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  1. #1
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    bikepack TR - Tour de Los Padres

    The Tour de Los Padres is a 260ish mile bikepacking race/route around the Los Padres National Forest northwest of LA. It was originally a point to point route from Frazier Park near the top of the I-5 Grapevine to Santa Barbara, but Erin Carroll re-designed it this year to be a loop starting and ending in Santa Barbara. I've never been able to do the TDLP as something has always come up this time of year. The Trump flu was threatening my chances again this year with the group start being cancelled. A solo attempt was still possible but there was an ethical dilemma given current events. At home San Diego opened its beaches two weeks ago drawing hoardes of people into my neighborhood to recreate. It got to a point where I'd encounter far fewer people in the backcountry than I would if I stayed home and exercised locally like I'm supposed to. A break in my schedule came up at the same time as a good weather window appeared. Time to get the F outta town for a few days!

    There had been some chatter earlier on with a few others still interested in doing the ride. I wasn't expecting to see anyone so I was surprised when Erin and Gregg pulled up to Romero trailhead just as I got there. Two other groups would apparently be out riding as well, both going the opposite direction. I had five days available but was aiming to finish in four.


    Erin, Gregg, evdog





    Starting the climb up the old Romero Canyon Road trail - an old road bed that turns into a nice singletrack climb.




    I'd wanted to get up to SB well before sunrise to catch sunrise from the trail. Fog layer would have blocked the view anyways so it was no big deal I got a late start




    Nice breeze and a beautiful morning






    Numerous rock falls have made the trail more interesting




    A couple hours and we were at the top of Romero. Lots of flowers out!




    I stopped to eat half my breakfast burrito while Erin and Gregg rode on




    The route dropped down to the Santa Ynez River with plenty of water crossings to filter from




    The route was already getting rustic but beyond Jamison Lake the Juncal Road was little more than an overgrown road bed




    Climbing away from Jamison Lake




    Navigation was easy following Erin and Gregg's tracks through the grass




    After summitting the second big climb of the day to Murietta Divide it would be mostly downhill all the way to Ojai




    I caught up to Erin and Gregg soaking their feet here in Matilija Creek




    After a quick pavement descent toward Ojai we opted to bypass town on the Cozy Dell Trail. We were definitely not going the optimal direction with numerous rocky switchbacks. It was getting hot by this point and the trail climbed steeply up to a ridge top.




    Water and snack break in the shade to cool off. The sign behind Gregg points out the poison oak patch behind him.




    We continue to traverse across some nicely re-built singletrack toward Gridley Trail




    Gridley trail is another pretty nice climb like Romero but a bit steeper at 2700ft in maybe 6mi




    Gregg and Erin were planning to camp near the top of Gridley. I had been planning to ride further but was starting to fade and found myself walking some sections I should be riding




    Getting to the top just after sunset. Half mile on Nordoff Ridge road and I found the campsite where Gregg and Erin were. I was done. A bit windy but pretty nice temps.




    Dinner of cold soaked ramen noodles and instant chocolate pudding hit the spot as I was trying to stave off cramps in my feet of all places. The others were asleep by 930, I was lights out soon after.




    Stats for the day - 48mi, +10,140 / -5,980 ft
    Last edited by evdog; 05-08-2020 at 01:55 AM.

  2. #2
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    Ofda, those are some steep climbs

    Sent from my SM-T580 using Tapatalk

  3. #3
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    I really enjoy your posts and am looking forward to the rest of this trip. I have to say I really do not know how cold soak became a thing.
    off your knees Louie

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by BFD View Post
    I really enjoy your posts and am looking forward to the rest of this trip. I have to say I really do not know how cold soak became a thing.
    I donít know, that foot cold soak in Matilija Creek sounded delightful.

    Looking forward to episode 2.

  5. #5
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    bikepack TR - Tour de Los Padres

    I miss riding Romero! Linking it to Gridley is some stupid shit (in the nicest way). Enjoy!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by nickwm21; 05-11-2020 at 04:20 PM.
    Best Skier on the Mountain
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    Squaw Valley, USA

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BFD View Post
    I really enjoy your posts and am looking forward to the rest of this trip. I have to say I really do not know how cold soak became a thing.
    Thanks!

    Cold soaking seems to have evolved as ultra light hikers/bikers stopped carrying stoves to save weight. It works well enough that when you're utterly destroyed at the end of the day that cold soaked ramen is the best meal ever. Soaking the feet was nice too : ) though I had pretty bad trench foot by the end of the day. Shoulda changed socks at some point!

    Quote Originally Posted by nickwm21 View Post
    I miss riding Romero! Liking it to Gridley is some stupid shit (in the nicest way). Enjoy!
    Linking stuff like that together that you'd never otherwise ride is one of the things I love most about bikepacking. That canyon was super remote, scenic and no one else around. Looks like there are lots of other trails back there to explore too. And yeah, Romero is rad. Not sure why I don't visit SB more often.

  7. #7
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    Day 2

    I'm normally a night owl and not used to getting a lot of sleep. So going to bed by 10 meant I was waking up numerous times starting around 3am. When the sky first started to lighten I debated getting up. Instead I laid there and stretched my legs for a while since my feet were still trying to cramp on me. Finally got up once the sun appeared soon after 6. The wind from the previous night had mostly died down but it was still pretty chilly.




    We ate breakfast and packed up. Right below our camp was the upper trailhead for Howard Creek Trail. I'd never heard of it but apparently it's popular with the gravel ride crowd with maintenance sponsored by some well known bike co's




    It seemed a bit rowdy for a drop bar bike but Gregg wasn't having any issues. Pretty nice trail!




    Lots of flowers out. After we descend to Hwy 33 we'd be climbing up and over the mountain range in the distance there




    After an 11 mile pavement ride we started the 3,000ft slog up Chorro Grande Trail. The first couple miles of trail were mostly rideable then it was almost pure hikeabike for the final 3. Gregg had to chase a rattler off the trail lower down, the only one we'd see.




    Views were great though and there was a nice breeze




    Keep pushin'!




    I descended this trail years ago and knew it wouldn't be a great one to descend bikepacking due to sharp switchbacks, steep grade and rocky sections. Erin had said the Boulder Creek trail we'll be dropping off the far side is more flowy for bikepacking.




    You know you're getting near the top once you get into the big trees




    Lunch stop at the top. I polish off the other half of my now two-day old breakfast burrito. If you look closely on the right side of the pic you can see the beach down in Ventura




    Hey Erin, I thought you said Boulder Creek Tr was all downhill?




    The trail was a mess of downed trees up top but then it cleared up down the ridgeline and some great views opened up




    We'll be finishing the descent in the valley below. Then doing a big loop east and eventually coming back to this valley further north tomorrow before climbing up to the mountain range on the left.




    But first we have some descending to do on narrow, raw singletrack




    Next up was a segment I'd been dreading, 18 pavement miles with 3000ft climbing on Lockwood Valley Rd to get over to the east side of the forest.

    A water stop was in order first, as the rest of that segment would likely be dry. It was mid afternoon and fairly warm so I forced myself to chug a couple bottles of water each time we stopped to filter.




    Gregg was way off in front on these road segments. I was middle child, and Erin just a few mins behind. The climb turned out to not be as terrible as I thought and was over in a couple hours.




    We turn south off Lockwood Valley Rd and climb for another mile to get to Yellowjacket Trail, a moto trail that will take us 5 miles north. It was close to sunset and Erin and Gregg decided to camp just below the trailhead, having found a nice spot next to a stream with fire pit that was sheltered from the wind. I carried on as my stomach was set on making it to Mike's Pizza near Frazier Park, another 15 miles away.




    Yellowjacket was in pretty poor shape compared to the previous time I rode it with lots of erosion damage. Slow going. After turning onto Miller Jeep trail I ran into Wes, Ian and Drew the first group doing a modified tour version of the route, just after dark. I had 45min to get 5 miles to Pizza.
    They recommended calling ahead but I had no service. Worst case the general store next door would have food.




    I made it there before the known closing time, but pizza had closed already. So I had a nice dinner of yogurt, apple, mexi-coke, cookie and hot ramen noodles, thanks to the kind folks at the Mountain View Mini mart who offered me hot water!




    I was ready to be done for the night but had to get to public land beyond town where I could camp. A few miles on Cuddy Valley Rd and then through a rural neighborhood brought me to a gate to a trail system into the national forest. I had to go in further than I thought I'd have to as all the local dogs were going apeshit barking at the intruder in their 'hood. I wanted to get close to the Mt Pinos fire road but started encountering deadfall obscuring the trail so I called it a night and found a flat spot to camp.

    Stats - 66mi, +9,360 / -8,360 ft

  8. #8
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    Day 3


    Awake not long after sunrise. Despite some tree cover I had to lay my sleeping bag in the sun for a while to dry it out. Riding by 8.




    I had to finish the singletrack traverse over to old Mt Pinos road. I was glad I didn't try and finish that part in the dark as there were tons of downed trees that had been there for ages and numerous paths around them, it was hard to get back on the right one even in daylight.




    The Mt Pinos road started off nice and mellow then got steeper higher up. About 1800ft total before hitting the pavement for a final mile




    Due to snow the route wouldn't climb to the top of Mt Pinos, instead hopping on the McGill trail at the second road crossing at McGill campground. Proof of finding snow:




    McGill is a popular shuttle descent and a popular hike. Since the road up was closed to vehicles I only ran into hikers on the descent.




    A few pavement miles brought me to Pine Mtn Club, a private golf course community. Stopped for tacos and breakfast burrito at La lena mexican. Then headed west out of town on some nice buff singletrack




    Nice climb to the saddle. Was glad to not be riding pavement




    The next 48 miles would all be road to New Cuyama and then up into the mountains. The Quatal canyon road started off nice and interesting




    But then turned into this for 8-9 miles with no shade and lots of OHV traffic kicking up dust




    Rolling into Ventucopa on Hwy 33




    Stop for late lunch at The Place, a biker bar in Ventucopa. The other places I'd stopped at were all over masks and social distancing. Not The Place. Patio was open and people sitting at the bar inside. I sat down at the bar and ordered food and a beer. 5 minutes later the owner comes out and says that guy just drove by, need you all to go sit outside. Apparently a local has been reporting him to the county for violating closure rules.




    Had to do a lap around the sign to make this county #4 on the trip after Santa Barbara, Ventura, Kern. About 20 more miles of pavement like this coming up, fortunately flat or slightly downhill




    I stopped at the market in New Cuyama for a cold pepsi and to resupply on snacks. Locals must be stir crazy, lots stopped to talk and ask what I was up to. A bit more pavement out of town to get back into the mountains




    A whole herd of cows started running toward me when they saw me, then turned and paced me next to the road for a while.




    Passed through an empty but not gated Aliso campground. Nice spot, under big oak trees. I followed the road through which continued on. I had 2,000ft of climbing to go to reach the Sierra Madre ridge top




    The last 2 miles were singletrack. A little too steep to ride, especially 70mi in to the day. But parts had been brushed which was nice. A local in New cuyama had told me an E-biker from SLO has been working on the trail.




    Hit the top! Time for dinner.




    Meat sticks and chips made the tuna wrap better. Oreo instant pudding for desert.




    Then a few more miles of nice riding to Painted Rock campground. I spotted a huge bobcat just before the campsite. Could smell campfire smoke and saw reflective material of a tent at the camp but no lights, so I didn't go in not wanting to crash someone's campsite. Found a spot in the grass just above the road and was soon out cold.


    Stats - 76mi, + 7,200 / -8,280ft

  9. #9
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    I love this, thanks for sharing.
    crab in my shoe mouth

  10. #10
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    Awesome trip evdog. What's the ground cloth under your bag in first pic Day 3?

  11. #11
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    Great TR. love the cowboy camping.


    Sent from my iPad using TGR Forums

  12. #12
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    So good.

  13. #13
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    Nice. I really love that SB backcountry (used to live there and still go down several times per year for work). When you get over towards Camuesa, etc. you really feel like you're in the middle of nowhere somewhat quickly.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ticketchecker View Post
    Awesome trip evdog. What's the ground cloth under your bag in first pic Day 3?
    I went to a building supply store and asked for one of the wrappers that palettes of lumber come shipped in. Cut it up, got two ground sheets out of it. It's sort of like tyvek but a bit more heavy duty.

    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    Nice. I really love that SB backcountry (used to live there and still go down several times per year for work). When you get over towards Camuesa, etc. you really feel like you're in the middle of nowhere somewhat quickly.
    That's where I'm headed next!

  15. #15
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    I always love a multi-day evdog TR!

  16. #16
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    From the GPS track, it looked like you started at Oprah's house.

  17. #17
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    Considering some of the houses I rode past in Montecito, that is very possible.

  18. #18
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    Evdog bringing the bikepack stoke! Looks so fun

  19. #19
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    Day 4


    It was perfectly dry when I set up camp the night before. Around 3am I woke up and realized it was no longer dry as some low cloud had moved through. All the clothing I'd laid out to dry was now soaked thoroughly. I'd brought a lightweight emergency bivy which would have kept the moisture off my down sleeping bag but there was nothing I could do about it now. It wasn't a cold wet so I just went back to sleep and would deal with the soaked gear in the morning.




    When I woke and started packing I realized the campers were Joe and Duncan, another group of bikepackers on the route. Headed up to say hello. Found my team, Team DFL! Nice meeting you guys in person! Not going up there the night before was the right call, just one small campsite and they hadn't woken when I rolled in




    The painted rock at Painted Rock campground




    Awesome view from the shelter of the rocks




    Rolling out into grassy fields




    I soon came across this awesome rocky canyon. There weren't any signs like at Painted Rock but I imagine this was a site of native american camps




    Looking back from the south




    Cool rock outcrops in the meadow




    Looking east towards Mt Pinos and Frazier Mtn




    The terrain thus far had been stunning and it continued that way as the flowers only got better






    Finally the ridgeline transitions into sage, scrub and manzanita under oak and pine trees




    This is the Socal I recognize




    Chokecherry spring. This was the first real water source since I'd reached Sierra madre ridge




    I'd been slowed all morning by stopping to take pictures. When I finally reached a notable descent, I was slowed by repeated rockfalls.




    As the day warmed up I found some very welcome shade




    Pine cones on the climb up to Big Pine Mtn




    I took some time and did the side hike up to Big Pine Mtn. This was the view looking north




    And the view looking south after I started the descent. The far ridgeline was my original goal for the night. The hazy hills in the far background are the Channel Islands off the coast.




    The drop off Big Pine Mtn was interrupted by four distinct climbs. When I finally got to the real descent it was close to sunset and getting chilly




    I'd been hoping to make it to East Camino Cielo with a view over Santa Barbara for sunset but I was a few hours behind that pace.




    I'd have to settle for Camuesa Connector trail at dusk




    Crossing the Santa Ynez river in the dark was fun... had no idea how deep it was going to be. Fortunately not much more than knee deep.




    Crossing the river put me on pavement for a mile or two, before crossing the river twice more plus a stagnant side channel crossing on the lower Arroyo Burro fire road. I still wanted to make the ridgeline to catch the sunrise over Santa Barbara but had a couple choices. The Arroyo Burro trail peels off the fire road early in the climb. The fire road had already narrowed down to singletrack so I didn't see a point in taking that. A mile later the Matias Trail met the fire road. Erin had let us know this was an alternate ending for the route. There was still a 1,000ft to climb on the fire road and another 1,000 on paved Camino Cielo if I continued on the official route. The trail would have some incidental climbing but would bypass a peak the paved road climbs over. It didn't matter for now, I was done climbing for the day and would decide when I woke up the next morning. There was a nice flat spot just above the trail turnoff and I was soon out cold. No more messing around, I used the emergency bivy this time!

    Stats - 54 mi, +6,480 / -9,220 ft

  20. #20
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    While you're in the area, make sure to do a lap on Jesusita too - inspiration point at the top is a good spot to catch a sunset or sunrise. Some very technical sections on the descent mixed in with some fun high speed flowy parts.

  21. #21
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    Really, really cool TR - that route looks awesome. The pictures of day 4 are amazing - beautiful scenery and views!! Well done, and well documented.

  22. #22
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    This is great stuff, I really appreciate all the pics. Nice work, Ev!
    "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms, their energy. Your cares and tensions will drop away like the leaves of Autumn." --John Muir

    "welcome to the hacienda, asshole." --s.p.c.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    While you're in the area, make sure to do a lap on Jesusita too - inspiration point at the top is a good spot to catch a sunset or sunrise. Some very technical sections on the descent mixed in with some fun high speed flowy parts.
    Thanks! I've ridden Jesusita before from Tunnel. Need to go back and do some day rides. This bikepack was last weekend!

  24. #24
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    Day 5

    I woke in the middle of the night to find everything soaked again as more low cloud rolled over. A bit later I felt the wind pick up and when I woke up again everything was dry. Could have used that wind the night before!


    Sunrise. But not for me. I rolled over and slept until after 8 when it started to warm up.




    Is it bad foreshadowing when the trail sign is overgrown with poison oak?




    I decided to roll down the trail a bit to see how it looked and got suckered in to continuing by recently built berms and jumps.




    Soon after that I came across the trail crew digging away. Thanks for the work! After passing them the trail was much more raw, but still pretty nice.




    It generally traversed east but had a lot of short steep climbs and descents. Fortunately there was lots of shade as well, as it was cooking down in the valley with no breeze.


    Looking up at the north leg of Tunnel trail that I'll be climbing. It's nothing like the chunkfest Tunnel on the front side.




    How do ya like that deet? Tick #1 beats a hasty retreat soon to be followed by #2. Not as many ticks as I expected on this trip but still had to keep an eye out for them.




    There was some nice bench work on Tunnel as well




    It was a lot more rideable uphill than I thought it would be. And thankfully lots of shade.




    And ferns! Not very many places we see these in Socal.




    Finally reached the top and did the traverse across paved Camino Cielo. Matias was more work than staying on Arroyo Burro Rd but also bypassed a 700ft pavement climb




    Views from the Romero descent were awesome




    Sweet singletrack all the way down




    Stopped at a stream crossing to soak for a few minutes then enjoyed the final miles back to town.




    I hit the lower Romero trailhead just before 3pm so my total time on the route was 4 days, 6 hours. That includes a 90min time credit for hiking up Big Pine Mtn. According to Erin I was the first person to finish the new loop version of the route and therefore held the fastest time. He and Gregg finished later that evening. My "record" has already been broken though as another rider did a big push this weekend through what I did on Days 4 and 5 in one go, for a time of 3 days, 21 hrs. I'm sure it will go under 2 days once the serious racers show up.

    Stoked I could finally get time to do this ride. And I think the loop version is a winner over the previous point to point version. I'd like to check out what we skipped through Carrizo Plain but that can be done earlier in spring before temps start to increase. Great route, Erin, there are some real gems on that route!

    Stats for the day - 26mi, +3,030 / -4,790 ft.


    From Romero TH I had a short road pedal back to the truck. There was a big pullout next to San Ysidro creek and it was flowing well so I headed back there for a quick swim. There was a crash and big traffic backup on Hwy 101 so I took back roads over to Carpenteria to bypass it, and got tacos there.

    I drove the PCH Hwy 1 through Malibu on the way home. Not much traffic, and got to watch the sheriff's dept chasing parked cars off from roadside pullouts a few times. Beaches were still closed, not that you could tell.


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