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  1. #1
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    SoCal for 2 weeks...Must-do rides?

    I'll be heading down to Southern California from the Bay Area at the start of January and was wondering what rides I should make sure to do while I'm down there. Last time I was there I rode from LA to SD along PCH.

    I'll be there for about 2 weeks and I'm planning to split my time between LA and San Diego, depending on where the good riding is. So far I've got Mt. Baldy and Glendora Ridge/Mountain Road, and Mt. Palomar. What else should I add to my list?

    Also, I'll be driving relatively leisurely down the coast from the Bay Area and planning to stop in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara. Aside from Gibraltar Road, any must-do rides in or near those areas, or anywhere else between the Bay and LA?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    You've already chosen some of the best climbs in the area-Gibraltar, Baldy, and GMR/GRR get a big thumbs up and recommendation from me. Not too familiar with the riding in central california but I would recommend Latigo Canyon in Malibu (can string it together with a number of other climbs in the santa monica mts for an epic ride), Angeles Crest Highway & Hwy 39 (you can easily spend 2-3 days riding just on these roads alone), Hwy 38 if you plan on venturing inland, Ortega Hwy in South OC, and Mt Laguna in San Diego.

    Check out this resource for great climbs in the area: http://www.toughascent.com/blog/climbs-map/
    Last edited by m3ta1head; 12-08-14 at 02:21 AM.

  3. #3
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    I agree with Mt. Baldy as a reccomendation, we ride it almost every weekend. The Gauntlet ride out of Santa Monica is hammers, it will give you some good climbs with ocean views. Mt. Wilson is OK also, although I'm not a fan of the road quality.

    In SD, Mt. Palomar, Kitchen Creek and the Great Western Loop are good spots. If you're looking for a good fast ride with mellow climbing, look up the Swamis loop.

    Everything should be searchable on Strava.
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    The Palos Verdes area (my back yard, I'm happy to say) so worth checking out. Lots of great rocky cliff ocean views, moderate climb options of four miles or so each--even some fun mountain bike trails.

  5. #5
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    heading down the coast from the bay area, i'd check out climbing naciamento road south of big sur. the coast highway for san simeon south to san luis obispo
    is gorgeous as well-twice as nice as the la to sd coastal route but a bit more challenging with less support.


    once in la county area/southern california, the aforementioned angeles crest highway (gets up to 7,900 ft so prepare accordingly), palos verdes peninsula and
    santa monica mountains areas are all very worthy. fave area to ride in socal is the santa monica mountains because of the challenging climbs in proximity to
    the ocean and pacific coast highway. never too cold in winter and if the legs say no to a climb, you can always spin along the coast which doesn't suck.
    here is backup: Malibu: Heaven has mountains | RKP


    i also enjoy a more urban ride through griffith park, silver lake, elysian park/dodger stadium,
    chinatown, olvera street and downtown la but it's not everyone's thing. definitely not boring tho and plenty of food/drink establishments to tempt if that appeals.


    sounds like you already did pch through newport beach/laguna beach/dana point. always nice tho. santiago canyon road is a good inland alternative should you
    find yourself stuck in orange county long enough.


    if inland near the riverside/san diego counties border (nw of palomar mountain), i enjoy the santa rosa plateau/de luz/fallbrook area. a spirited area chock
    full of challenges around nearly every corner.


    for the deserts, the western part of joshua tree national park (hidden valley area highly recommended) is unforgettable along with pretty much anywhere in
    anza-borrego state park which has some great rollers, flats and the longest, sustained grade in san diego county in montezuma grade. not much support other
    than the town of borrego springs in the area.


    favorite ride in san diego county is the laguna/cuyamaca triangle: http://www.strava.com/routes/222445. start at the parking lot just north of the 8 fwy/hwy 79
    intersection in descanso. head northeast
    towards pine valley. from this point, you can either turn left/north up onto s1/sunrise hwy and do approx 50 miles or turn right/south and do approx 62 miles.
    http://www.strava.com/routes/222452. turning right eventually takes you to kitchen creek rd which gradually ascends to sunrise hwy about 3 miles south of the
    mt. laguna store. kitchen creek option (about a 10 mile climb) has zero support so be prepared. either way takes you past the mt. laguna store for a snack/resupply
    and heads north to the
    hwy 79/s 1 junction. (you can turn right at this point for a worthy extension to julian and environs and back if you like) make a left and start heading south along
    hwy 79 to lake cuyamaca and through cuyamaca rancho state park to the starting point. i recommend the "counterclockwise" route to take advantage of lesser
    traffic patterns and to get much of the climbing done early in the ride but it can be done clockwise as well.


    there are a multiplicity of routes to be had in the best riding areas of sd county that connect palomar mountain, lake henshaw, mesa grande, julian, the laguna
    (mountains)/cuyamaca (rancho state park) triangle, and the edges of anza-borrego state park. the main highways involved are state hwys 76, 78, 79 and county
    highways s1 and s2. you could easily spend a week doing it all. it is best done in spring or late fall but tis better to have done them in winter than not at all. next
    to the santa monica mountains near la, this is arguably just as awesome. not as compact but super-scenic and tailor-made for scenic and challenging 60-120
    mile rides with strategic support.

    great western loop area near jamul/alpine is verry challenging but lacks the scenery of the above paragraph and is a junior varsity version of the santa monica
    mountains outside of la because it has fewer roads and therefore, fewer possibilities. fairly similar terrain tho and definitely worthy of multiple visits. a
    strong/motivated rider can link this area with the areas listed just above for a longer excursion. did i mention my favorite brewery in all of southern california is
    alpine brewery which is within "refreshment distance?"

    happy riding!
    Last edited by ooga-booga; 12-09-14 at 03:28 PM.
    i'd rather be alive wrong than dead right

  6. #6
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    If I didn't already live here, I'd say I envy you. Please don't forget to bring plenty of your rain down here when you come.

    One of my favorite North San Diego County rides: Elfin Forest and Highland Valley Road to Packard's Coffee in Ramona. About 65 hilly miles out-n-back.

    The Golden Triangle ride in the mountains East of San Diego is a lovely 45 mile loop that takes you around Cuyamaca Lake, Sunrise Highway, and Mount Laguna. It's also the site of the harrrd Mount Laguna Classic.

    Here is one of my favorite loops: Coastal PCH to San Luis Rey bike path - West Lilac - Circle R - Gopher Canyon - Twin Oaks Parkway. It's fun clockwise or counter.

    SLO is also an awesome biking town. I seem to remember See Canyon and Prefumo Canyon Roads being a fun way out to the coast and Morro Bay. If you happen to be in SLO on a Thursday night, they have a terrific farmers market with plenty of great food and beautiful college-aged women all over the place.




    Last edited by calamarichris; 12-09-14 at 02:18 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
    Well, if you are gonna carry a snapped frame all the way home. It might as well be light weight carbon fiber.

  7. #7
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    Wow, thanks for all the info guys! It sounds like most of the good riding is in the mountains north of LA... I think the routes in the Cleveland National Forest and further east in the desert might be too far inland to be practical if I'm staying along the coast?

    With that in mind, I'm thinking of spending more like 10 days in LA and 5 days near Oceanside? Does that seem like a good division of my time? Where in LA should I stay to have easy access to the rides in the mountains? I have a friend in Norwalk that I could possibly stay with but I'm wondering if somewhere further north like Pasadena or the Claremont area would be more convenient for riding?

    Also, I'm assuming there are clubs that do some of these rides on the weekends? It'd be awesome to have people to ride with up Palomar and Mt. Baldy.

  8. #8
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    From Norwalk you could hit the SGRT and take it all the way to 39, then the E fork to GMR/GRR and on up to Baldy. or, keep going up 39 to Crystal lake.

    Avoid Joshua Tree on the weekends, but a weekday ride up to Keys View is great. Best time of year though is April/May when the flowers are going off.
    Last edited by TGT1; 12-09-14 at 07:50 PM.

  9. #9
    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    I like Mt Pinos, 8 miles at 5%



    And Mt Abel, about 10 miles at 5%



    These are up in Frazier Park

  10. #10
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    Agree on Palos Verdes


  11. #11
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    View from Angeles Crest Highway near Dawson's Saddle


  12. #12
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob78h View Post
    I'll be heading down to Southern California from the Bay Area at the start of January and was wondering what rides I should make sure to do while I'm down there. Last time I was there I rode from LA to SD along PCH.

    I'll be there for about 2 weeks and I'm planning to split my time between LA and San Diego, depending on where the good riding is. So far I've got Mt. Baldy and Glendora Ridge/Mountain Road, and Mt. Palomar. What else should I add to my list?

    Also, I'll be driving relatively leisurely down the coast from the Bay Area and planning to stop in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara. Aside from Gibraltar Road, any must-do rides in or near those areas, or anywhere else between the Bay and LA?

    Thanks!
    Take a look at the Tour of California rides and pick from there. One climb is in Palm Springs, Tramway climb.

    Palm Springs ? Tramway Road Climb (to Palm Springs Aerial Tramway)

  13. #13
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    Some great suggestions on here. If I could only fit in one good ride while on vacation in LA area, I would go with the canyons near Malibu - the Gauntlet or any of the go to roads: Piuma, Stunt, Rock Store etc. are some of the best CA has to offer. Lots of great twisty climbs and descents, oceans views, canyons etc. If I could do two rides, I would add in GMR/GRR. Great views, 20 miles on climbing up to Baldy with enough downhill mixed in to allow for some fun on the way up. I would stay off PCH from LA all the way to San Clemente as it is just too busy with cars - great ocean views, but too crazy
    _______

  14. #14
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimxyz View Post
    Some great suggestions on here. If I could only fit in one good ride while on vacation in LA area, I would go with the canyons near Malibu - the Gauntlet or any of the go to roads: Piuma, Stunt, Rock Store etc. are some of the best CA has to offer. Lots of great twisty climbs and descents, oceans views, canyons etc. If I could do two rides, I would add in GMR/GRR. Great views, 20 miles on climbing up to Baldy with enough downhill mixed in to allow for some fun on the way up. I would stay off PCH from LA all the way to San Clemente as it is just too busy with cars - great ocean views, but too crazy
    I must respectfully disagree, especially on the west/ocean side of PCH. I Amtrak'ed my bike up to Santa Barbara and rode back down on a weekend last year, and was VERY pleasantly surprised by the wide bike lanes and shoulders through all of it. The only place it got ugly was Laguna Beach, and a few intersections in Newport. That trip made me pretty patriotic about California!

    PCH between Point Mugu and Malibu.




    Ballona Creek near Marina del Rey


    Palos Verdes and the bike path on the beach in Redondo was lovely.



    The traffic picks up in Seal & Huntington Beach, but there was still a nice wide shoulder.
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
    Well, if you are gonna carry a snapped frame all the way home. It might as well be light weight carbon fiber.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Two weeks is a good time and driving to and from allows you to really get the So Cal experience. Santa Barbara is still considered the northern most part of So Calif.

    Maybe on your drive back to S.F. try this: Figueroa Mountain Loop (east side ascent)

  16. #16
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    Thanks for all the routes guys! I'm thinking of spending most of my time in LA with a couple days further south in Oceanside to relax and hit Palomar. I'm now looking for places to stay. If I want to do a solid block of training in LA without too much car time, where is a good area to stay in? Would somewhere around Claremont or Pasadena provide easy access to lots of riding? Most of my rides are in the 2-3 hour range.

    Also, are there any clubs that ride up in the Angeles National Forest and other local routes on a fairly regular basis? It would be awesome to ride with people who know where they're going.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Incycle bike shop would be your place to get info on local rides. They know the Glendora Mountain Road loop. San Dimas shop.

    https://incycle.com/

    For Malibu, its the Santa Monica mountains. Helen's Cycles: Helens Cycles Santa Monica California Trek Cannondale Pinarello Colnago Cervelo Electra

    For San Diego's Palomar area: ??

  18. #18
    Farmer tan f4rrest's Avatar
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    Staying in Pasadena would give you tons of options. You could do just about any of the rides described without driving, except for the San Diego stuff.

  19. #19
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    If you stay in the Conejo Valley (Agoura, Thousand Oaks, etc.), there are group rides nearly day from somewhere and many more on the weekends, mostly hitting the Santa Monica range. Check Serious Cycling, Conejo Valley Cyclists, Newbury Park Bike Shop et al.
    [insert clever quote here]

  20. #20
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    I'm from L.A. and live in San Diego and from my perspective, Santa Barbara is the place I'd want to spend the most time cycling.
    Heck, I'd even go up Gibraltar one day and go up Painted Cave and down Gibraltar the next. It's fantastic up there.
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

  21. #21
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    My Vote = Stay in Pasadena - you can hit Angeles Crest easily, GMR/GRR is about a 30 min drive, and Calabassas/Malibu canyons are 40 mins (start your rides on the canyon side - Las Virgenes - and head toward the beach). Westin in downtown is walking distance to restaurants in Old Town. Bike shops - InCycle in Pasadena and out in San Dimas (near GMR) and Bike Effect in Santa Monica or Franco Bikes in Newbury Park (canyon side - has weekend shop rides). 3 hours is plenty of time to get some great rides in around those areas!
    _______

  22. #22
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    Loved riding in Socal last year, even if it was the last two days of a three week trip. Got in both sides Palomar Mountain and then GMR/GRR to Mt Baldy on the day I flew back to Australia...

    Could quite happily stay in the area for two or three weeks to escape our winter. I usually escape the southern hemisphere around August - September. Is it still too hot then?
    http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au

  23. #23
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    August /September is the hottest time of the year, but hey, it's a dry heat.

    It's an ideal time for the Eastern Sierra. The bugs and the Tstorms are gone by mid August. The summer crowds are gone in early September after Labor day..

  24. #24
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    Is Angeles Crest Highway rideable now? I saw this post here
    Caltrans Has Ruined the Angeles Crest Highway ? BikingBrian

    And according to the comments it looks like the surface is still pretty bad? Anybody been up there lately and can comment? It sounds like a great ride normally but if the surface is really that bad I'd definitely consider doing it another time...

  25. #25
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    A good friend lives in Pasadena and rides it pretty much every weekend - and is planning on going up tomorrow morning. He said it is fine - although after all this rain there is likely to be some mud an debris!
    _______

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