride over is along the Montrose route (which is a fast group of 100+ riders), but luckily, they had already passed by before I started.  It would have made a pretty cool shot to see the 100+ pack breaking every traffic law around, but that will have to wait another day.

Wow, I’m glad I didn’t bring my knee warmers.  I did bring my vest, but that stayed in my jersey pocket.  I had my arm warmers on, and even though I probably didn’t need it, I just left it on, more because I’m just lazy.  I fear though that I didn’t put enough sunscreen on my face.  Hopefully I won’t turn into a tomato tomorrow.

I decided to try to run my heart rate up, and work as hard as I could, and not try to get into my granny gear.  This is to help justify if I should convert to a compact double crank, or not.  I got my heart rate up to 175 bpm, but the limiting factor here was lack of power in the legs.   I had no choice but to switch to my granny gear … ugh, it serve as a good recovery.  It also was a good excuse to stop and enjoy the scenery. After I recovered well enough, I switched back to my middle ring.

Now, look at this and notice one thing … there is no snow. Sorry, had to throw that in.

So this switching from granny gear to middle chain ring seem to be going well. I only did this because I have done this climb several times before, and I don’t have this agenda to finish the climb in a specified time. In other words, I was enjoying my ride! I went early enough that there wasn’t too much traffic going up, or maybe it’s because everyone is flocking to the malls getting in last minute christmas shopping? Whatever the case may be, it’s an advantage for me.

Got up to Chantry Flats parking lot and it was completely filled … so I guess not everyone is out christmas shopping. It was just amazingly crisp up here. I decided to continue to go up to the heliport, which adds probably another 200 feet to the climb. This extra climb is well worth the effort (no matter how tired or fatigued your legs are).

So when going up to the heliport, you do have to cross a gate, so there is no car traffic to contend with … however, you do have to watch out for hikers, especially on the way down. But hey, I’d rather be confronted by hikers instead of cars.

Getting ready for the descent, it was really sunny, and normally, I’d put my vest on, but not today. Still had my arm warmers on (just too lazy to take them off). As I was descending, I saw quite a few cyclists climbing up. I guess I went out earlier than everyone wanted to go out.

On to Altadena I go. This brings back a little bit of nostalgia to me, as I used to do this route every Tues/Thurs morning before my commute into work when I used to live in Pasadena. It’s a fairly gradual climb, but it’s enough to get you working. More power training! Forcing myself on my middle ring, I got my HR to zone 5. Funny how I got to this zone more on easier, gradual climbs than the longer sustained climbs.

Onto the Rose Bowl, then Inverness. It still amazes me how this is one of those hidden treasures that most cyclists don’t go on, except those few that love it, like myself. Fantastic views overlooking JPL in the distance, Arroyo Seco … how could anyone resist this?

Typically, after climbing St. Katherine’s and St. Augustine, I head over on Figueroa to Lida, then down past the Art College. Here is a view from just before descending down Lida.

One of my favorite descents in the San Gabriel Valley is going down Lida back to the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, there was slow car traffic in front of me … doh! Oh well, so much for the fast fun descent.

More pictures at

Great day overall for riding today. Total stats … 47.5 miles, 4300 feet climbing.

4 thoughts on “Balmy California Winter

  1. Errin

    Hi Ron,

    I live in Alhambra, and it looks like in your my neighborhood a few times a year. Thanks for sharing this post on Chantry. I’ve never climbed up to the heliport. I don’t even know how to get to it. I’m going to try it next time I head up there though. Probably this week.

    This looks like a great loop that I’m going to have to try. Do you it mapped out somewhere else? I can’t zoom in on the map above to see the streets. I’m familiar with Lida, but not Inverness. Looks like a great route to work on my climbing, and who doesn’t need work on their climbing right?

  2. sevencyclist Post author

    Hi Errin,
    When I go visit, I see my dad, who lives in Monterey Park.

    Not too many people go up to the heliport, maybe because not many know how to get there. You basically go to the upper parking lot, and cross a gate. From there, you go as far as you can go on the paved road. Here’s the actual link to it …


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