By: Franco Bicycles | April, 27, 2017
With all the recent rain storms passing through California, the mountains are greener than I can remember. I had a feeling some of the back roads would be closed due to all the rain this season. The only way to access these roads would be to hike or bike. I have camped in the Pine Mountain and Reyes Peak area numerous times, but always taken a motorized vehicle there. I figured there wouldn’t be a better time to try bike camping. Pedaling up to camp would be a whole new challenge.
I enlisted Dan to come tackle this challenge with me, since he has been bugging me to bike camp for a long time. The guys at Franco Bikes hooked me up with a Grimes Disc and prepared my bike with all the necessities the morning before. Chatting with them about logistics, we decided a water drop would be necessary at the closed gate 30mi into the ride. Jeff drove up the night before with water, which later on proved crucial.
The weather of our departure was clear and warm. We started in Ojai after a hearty lunch. I hadn't ridden in a few weeks so I knew this would be a challenge for me. Or at least I thought I knew. The route was entirely uphill, with minimal protection from the wind or sun. It was mid-week so the traffic was light. We were a little past halfway when I ran out of water.
I packed a water filtration system since I knew this would happen. The creek flowed more than I'd ever seen it. We refilled our water and, after a snack, started again. The further up we went, the more I realized how unprepared I was. A few rest stops later, we made it to the gate at Pine Mountain Ridge Road. We found the fresh gallons of water Jeff left for us and made a mental note to thank him. We ate some more and loaded up for the ride up the empty road.
The road was in worse condition than could be imagined. Mud slides, fallen trees and big rocks were strewn about. This part of the climb was a challenge in itself, being almost 6 miles long with about 2,000 feet in elevation gain. Now we had to find a clear path while we climbed. I was hurting pretty bad at this point. The weight of our gear and the lack of riding was not helping either.
Sundown was approaching and it was getting chilly. There were even some spots with snow still along the road. We made it to the site just in time to catch the sunset. The whole mountain top was clear. From the summit you can see out to the Pacific Ocean and the Channels Islands. After gathering wood for a fire, we warmed our sore muscles and we cooked up dinner before finally getting some rest.
The sunrise and clear skies greeted us the next morning. It was chilly, but refreshing in the pine trees. After packing up our camp, we put on as much warm clothes as we could bring for the descent back to Ojai. We both looked forward to this descent after yesterday’s seemingly endless climb to the top. Winding down the swooping turns of Highway 33 really is a treat. The Grimes handled like a dream as we dropped from 7,000 ft to 750 ft in no time. The first priority after arriving back in Ojai was getting some real food and more coffee in our system.
All in all, we rode 37 miles out with 7,136 ft of climbing the first day, and then descended our way back 37 miles with 900 ft of climbing the second day.
The Post-Ride Feast The Unending Climb Dan & Two Grimes Nature's Canvas The Dawn The Minefield Dropping Like A Rock