November 2010 SoCal Rivendell Ride – Santiago Peak OC

This ride had been in the works for almost a year.  Noel, on of the group from Orange county had Suggested this as a big ride, but it was in the early spring and there were few takers as the days were getting hotter.  As the summer time and back to school business started to fall back into its own rhythm, the momentum for this ride started to gather back some of its steam.  The date was set for November 13, and it was initially looking like there was going to be a relatively big turnout, almost 10.  By friday night people were dropping out, illness, injury, and I think a few may have been intimidated by the elevation profile.

For this ride I had chosen my Rivendell Roadeo, with a low 30/28 gear combination.  Not sure if this was brave or silly considering the elevation gains planned for the day.  The only thing I changed from my standard set up on the bike for the ride was the front tire.  I went with a 35 mm Schwalbe Marathon XR for the added durability on the front end while heading into an area likely to have goathaed thorns and sharp rocks on the downhill side.  I had a well broken in Jack Brown on the rear with a spare in my bag.  I can handle a rear flat on the way down, but hate losing the front tire on dirt going fast, it has never gone well in the past. 

The day started early for me as I was traveling the furthest, 120 miles, to get there.  The price you pay for associating with guys who generally live 2 to 4 counties south of you.  The weather was crystal clear and I was driving past wide blue skies fringed by the ocean and my own local mountain ranges.  The travel and new adventure bug had bitten and I was on my way, down the HWY 1 along the coast, to the 10 and then the 5 deep through parts of industrial Los Angeles that were so far from my intended goal.  Once past Anaheim you could start to see the mountains and the excitement was building, this was going to be a good day. 

We all met up to start the ride in the small town of Silverado in eastern Orange County.  Even with Santa Ana conditions the wind and temperatures were very pleasant at the lower elevations.  The group totaled out at 5: Doug, David, James, Jenny and myself.  This has to be one of the most amazing kept secrets in Orange County, it is in the bottom of a tree-lined valley houses up both sides and a small little western town as you head up into the mountains along Silverado Canyon Rd on the way to Maple Springs. 

The town gives way to a single paved lane into the national park.  The whole way is steady but manageable climbing. 

The pave gives way to dirt somewhere near the transition to Maple Springs road.  This is a jeep track and therefore open to vehicular traffic.  We did encounter some 4x4s, but everybody was pleasant and fairly respectful, even the kids with coolers full of beer. 

Shockingly there were only a handful of people making use af such a spectacular resource in such a densely populated area.  We all pressed up the hill at a respectable pace, sure to take breaks along the way for food, water, pictures and to just enjoy the space.  I love the fact that these group rides actually slow me down a bit, when I do this on my own I am wasted by the end, but with the group and taking breaks the whole day is more fun and less exercise.  As altitude gained the views became more expansive.  Almost all of the eastern LA basin and the mountain ranges beyond were visible. 

Onward and upward we made it to the saddle with the Harding truck Trail.  From the saddle there were clear views of Orange county and Catalina Island offshore.  The weather was much cooler than at the lower elevation and the wind was howling.  The decision was made to forgo the out and back leg to the summit and complete the loop along Harding Truck trail.  A few hours of climbing gave way to over an hour of what seemed like endless clean fire road bombing downhill. 

The trail came to an end at the small town of Modjeska.  Back on the pavement it was time ot complete the loop back to the cars. 

Thanks to Doug for putting together a detailed map. . Five hours of riding, 25 miles and over 3800 ft of climbing not too bad.

We capped the ride with a meal and some liquids at the Silverado Cafe, then back into the car for one of the most beautiful sunsets and then the slog through LA back home. 

The company and the ride made the drive well worth it. The bikes and riders all performed well. Not a single mechanical for the whole group and only one minor spill. Also, a big pat on the back for Jenny who had never ridden anything like this ever proper to this ride. Welcome to the world of underbiking.  Next group ride is December 11, Dirt Mulholland. . While the group is based around Rivendell owners, this is not really an exclusive thing, if you are thinking of trying out the world of road bikes on dirt, it is going to be a good time.

Full Photo set:

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