With all the recent rain storms passing through California, the mountains are greener then I can ever remember. I had a feeling some of the back roads would be closed due to all the rains. The only way to access them would be to hike or bike. I have been camping in the Pine Mountain and Reyes Peak area numerous times, but always taken a motorized vehicle there. 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 got my bike ready with all the necessities the morning before. Chatting with them about logistics, we decided that a water drop would be necessary at the closed gate 30mi into the ride. Jeff made the drive up the night before with water, which later on proved crucial.
The morning of our departure was a nice clear, warm day. We started in Ojai after a nice hearty lunch. I haven’t ridden in a few weeks so I knew this would be a challenge for me. The ride up is all up hill, with minimal protection from the wind or sun. It was mid-week so the traffic was light. As we were a little more then half way I ran out of water. I packed a water filtration system since I knew this would be the case. The creek was flowing more then I’d ever seen it. A quick snack and off we pedaled. The further up we got, the more I realized I bit off a little more then I could chew. A few rest stops later, we made it to the close gate at Pine Mountain Ridge Road. We found the fresh gallons of water, ate some more, and loaded up for the ride up the empty road.
The road was in worse condition then I imagined. Mud slides, fallen trees and big rocks scattered about. This climb alone was a challenge in itself, being almost 6 miles long with about 2,000 feet in elevation gain. I was hurting pretty bad at this point, the weight of our gear and lack of riding not helping. The sun was getting lower and it was getting chilly. There were still some spots with snow along the road. The whole mountain top was empty. We made it to the site just in time to catch the sunset. From the top you can see out to the Pacific Ocean and the Channels Islands. After gathering some firewood to warm our sore muscles, we cooked up some for before getting some much needed rest.
The next morning we were greeted with the sunrise and clear skies. It was chilly, but very 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 were both looking forward to this descent after yesterdays climb to the top. Winding down the swooping turns of Highway 33 really is a treat. From 7,000ft to 750ft in no time. First priority was getting some real food and more coffee in our system. All in all, we rode 37 miles out with 7,136ft of climbing the first day, and then descended our way back 37 miles with 900 feet of climbing the second day.