A busy training schedule often leaves me devoid of fun and memorable rides. It’s easy to get caught up into the “schedule” at the expense of enjoyment. Last Monday, however, was different.
The first two nights of Passover had just ended. With four days off of work, I was feeling well-rested and eager to go for a long ride. Surprisingly, I was able to maintain my predominantly plant-based diet throughout the festivities of Passover. While everyone else enjoyed brisket and chicken, I ate huge salads, steamed vegetables and the like.
My normal Monday ride is a loop out to Topanga Canyon via Sepulveda. Sometimes I will ride up Old Topanga, sometimes (if I have a little extra time) I will head up Fernwood to Saddle Peak. Today, I decided to extend the ride a little further and head out to Malibu Canyon and up Piuma to Saddle Peak.
Over the past month, I have lost about ten pounds, and this was immediately apparent as I shot over Sepulveda without using the small chainring. It was windy up at the top, but I laughed as a guy in a convertible passed me on the way down the other side, screaming “41 mph!”. I wanted to catch him and let him know that I am normally braking to keep it under 50!
The weather was perfect – mid 60’s and little wind (except in the canyon). The ride up the coast seemed effortless, despite my power meter telling me I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I ate dates and trail mix (cashews, almonds, cranberries and chocolate chips) and started my way up Malibu Canyon.
Above, you can see the beautiful view of Malibu as you start up Malibu Canyon. I sped along, arriving at Piuma Road 15 minutes faster than expected.
Piuma is truly a classic Southern California climb. Starting at about 600 feet of elevation, you wind your way up a quiet road with beautiful vistas of the Santa Monica Mountains during the first half, and the Pacific Ocean and mountains during the second half. It is a pretty consistent climb of 5-8% for about 4.75 miles up to the first summit at 2200 feet with minimal traffic.
This is the view down to Malibu Canyon from about 1500 feet.
After the first summit, you get a one mile reprieve as you descent 250 feet down to Schueren Road. Unfortunately, this just means you have to climb that 250 feet and then some, as you ascend to Saddle Peak at 2350 feet. This last section can get hot as you move away from the ocean breezes and hit the inland temperatures.
There are four ways up to Saddle Peak: Piuma/Schueren, Las Flores/Schueren, Fernwood, and Stunt. Las Flores is crazy steep, with extended pitches in the 14-16% range. I usually go up Fernwood and descend back down Stunt (I have never actually climbed Stunt, the tamest of the climbs). Today, I topped out at Saddle Peak and immediately started down Stunt. There is a wonderful driveway about 1/2 mile down where the home-owner has set up a water fountain for cyclists. I took this opportunity to refill my bottles and enjoy an apple while admiring the view into the San Fernando Valley.
I then headed down the roller coaster, back over 7-minute hill (that takes me considerably longer than seven minutes!) towards Woodland Hills. Again I was amazed at how good I felt on this last climb. Usually, this is a tough one, but today it was amazingly easy.
My usual stop is the Corner Bakery at the Topanga Canyon Mall, and today was no different. A few birds joined me as I enjoyed a bowl of Tomato Basil soup and OJ.
I made quick work of the 15 miles back across the Valley to home. Definitely an enjoyable ride that I hope to do again soon. Anyway want to join me?