Up, Down and In-N-Out
Distance: 12 miles
Elevation: +1932 feet
Riding Conditions: Some road riding, mixed terrain, fire roads
Ideal Bike: Gravel bike, touring bike, mountain bike, fat tire road bike
Tire Size: Recommend at least 32-35mm, 40mm ideal
GPS: Ride with GPS link
After a busy and successful Bicycle Tourism Conference, where we made some great new acquaintances and reconnected with colleagues we headed South via Amtrak to where I grew up in Los Angeles. Whenever, we visit with my parents, I’m always excited at the opportunity to do some riding since they live just a few miles from Angeles Crest Forest and the Verdugo Mountains. Of course there is a bit of irony, since I remember in high school feeling bored because there was “nothing to do” in the Sunland/Tujunga area. This was before I discovered bicycling. Now, when we visit, its a bit of a cycling vacation if you can believe it.
One of our favorite short rides to do is what we’ve dubbed the “Up, Down and In-n-Out” ride because just as the name implies, there is a lot of climbing and descending ending conveniently at an In-n-Out. The Verdugos have been “discovered” the last few years since the interest in mixed terrain riding/gravel grinding has become popular. We enjoy it as a great short ride to stretch the legs and enjoy an awesome 360 degree view when the wind patterns allow.
What I personally love about it, is that it is this natural oasis right smack in the middle of the San Fernando Valley. There are some deep almost forested pockets where you can imagine for a second what this area looked like before the freeways and strip malls. It is a great ride for mental health when you’re tired of the urban jungle that is Los Angeles.
Here is a route that we’ve plotted from the In-n-Out on Foothill and Lowell. The first 2 miles (and last 2 miles) are on city streets, but the traffic seems to be fairly light and there are good sight lines and passing space. Once you cross the gate and hit the off-road portions it is essentially uphill until the top. In short order you’ll be tested with a punchy 15% ramp that lasts a few hundred feet. Once you get past that there is some (but not much) reprieve. Most sections hover above 7% with some more stretches in the 10-12% range. There is no traffic, so you can go as slow as you need. There are portions that are pretty rutted and sandy so you have to be a bit more present to navigate those parts. This is definitely a 30mm+ sort of ride with 42-45mm being optimal, but if you are a skilled rider you could do it with 28mm tires.
You’ll know you are near the top when you see the radio towers. A lot of the ride is fairly sun exposed, so on a hot day it pays to have at least 2 water bottles. Once you make it to the towers, you can enjoy a flatter section on the ridge with amazing views of downtown Los Angeles in the distance. There is a little area signed as Plantation Lateral that makes for a good picnic with a bench that could not have been better placed. Once at the top you can explore some more, or if you’re hungry by then, ride down hill and head for the In-n-Out!
This is a great ride if you only have a few hours and want some traffic free climbing in or if you want to break in your new gravel grinding machine. It is also a great introduction to the riding in the Verdugos if you’ve never ridden there before (and did we mention there is an In-n-Out at the end of the ride?) Sunland/Tujunga will probably never be a true cycling destination, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some true gems hidden in the San Fernando Valley.
(Check out our blog post about our visit to the Verdugos back in January 2014)
We’re about to hop a plane today to head down to San Diego for the National Bicycle Tourism Conference (#biketourism2015 for Twitter folks) in San Diego. It should be a fun and informative conference and will give us a chance to connect with both our bicycling and tourism colleagues. From there, we’re going to the Los Angeles area to ride the Verdugos, visit with family and celebrate my birthday (yay!).
From there, we are on sort of a road trip (with a car unfortunately and bikes in tow) making our way back to Portland, Oregon. We have rough plans to stop in Redding, CA to do some #bikefishing with some locals then stop in some Shasta area communities to interview folks behind the new Great Shasta Rail Trail. We’ll be posting on our various feeds (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and if you want to meet up or give us suggestions of what to check out, let us know!
With all the new fancy rackless bikepacking gear out there, the inexpensive but highly utilitarian basket seems to have been forgotten in the bicycle touring world. What a shame! We’ve been touring with a basket for the last two years and it is a great way to carry a load that offers many advantages. Our basket of choice is the venerable Wald 137 which seems to be just the right size for our loads. Laura straps hers to a Globe Mini Porteur and I strap mine to a SOMA Mini Front rack. Check out our video below for 3 reasons why you should try a basket on your next tour! For more videos, subscribe to your Bicycle Travel Channel.
We had the great pleasure of meeting the Sarah and Tom Swallow just a few days after they finished their epic gravel ride across the US. Even though they were still mentally processing the trip, they were nice enough to stop by for an interview. It was our first time interviewing people at our “studio” so there were some technical difficulties and I’m a little rusty with the questions at first, but as we got going we got to the good stuff. I decided the best way to share the vid, would be a sort of Youtube podcast beneath their awesome photos. If you go to the Youtube video page, there are time notations so you can jump to specific topics.
To see their equipment list and their written account of the trip, visit their site here.
We’ve long been dumbfounded that with the popularity of bicycling, bike travel, bike touring and bikepacking that there currently isn’t a single show on TV about it. Clearly, there are far more people interested in cake making and what is sold in Vegas pawn shops. We figured, we could either wait until something magically appears or try to make our own. We’ve had a Youtube channel since the very beginning of our adventures in 2009. The early videos are pretty rough and they are a little embarrassing to watch now, but they capture where we were at the time.
Fast forward to the present and we’ve matured as people, our video production skills have vastly improved and we do professional client work. We’ve made the decision to reinvigorate our Youtube Channel with content we’d like to see. Short well-produced reviews, helpful how-to’s, interviews with interesting cyclists and recommendations for bicycle destinations. We’ve been slowly updating videos the last three weeks (hopefully you’ve noticed!) and have been working out a formula and tenor that suits us. I think we’ve got it to a pretty good place now. Expect some flubs here and there as we try different things, but we feel good enough about it to formally make an announcement.
So, in short, welcome to our Bicycle Travel Channel! Check out the new reviews, tell us what you like and what you don’t and what you’d like to see. Youtube is new-ish waters for us to navigate, so we could use some direction. If you like the vids and want to see some more, show your support by subscribing and share the vids!
Bells are a handy accessory for the bike commuter and bike tourist, especially when you’re riding on paths with lots of pedestrians and other cyclists. If you have multiple bikes, moving a bell from bike to bike can be real fiddly requiring tools, special bands to accommodate handlebars, etc., The Osaka Roadie Bell is a small bell that you can toollessly move from bike to bike. Watch the vid to see how it works!
In this video review we look at the Porlex Mini Grinder. Regarded as one of the best portable manual grinders in the market, we take a look at its pros and cons. For a more in-depth, written review, check out this post that we wrote a few years ago.
The first step so you can Leave No Trace on your next bike adventure is to be prepared. Which often means having an assortment of bags to carry out food wastes, trash, etc., Just having balls of plastic bags in a pannier can get a little unwieldy and can cause them to get punctured or torn by your other gear. Here is a simple tip to fold them down neatly so you always have a few in your pannier or jersey pocket!
Clear here to visit our Bicycle Travel Channel and view more bike touring and travel vids!
In this video we take a close look at Porcelain Rocket’s Micro Pannier, an interesting hybrid pannier that combines bikepacking techniques with a bike touring form factor! If you’re in Portland, you can buy them in-store at VeloCult. Interested in more bike travel related videos? Subscribe to our Youtube Channel!
In this video, we show multiple ways to carry a fly rod on your bicycle using simple bungees or our new favorite, ROK Straps (these things are awesome). We also show a simple technique to carry longer rods like switch rods or trout rods that only break down to two or three pieces. Be sure to visit the rest of our Bicycle Travel Channel for more vids!