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Old 02-27-13, 01:04 PM   #1
businessonly805
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Cycling up or down highway 38, big bear back country...anyone done it?

Hey you guys, ive been looking at google street view of that area and it seems like sometimes there isnt enough of a shoulder. but i cant really tell from a picture too well....has anyone cycled that highway before? i couldnt find any cycling videos of that highway, but im thinking of doing it. can anyone let me know if you're familiar with the area, thanks...also, any past experiences you had if you did ride it (how long did it take, how far did you go, what kind of bike...etc)
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Old 02-27-13, 01:12 PM   #2
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It is just as bad or good as any mountain road. The shoulder is great from the ranger station junction at Bryant to the junction to Forest Falls. Very wide and flat. The climb up to Angeles Oaks is a little narrow in spots and can have rock debris which is expected. After Angeles Oaks to South Fork it is pretty nice, not to big but enough. This road also gets less traffic then the 330 or waterman routes. Climbing to Onyx Summit is more of the same, descent shoulder. Going down either side is not a probabley as you will have plenty of speed to keep up with traffic. To look for your tube videos try searching under Ride Around the Bear or Breathless Agony.

Here is the first of my 4 rides up to Onyx Summit last year. I had a tripple but if you area strong rider or light weight you shoudl be fine with a compact or even a double?
http://app.strava.com/activities/3903870

Last edited by Lesper4; 02-27-13 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 02-27-13, 01:41 PM   #3
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I agree with what Lesper4 wrote above; I've ridden it from both sides numerous times both on Ride Around the Bear and Breathless Agony, plus lots of times from our cabin in Big Bear.

From the Ranger Station to the Forest Falls turn is known to cyclists as "Damnation Alley." Once you ride it, you'll know why. But at least the shoulder is super-wide along there.

In other news, motorists are used to seeing cyclists on that road, and honestly, in all the times I've ridden up there, all the cars, trucks, SUV's and RV's have given me plenty of room.

Lovely area really! There's an excellent cafe at Angelus Oaks if you fancy stopping for food along the way and/or lots of places to eat once you get down into Big Bear City.

Rick / OCRR
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Old 02-27-13, 03:17 PM   #4
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hey thanks for the links you guys. these are good info....i have a question about the season. If i try to do this in about 2 weeks from now, do you guys think ill have to worry about snow and slippery surfaces? i remember in the news with the Chris Dorner incident, there was still alot of snow up in the area....but its been pretty dry lately.
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Old 02-27-13, 05:00 PM   #5
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You can see I road it in Feburary last year and it was freakin cold! (at noon!) This year is not as dry as last year. You can bet there will be plenty of snow and ice on the ground at 8000ft. Before that there will be patches. I think for the most part the coads will be clear but you will see ice in the gutter from the freeze thaw cycle. Also expect some grid on the roads that cal trans puts down. There will be snow in the shade at Angelous Oaks and maybe 100% coverage at the top. I havent been up there in a while but the hiking is still really good.
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Old 02-27-13, 05:12 PM   #6
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hey thanks for the links you guys. these are good info....i have a question about the season. If i try to do this in about 2 weeks from now, do you guys think ill have to worry about snow and slippery surfaces? i remember in the news with the Chris Dorner incident, there was still alot of snow up in the area....but its been pretty dry lately.
I think it varies, you have to watch the weather. Roads will be covered with snow after each storm but it will mostly melt away after a few days. But it will be cool. It's the high of 53 in Angelus Oaks today and that's warmest it's been in the last two weeks. Past Angelus Oaks the road is shaded and there's not much sun even at noon.
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Old 02-27-13, 05:13 PM   #7
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The annual "ride around the bear" includes a descent of hwy 38. Decent amount of room, not a lot of traffic - definitely better than 330!
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Old 02-28-13, 01:10 AM   #8
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HWY 38 is a great way to get up to Onyx summit. It's the final climb on Breathelss Agony. Just use common sence, If you hear a huge truck or bus comming up behind you, move as close to the shoulder of the road as you can. Be carefull of slippery corners in the winter months.
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Old 02-28-13, 11:37 PM   #9
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I've only ever made it to Angelus Oaks - damnation alley is nice and wide, but cars travel up and down it at crazy fast speeds, The climb up to Angelus Oaks has some narrow sections, but traffic moves slower too (watch out for trucks and RVs). The ride back down is just a matter of "how freakin fast do you want to go?" One longggg downhill blast. I had a compact upfront and I think a 28 in back - but I wish I had a triple (and that I would have dropped 40 lbs of blubber. ha ha)
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Old 02-28-13, 11:51 PM   #10
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I'd say it's A LOT beter than GMR. You can see the road is tight in some spots and wide in others.

The Bear, going down!



Breathless Agony, going up!

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Old 03-01-13, 01:20 AM   #11
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I agree with this and same thing, only to Angeles Oaks. I did it during group rides and felt nervous, no way I would do it by solo.

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I've only ever made it to Angelus Oaks - damnation alley is nice and wide, but cars travel up and down it at crazy fast speeds, The climb up to Angelus Oaks has some narrow sections, but traffic moves slower too (watch out for trucks and RVs). The ride back down is just a matter of "how freakin fast do you want to go?" One longggg downhill blast. I had a compact upfront and I think a 28 in back - but I wish I had a triple (and that I would have dropped 40 lbs of blubber. ha ha)
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Old 03-01-13, 10:06 AM   #12
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I guess it comes down to preferences, I love that area and have ridden it solo quite a few times. Some times the motorcycles on GMR are worse it all kind of depends.
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Old 03-01-13, 10:17 AM   #13
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great road to ride - if you don't have one,,, a mirror is a great investment if your riding mountains
-
as far as gearing goes,,, I now run a sram 32 with a compact - shimano shifter that is only SUPPOSED to handle a 28 -
as close to a tripple w/o a tripple !
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Old 03-01-13, 10:47 AM   #14
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I've been wanting to ride that road for a while now but haven't because I live in El Monte and the drive seems like to much. I wonder if anyone here would want to carpool there? I have 2 bike carriers on my roof and I can fit one more inside with enough room for one person in the back. Anyone up for it? It would have to be on Tue. Wed. of Thur. as those are the only days I have off from work. So how about it? Anyone?
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Old 03-01-13, 07:34 PM   #15
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Joe - I'm up for it, but I can't get out there during the week. I'm trying to put together one or two pre-BA rides out there over the next few weeks for those of us who will be struggling up that thing in May.
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Old 03-01-13, 07:41 PM   #16
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That's a bummer Jim, I've noticed that just about no one has weekdays off. Really puts a damper on any group rides and certainly on any forum rides. Oh well the offer stands if anyone is available and willing.
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Old 03-02-13, 08:19 PM   #17
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If you go up midweek let us know how the traffic is if you can - (time of day etc). I've seen it on the weekend in winter and summer and it's generally light.
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Old 03-02-13, 09:20 PM   #18
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I visited big bear last summer and saw a lot of cyclists on 38, prepping for a race that week. I had my bike with me but it was too gnarly for me. Very narrow twisty mountain roads, no shoulder. I would have maybe ridden it if I was with at least one other cyclist. But i'm used to biking in suburbs with bike lanes and on bike trails. For people in other regions, it may not be a cause for concern.
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Old 03-03-13, 02:16 PM   #19
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Ill report if I do the ride mid week, but I don't see my self doing it in the near future because of how far the drive is. I can't justify the expense in gas. Maybe when I go camping up there next I'll have the wife drop me off at the bottom and ride up. For those that have ridden the 38 or 330, how do they compare to Azusa or GMR?
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Old 03-03-13, 02:48 PM   #20
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For those that have ridden the 38 or 330, how do they compare to Azusa or GMR?
Pretty similar; but longer. I'd advise staying away from 330. I'm not easily intimidated by roads, but this one's got some real high speed traffic.
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Old 03-04-13, 06:59 PM   #21
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Pretty similar; but longer. I'd advise staying away from 330. I'm not easily intimidated by roads, but this one's got some real high speed traffic.
did the ride on 330 ONCE,,, having a tanker truck pass within inches of me was enough for me to swear off ever riding that road again - the other mountain roads all have the usual knucklheads out on them - the rice burner crowd being the worst of them !
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Old 03-06-13, 12:01 PM   #22
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I've ridden it a couple times solo. Really is one of the nicest climbs, no problems with the shoulder or traffic. I've ridden from Yucaipa up to Big Bear for Lunch.
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