Road Ride Report Bear Divide & Camp 9

Discussion in 'The Roadie Hangout' started by AKAlan, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. AKAlan

    AKAlan Member

    Dec 28, 2007
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    Film Payroll Accountant
    North Hollywood
    It's been a week since the last comment in the Roadie Hangout so I thought I'd post a ride report from this past Sunday. It being Easter Sunday there weren't many people out (fewer riders passing me :lol:) and the weather was overcast, cool, and not incredibly windy. My original plan was to drive up to Santa Clarita and ride up Francisquito to Elizabeth Lake, over to Bouquet and back, but my daughter had woken up at 4am coughing and crying so I slept in and got a late start. Time for plan B, a shorter, closer ride- drive to Sylmar and ride Little Tujunga over Bear Divide to Placerita Cyn and back to Sylmar via Sierra Hwy, a 35 mile ride I've done several times.

    The first section riding down Foothill to Little Tujunga is the most dull and is the only part with much traffic and stop lights, luckily it's mostly downhill and it's nice to get it out of the way early. The neighborhoods may not be the newest and cleanest, but I always feel safe and most of the shoulders are wide. For those interested, this takes you right past where the Rodney King beating took place. Not exactly a stop on the Hollywood tour, but a small point of interest none the less. After 6 miles, a left turn onto Osborne is a complete change of scenery and where the climbing begins. The next seven miles is a gradually increasing grade past ranches, a forest service station, a gun range and a wildlife sanctuary each with their distinctive sounds. This is where the traffic thins out, a few cars and some motorcycles but that's about it. After 1550 feet of climbing and passing Mendenhal Ridge Road comes my favorite descent of the ride, steep and sharp enough turns to keep my attention focused. I try not to think about what might happen if I get a flat while carving through the canyon, calculating how much speed to scrub before hitting each turn. Unfortunately it doesn't last long until the climbing starts again, this time it feels steeper. 1.9 miles and 650 vertical feet later I arrive at Bear Divide, the popular place for cyclists and motorcylists to rest, enjoy the view, and trade BS but today it's quiet- there's only a group of three cyclists there who can't be bothered to even give me the "head nod of recognition" and since my legs are feeling good, I make the snap decision to continue climbing to Camp 9.

    Camp 9 is a fairly remote fire station that sits on the Santa Clara Divide Road; if you were to start riding the fire road at the end of San Fernando Road in Santa Clarita, you would eventually ride through it. I've had to wait for helicopters to take off before I could pass on previous rides. This adds another 3.7 miles and 1150 feet from Bear Divide but the views are amazing, even on a cloudy day like this one. The drop off the side of the road in some places seems to be a sheer drop for thousands of feet looking down onto Pacoima Reservoir and Sylmar where I started my ride and at the camp the views go forever on both sides of the mountain. The firemen up top were in the process of cooking lunch, giving me a friendly wave and good morning while I sat and ate my raisins and walnuts, looking down onto Placerita Canyon where I would be in a matter of twenty minutes. The elevation is high enough that I'm getting pretty cold so I don't hang out for long and head back down. The road is maintained and gets fast, much like the road to the top of Mt. Wilson but without the fine gravel they put down for snow. I fight the temptation to build too much speed, things could get very bad very fast on exposed roads like this, but there are several sections where I feel it's safe enough to let it go. It doesn't take much time to get back to Bear Divide and there's another cyclist who just came up Little Tujunga and stopped to snack. We exchanged pleasantries and I'm soon bombing down Sand Canyon with less than usual head and cross winds making it fast and fun. Hanging a left onto Placerita Canyon and back into residential areas, more traffic, and another rider who blasts past me on a climb and then seems to explode soon after. That power meter on his back wheel didn't seem to help him manage his power efficiently and I get the satisfaction of passing someone while riding a bike worth a fraction of theirs (petty, I know). Taking the left onto Sierra Highway, the headwinds are there, but not as bad as usual and I try to decide my post ride meal as I get back to my car.

    Distance - a nice even 40
    Elevation gain - 4920'
    Post ride meal - Pad Thai


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