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  1. #1
    Senior Member rallison's Avatar
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    Santa Monica Mountains Leg Burner - Tuna Canyon, Fernwood & Corral Canyon Ride Report

    So on Sunday I finally got back out to the Santa Monicas for some more riding and to conquer a few climbs I had not done before. In the spirit of not taking things easy, I chose Tuna Canyon, Fernwood and Corral Canyon for my climbs. These are some of the steepest climbs around.

    My Ride Report is here.

    Some stats:

    Tuna Canyon:
    Steepest 1.5 miles averages 12.4% for 970 feet of elevation gain.

    Fernwood - Grand View Ascent:
    Averages 10.2% for 1.08 miles (and 581 feet of elevation gain) but contains two separate tenth of a mile super-steep sections that average 20-30% (only a guess, but having ridden a lot, I can vouch that they are over 20%).

    Corral Canyon:
    11.8% for 1.19 miles (741 feet elevation gain). First part is easier - meaning the second part averages over 11.8%


    Fun climbing! Some pictures:

    Tuna Canyon:






    Fernwood - Grand View Climb (really, really steep):


    Saddle Peak:


    Amazing houses:



    Fog creeping over the mountains from Malibu Canyon Rd/Piuma Rd:
    ToughAscent.com - My Rides: http://www.toughascent.com/blog/

  2. #2
    Senior Member rallison's Avatar
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    Corral Canyon:





    Corral's not very fun to do at the end of a ride
    ToughAscent.com - My Rides: http://www.toughascent.com/blog/

  3. #3
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Nice! Tuna's one way downhill, so I've only climbed it a few times. It's easy to hear the cars coming, but I worry too much about cyclists coming the other way on their descent.

    I've not done Corral, but I'll add that to the bucket list. Thanks!
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  4. #4
    umd
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    I think Corral and Tuna are the only climbs in that area I've never done.

  5. #5
    Senior Member rallison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
    Nice! Tuna's one way downhill, so I've only climbed it a few times. It's easy to hear the cars coming, but I worry too much about cyclists coming the other way on their descent.

    I've not done Corral, but I'll add that to the bucket list. Thanks!
    Yeah, I wouldn't make a habit of climbing Tuna due to that. Also why I stayed farther right than usual. It was definitely worth doing once though.

    Yeah, Corral's pretty steep. Worth a shot if you are near to Malibu Canyon.
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  6. #6
    Climbing... Ben FR's Avatar
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    Tuna is a tough but very doable climb, basically a Las Flores analog.

    That Grand View ascent is insane!!! There are a few 25-30% walls that no one ever talks about! (Btw did you find out about this from my post earlier this year, bc no one ever talked about it previously)
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/bfr

  7. #7
    Senior Member rallison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben FR View Post
    Tuna is a tough but very doable climb, basically a Las Flores analog.

    That Grand View ascent is insane!!! There are a few 25-30% walls that no one ever talks about! (Btw did you find out about this from my post earlier this year, bc no one ever talked about it previously)
    Actually, sort of. Before your post, I happened to be checking out Topanga/Old Topanga in my car to see how it would be for cycling (this was quite a while ago). I stumbled upon the town of Fernwood and decided to check it out. Since Grand View is the first left going up, I ended up turning on that. When I saw the first really steep wall, my jaw just about dropped. At that point I made a mental note to come back and attempt the road at some point. It took a long while to get back around to it, and in searching the forums for threads on some of the climbs, I did in fact find your post and, after thinking about it a bit, I made the connection to the road I had driven up way back when. Since this was just the day before my Malibu outing, it of course got added to the climbing itinerary. I'm glad you posted about it as that post is what sparked my memory!

    And yeah, insane is about right. The only comparable roads I can think of are Nye's Place (Laguna Beach - the wall section is longer but only about 20%), a couple of the streets in San Pedro (upwards of 25%, but you have flat/semi-flat after the wall), first part of Painted Cave in Santa Barbara (the wall section is not as steep but longer). I'm sure there is something comparable somewhere though. Too bad the mapping programs don't have enough detail for a proper elevation profile of Grand View.

    Has anyone else tried the Grand View mini-climb?
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  8. #8
    Climbing... Ben FR's Avatar
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    Cool, yeah, I'm glad you did it. The other hidden gem in the Santa Monicas is Noranda Lane. It's a road off Encinal that is ~4/10 of a mile that averages 20% with a few 30% pitches. Much harder than Grand View.
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/bfr

  9. #9
    Has coddling tendencies. KiddSisko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rallison View Post
    So on Sunday I finally got back out to the Santa Monicas for some more riding and to conquer a few climbs I had not done before. In the spirit of not taking things easy, I chose Tuna Canyon, Fernwood and Corral Canyon for my climbs. These are some of the steepest climbs around.

    My Ride Report is here.

    Some stats:

    Tuna Canyon:
    Steepest 1.5 miles averages 12.4% for 970 feet of elevation gain.
    Ah Tuna. Sweet, sweet Tuna Canyon, the climb that started it all for me. Years ago I used to "train" on Tuna, marking my progress by how far I could go without stopping to rest and look for my exploded heart. I was riding a triple crank bike at the time using the lowest 30x27 gear and wishing I had more. Then the big day arrived after many weeks when I could finally go up without stopping. I nearly died several times, but I made it. Since then I've gone up Tuna on special occasions (like Superbowl Sunday), and just to remind myself what a truly nasty climb really is. My current low gearing for Tuna is 34x28, which still feels like it's not enough.

    The gradient weenie that I am needs to point out that the mile long section beginning where your picture below was taken averages 15%, with sections above 20%. That's your moment of truth right there.

    "We understand what you are saying. I don't think you understand what you are saying." - umd

  10. #10
    drop you like a potato
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    Sorry, but none of the climbs mentioned here can compete with Hillside (west). Not many know about it because it has no outlet.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Socalcycling View Post
    Sorry, but none of the climbs mentioned here can compete with Hillside (west). Not many know about it because it has no outlet.
    Does this Hillside West mean its a private road and a bit safer than the others?

  12. #12
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    I give Five Stars for Rallison's photos and her blog site.

  13. #13
    Senior Member rallison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
    I give Five Stars for Rallison's photos and his blog site.
    Fixed. But thank you for the five stars
    Last edited by rallison; 06-12-10 at 11:42 PM.
    ToughAscent.com - My Rides: http://www.toughascent.com/blog/

  14. #14
    Senior Member rallison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Socalcycling View Post
    Sorry, but none of the climbs mentioned here can compete with Hillside (west). Not many know about it because it has no outlet.
    Where is this Hillside West climb? I'm intrigued.
    ToughAscent.com - My Rides: http://www.toughascent.com/blog/

  15. #15
    Senior Member rallison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KiddSisko View Post
    Ah Tuna. Sweet, sweet Tuna Canyon, the climb that started it all for me. Years ago I used to "train" on Tuna, marking my progress by how far I could go without stopping to rest and look for my exploded heart. I was riding a triple crank bike at the time using the lowest 30x27 gear and wishing I had more. Then the big day arrived after many weeks when I could finally go up without stopping. I nearly died several times, but I made it. Since then I've gone up Tuna on special occasions (like Superbowl Sunday), and just to remind myself what a truly nasty climb really is. My current low gearing for Tuna is 34x28, which still feels like it's not enough.

    The gradient weenie that I am needs to point out that the mile long section beginning where your picture below was taken averages 15%, with sections above 20%. That's your moment of truth right there.

    My current low gearing is 30x25 - just slightly easier than 34x28 - and this was one of the few climbs where I would have liked having a 30x27 or 30x28 ratio. Is that mile long stretch really 15%? It felt like it, but using online mapping topo numbers, that section seems to be 13% or so.

    And yeah, that section really is the moment of truth section!


    Quote Originally Posted by Ben FR View Post
    Cool, yeah, I'm glad you did it. The other hidden gem in the Santa Monicas is Noranda Lane. It's a road off Encinal that is ~4/10 of a mile that averages 20% with a few 30% pitches. Much harder than Grand View.
    .4 miles at 20%? Sounds slightly insane. Added to my to-do list
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  16. #16
    Climbing... Ben FR's Avatar
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    http://app.strava.com/athletes/bfr

  17. #17
    Has coddling tendencies. KiddSisko's Avatar
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    What do you guys think of this crazy ride: climbing up Corral Canyon, then continuing on up to the peak and over to Latigo via the ridge dirt road? If it's hard packed dirt like the dirt roads around Topanga, then it should be fine.

    There was an article last year in one of the road cycling magazines where they highlighted such rides (combining road and dirt). That's what gave me the idea. Sure it would make more sense to be on a cross bike, or with something wider than 700x23 tires, but with caution it should be fine.
    "We understand what you are saying. I don't think you understand what you are saying." - umd

  18. #18
    Has coddling tendencies. KiddSisko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rallison View Post
    Is that mile long stretch really 15%? It felt like it, but using online mapping topo numbers, that section seems to be 13% or so.

    And yeah, that section really is the moment of truth section!
    I don't have my note pad in front of me, but I took the elevation numbers from mapmyride and did the elevation/distance (in feet) x100 formula. Of course, anything over 10% gradient suffers from innacuracy, but I don't know if that means the final % is more or less when using that formula.
    "We understand what you are saying. I don't think you understand what you are saying." - umd

  19. #19
    Climbing... Ben FR's Avatar
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    Yeah the 1 mile stretch on Tuna is ~15%. It's actually longer. I define the "hard part" as the first switch back to the last switch back. I think it's about 1.3 miles.
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/bfr

  20. #20
    Senior Member rallison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KiddSisko View Post
    What do you guys think of this crazy ride: climbing up Corral Canyon, then continuing on up to the peak and over to Latigo via the ridge dirt road? If it's hard packed dirt like the dirt roads around Topanga, then it should be fine.

    There was an article last year in one of the road cycling magazines where they highlighted such rides (combining road and dirt). That's what gave me the idea. Sure it would make more sense to be on a cross bike, or with something wider than 700x23 tires, but with caution it should be fine.
    Hmmm, I like the idea. I ride some nasty/dirty roads, so I don't mind riding dirt on the road bike (although generally sections that are < 1 mile). With that said, on the dirt part of the proposed climb, there looks to be a mile long section at 8-9%. I've never done steeper grades on dirt on my road bike - does the traction hold assuming hard pack and 700x23 tires?
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  21. #21
    Has coddling tendencies. KiddSisko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rallison View Post
    Hmmm, I like the idea. I ride some nasty/dirty roads, so I don't mind riding dirt on the road bike (although generally sections that are < 1 mile). With that said, on the dirt part of the proposed climb, there looks to be a mile long section at 8-9%. I've never done steeper grades on dirt on my road bike - does the traction hold assuming hard pack and 700x23 tires?
    8-9%, and perhaps even steeper, according to MMR. Good question about traction. I have next to zero experience riding on dirt around here, so that's an unknown. A part of me wants to try anyway. As long as I don't have to descend on a steep dirt road.

    It would really help if anyone with road and dirt experience reading this can comment and give us a thumbs up or down on the idea.
    "We understand what you are saying. I don't think you understand what you are saying." - umd

  22. #22
    Flat Ire
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    Deer Creek Road. Try it, you'll love it.

  23. #23
    Senior Member rallison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lesiz View Post
    Deer Creek Road. Try it, you'll love it.
    I have, and I did love it

    It was actually the first ride I wrote about on my blog: http://www.toughascent.com/blog/?p=3

    Combined with Decker, it makes for a fun day.
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  24. #24
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    In the 1970s I climbed Tuna on 8 different occasions, usually in a 42/26 43.6-inch gear. I never had the guts to descend, so I would always loop across to Topanga for the return to PCH. I left Los Angeles in 1981 and was bummed years later to learn that Tuna had been closed to climbing. In my opinion, they choose the wrong direction to make it one way.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  25. #25
    lead on macduff!
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    Quote Originally Posted by KiddSisko View Post
    What do you guys think of this crazy ride: climbing up Corral Canyon, then continuing on up to the peak and over to Latigo via the ridge dirt road? If it's hard packed dirt like the dirt roads around Topanga, then it should be fine.

    There was an article last year in one of the road cycling magazines where they highlighted such rides (combining road and dirt). That's what gave me the idea. Sure it would make more sense to be on a cross bike, or with something wider than 700x23 tires, but with caution it should be fine.
    climbed corral canyon earlier this year for the first time and reached paved road's end and was about to turn around but was intrigued by the dirt road.
    the last paved mile of corral is really quite pretty-especially after the slog of a hard climb-and i was reluctant to turn around so quickly if i didn't have to.
    tried to extend the road...hit the dirt part and lasted about 100 yards before turning around. on my 700x23 tires, it just didn't seem worth it. so i
    bailed out but wished i had wider tires or a cyclocross bike for that stretch. only dirt road i've hit on my road bike in the santa monicas is the dirt
    part of mulholland east of topanga canyon/hwy 27 and west of the 405. i think it was like 5.5-6 miles. pretty rideable on some stretches but kinda rough
    in others. the dirt part of corral was way worse...at least at the start.
    i'd rather be alive wrong than dead right

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