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  1. #1
    lead on macduff!
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    d.i.y. road ride century in the santa monica mtns recommendations???

    aiming to do a self-supported century this coming tuesday in the santa monica mtns but have only very cursory knowledge of a few roads.

    looking for advice from the socal forumites whom have been there done that as to a good century or near century route that takes in much of what the area has to offer.

    yes, prepared for lots of climbing, descending and wiggly/tight roads.

    any reliable/good stores you can replenish water/drinks/grub at without having to descend to the valley or the coast?

    would prefer a oceanside starting/finishing point semi-close to topanga canyon (as i am coming from san diego-less driving the better) and a loop ride if possible to see
    as much of the area as i can.

    planning on starting around 8am and i'll have all day. not looking to rush through it either. mainly looking to enjoy some new roads, scenery and challenges.

    thanks in advance for any and all helpful advice!

  2. #2
    Member melgarpoe's Avatar
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    Before I make any suggestions, I feel it's my duty to say that I hope you're prepared for lots of climbing, descending and wiggly/tight roads.

    Sorry...Couldn't resist ;-)

    Anyhow, it's hard to do a century in the Santa Monicas without ever heading back down to either PCH or the Valley. That said, I've mapped out a possible route that notes some good spots to stop for food & water and has many of the best views you can find particularly if you want to mainly avoid going up and down, to and from the coast repeatedly.

    http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2257698

    Anyhow, have a great ride.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Lesper4's Avatar
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    Nice course, it is amazing how fast you can rack up the ft out there. even with all the flat. You might as well ride MC twice!

  4. #4
    Flat Ire
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    I have this writeup for anyone who asks about my favorite ride, which traverses the Santa Monica's. I will herewith paste:

    It so happens my favorite ride is recorded on Strava (link below), and courses across 30 miles of the Santa Monica's. This covers a lot of the territory traversed by the original Mulholland Challenge route, going 97.7mi, with 8,747ft elevation gain. The ride as shown starts in Santa Monica, but you can park on the side of Topanga Cyn Rd near PCH, then pedal up Topanga Cyn Rd. Then...

    -At the Topanga post office veer left onto Old Topanga Cyn Rd. Over the top to Mulholland Highway, and left.
    The ride takes you 25 miles westerly on Mulholland Highway. You get a lot of mountain views; the farther west you go the less developed and wilder and more scenic it gets.

    Then just before Mulholland descends to the sea, you veer off on Little Sycamore Cyn Rd. on the right, to stay up in the mountains. When Little Sycamore crosses the county line into Ventura, it turns into Yerba Buena Rd, and the road surface immedately takes a turn for the worse, with many cracks that will rattle your bike and you. Caution! When Yerba Buena descends, you will have a quite technical descent, with curves and the cracks in the road. This will test your cycling skills. I always look forward to this challenging part of the ride.

    The second descent on Yerba takes you to the intersection of Cotharin. Right on Cotharin for grades that will beg for a 32 cassette. Cotharin eventually becomes a dirt road, but you veer to the right to continue on Sierra View, which becomes Deer Creek, many cyclists' favorite descent in the Santa Monca's. But first take in the view from the top of DC. This is as far west as you can get on these roads.

    You end up on on PCH along a beautiful coastline. Head west, probably with a tail wind.

    If you have "had it" at this point, stay on PCH till you get back to your car on Topanga. PCH is a hilly route, and you will have another 1000 feet of ascent to get back. If you are in for more:
    Continue on PCH about 5 1/2 miles to Decker Cyn Rd, Hwy 23. Left up Decker. Some grades here will be reminiscent of Cotharin. After the fire staton at the top, do a right on Lechusa, which ends in short order at an elbow of Encinal Cyn Rd. Go straight on Encinal, which will be a boring descent, compared to what you've been on: Several miles at 6% grade. Or just take Decker back down for a spicier descent.

    Back at PCH, continue west to Topanga and your car.

    AMENITIES ALONG THE WAY, in order of the route:
    In Topanga, a little store on the right. On Sundays it doesn't open till 10. There's also some little health food store with cookies on the left somewhere along there.

    Water at community entrances, one along the first incline on Mulholland. A spigot outside the unoccupied guard shack. Or at the top of said incline, a occupied guard shack. Guard there always lets me use faucet.

    Water and bathrooms at Strauss Ranch about 10 miles along. The first Strauss entrance is the parking lot. Take the second entrance to the white buildings, one of which is a bathroom and water faucet. Once past Strauss Ranch, you are on Rock Store Hill.

    If you want food, then right near here is the Rustic Canyon Store & Grill. Shortly after Strauss, detour off Mulholland to the right on Sierra River Road. A quarter mile down the road is the store. Or a quarter mile up Mulholland is the Rock Store cafe. If you're not intimidated by the 200 or so motorcycllists hanging out, you can buy great 8" oatmeal cookies here.

    Maybe 5 miles along at 33335 Mulholland there is a water faucet in the driveway.

    On Yerba, at the bottom of the first descent there's the Circle X Ranch ranger station, easy to miss on the left. Bathroom & water.

    Once on PCH, at the intersection of Yerba Buena, there's Neptune's Nest restaurant. They have a water keg in front for anyone to use. And porta potties, and you can order food to go if you can stand to wait in line.

    If you take the option up Decker, then at the fire station at the top there's a water fountain in front, put there just for cyclists.

    Back on PCH, there's a LA County fire station on the right, with a faucet at the driveway entrance. Maybe a mile past Decker.

    At the intersection of Mulholland Hwy, there's Leo Carillo State Beach. The campground across the highway has bathrooms, water and a campground store. Turn left off PCH into the parking lot, and take the road back into the campground and nestled somewhere back there is the store.

    Along PCH the beaches will have bathrooms and the larger beaches have snack bars open in the sunny season.

    Across the highway from the south end of Zuma Beach there's a bicycle shop in the strip mall. Good for emergency supplies.

    Right after Zuma there's an incline. For pizza, cut thru the gas station at the top of the hill, and there's a take-out pizza place in the shopping center on the right.

    From here west, you are more in the heart of Malibu, and along here there's numerous stores around.

    Across the intersection of Malibu Cyn Rd there's a park on with water and bathrooms and drink vending machines.

    If you're doing the Tuna Canyon option (below), there's a faucet in a driveway on Stunt Rd, on the left about a quarter mile down. Put there by a kind homeowner for cyclists.

    Here's the link to that Strava site I mentioned. It does NOT have the Tuna Cyn option.
    http://app.strava.com/activities/17520265

    Narly option: Tuna Canyon.
    This is the most technical paved descent in the Santa Monica's that I know of. So technical, that there are stop signs where there's no intersection, put there just so motorists can get some comprehension of what they're getting into. Search on You Tube for "bicycle tuna canyon" for a virtual descent.

    You can do this as an added 1400 ft of climb on the trip, or something to do on another day. To add this option:

    In Topanga watch for Fernwood Pacific Dr. on the left. This will be a nice windy climb up a wooded residential area.

    Eventually it crests and you continue until Fernwood becomes Tuna Canyon. Tuna eventually gets into this really narly, technical descent. Your rims will heat up from the braking.

    This gets you back to PCH. Go right, pedal for just over 2 1/2 miles, then ascend Las Flores. Right on Rancho Pacifico and right on Schueren, then a sharp left to descend Stunt Rd to Mulholland Hwy. Left, and continue on the route. In 8 1/2 miles will be Strauss Ranch mentioned above.
    Yerba Buena West Summit.jpg

  5. #5
    Senior Member eja_ bottecchia's Avatar
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    Lesiz, I have ridden in and around most portions of the ride that you described. Your descriptions, including places to rest, get water or food are very detailed and helpful. Anyone planning to ride for the first time in that area would do well to first read your post.
    My current stable:

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  6. #6
    lead on macduff!
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    thanks so much melgarpoe and lesiz! both routes that you laid out look challenging and interesting.
    i'll bring both ride 'capsules' with me and i'll let the legs decide on that first ascent on topanga canyon.
    i also have wednesday available to ride all day so if the body graciously acquiesces, i will likely ride
    wednesday to cover some of the route i don't end up using tuesday.

    one other question...how do you rate the general road quality in the santa monica mtns? i saw the disclaimer
    about yerba not so buena. any new pavement to be had? not expecting stellar quality due to erosion control, rockfall,
    water runoff, fire (equipment) control and earth movement but hoping i'm wrong.

  7. #7
    Member melgarpoe's Avatar
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    Road quality isn't bad on most of the roads. Parts of Deer Creek and Las Flores are pretty rough and Yerba Buena is just plain awful. Other than that, you're mostly going to find good to excellent roads.

    Quote Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
    one other question...how do you rate the general road quality in the santa monica mtns? i saw the disclaimer
    about yerba not so buena. any new pavement to be had? not expecting stellar quality due to erosion control, rockfall,
    water runoff, fire (equipment) control and earth movement but hoping i'm wrong.
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  8. #8
    Flat Ire
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    Yeah, Yerba does have a rough surface. But for me, I love the extra challenge to my cycling skills. Plus, this road is at the western end of the range, the least developed and the most wild and beautiful. But it does take extra care and use of skill on this road. Descending Yerba, your handlebars will feel like a jackhammer.

    So, oog, how about reporting back to us under this posting after your journey?

  9. #9
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    wow, Lesiz...great write-up! I ride the SM's almost every weekend. Another caveat, though not as bad during the week, is to listen/watch for motorcycles, especially on Rock Store. As for Yerba/Little Sycamore....yow...once you cross that line, the road is downright stupid bad! I'll climb as far as the houses and then bail back down...hate that thing! Really like Old Topanga...it's just so pretty in there.
    [insert clever quote here]

  10. #10
    lead on macduff!
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    Quote Originally Posted by lesiz View Post
    Yeah, Yerba does have a rough surface. But for me, I love the extra challenge to my cycling skills. Plus, this road is at the western end of the range, the least developed and the most wild and beautiful. But it does take extra care and use of skill on this road. Descending Yerba, your handlebars will feel like a jackhammer.

    So, oog, how about reporting back to us under this posting after your journey?
    you want an outsider's view on your riding paradise? lol.

    of course. it would be my pleasure to report back on the journey. what worked. what didn't. perils avoided. perils not avoided. highlights, et al.

    there is an infinitesimal chance the gfriend and i will be holed up at the chateau marmont tues/wed. if that happens, the report will be a week or two late since i won't be riding those days.

    but really looking forward to the ride(s). been wanting to tackle the area in a substantial way for at least a decade along with an assault on all the owens valley hc climbs.
    this is closer and more compact. would prefer 5 days to really ride everything but i suspect i'll be hooked and make it a point to come back in april for another 2 days before it gets too hot.

  11. #11
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    We did this one last November. Ride with GPS has it with 16K+ of climbing in about 100 miles. http://ridewithgps.com/routes/767887 Or, you might try this route: http://www.malibu7canyons100.com/home.php
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  12. #12
    Flat Ire
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    That ridewithqps ride includes an ascent up Deer Creek! Did that once. Memorable.

    Regarding the motorcyles in the vicinity of Rock Store: They are a PiTA, roaring by at high speed. There are on average 2 motorcycle wipe-outs per week in that area. The scary thing is that they go so fast that they can be upon you before you ever hear them. Stay to the side of the road in that area, and don't stop in turns where they can slide into you.

  13. #13
    lead on macduff!
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    thanks for all the suggestions! it was one of the best days i've ever had on the bike! not in terms of avg speed
    but in terms of scenery, challenges, route finding and riding new roads.

    http://app.strava.com/activities/45982522

  14. #14
    lead on macduff!
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    loved the ascent of old topanga. so gorgeous. the malibu creek sp area by paramount ranch was really scenic
    too. those views across to the boney mountains wilderness were prob the highlight. of course, the yerba buena segment was hell as were a few segments of the deer creek descent. if yerba buena were repaved-wow! zipped thru the beautiful deer creek descent too quickly. think i need to try it as an ascent. portrero rd on the nw side had a ridiculous section as did the 23 north of mulholland. traffic was really light once off topanga cyn rd and pch. all in all, a day to remember and recover from. will try a smaller ride tomorrow somewhere in that area. thanks for letting me play in your sandbox.

  15. #15
    Flat Ire
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    LOL, yeah, one doesn't do the Santa Monicas to set a speed record.

    The writer of this blog would quite agree with your impression of this area:
    http://redkiteprayer.com/about/just-...has-mountains/

    For some other day I would recommend the Tuna Canyon descent. After I'd been cruising the Santa Monicas for a few years and had become somewhat jaded about them, I took this thrill ride and it knocked my socks off.

  16. #16
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    ^ Here's someone else smitten by the Santa Monicas:

    http://www.cyclingescapes.com/bicycl...p/roadbike.pdf

    It's all true ... it's a great place to ride a bike. Well ... if you like climbing.

    ooga-booga: I'd also recommend you lunch at the Canyon Store just off of Mulholland and Kanan Road. They make killer hamburgers, Santa Maria BBQ and toasted cheese sandwiches.
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  17. #17
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lesiz View Post
    That ridewithqps ride includes an ascent up Deer Creek! Did that once. Memorable.

    Regarding the motorcyles in the vicinity of Rock Store: They are a PiTA, roaring by at high speed. There are on average 2 motorcycle wipe-outs per week in that area. The scary thing is that they go so fast that they can be upon you before you ever hear them. Stay to the side of the road in that area, and don't stop in turns where they can slide into you.
    Yup. Deer always kicks my arse.

    That ride takes in 3 of the steepest climbs in the area. Las Flores, Deer, and Decker. The two others were Potrero and Tuna (but that is 1-way downhill).

    Spot on about climbing the Rock Store grade too. It's best to do it in the AM and on Saturday ... there are more motorcycles on Sunday.

    Cheers!
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  18. #18
    lead on macduff!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
    ^ Here's someone else smitten by the Santa Monicas:

    http://www.cyclingescapes.com/bicycl...p/roadbike.pdf

    It's all true ... it's a great place to ride a bike. Well ... if you like climbing.

    ooga-booga: I'd also recommend you lunch at the Canyon Store just off of Mulholland and Kanan Road. They make killer hamburgers, Santa Maria BBQ and toasted cheese sandwiches.


    haha...i coulda used that place. was looking for a lunch spot after descending deer creek but wasn't familiar with pch west of pepperdine area.
    ended up going all the way to the 101 and camarillo just to end up at a mcdonald's 20 miles later! i just assumed there would be a 7-11, sandwich store or the like on pch. uhh incorrect.
    it all worked out since i took west/east potrero back into the mtns and it had that gorgeous large ranch/meadow area just west of lake sherwood.

  19. #19
    lead on macduff!
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    also knocked out a 71 miler yesterday in the area. putt-putted up northbound kanan dune and headed east on mulholland. much easier ride west to east on mulholland but the views
    aren't as good. managed the 8 mile unpaved section of mulholland from topanga cyn rd area to sepulveda pass/405 fwy area. nice views but i think once is enuff on a road bike.
    enjoyed the descent of benedict cyn but was definitely begging for death to claim me by riding sunset blvd thru the beverly hills/ucla area. once past the 405, the pavement improved
    markedly and traffic dropped 75%.

  20. #20
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
    [/B][/I][/U]
    haha...i coulda used that place. was looking for a lunch spot after descending deer creek but wasn't familiar with pch west of pepperdine area.
    ended up going all the way to the 101 and camarillo just to end up at a mcdonald's 20 miles later! i just assumed there would be a 7-11, sandwich store or the like on pch. uhh incorrect.
    it all worked out since i took west/east potrero back into the mtns and it had that gorgeous large ranch/meadow area just west of lake sherwood.
    Yep ... that's Hidden Valley. Really sweet riding through there. Definitely bucks up.

    The lunch spot is here:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/rustic-canyo...d-grill-agoura

    A very short jaunt from Mulholland using Sierra Creek Road. Trust me ... the burgers are amazing, and worth the trip.

    Quote Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
    also knocked out a 71 miler yesterday in the area. putt-putted up northbound kanan dune and headed east on mulholland. much easier ride west to east on mulholland but the views aren't as good. managed the 8 mile unpaved section of mulholland from topanga cyn rd area to sepulveda pass/405 fwy area. nice views but i think once is enuff on a road bike.
    enjoyed the descent of benedict cyn but was definitely begging for death to claim me by riding sunset blvd thru the beverly hills/ucla area. once past the 405, the pavement improved
    markedly and traffic dropped 75%.
    You might try the Latigo ascent/descent one of these days. Very scenic, an easy climb, and a very nice descent as well.

    Last edited by Biker395; 03-29-13 at 09:27 AM.
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  21. #21
    Flat Ire
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    "was looking for a lunch spot after descending deer creek but wasn't familiar with pch west of pepperdine area"

    If you're on PCH again and feeling hunger pangs, there's the following:
    "At the intersection of PCH & Mulholland Hwy, there's Leo Carillo State Beach. The campground across the highway has bathrooms, water and a campground store. Turn left off PCH into the parking lot, and take the road back into the campground and nestled somewhere back there is the store."

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    I moved to Santa Monica in December and haven't been up into the mountains yet. I need to get up there but have no idea where to start. Needless to say, my first trip out won't be a 100 miler.

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    Flat Ire
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    Try Topanga Cyn Rd off PCH. At the Topanga post office Old Topanga Cyn Rd branches off to the left. Take that over the top and down to Mulholland Hwy. Left. Go as far as your hearts content (as your legs will stand), then bail out back to PCH. Check a map beforehand to note where the canyon roads down to PCH are.

  24. #24
    lead on macduff!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
    Yep ... that's Hidden Valley. Really sweet riding through there. Definitely bucks up.

    The lunch spot is here:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/rustic-canyo...d-grill-agoura

    A very short jaunt from Mulholland using Sierra Creek Road. Trust me ... the burgers are amazing, and worth the trip.



    You might try the Latigo ascent/descent one of these days. Very scenic, an easy climb, and a very nice descent as well.

    oh hell yes! looks like the stuff dreams are made of! will try in april to cram in another samo mtns century and that looks like a focal point to be sure.

  25. #25
    lead on macduff!
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    Quote Originally Posted by lesiz View Post
    Try Topanga Cyn Rd off PCH. At the Topanga post office Old Topanga Cyn Rd branches off to the left. Take that over the top and down to Mulholland Hwy. Left. Go as far as your hearts content (as your legs will stand), then bail out back to PCH. Check a map beforehand to note where the canyon roads down to PCH are.
    worked for me. there were only a few 'get off the saddle' moments on northbound tcr till old topanga. don't remember a significant ramp on old topanga either so if there is one...it couldn't have hurt that much.
    i do remember that significant grade on mulholland east of las virgenes/malibu canyon just before coming to kanan dune tho. no fun to ascend but a blast to descend. las virgenes/malibu canyon would be a logical bailout point.
    Last edited by ooga-booga; 03-30-13 at 03:37 AM.

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