Formerly known as the "eco-friendly bicycling photographer" of Long Beach. I've since traveled 10,000 miles through the US as PathLessPedaled.com. I now find myself in the US bike epicenter - Portland. Join me as I re-enter the working world to save for the next adventure.
My friend Chris Quint is a long time cyclist and since I've known him, he's been telling me about Turnbull Canyon and the great climbing and dirt roads. Well, today I finally took him up on his offer in hopes of finding some Rivendell-ish riding, if you know what I mean. In Los Angeles, the only dirt road you'll typically find is an unpaved driveway in the hood or an unkempt and overgrown parking lot.
We took a few buses to get from Long Beach to Whittier (had breakfast with bacon along the way) and made our way to Turnbull. What he had in mind, of course, was to forgo the regular paved road and hit some dirt fire roads. So we rode up to a white fence and hit the dirt.
This was actually the first bit of fire road riding I've done on my Surly and the new tires I got for it (Panaracer 26x1.75) so I was eager to see how it would perform. The road started straightforward enough with some hardpacked dirt that you could probably even ride with road tires.
After a few minutes, the packed dirt slowly deteriorated into more loose and less forgiving terrain. My front wheel started skating a bit trying to find traction and I had to re-correct the course with some body english. Perhaps the most difficult part was getting back on a bike in such steep loose stuff. If you got on too slow your rear wheel would spin out in the dirt. It took a bit of timing but I got a better grasp of it.
We climbed up the dirt (I was in my lowest gear most of the way...Chris was using his "mountain tamer", a 4th chainring with a 16t cog) and pushed up some parts until we reached the top that afforded great views of what seemed like ALL of Los Angeles. You could see downtown LA, the cities in the San Gabriel Valley and on a clear day, you could also see Catalina and the Hollywood sign (so Chris told me since it was so smoggy).
After taking in the view, we descended down a street called Descending which I was glad we were going downhill on because it was friggin steep! Then we found our way to Turnbull Canyon (the paved road) and went up and over one more time for good measure. While steep, it seemed easy after riding uphill on dirt roads.
All in all, it was some good riding. There seemed like there were quite a few more dirt paths to explore so I will definitely be going out there again.