VIDEO – Choose your own adventure: LA Tourist Race

Year two of the LA Tourist Race launched Saturday as a couple hundred riders converged on Golden Saddle Cyclery for the first big ride of the year.

With gravelers, mountain bikers and combined setups on hand, riders were flexed to hammer across the San Gabriels or packed up to enjoy a perfect day of January weather.


LA Tourist Race 2020 #1


Part of the adventure was choose your own because no route was given, but four specific checkpoints within the Angeles National Forest riders had to navigate.

No matter what route you picked, it was going to be roughly a century of miles and at least 10k of climbing unless you had a helicopter.


Jamming down Grizzly Flats


Completing it would be a sufferfest which is why I’m glad I had the built-in excuse of being filmed for an interview that afternoon.

Still, the idea of connecting the dots most efficiently was intriguing, especially constructing a route around possible snow.


Coming. Or Going.


During the week, I went back and forth between friends debating the best route, but I live with the Indiana Jones mantra, “It’s not the years, but the mileage.”

There’s two rules that I thought were imperative: When climbing, choose pavement over dirt and when off-road, try to keep the grade in single digits as much as possible.


The sunny side of Josephine Peak


You may not feel it at the time, but when you disobey these guidelines they’ll hit you exponentially later in the ride.

That’s why I thought going clockwise up Angeles Crest Highway and it’s steady 6%-7% grade would be preferable to steepness of Mount Lowe or guessing the shape Rincon Red Box Road was in.

Off the start, I stayed with the lead group partially to get ahead of everyone to film for Gravel Bike California (video coming soon), but probably because I can’t help myself.


A lot of tarmac time too


Right after passing the entrance to Angeles National Forest, my camera case fell out costing me a minute from the front to retrieve it.

Since I wasn’t doing the whole ride, I emptied the tank to catch back up to the front only to be dropped when I got there.

Oh well.


A lot of tarmac time too


Really though, this allowed me more time to enjoy the spectacle of people pushing their limits or enjoying their journey in this wilderness wonderland.

The Radavist was already there waiting on Grizzly Peak snapping pics before leaving to get the jump on Josephine Peak.

You could see even in this short section who was adept at going up and who had the skills coming down.


If it’s sky you want


I rode the highway to the next checkpoint with fixie aficionado Brian Dunsmoor (who I also bought my road bike off of) who is one of the few that has the strength to pull this off.

Reaching Clear Creek, he flipped his hubs while I started making my way up.

Strangely, I had never been on this road, but the steepness was an after thought next to the nature.


Grip it and…


The more you ride in the San Gabriel Mountains, the more you connect the dots and having Mount Disappointment, Strawberry Peak and Pacifico Mountain around was a fresh way to reference the area.

Trying to make it back home by noon, I zipped down ACH with still riders coming up for the first checkpoint.

Getting home, I was feeling my earlier effort a little bit, but looking posts from people who completed the whole ride made the pain go away.

The next LA Tourist Race is on Feb 22nd, but a lot of us are curious about what Mike Kalenda has in store on April 4th which has an intimidating 24 hours to complete.

Who knows, but that sums up the adventure spirit of the LA Tourist Race.


Peace, love and dirty dirt