(This is Part One of a Series of Three Riding in the Sierra National Forest)
We’re fortunate that the San Gabriel Mountains serves Los Angeles as a mini-Sierra Nevadas, but sometimes you need the real thing.
Surprisingly, my exposure to this vast and variable range has been far more limited than you’d imagine and my racing success is even worse.
Still, I know there’s a lot of magic to be had, but even with the internet providing a good amount of information you don’t really know what you’re getting into until you’re there.
Two years ago, I did a little detour along the foothills which was nice, but was missing the majesty I was hoping for.
I always wanted to go deeper, but was worried about the logistics of winding water or riding on dangerous roads.
This summer, my friend Brian was heading to Europe for another six month long plus vacation and going for a weekend trip felt like the proper send off.
With my constant looking at Strava heat maps, I was convinced a return was needed, but at a bit higher elevation.
Shaver and Huntington Lakes sat a few thousand feet above my previous excursion and the promise of more trees and rock outcroppings sealed the deal.
I planned the routes which included two days of riding with a total of 14k feet of climbing and if a third day happened too, then so be it.
Here’s Day One of our trip that included a four hour drive before unraveling our legs down to Million Dollar Road:
The Central Valley is filled with uneventfulness. I’ve passed Bravo Farms a couple of times previously enough to have a look inside hoping it to me a mini-Wall Drug. Meh…I guess…
This was our little cabin we AirBNB’d. We each had our own bedroom and was pretty reasonably priced for a June rental. I may be back…
Starting off our clockwise loop, we headed down Highway 168 which is great for doing downhill, but climbing up would be a bit of a problem with the amount of traffic and the narrow width.
We made right turn onto Auberry Road, the only redundancy from my previous trip. It starts with a great view of the Sierras before eight miles of long term handlebar gripping on the descent.
We were going so fast, we almost missed the turn onto Jose Basin Road. Thank god I remembered this sign from the last trip…
Parts of the road crossed paths along an earlier rail line that served the lumber industry at the turn of the century.
Homes were scarce along this stretch, but had character…
We were only climbing at a slight rate, but started to get views down below. At that time, we had to head down below on the narrow and slightly rutty Italian Bar Road to continue our loop.
Million Dollar Road is closed to cars, but open to us. We even heard a few people playing down by the river near the start.
I have that key somewhere….
It can be more closed for some than others…
Million Dollar Road is in fabulous shape, but the difficulty is staying on not letting your eyes wander too much…
…or else you can fall down this!
Looking at this formation, I couldn’t help to think these were cousins of the others in Yosemite Valley.
There were a couple of these bridges that were unrideable and tough to cross on cleats…..
….but the payoff was awesome.
About as fresh as you’re going to get it.
Coming out of Million Dollar Road featured passing by a few those of the supporting infrastructure.
Some of the buildings down there would have made great hotels.
And the climb got steeper…
We made a right onto Huntington Lake Road, but still had a couple miles left of climbing.
At least the last part was downhill.
We made a couple of stops at Ken’s Market which had ample supplies of what you need.
Nice to have this sunlight at the end of a ride.
We bearly were able to get dinner.
Shaver Lake Pub n Grub had a CiclaValley approved list of locally brewed beers.
(Part Two: Big Creek / Huntington Lake / Kaiser Pass)