Sand Canyon Fire a Familiar Spot for Cyclists

SandCanyon

The Sand Canyon Fire has caused a great deal of destruction and continues to wreak havoc leaving it impossible to properly assess the extents of its damage.

We know the fire has charred land, ruined property and affected lives, but people have been asking me about the impact from the cycling angle so I’ll speak to my expertise.

I have never made a list of my most favorite places to ride, but going out along Little Tujunga would rank near the top.

Little T

Enjoying the solitude of Little Tujunga

It’s challenging, scenic and very quiet. Even motorcycles don’t come around too often and when they do, you can hear them coming from miles away.

This year, we were even graced to have the Tour of California roll through the heart of it.

TOC16_18

Rapid cycling fans line Little Tujunga Canyon for Stage 2 of the ATOC

On top of a great adventure into the Santa Clarita Valley, riding up to Camp 9 is a special option as well. Coming from Bear Divide, the road opens up to a panoramic view of the valley before peaking at this Fire Station campus where the firemen are friendly, you can grab some water and watch the helicopters take off right in front of you.

Climbing to Camp 9 from Sylmar on May Canyon is another road that while a little bumpy and dirt at the top, is a fun ascent that’s free of cars.

 

Biking up May Canyon

Now, most of the area I just described is a blackened representation of one of my favorite refuges.

As the San Gabriel Mountains are dotted with scars from previous fires, I know it will take years for the area to fully recover.


I heard news of the fire Friday afternoon just hours after I drove Highway 14 on my way to the Sherman Pass Road Race.

Driving through Lancaster on the way back Saturday evening, I had never seen in an area as caked in ashes that it almost felt like snowfall.

I could see the flames reaching high as I passed Spring Canyon, but I would see more responders five miles down the road near Sand Canyon.
It looked like a military exercise with all the planes and helicopters criss crossing.

 

Camp9

Normally, you can just cycle up next to the helicopters at Camp 9

Just a few hundred feet below Camp 9, I could see the flames inching up right where the choppers normally settle.

Looking over at Placerita Canyon Road, officers had closed off access to residents even though a number were waiting with horse trailers to save their animals lives.

I last rode the lower part of Little Tujunga a couple of weeks ago and have been eager to go deeper, but any trip now will have a guilty curiosity to see what we’ve lost.

That time will come, but until then let’s hope all the families and firefighters involved can return home safely sooner than later.