As I sat at home fresh off of my Christmas S24O ride, I noticed my social network blowing up with updates from a few people. Errin Vasquez of FrontageRoads.com who started the Festive 500, a biking event from 12/24/13 to 12/31/13 in which participants attempted to record 500 km during this time period, teamed up with Russ Roca and Laura Crawford of PathLessPedaled.com to ride the Verdugo Mountains. The Instagram updates were fast and furious and with every vista view and dirt roads, I was determined to head up there as soon as possible.
I messaged both Russ and Laura to see if they were going back and if they were, I was interested in joining them. I didn’t get a response until the evening of 12/27/13. Lucky for me, they were heading back on Saturday, 12/28/13 and we had our meeting time set at 10 am. Honestly, if they did not make it, I was planning to go up there regardless, but it was good to have guides who have been up there before.
The Verdugos is an isolated mountain range located just north of Burbank and Glendale, south of La Crescenta and Sunland. Sang Hyun and I decided to drive up there with our touring bikes loaded in the back of his truck and discovered that the mountain range was a favorite for local mountain bikers and hikers. We definitely witnessed this first hand as we pulled up to the La Tuna trailhead and saw that the parking was completely occupied by cars and trucks.
We got there just in time to see both Russ and Laura roll down the road. They were warmed up after riding over from where they were staying in Sunland. This was the first time Sang Hyun got to meet The Path Less Pedaled and my second meeting since the Bicycle Tourism Conference in November. We are both fans of their blog and have learned a lot about bicycle touring through their posts and videos for the past few years. In a way, they are pseudo-celebrities in our circle of reference.
Russ and Laura immediately got to work and started their craft and began filming right after we got our bikes ready. They shot a quick introduction and interviewed both Sang Hyun and myself. This was the first time we were both interviewed by another person on camera. I can’t say we were comfortable to be on the other side of someone else’s camera, but I suppose this is good practice for our own videos.
We began our climb up the Hostetter Fire Road with constant instructions from Russ. This gave us plenty of opportunities to take breaks as we slowly made our way to the top of the mountain. With each pedal stroke, we gained more and more elevation and the views became better and better. The initial ascent was the toughest as the terrain was steep and unforgiving. We eventually made it through and was left speechless from both the beautiful view and the slow ascent. We spent about 30 minutes hanging out at Wardens Grove which gave us a long break to take in the scenery, snack, and update our social networks under the shade of trees.
We took the same route back down, which was uneventful as we just let gravity do its part to pull us down the hill. We had to be mindful of the bumps and cracks in the road to make sure we made it down without incident. Our hands got the most work-out from this since we were gripping our bicycle brakes all the way down. It took a matter of 10 minutes or so to get down to the parking lot.
Up, Down, and In-N-Out
Russ coined this ride the “Up, Down, and In-N-Out” ride for a reason. We just finished the up and down part, so now it was time for the In-N-Out part. That’s right! We rode to the nearest In-N-Out location and enjoyed a much deserved post-ride meal. It was a deliciously perfect way to end our afternoon exploring and hanging out with our bicycle touring mentors.