SAVE THE DATE: Old Ridge Route Metric Century, 12/26

Looking for an un-festive way to pick up some KM’s this holiday season?

Brian had heard about the Old Ridge Route a few years back and had casually mentioned about exploring it some time. Fast forward to 2016, and SFR planned a pretty awesome 1000K route where many of the finishers raved specifically about Old Ridge Route. Check out rando superstar Max P’s photos and recap of the ride here.

Anyways, Brian and I would love to have company on the route. Details below:

Old Ridge Route Metric Century
Meet up at Castaic Starbucks 7:30am
Roll at 8:00am

Bring plenty of food and drink as there are limited services for major portions of the route. Also bring lights and reflective gear if you plan on riding at chill MPH, since we might be finishing after sunset.

CHEERS and cya in a few weeks.

Cogswell, That Ends Well

With the Sequoia finally built up to handle the rigors of mixed terrain routes, Topher and I decided to tackle his variation of the Fudmoot Flirty Fundo route.

We departed at 7am from Pasadena, in an attempt to beat the heat. Had I known the difficulties we would face later on in the day, I would have dragged my butt out of bed much earlier than the crack of dawn.

After heading up Encanto Parkway, I had to take out my sunglasses and I began to realize how “San Francisco summers” have made me intolerant of the excessive sunshine in Southern California. The short climb up to the Cogswell Dam gate entrance was worth it though because immediately afterwards, there is a paved road that is closed off to automobiles that runs along a creek.

When we reached the actual dam, it had been nearly 30 minutes since we had seen another individual and I couldn’t help recall memories of my youth and specifically the dam level in Goldeneye 007 on N-64… you know, minus the whole killing spies thing and all.

I’m not accustomed to mixed terrain riding in Southern California and big news, the weather and the terrain make things very different. Since it gets so blazing hot, the terrain is much drier and there is seemingly much deeper sand pockets everywhere.

It was about noon time when we reached the most exposed sections of our route. Topher commented that drinking from his water bottles did little to cool him down because the water had heated up significantly during the past hour. Luckily we found a small pond of water and that was refreshingly cool to the touch. Topher threw in his jersey and I followed suit, but as our jerseys slowly drifted away, I struggled to retrieve mine with a stick and almost fell into the water. Predictably, Topher was chuckling.

The next section of the route was a very well shaded but also featured a rocky descent. My tires seemed to slip around quite a bit and I may have been better served with a wider or knobbier tire, but then it wouldn’t be underbiking.

Shortly afterward, I began to regret the fact that I had only brought 3 water bottles and my water supply began to run low. Topher had put some distance on me but I figured he would turn around to check back up on me eventually. With the sun beating down on me, I decided to not risk dehydration by over-exerting myself during the climb and opted for a short nap in the shade.

Topher eventually checks back in with me and he has about a quarter of a water bottle left. Luckily for us, he is also a human cactus as well as a strong rider, so he is able to make it to Redbox (not the DVD rental vending machine) and fill up on water and bring it back to my carcass.

With the re-up on water and a long descent down the 2 freeway, we are able to make it back to civilization and cell phone signal range, where we discover numerous missed calls and voicemails from concerned friends.

The end of the route also meant obligatory face stuffing with some delicious mexican food. At the end of my meal, I sat at the outdoor table drinking a bunch of electrolytes and contemplating how the Sequoia fared on this trip. I’m not sure I’m qualified to call it the best production bicycle ever, but I think it really suits the type of riding I do quite well. Currently there aren’t many production or semi-production models that offer the package of goodies that this bike from 1983 provides, and in that sense, I am glad to have been able to rescue this bike from rotting away in some basement or garage, with it’s potential unrealized and wasted.

Moral of the story, ride bikes you like, ride with friends you trust, bring lots of water, and live to ride another day!

Irving’s Specialized Sequoia

Anyone who has been in communication with me for the past two months has probably heard about my Specialized Sequoia project. If you are one of those people, I sincerely apologize for the repetition, but for those of you who haven’t, let me give you the enthralling details!

I love my Specialized Expedition and had been looking for a Specialized Sequoia for a long time, since it was also designed by Tim Neenan. Sequoia’s became increasingly hard to acquire at affordable prices when everyone and their mom started quoting Grant Petersen calling it the best production bicycle ever in their Craigslist ads. Luckily last fall, I found a rather haggard looking Sequoia frameset and called in a favor to have Topher pick up the frameset in Los Angeles (friends enabling friends?). While not as rare as some other barn finds, the Sequoia had no structural damage and seemed like a good project. My original intention was to build a lock-up/city bicycle but the possible configurations kept changing on changing in my head (Jittensha bars? 1×9? Single speed?!?!?). It wasn’t until earlier this year that I decided it would be a good idea to build this up as my speedy LA bicycle, so I would be able to ride with Luke and Topher.

Specialized Sequoia

The extraordinary amount of help I received in labor and parts from friends made the completion of this bicycle possible; Topher retrieved the frame for me, Carlin provided some nifty Shimano 105 shifters, Brian gave me some old Time ATAC pedals, Jim Santos gifted me the Shimano front derailleur and rear derailleurs, a member of SF Randonneurs donated the DA 7400/Mavic SUP front wheel, Box Dog Bikes installed the headset and cleaned out all the spiders, and Ely sold me some cranks and a brevet bag before basically building up my bicycle (in exchange for donuts). The remainder of the parts, I scavenged from bargain bins or had lying around in my own bicycle box.

After riding bikes with fenders and some sort of racks/baggage for the past 2 years, it was quite exciting to ride a bike in the #nofendersnorules club. I’ve always hated carrying things in jersey pockets, and as I’ve begun to eschew wearing bicycle jerseys over the years, the brevet bag makes things so much easier without changing the riding characteristics of the bike or requiring any fussy racks or adapters.

I also really happen to like the Vittoria Randonneur Hyper (also goes by Voyager Hyper) 700×35 tires. They are plenty comfy, measure true to width, feature a nice reflective sidewall stripe and are quite durable. It really is an intriguing tire option that seems somewhere in between (in price and quality) the Panaracer Pasela/Resist Nomad choices and the higher end Gran Bois/Compass offerings.

I didn’t notice the strange marriage of modern and vintage on this bicycle until we started working on it. While I don’t necessarily like most of SRAM’s components, and the Apex compact crankset seems well made and the GXP bottom bracket system was extremely simple to install. This was also my first time trying the newer style Shimano 5700 shifters and I like them a lot more than the older antenna style’d shifters.

I was down in Los Angeles this past weekend and took out the Sequoia for a mixed terrain metric century with Toph. Did it ride like a total hunk of junk, or did it live up to hypeman Grant Peterson’s endorsement? Stay tuned for more details on that tomorrow!

Oh, hi.

This weekend I rounded up a couple of friends and took the train north for a little pre-birthday camping trip. Part weekend escape and part shakedown for a longer summer tour, we took the train up from Los Angeles and ventured out into Ojai (check out The Path Less Pedaled for more info).

We rode during the day and glamped as hard as we could at night. Boxed wine, bourbon, beer and firewood were pedaled into the hills for our comfort and indulgence.   While we could probably use some practice in honing our minimalist ultra-lightweight, back-country survivor skills, we decided on beer and the company of a fire. Our explorations only scratched the surface of the region, but the Ojai Valley and Los Padres National Forest have charmed me. This trip will hopefully be the first of many.

Biking With Old Friends

One of the great things about social media is the ability to connect with your old friends. In this case, Strava helped me connect me with two old friends Phillip and Michael Muljana. Now that I live in San Francisco, the majority of our relationship involves giving each other kudos and comments on Strava. While I was planning my trip to Los Angeles, I decided to hit them up to see if they were interested in a bike ride over the weekend.

Phillip and Michael decided to take me out to Lytle Creek, north of Fontana in the Inland Empire. I was initially hesitant to start a ride at 6:30am in Fontana because it meant that I had to leave my house at 5:30am and wake up at 5:00am to make myself coffee to be a decent person. After we started riding I soon realized why the start time was so early. In the Inland Empire, you do not want to be caught riding outside after 10:00am. The sun becomes blazing hot! Strava Link!

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Overall the riding in the suburban valley of the Inland Empire was simply flat and uninteresting. Newer track homes lined the streets. Bike lanes were abundant. Air was dry. However, I beecame very excited as we entered the San Bernardino National Forest. Although there was no shoulders, cars were very polite about passing safely. Lytle Creek Road is a gentle climb in a canyon that goes on for about 15 miles. If you listen carefully you can hear the creek running right beside you. The last couple of miles is very exposed and would seem impossible if it wasn’t for the lingering cool morning breeze.

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An interesting thing I forgot about riding in Los Angeles is that sweat will evaporate right off you. The dry climate was an interesting change from the Bay Area’s cool/’humid-er’ climate. I found that I got very crusty with salt crystals as soon as the sweat kicked in.

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Since we were biking right along Lytle Creek I felt obligated to stop by the creek to refresh myself and cool down my body. It was a great break and a wonderful relief for my body.

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All in all riding with Philip and Michael was incredibly great. It was fun exploring their usual Saturday route and to ride in a completely different area and climate from the Bay Area. I look forward to show them my routes around San Francisco! Prepare your climbing legs Philip and Michael!

#savethetrackbike or #savethetouringbike ?

Donkel hit me up over the weekend and told me he was going on a #fixiefoo tour from SF to LA. He crashed on the couch of Boyz on the Hoods HQ and Brian made him a few cups of coffee in the morning. Peep his setup:

FixieFooTour

Surly Steamroller. 42×17 gear ratio (fixed). 700×38 tires (for sickkk clearances). Cetma HALFrack. Jandd panniers and a frame bag. Some unabomber-esque shades. Just RAD in general.

Not sure if this qualifies as #savethetrackbike or #savethetouringbike but either way, it’s one ballsy trip. Good luck and safe travels my friend!

MADMANdeville Dirt Ramble

When my buddy Adam told me he was moving to LA from Brooklyn, I was stoked.  Not only is he a rad dude that’s married to an equally rad lady, but he RIDES BIKES.  The GOOD is he’s here in LA, the BAD (for me) is he’s in Venice (45 mins away)…or so I thought.  This Saturday I got up bright and early to head over to Venice and go explore the Westside with Adam and his Surly Cross-Check.

We had a loose route planned that was going to Mandeville Canyon Rd, Will Rogers State Park and a visit to the Eames House. After mapping this route out on ridewithgps.com, I noticed something…fire roads.  I silently tossed the planned route out the window and set my sights on some gravel grinding.  The rest is history.  We discovered a very sweet loop which is somewhat easily accomplished with a CX bike.  We still rode Mandeville afterward, just to do it, because we’re men.  Men on bikes.  MADMEN ON BIKES.

Mandeville 01
Chin Up, Kid.

Eventually we landed at San Vicente Mountain Park, and saw some old Cold War Nike missile stuff.


Where Da Nukes At?!

Mandeville 02


I’m Pooping. Push.

By noon it was a 40 mile day with 4000ft of elevation.  Plenty of dirt and plenty of smiles.  I will be back.

My take away for the weekend:  EXPLO YO CITY.

Easy Ridin’

Check the route and do it yourself here:  http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2532605

Be a good one.

Mudfoot Hump Hundo

So there are these cool dudes in LA called Mudfoot. I think they’re a team, at the very least they have their own cycling kit, and it is fresh. They’re very stylish, net savvy dudes and apparently they have some relationship to Golden Saddle Cyclery, a very hip bike shop in LA. Sometime last week, a Facebook event (thank you to Mark Y. of the Bicykillers for adding me) was created and was titled the Mudfoot Hump Hundo. It basically consists of a hundred mile loop encompassing the San Gabriel Mountains found north east of LA with about 10,000 feet of elevation gain.

The route includes State Route 39, which is closed to cars for the last 4 miles because of damages sustained some years ago, and the Angeles Crest Highway which is also known as the 2. The ride also features a summit at Cloudburst, which sounds cool but it’s just a spot with a rinky dink sign and no view, and then a 30 mile descent with a few rollers ending just north of LA in La Canada.

We started from the Golden Saddle Cyclery headquarters someplace in LA/Echo Park/Silverlake/I don’t know, and the ride headed east into the heart of the SGV towards Azusa where I was waiting for them at the base of the 39. As I saw the group roll up, I couldn’t help but admire the spectacle. It was a spectrum of the LA “hip to it” bicycle scene. There were tons of kits that I had seen on blogs and websites and cool LAfixed threads featured in videos and all that jazz. It was like a rainbow of the LA bike scene literally and figuratively.

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A kaleidoscope of characters, also known as the LA cycling community — Photo Credit: Jances Certeza

As soon as the ride started the climb, the group broke up and the weather began to turn ominous but in the distance at points you could see an assortment of colorful cycling kits spanning the climb. There was the Mudfoot kit (a mixture of light and baby blue, and their team vest, a bright orange), the VCR kit (an assortment of blues, blacks and highlighter green), the Team Dream kit (a green and white prison striped kit), there was half of an LAfixed kit, a couple sexy SGV kits, some classy Rapha kits, and of course, the Rainbow Coalition itself, Ritte. It appeared almost as a rainbow bridge consisting of cyclists ascending into the heavens. Near Crystal Lake, the topography of the climb became more rugged and the mist started to move in and as we entered into the closed section of the 39 it donned on me that I was entering Valhalla.

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The ominous conditions — Photo Credit: Max Duck

The road itself is cracked, covered in fallen rocks from the cliffs above and patched in certain sections, but still better than most of the roads in LA. It began to get really cold at the end of the 39 just before the 2. There was a water station set up right at the 2, but more importantly there was newspaper to stuff our kits with and cars with heaters, it was like stepping into a perfectly preheated oven. Big props to the Mudfoot guys for letting a bunch of sweaty strangers warm up in their cars before making their way back home, back to LA.

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(Top) The author and his pain face, (Bottom) Re-uppin’ on water — Photo Credit: Max Duck

As I sat in one of the trucks, I saw the conditions getting worse. The fog was so dense that you could see it being pushed away by gusts of wind, along with the occasional a rider who ventured out. I gathered my things, taking my gloves off the vent in a successful scheme to dry them, put on my helmet and then stepped out into the cold. The rest is a frozen, exhilarating, blur with the occasional dose of fear as the wind would push me from one side of the road to the other. I had a blast. Thank you Mudfoot dudes, plate tectonics, inventor of asphalt, the wheel, the shovel, the heater, trees for paper, etc… If everything you read up above doesn’t make sense, just watch the video below.