JPL Red Box shuttle ride

I got the idea for this adventure in the Spring when we rode out and back on Gabrielino. Lots of guys ‘shuttle ride’ this route. They meet at the bottom, pile into one truck, drive to the top, ride down and then drive back to the top for the first truck. Four additional motor vehicle trips on the narrow and windy Angeles Crest highway. Could we do this human powered without being irritatingly self-righteous?

(Cole took this photo. If you look close you can see the shadow from his mustache)

Easy. A group rides road 30 miles up Angeles Crest to Red Box (about 5000 ft elevation) towing mountain bikes. Another group trail runs 15 miles to Red Box. At the top group one passes the mountain bikes to group two who then ride the 15 miles of single track down to JPL.

To start I was up from 3am on 2 hours sleep and Max had stayed up the entire night. Brian rode out from El Segundo on his mountain bike (30 miles) and we met at JPL at 8am. I had posted the ride to Midnight Ridazz so we did not know who would show up. Our original plan was for Jack to ride road pulling the bikes with some sort of Rock Lobster rack, but that didn’t work out and Jack didn’t make it. Now Max is no slack rider, but he hasn’t been riding too much beyond commuting. Could he take 50 pounds of mountain bikes on the Big Dummy? Yes he can. With Michael on as support Max did an epic road ride with 50 pounds of cargo.

Brian and I set off on foot along the Arroyo-Seco to the Gabrielino. It’s a beautiful trail with stream crossings, boulders, canyons with full cover and exposed, dry ridges. I love it. Below Brian is picking some wild berries as the mountains we are about to run up loom in the distance. Yes, he is wearing his bike helmet. Said it was the easiest way to carry it.

Some switchbacks that we would soon be descending down.

Brian and I ran together the first 5 or so miles and then inevitably he dropped me. I ran almost all of the first 9 miles to Switzer Falls. There I begged some picnicing folk for water as I had run out about 45 minutes previous. The last 4 miles up were quite difficult, as expected. I hiked most of this section at a good clip and ended up at the top only 30 minutes or so after Brian; about four hours after we set off.

Brutal blister. I also rolled my foot as I was wearing some light weight running shoes. Duh.

Gabrielino is not an easy trail to ride down. For a number of miles the trail is between 1 or 2 feet wide with the mountain to one side and a huge drop to the other. Some sections are a little washed out (I like to bunnyhop them cause it’s easier than having to unclip and get off your bike).

We were back and forth with a group of three mountain bikers who were all really cool. They told us about a sweet swimming hole only a 1/4 mile off the main trail.

Brian and I were super tired and it was a tough decision. I think we made the right one. Cold cold water is a great remedy for aching muscles.

After 8 hours in the wilderness (just like a 9-5, only fun) we headed over to Pasadena to take the Gold Line to Chinatown. From here I had a short ride home and Brian, after buying some durian fruit, took the train back to El Segundo.

Max getting his well-deserved AdventureSnore.

Next time: I’d like to film this. It is so gorgeous back there and so accessible from Los Angeles. In my mind Sunday was a beautiful combination of DIY, adventure and wtf? Sure, there is an environmental component, but that is a secondary benefit to some friends getting together and thinking about new ways of exploring an amazing area and what is possible.

feel my addendum

Forgot to mention that that night, after Feel My Legs, Budge and I took the bus into downtown to see The Coup. We decided on the 14-minute bus trip cause 1) It was raining 2) Budge had raced and was feeling it 3) They don’t allow bags at the show space. We met up with Luz at an Indian spot just a few blocks away, ate some good food and headed to the show. The Coup are an amazing group and they performed as a live band. We left totally satisfied and headed over to Broadway St to get the bus back to East LA.

One came, we hopped on and sat in the back. Not more than a few blocks away we were startled by a van that ran a red light and smashed into the side of the bus! It hit near the front and moved the front-end of the bus into the next lane. We jumped out of our seats and checked to make sure everyone was okay and there were no injuries. Then we hopped out of the bus to check on the driver of the van. I was preparing for the worst because the van hit the bus without slowing down. We look into the work van and don’t see anything. Did the driver end up on the floor? In the back? No. Apparently in the ten seconds it took us to get out of the bus he had jumped out and ran down the street. He even remembered to close the door behind him.

Do we give chase? Part of me wanted to because as a cyclist I constantly get the sense that drivers feel there are no repercussions when they put others in danger. Here was an opportunity for vindication! In the end I decided against it. By now everyone else on the bus had wondered off, but we stayed with the freaking-out driver. The fire department arrived and were cool, checking for injuries, etc. Then the police showed up. Why do they always have to fulfill the stereotype of asshole cops? They demanded to see our I.D’s. ‘Do we have to?’, we ask. Of course you do they insist. Then they began to berate us on why we were being so secretive. Hello, every hear of privacy? This is the thanks we get for sticking around. Instead of looking for the driver they harass us.

The MTA inspector called a bus we had just missed to turn around and get us to take us home. Super nice of her. Home around 2am. Crazy.


In how many cities can you take a 20-min train ride to mountain bike trails? Thursday morning Budge wanted to take out his new single-speed 29er (fixed gears are so 2005. 2008 is all about SS 29ers) so we rode 10 minutes to Chinatown and hopped on the Gold Line to Pasadena. We ran into an urban planner friend of mine on his way to Pasadena for a meeting about their new ‘Bicycle Boulevard’. For us, we had a short jaunt through a neighborhood and we’re at JPL.

It’s a bit of everything back there. Long, dry climbs, with beautiful views. For the single-track it’s cold and wet with multiple stream crossings (record rain fall in LA has led to snow at high elevations and heavy flow in the rivers).

I pinch-flatted twice riding the cross bike (700×32 knobby-less tires), but otherwise, what a great way to spend a week-day morning! We rode back home along the Arroyo-Seco watershed past the Rose Bowl and through Highland Park. Budge tried to talk me into eating at Cinnamon Vegetarian, but I actually had to get to work.
His blog has some more photos.

The thermometer in our kitchen.
Who says it doesn’t get cold in LA?

Cross over?

In racing Cyclocross I should have some advantages. It is mostly off-road with some (slightly) technical sections, tight turns and running sections. I can ride in packs, throw elbows and my bike is decent. My first cross race went poorly, but I can blame that on the limited clearance on my bike. So for last race of the series I was ready to race.
I hopped on a commuter train out of Union Station that dropped me within a few miles of the Bonelli Park in San Dimas.
Because it was a UCI race, the 2.7 kilometer course had to start and end on pavement that was LONG with a 180-degree turn and a small incline. After that was a long slight downhill on gravel, then double-track before the grass sections and tight turns. On the first lap I stayed with the front group: it was tough, but I wasn’t completely blown-up. My plan was to break after the grass downhill that went off a curb into the pavement section. I wasn’t the only one with this idea and when a few others broke I tried to hang on but totally blew up. Done. Then I couldn’t shift into my big chain ring. I rode the next lap with a second pack, then couldn’t hang on through the soft, pseudo-mud sections.

After the second lap it wasn’t fun anymore. About this time Jack, Kyle, and Jim C. showed up and I could hear them yelling ‘Swarm!’ and other things to me. I have suffered through long races, but the kind of suffering that comes with super high output is so different. It wrecks you like nothing else. Concentrating enough to make the turns was tough. My whole body ached. And this is only a 35-minute race! At one point I got caught by a guy on a single-speed mountain bike. On the pavement. D’oh. 16th out of 23.

Sure, I have not trained at a high output level and it is a different sport, but man I thought I was going to do much better. Very humbling. Overall I am sold that Cyclocross is fun and I know what I have to do differently. Next year?

Jack, Jim C (both from Orange 20 Bikes) raced on fixed gear

Jim, Cole, Kyle and Jack (team beard?)

Jim C. tried to jump the barriers

Kyle on his way to 3rd in Single-speed B

Cyclocross- First Race

‘Well, it’s kind of like mountain biking, but you are on what looks like a
road bike and you have to hop these barrier things occasionally’

Sunday I raced my first cyclocross race. It was down in Palos Verdes, on the route of a great road ride called the PV loop. Had aspirations of riding there, but the threat of rain crushed them. Check this out though: I found an express bus leaving Union Station (8-min ride from home) that gets to the top of Hawthorne Drive in PV in 1hr and 10min. It’s 45-min in a car. From there I coasted a few miles downhill past the million dollar homes to the start.
There are two cyclocross series here the So Cal Cross Prestige Series and the Urban Cross Series. This was race 5 of 6 of the latter. Real cyclocross conditions in the mud and rain? Maybe for the later groups, but in the Beginner 4 race, which was first, it was pure peanut butter-like mud and mostly impassable. Instead of carrying the bike over a few barriers, I had to carry it over 75% of the course. The narrow clearance I have between my frame/fork and wheels only made it worse. I’d come to a stop pedaling down hill! The guys on mountain bikes were killing it. 25 racers started, 20 finished. I got 19th. New forks and back in two weeks?

Mud Bog

Water support for Cole (riding fixed)
3rd place in single speed ‘B’

Actual racing

Ride to the Ride

Ride to the Ride!

The Great Eddy Merckx was asked what three things
someone could do to be a better cyclist and he said
“Ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike”

Riding to the ride not only increases your mileage, fitness and experience, but each time you replace a car trip with a bike trip you:

Increase the visibility of cyclists: making the roads safer for everyone
Decrease pollution and smog: improving our air quality

Join us in improving the air and roads for cyclists by leaving your motor vehicle at home.

For more information on traveling by bike, see or the LA Bike Coalition’s Solution Revolution page.
This is a project brought to you by Swarm!

We need more bicycles in the streets. Who better to target than people already riding their bikes? The bicycle is far more than a recreational toy and I want to share that with others. Above is the text for a small flyer I am making to put on cars at the start of rides (or in Griffith Park, etc). I appreciate any feedback.