I've only gone up to the top by bike 3 or 4 times. Maybe 5, who knows. I not only don't have the endurance or determination of youth, I can't even remember the youth.
It's 22 miles. 21 of it climbing, from a cliff hanging suburb called La Canada.
It's not that hard of a climb really, it just goes on and on, and you feel like you're going from LA to the Sierras in an hour. Well, if the Sierras were mostly shale and scrub.
At the summit ridge there's an old observatory: some proud civic scientist decided to drag a huge lens up a mule trail back in the early days of the last century. It's more or less abandoned now, there are intermittent tours and "signage" but mostly its just wind blowing through an old camp and snow falling sometimes when LA itself is hitting 70.
Uncanny, you go farther and farther away, switching back and forth the last 5 miles on a road not much wider than a driveway and then poof you're sitting at what feels like an overhang and there's all of LA. And I do mean ALL of it. Spread out before you so clearly you think you can hear the cars glinting by. The whole basin, visible, if the weather's blown through and blown off the smog. And it did. I swear I felt I could see Irvine.
I've always wanted to stay up there. Watch the glow of the monster metropolis rise. Feel the winds get up to a howl. Wake up to frozen water. Don't know why. You feel like you're teetering up there. That the whole thing was made up, imagined, a lark, not a major town before WWII.....and then it pow it becames the country's biggest city. And yes I know NYC has more people but LA is just so damn vast. An endless wash.
I should have known, looking at the size of the sky today, the sharp depth of the blue, the speed at which the clouds of the previous had disappeared.....Santa Anas again. Wind snapping out of nowhere around corners in my face on one tack, shoving me up a hill the next. Descending with weekend car racers and streams of motorcyclists.... what a bitch. My hands and my back were screaming by the bottom. 20 miles of downhill can be unfun. So weird. Next thing you know you're down. It's done. Your'e not in a pile under a guard rail. You didn't get blown into a cut. You're just another guy waiting by the Panera for the light to change.
Highland Park - Mt Wilson loop 60 miles.