I was in Glendale for work this week, which is a rough enough commute that I stayed at a hotel Monday and Wednesday nights so that I'd only have to make the drive once a day.
Of course, the bike addict in me immediately seized on the opportunity: This means I have two evenings to kill, and I can bring my bike!
We've come a long way from the days of paper maps and cue sheets. The combination of Strava's route planning features and GPS devices made it insanely easy to find places to ride, map out planned routes, and load them onto my Garmin so that once I was on the bike, I just had to listen for the little burp from my Garmin that tells me I'm off course, and otherwise just enjoy the ride.
Glendale Sports Complex Ride
On Monday I parked at the Glendale Sports Complex and explored the ridges above. Fun switchbacks, and short, punchy climbs were the norm, as well as a fair bit of fire road climbing. I worked in as much singletrack as I could. Liz's Loop was a highlight: a sweet bit of singletrack looking north across Pasadena and La Canada Flintridge to the San Gabriel mountains.
I had a lot of fun on this loop, and very nearly returned on Wednesday. But I'm glad I didn't.
JPL Loop: Fern Up, El Prieto Cyn Down
This is a spectacular loop in Pasadena. I found it and rode it in the correct direction (clockwise) by blind luck. (The MTB Project has details on this exact loop, but I somehow found it the hard way, by tinkering with the Strava route building tool.)
Fern is a smooth single/doubletrack climb that countours up the west side of a ridgeline north of JPL. Monday's punchy climbs didn't really leave me with much gas in the tank, so just focused on keeping a steady pace and enjoying the ride.
When I reached the lookout, I really would have loved to keep climbing up to Wella's Peak, but I had to admit that I wasn't sure I had the legs for it, and I wanted to leave a little gas in the tank in case the return leg down El Prieto was more demanding than expeced. (Or in case something else went wrong.) So I took a minute to enjoy the few, and headed down.
I'm so glad I saved my legs for El Prieto. It's an amazing trail down a breathtaking canyon, and it's full of super-fun technical features that kept me on my toes. (It earns it's black diamond rating.) I walked a few sections, and my switchback game isn't what it was, but man, I'll jump at the next chance I get to ride this trail again.
Random Thoughts & Takeaways
With less time to ride lately, I'm torn between two sides of my personality. Part of me wants to log big climbs and long rides when I get the chance. In fact, I had originally planned to climb Brand Cyn, which would have been satisfying but boring. And I thought about repeating the Glendale Sports Complex ride to see how fast I could do it now that I knew the route.
I'm glad I listened to the other part, which told me to take advantage of the chance to ride somewhere new, even if there was a decent chance the trail might not be great. I lucked into an absolutely stellar loop.
And, honestly, online resources like Strava and MTB Project are making it easier and easier to find & ride really great trails. With just a little effort, the odds of a dud trail ride are getting increasingly remote.