For our third ride, we decided to leave the concrete jungle of LA and explore the Hintergrund of Malibu. Most of the world associates Malibu with her amazing beaches and ocean vistas, but for the uninitiated, there are some serious mountains around there. As usual, we included some hidden gems in the route, some of those gems are so hidden that most local cyclists had only heard of them let alone actually seen or ridden them.
First things first, we fueled up with coffee and fresh pastries at the Deus Emporium. Then throwing a leg over our bikes, we took the short roll through Venice and Santa Monica before being presented with the first intimidation of the day.
The California Incline. Normally it’s unbelievably crowded with cars and definitely not the best place for a solo cyclist to be on, but for the combined fact that it was early morning and we were rolling more than a hundred deep, both of which played in our favor and allowed us to enjoy one of the best views over Santa Monica Bay as we headed out towards Malibu.
After a wonderful, albeit short ride up the world-famous Pacific Coast Highway, we reached our first gem, Big Rock Drive. Some call it a soul crusher, some say that it is one of those climbs that you have to avoid at all costs, neither of which fazed us!
The first part is fairly mellow with gradients reaching around 17% at times, where it gets really interesting though, is when you reach the gates. For cars, it is a dead end, but nothing can stop an ambitious and adventurous group of cyclists. We dismounted and clambered over the gates which wasn’t in itself too bad, unbeknownst to us then, the bad was still ahead of us.
After about a mile and a half the paved road suddenly transitioned into gravel and the pitches increased up to 24%. More than one of us made the mistake of stopping along the steepest sections to take a breath, needless to say, a walk ensued for a bit as it is virtually impossible to get going again when it’s that steep. The number one question within the group was “Who’s idea was this?”. That was a secret we kept!
With the hardest part of the climb behind us and we’d once again reached a smooth paved road, we continued the ascent until we reached the very top of the mountain, Saddle Peak, an unbelievably famous and breathtakingly beautiful rest stop in the Santa Monica Mountains. We met up with out SAG car there and it was thankfully loaded with ice cold Corsa Co hydration tonics. Funnily enough, no one was complaining about how hard the climb was, in fact, everyone was sharing their own stories of how they’d conquered the climb and how much fun it was.
After a short descent immediately followed by a short but easy climb we reached the next tasty morsel on the menu, the twisty Piuma Road descent. Piuma Road is one of the go-to roads for local car and motorcycle clubs for a reason. It is incredibly good fun. A string of downhill smooth S-bends, where you barely have to use your brakes, it feels almost like a ride you’d find at Disney Land and the breather it gave us was just what we all needed after the climbing we’d done.
A sharp right off Piuma Road took us to our next gem, a road called Cold Canyon. They call it Cold Canyon for a reason. During the winter months, it is one of the coldest places in this neck of the woods, but this was summer, so we didn’t feel that. What we did feel, riding through the Cold Canyon, was a delightful experience. The road is lined along its length with green trees, interlinked beautiful ranches, and has an impeccable road surface. That is until the moment you hit the final section that throws you onto a 15-17% gradient and headfirst into 105F heat. Thankfully it was fairly short, but after having already climbed over 3000ft, everyone definitely felt it.
The rest was easy, a short ride along the iconic Mulholland Highway after which all we had to do was climb the pretty mellow, by comparison, Old Topanga Hill and the rest was all downhill from there. Straight to “home” for what some consider was the best part of the ride.
Everyone was so ready to enjoy some cold beers and food. Gigantic thanks to our friends at Firestone Walker Brewing Company who made sure that we had plenty for everyone. We all relaxed into an incredible time at the Deus Emporium, sharing stories over the top of beers and generally ruminating over what a remarkable day we’d had!
Massive thanks to everyone who came and we hope to see you all for the next one. Stay Tuned for number four!