Category Archives: SoCal

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
  • 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.

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!

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!

Wind Advisory and I Ride Right Into It

So I finally find a day that it’s not raining, and is a gorgeous day.  I did recall the news, and my accuweather app stating there is a wind advisory, especially in the San Gabriel Mountains.  However, that was not in the forefront of my mind … what was on my mind was getting on the bike, and doing some climbing miles. 

It was pretty busy on the climb up Hwy 2 (Angeles Crest Highway), but I’m used to riding with high speed traffic.  There was a hot rod club speeding up the highway, but they did give me a wide birth, so it wasn’t that bad.

The wind was blowing me across the road at times and I had to stop a number of times, just to make sure I wouldn’t go out of control.  That’s an excellent opportunity to take a few scenic shots.

I get to Clear Creek Information Center, and this is the point at which I decide to go up to Mt. Wilson, or to turn back.  With all the wind throwing me around, I figure it would be safer to turn back … So yes, I wimped out.

Turning back, I did have a nice descent going down.  If you listen carefully, you can hear the wind swirling around me.

Road Closed means Fun Biking on Labor Day


Last week, for Labor Day, they closed Glendora Mountain Road to car traffic.  Glendora Mountain Road is one of the main routes to go to Mt. Baldy.  We were able to take our bikes over the road closed gates, and had the whole road to us … woohoo.  This meant not contending with cars, no crotch rocket motorcycles buzzing us, and it also meant skateboarders weren’t descending down the mountain (simply because they had no car/truck to transport them up the hill).

They typically do this when there is a fire danger, and coincidentally it is often occurring during a long holiday weekend.  It was weird not having to look back all the time, to determine if there was a car coming up from behind us.  I only wish all roads were like this

I was separated, and a couple riders were ahead of me, but the rest of the riders were behind me.  One rider, Freddy (known as Freddy the Train Montano on Strava), caught up to me, and we rode together on our way to Baldy Village.  Having someone to socialize with up to Baldy Village made the ride that much more enjoyable.

We weren’t sure if we had enough in our legs to make it up to the ski lift, so we decided to just see how far we can go.  I had to admit, my legs and back weren’t feeling to spicy, but let’s see how far we can go.  I figured I wanted to make it to at least the 5000 foot elevation sign.


Ok, made it to the 5000 foot sign … good time to U-turn back.  It was too early to eat at Mt. Baldy Lodge, so I decided to continue on back home.

The descent on GMR was fun … the switchbacks were gentle enough that I hardly had to brake on the turn … and since the road was closed, I had the luxury of leaning towards the middle of the road without having a car beep at me from behind.  What a fun Labor Day ride this year.

Climbfest is Back

One of my dearest friends, Karen, is the originator of the Climbfest, but she was in an accident recently.  This weekend is the first Climbfest since her recovery.  As always, she attracts a big crowd on these rides.


Her favorite climb is GMR to Baldy Village, and round-trip, it’s a respectable 50 mile, 6000 ft climb ride (come to think of it, it’s one of my favorite rides).

As usual, the ride started out with overcast skies.  That’s OK, it was keep the temperatures down, so that it won’t be scorching hot.



I like when it’s overcast, especially when climbing over the clouds.  Makes for some awesome pictures, that makes amateur photographers like me seem artistic.


We regrouped at the shack just before GMR-GRR junction (or at least some of us did).  Met up with Rick, who is recovering from his own crash, suffered on a mountain bike ride.  It was good to see him out there.


Terri is recovering from her own back issues.  She’s back to riding again too.  She’s a strong rider, with 97 double centuries under her belt.  Jeez, what is with everyone going down this year?


After seeing all my friends, and seeing the difficulties we have this year, I don’t feel so bad for my lack of fitness this year.  I made it to the village being in the middle of the pack (not the last, not the first). 


The views, as always are great.  You would never think these views are in Southern California.  Who says are in LA is so bad you can’t breathe?


On the way back, I remember seeing a road sign warning of reckless driving.  Uh, yeah, shouldn’t this be the rule for every road?  I thought this was funny.


Where’s the sign about don’t drink and drive, or no smoking?

Anyhow, hopes everyone has a safe Memorial Day.  Be safe out there.

Cold Crystal Lake Ride

It’s funny how word spreads on some rides in So Cal.  This ride, for example, had traction through another Facebook post from Steve Meichtry, who want even on the ride.  I made a comment asking what the ride planned for this weekend, then Victor Copper posts that a group is doing a ride up to Dawson Saddle, and from this thread, more people latched on.  I never get that on any posts I make on Bay Area rides.  Maybe I don’t have the right friends?


This ride had a big turnout, despite the fact that it would be really cold up there.  Actually, it was determined that Dawson Saddle would be too cold, and instead the ride would go to Crystal Lake.

Starting out, the pace was a little slower than what I normally do on a climb, but I figured I should stay at a low pace, considering how long the climb is.  I paced myself behind Ken, who had a comfortable pace for a hill climb.  Thanks Ken, for keeping me within myself, and not blowing my legs out too soon.

With such a large group, it did split up into about 3 or 4 groups.  I pretty much stayed around with Victor, Debbie, and Sharona.  Hanging out with a group made the long climb a little more bearable.

It started getting a bit cold and windy, as soon as we made it above the 3000 foot level.  We made a much deserved stop about a couple miles below the Crystal Lake turnoff, to marvel and the road that we had just climbed.  It also gave us a chance to regroup with a few people.

When we got to the Crystal Lake Cafe, we needed to bundle up for the descent … the long fast descent. With the temps in the 40s, the wind chill would make things a bit nippy. It shocked me Sharona ride up with no gloves, and luckily the cafe had gloves to sell. However, we did meet a couple of riders who had no jacket, no leg warmers, no arm warmers. I saw them trying to wrap a newspaper around his leg. We jokingly mention they should wait until summer before the decent down. I wonder if they made it down okay.


Made it down the hill with less than 50 miles. Well, we can’t let this go, we need to get over the 50 mile hump, so up and down the road a few times, and get our 50 miler in. Ah, now that’s a ride.

Stats: 52.5 miles, 6375 feet climbing.

Christmas in California … Don’t You Wish You Were Here?

The weather forecast for Christmas in LA was going to be a little balmy, with forecasts in the 70s, I knew I would enjoy it.  However, I knew ahead of time I would be on call the weekend after Xmas, and working on New Year’s Day, so I better make the days I am off count.

Ken, Debbie, Ron, Teresa, Victor

Ken, Debbie, Ron, Teresa, Victor

I sent out messages on Facebook inquiring on rides, and my buddies in Torrance suggested PV (Palos Verdes, who know all the local climbs).  Great!  I’ve always enjoyed PV.



We went up in down the same route, probably 3-4 times today … and why not.  How could you not enjoy a view like this.


I’ve ridden with everyone previously except for Debbie. She’s famous for her polka dot ocd, as you can clearly see here. She is one strong hill climber, and fits in well with the climb fest riders.

Of course, when you do PV, you’ve gotta have some fast descents, and we had a few of them. We sped down Hawthorne, with Tiger leading the way. I almost caught up to her, if it weren’t for this one car that inched up, and I had to slow it up.

I was able to get in 50 miles and 5000 feet of climbing this day.

The next day was Christmas dinner, so my day has to be cut short, so I couldn’t spend all day riding. Usually when I have limited time, I do Chantry Flats. I wanted to make good use of time so I drove over to Arcadia Park, then ride up from there. This would be a no nonsense climb, straight up on Santa Anita Road, up to Chantry Flats, with another climb up to the chopper pad.


From the chopper pad, you could see a nice view of the valley.


I also tried out the photosphere feature on my Nexus 5 phone, which gives you a 360 view. However, this only seems to work on Google+, or maybe requires a special plug in. I guess that’s where hosting your own WordPress server would come in handy.

Here’s my climb up to the chopper pad. That was a short, sweet ride, and it was only 18 miles and 2500 feet climbing. It was enough to get a good workout.

On Tuesday, Christmas Eve, we had another Christmas meal to go to, at 4 pm, so I had to make it another story day. This time, I decided to park at the Rose Bowl, and climb some hold west of the Rose Bowl. This included Patrician Way, Inverness, St. Katherine, but I didn’t have enough. I wanted to kick my ass, so I did an insanely steep climb up Emerald Isle.


When I got to the top, you get a rest view, and you can see Hwy 2 from here, aka Glendale Fwy.

Here’s the climb up Emerald Isle. And yes, I should have stopped at the stop sign … My bad.


I continued down through a steep descent where I got a view of downtown LA. Still a other haze, but for LA, this is clear.

It was yet another superb day for cycling, 20 miles and 2800 feet of climbing.

That’s my Christmas holiday for 2013. No, I don’t have New Years Day off, so not going to be able to camp out at the Ride Parade. Gotta do that again one of these years. It’s a great way to ring in the new year.

Climbfest, Heatfest, Sufferfest … all just to get to Crystal Lake

We all know about the climbfest (Baldy, Crystal Lake, Dawson Saddle come to mind), but I just heard a newly coined term, heatfest.  I guess this all comes under the category of sufferfest.  I might as well add my 20 year old, Diamond Back, which weighs about 25-30 pounds, with harder gears (53-39, 11-26) … and this is a recipe for pain.  Maybe we should call this painfest?

1002899_694615203886966_870337405_nKaren sent an invite for another epic ride, up Hwy 39, to Crystal Lake, with various options to go along with it.  Since I am carrying an older, heavier bike, I let it all be known I will be doing the minimum … Crystal Lake only.  Last time I tried, we did Baldy Village, then attempted the climb … only to succumb to heat.  But we also had a lot of climbing and miles in our legs … this time, figuring that we’re heading straight for Crystal Lake first, my chances of success may be greater.

IMG_36319211811943Everything was fine up to East Fork Rd.  After we all re-grouped (water re-fill, bathroom), that was probably the last time I was actually riding with the group.  This is where the combination of climbing distance, climbing elevation gain, and heat got the best of me.  This road was very open … by that, I mean there is no break for coverage at all.  What little trees there were was few and far between.

G0060704As I started getting higher in elevation, fatigue really set in.  Cadence was slowing down, but since I didn’t have my Garmin on my bike mount, I couldn’t tell how slow my cadence was, nor did I know how slow I was going.  Additionally, I had no idea how hot it was … but the heat was intense, so I had some idea it was bad.  Each time I saw a tree, I wanted to stop, but I didn’t want to concede, as I kept remembering my motto “I’m in it to finish it”.

G0040450Finally, I succumbed to the heat, and stopped under not one, but two trees.  It did feel good, with a little faint breeze.  This was just enough to help me recover, and continue on.  Each time, a part of me was all ready to turn around, but being in a group trumped that, and made me continue on.  Water was not an issue, and I wasn’t dehydrated … It was just the heatfest!

20130817_123035I got a pleasant surprise, seeing my old friend John, who I used to ride with all the time back in my old Foothill Cycle Club days.  Been a really long time.  Seeing him come up behind me after making the right turn towards Crystal Lake was enough to get me going all the way to the Crystal Lake Cafe.  I finally made it … and low and behold, I see my friend Ken sitting there having a Fritos Pie.  Mmmmm.

While chowing down there, I saw some other strong riders, who had gone up further on Hwy 39, to Mt. Islip, then made their way down. Now they were on their way to go to East Fork, then over to Camp Williams, then onto little GMR.  Me, I’m just going straight down Hwy 39.  It was hot enough as it is … then, when I went back to the cars, it was showing 103 F.  What???  Later, I heard it was 114 F at Camp Williams.  Just thinking of it makes me hot.

I was trying to get a video of my descent going down, but I spend too much battery taking still shots and some video earlier on.  What was left is the video below:

Stats?  I ended up with 51.1 miles, 6791 feet climbing … nice clip, eh?

Is Pink In These Days


Last weekend I went down to LA, but I didn’t bring my bike.  I still have my old Pink Diamond Back Master TG from the 90s, so it’s a 20 year old bike.  Specs are 52 cm, Cro-Moly, Shimano 105, 52-39, 12-26.  I took this up Chantry Flats up to the chopper pad. 

After the great view, I went down the hill, and had a Starbucks, but all the racers were eyeing my old clunker.  Did they not see a downtube shifter before?  Did they like the Diamond Back paint pattern?  Was it such an eye sore that they needed a closer look?  Maybe it is kosher for a guy to ride a pink bike?  Or maybe it’s because it’s a rare steel bike.