Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Epic Rides; Azusa to Crystal Lake

So on Sunday, with Becca out of town at the USAT Aquathon Nationals I had the day to myself and I decided to take myself off plan and head back to the hills to get some altitude, get off of the trainer and out of the garage.

I had come across a segment on Strava that had peaked my interest;


I created the Course in Strava and downloaded it onto my Garmin Edge810. Had a reasonably early night and was on the road in pretty good order Sunday morning. Wheels were down around 9:00am. I rolled out of Asuza. The road soon turned upwards. The route could basically be broken down into three sections.


The first section contoured the edges of Morris and San Gabriel Reservoirs, this was more of a rolling section than pure climbing. For every minor climb you were rewarded with a descent. Pretty views of the Reservoirs along with a stark reminder of the drought that California has been experiencing for the last 5-6 years! Traffic-wise this was the busiest section although the drivers were all very courteous. There was an OHV area which explained all the trucks towing QuadBikes, Dirt Bikes and even the occasional Monster Truck! This covered the first 11 miles or so.

IMG_7742imageimage The next 4 miles is almost a transition area. You are roughly following the San Gabriel River but still climbing. It’s a climbing saddle that bridges Burro Canyon, Bichota Canyon, Lost Canyon and finally Maple Canyon. Ahead you can see the road going up and up…and up! There are a few camping grounds and a little bit of traffic but it’s pretty quiet. The most exciting thing I saw was two guys hunting dragging a deer along the road. The landscape is changing; the trees are thinning out and the ground cover shows more exposed rock.

IMG_7728IMG_7729IMG_7734 The last 10 or so miles is the meat of the climbing, switchback after switchback. The accumulation is a little over 3000’ so it’s not crippling and you are rewarded with some spectacular views for your effort.

IMG_7774 You can see where you have come from and have a good 5-6 mile view back down the valley.
 IMG_7807IMG_7811IMG_7814IMG_7820IMG_7831IMG_7841 The vegetation changed again as I was reaching the tree line for this particular climb and there was more and more exposed rock. Now according to Strava I should have been able to follow the road all the way to the top and meet up with Highway 2 at Islip Saddle and onto Dawson Saddle but around mile 23


Clearly Garmin knew something I didn’t!

I came to a gate across the road. Not a little gate either, this was a full on “Road Closed” gate. I assumed the road was closed due to the winter but I found out later it was closed as the road was no more, several landslides had closed it off and there were sections of it missing!




I found this on Google Maps, it’s about 2 miles further on…closed for a reason!

I stopped at the parking lot to grab a photo and then headed back down making a slight detour to Crystal Lake where there was a shop at the camp ground to restock on fluids and round up the mileage to 25!


There was no sign of the Lake which is actually some ways off the road and looking online is pretty dried up! I was grateful for the refill as the forecasted weather was of course wrong! What was supposed to peak at 85f topped out over 100f in the lower miles and was well over 85f at the summit!

A nearly 3 hour ascent was reduced to a 1 hour descent as I flowed down the mountain back the way I came up back to the car!

So all in all a great day in the hills. The San Gabriel range is significantly bigger than the Santa Monica where I usually ride. I topped out at 5500’ for the day which is a good 2000” higher than Sandstone Peak which is the high point in the Santa Monica’s. It’s also a good hour’s drive away so I need to factor that into a day’s adventure. That said, based on this ride, the juice is well worth the squeeze!

Here is the Strava details and the same on VeloViewer

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