Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Epic Rides; Mullholland Highway

It’s a bit of a stretch to call Mulholland Highway an Epic ride it’s more of a storied ride due its name and notoriety. Not to be confused with Mulholland Drive which runs through Hollywood, the Highway is the Western end which runs from Leo Carrillo State Beach on Pacific Coast Highway to Calabasas in the San Fernando Valley. I had been eyeing up riding it from end to end as part of a longer ride as the Highway itself is only 37 or so miles long. I have ridden it all but never in one go and after some messing around on Strava Routes I had mapped a 100 mile ride. This would also let me chalk up my second Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (USMA) Year Rounder ride.

With the three-day weekend and a blessing from my ever-patient wife Becca I set out from home on Monday with a view to riding to Leo Carillo along the entire length of Mulholland Highway and home again. The outbound leg was uneventful. I took a reasonably direct route which included the always fun decent down Potrero. While Monday may have been a holiday for a lot of office workers the farm workers were out in force and with the recent rains there was a fair amount of mud and muck across the roads.

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I had to stop a couple of times to remove my front wheel and scrape the mud out from underneath the arch of my forks from where the tires had picked up globs of it as I rode along.

I added a little extra loop past the Point Mugu Missile Museum and stopped to grab a couple of photos. Once on PCH it was a sling shot down to the start.

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I played tag with another guy riding and we traded off pulls making short change of the 10 miles of flat in just over 31 minutes. We parted company and I made the left turn onto Mulholland.

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The first seven or so miles I am very familiar with having Everested on it back in November 2016. Mentally the climb is broken down into four sections. The first half and then the three switchbacks. I stopped around Mile 3 to strip off a layer. The temperature was climbing and despite a cold start to the day it was getting into the 60s and I would be riding through mostly unshaded roads and mostly uphill. While on the side of the road I was passed by a rider who got a decent lead on me. Challenge accepted! I caught him up and we chatted on the ride up the rest of the climb. Before I knew it we were at the top and parting ways.

At the top you actually merge onto the SR23 or Decker as it is named. While Decker tops out and rolls down into Westlake Village Mulholland continues East. The next section has a few minor rollers and eventually you come to and cross Kanan. From here it’s a very short section before you round a corner and you get a great view across Malibu Creek from the top of the “Rockstore” or “The Snake” as it’s known. This is a nice steady but twisty decent. You ride down it as fast as you feel safe to but with the mentioned rain causing some minor rockfalls onto the road I took it nice and easy.

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More rollers followed by a nice swoopy descent and you come to the junction with Las Virgenes or Malibu Canyon. Again you cross over this time helped by the traffic lights. This is the lower third of the route and in itself is broken into two clear halves. The first has a couple of climbs and some bigger rollers.

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You ride past the end of Stunt Road, Stunt is a great climb. Three big switchbacks over 4 miles and 1300’ of climbing.

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Today, however, I rolled on by on my way to the end of Mulholland. The second half is bringing you back into civilization and there is a significant increase in houses, cars and traffic lights. It really isn’t anything glamorous and parts of it are in fact a bit scuzzy.

Before I knew it I was at the end. It was 37 miles along the Highway and I had picked up about 5700’ of gain. I had a bit of a convoluted ride to get home to ensure I rolled the 100-mile mark, which I did and in fact I added 3 extra and some more elevation!

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So having ridden it from one end to the other I can safely say glad to have done it no ambitions to do it again. Realistically anything further east of Stunt is not worth visiting. You are better making a short loop of Dry Canyon Cold Creek Road and heading back west. The Western section from PCH is where the bulk of the climbing is with nearly 2000 feet gained in total and great views out over the ocean. There is lots of fun to be had around Rockstore but it can get busy on the weekend mornings with bikers and sports cars.

So another tick in the box and my second century ride of the year. January is shaping up well and I have the BWR camp next weekend which is going to prove to e a challenge especially if the weather continues!