Tour de Los Padres 2014 – ITT

Tour_de_Los_Padres_2014A got another hall pass from Annie (thank you!) to go try the new Tour de Los Padres bikepacking route. Erin Carroll is the mastermind behind this new 280-mile route in Southern California. In short, it starts near Interstate 5 in the central valley, runs high along a couple of mountain ranges (Sierra Madres, Los Padres, etc.), and then dumps out at the Santa Barbara coast. The route offers a variety of terrain and scenery. There were a couple of sections that I wasn’t thrilled about due to some excessive hike-a-bike, but, overall, I really enjoyed the ride.

Animal Sightings

I saw a surprising amount of wildlife.

  • 1 bear – I was very surprised to see a bear running away from me as I turned a corner high up in the Los Padres mountains (about 3 miles before Happy Hollow primitive campground). At first, I thought it must be a really large deer or an elk. But, sure enough, the tracks I came across confirmed that it was a large bear.
  • 2 rattle snakes – I had to fish one out of the bathroom at Miranda Pines campground with a stick. When nature calls, nature needs to vacate and let me use the bathroom.
  • 2 other snakes (king or something else)
  • 1 bobcat
  • 2 foxes
  • 1 deer
  • 3 horned lizards

Route Deviations

I should mention that I didn’t follow the entire “official” route. My deviations were as follows:

  • Skipped the loop up/down Mt Abel (a road climb and mtb trail descent that others said wasn’t a lot of fun and not very rideable)
  • Skipped some of the dirt sections just before Pine Mountain and stayed on the highway. I was racing to get there before the general store closed at 8pm.
  • Tried to scout a new section farther north along Soda Lake Rd. Ran into closed BLM land and had to turn around and rejoin normal route.
  • Bailed out of the final ~25 miles just above Santa Barbara and, instead, shot straight down to the coast for a pickup. I wasn’t interested in doing more hike-a-bike and, from what I gathered, the final miles involved a lot of that.

Some Recommended Gear

  • Iodine tablets – Not all of the springs had a pool of water to suck into a filter, so I had to fill my bag from the trickle and use pills to treat.
  • 3L bladder and 1L bladder – Have clean water ready to drink in your 1L bag while your 3L is being treated with iodine. And be ready to carry 4L for the long, hot sections.
  • Water filter – You could get away with just treating your water with pills, but the filter was great for getting water fast from springs and creeks that had pools of water.
  • Sun sleeves – These were key since a lot of ride involves exposed, long climbs.
  • GPX – You definitely can’t find the route without one. I’ve never had any problems with my Garmin eTrex 20.

Photos of my first 2.5 days on the Tour de Los Padres

My phone ran out of juice, so I was only able to take photos during the first 2.5 days of my ride.

I started from the Frazier Park grocery store around 3:15pm. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get more food on the route, so I stuffed my seat post bag with 21, 350-calorie, deep-fried burritos (chimichangas). And I had a bunch of bars in my frame bag. In total, I probably had close to 20K calories. When I finished I had probably had ~4K calories leftover. Thanks for dropping me off Mom!I started from the Frazier Park grocery store around 3:15pm. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get more food on the route, so I stuffed my seat post bag with 21, 350-calorie, deep-fried burritos (chimichangas). And I had a bunch of bars in my frame bag. In total, I probably had close to 20K calories. When I finished I had probably had ~4K calories leftover. Thanks for dropping me off Mom!
I started from the Frazier Park grocery store around 3:15pm. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get more food on the route, so I stuffed my seat post bag with 21, 350-calorie, deep-fried burritos (chimichangas). And I had a bunch of bars in my frame bag. In total, I probably had close to 20K calories. When I finished I had probably had ~4K calories leftover. Thanks for dropping me off Mom!03-May-2014 15:13
 
Started off on road (with a nice shoulder) before the first big climb: Mt Pinos.Started off on road (with a nice shoulder) before the first big climb: Mt Pinos.
Started off on road (with a nice shoulder) before the first big climb: Mt Pinos.03-May-2014 15:54
 
Making my way to the base of Mt Pinos. I got a little uncomfortable with how close the trail got to some people who were doing some target practice in the woods.Making my way to the base of Mt Pinos. I got a little uncomfortable with how close the trail got to some people who were doing some target practice in the woods.
Making my way to the base of Mt Pinos. I got a little uncomfortable with how close the trail got to some people who were doing some target practice in the woods.03-May-2014 16:46
 
The real climbing began with a nice fire road.The real climbing began with a nice fire road.
The real climbing began with a nice fire road.03-May-2014 17:17
 
Eventually the fire road dumped out on to pavement. Overall, it was a nice climb to the top of Mt Pinos with a fully loaded bike.Eventually the fire road dumped out on to pavement. Overall, it was a nice climb to the top of Mt Pinos with a fully loaded bike.
Eventually the fire road dumped out on to pavement. Overall, it was a nice climb to the top of Mt Pinos with a fully loaded bike.03-May-2014 18:19
 
La Cumbre de Mt Pinto! I just kept rolling since I was trying to get to the Pine Mountain general store before it closed at 8pm. Fast forward about an hour later...I walked in just as they were turning lights off. They let me take 5 minutes to run around and grab some food and drinks for dinner. Phew!La Cumbre de Mt Pinto! I just kept rolling since I was trying to get to the Pine Mountain general store before it closed at 8pm. Fast forward about an hour later...I walked in just as they were turning lights off. They let me take 5 minutes to run around and grab some food and drinks for dinner. Phew!
La Cumbre de Mt Pinto! I just kept rolling since I was trying to get to the Pine Mountain general store before it closed at 8pm. Fast forward about an hour later...I walked in just as they were turning lights off. They let me take 5 minutes to run around and grab some food and drinks for dinner. Phew!03-May-2014 18:58
 
Fun single track that took me back down Mt Pinos.Fun single track that took me back down Mt Pinos.
Fun single track that took me back down Mt Pinos.03-May-2014 19:01
 
Looking down towards the highway that I'd eventually connect with in the valley.Looking down towards the highway that I'd eventually connect with in the valley.
Looking down towards the highway that I'd eventually connect with in the valley.03-May-2014 19:28
 
After Pine Mountain, the route eventually dropped quickly into a valley and connected with some easy road riding. I continued into the night until around midnight. I camped shortly after crossing into the Carrizo Plain National Monument. This is the scene I woke up to. Not bad.After Pine Mountain, the route eventually dropped quickly into a valley and connected with some easy road riding. I continued into the night until around midnight. I camped shortly after crossing into the Carrizo Plain National Monument. This is the scene I woke up to. Not bad.
After Pine Mountain, the route eventually dropped quickly into a valley and connected with some easy road riding. I continued into the night until around midnight. I camped shortly after crossing into the Carrizo Plain National Monument. This is the scene I woke up to. Not bad.04-May-2014 05:51
 
A nice bathroom at some historic farm house  along Soda Lake road offered a well-timed break.A nice bathroom at some historic farm house  along Soda Lake road offered a well-timed break.
A nice bathroom at some historic farm house  along Soda Lake road offered a well-timed break.04-May-2014 07:22
 
Heading north, off-route, along Soda Lake Rd to explore an alternate route. Since I was just touring the route, Erin asked if I would try an alternate way to head west into the Sierra Madres.Heading north, off-route, along Soda Lake Rd to explore an alternate route. Since I was just touring the route, Erin asked if I would try an alternate way to head west into the Sierra Madres.
Heading north, off-route, along Soda Lake Rd to explore an alternate route. Since I was just touring the route, Erin asked if I would try an alternate way to head west into the Sierra Madres.04-May-2014 08:36
 
The alternate started off promising...The alternate started off promising...
The alternate started off promising...04-May-2014 08:43
 
Then the road was closed to motor vehicles, but the gate on the left was open to hikers and, therefore, I felt OK continuing.Then the road was closed to motor vehicles, but the gate on the left was open to hikers and, therefore, I felt OK continuing.
Then the road was closed to motor vehicles, but the gate on the left was open to hikers and, therefore, I felt OK continuing.04-May-2014 08:48
 
Water was available at the abandoned "American Ranch".Water was available at the abandoned "American Ranch".
Water was available at the abandoned "American Ranch".04-May-2014 09:00
 
The road continued to look good...The road continued to look good...
The road continued to look good...04-May-2014 09:34
 
Then, I hit an unexpected fence. So, I turned left.Then, I hit an unexpected fence. So, I turned left.
Then, I hit an unexpected fence. So, I turned left.04-May-2014 09:37
 
Which brought me to another fence. According to the GPS, I thought I could hop it, follow the fence line, and then connect with another road that would successfully get me back on the main route. As luck would have it, I ran into a BLM guy in a truck. He told me that I wasn't allowed to be where I was and escorted me to another gate. I ended up taking that road back to Soda Lake Rd and heading south to get on the original route. The failed detour killed about 4 hours.Which brought me to another fence. According to the GPS, I thought I could hop it, follow the fence line, and then connect with another road that would successfully get me back on the main route. As luck would have it, I ran into a BLM guy in a truck. He told me that I wasn't allowed to be where I was and escorted me to another gate. I ended up taking that road back to Soda Lake Rd and heading south to get on the original route. The failed detour killed about 4 hours.
Which brought me to another fence. According to the GPS, I thought I could hop it, follow the fence line, and then connect with another road that would successfully get me back on the main route. As luck would have it, I ran into a BLM guy in a truck. He told me that I wasn't allowed to be where I was and escorted me to another gate. I ended up taking that road back to Soda Lake Rd and heading south to get on the original route. The failed detour killed about 4 hours.04-May-2014 09:45
 
Back on the "real" route, I started a big climb in the heat of the day (~1pm). I ended up hiding in shade multiple times on the way up. Hint - at the beginning of the climb, take the 1 mile detour to Selby Campground and fill your water before you start the climb. It's hot and a long way to the next water source.Back on the "real" route, I started a big climb in the heat of the day (~1pm). I ended up hiding in shade multiple times on the way up. Hint - at the beginning of the climb, take the 1 mile detour to Selby Campground and fill your water before you start the climb. It's hot and a long way to the next water source.
Back on the "real" route, I started a big climb in the heat of the day (~1pm). I ended up hiding in shade multiple times on the way up. Hint - at the beginning of the climb, take the 1 mile detour to Selby Campground and fill your water before you start the climb. It's hot and a long way to the next water source.04-May-2014 12:34
 
Still climbing...Still climbing...
Still climbing...04-May-2014 12:57
 
Topping out!Topping out!
Topping out!04-May-2014 13:48
 
Lots of rollers on the backside of the climb.Lots of rollers on the backside of the climb.
Lots of rollers on the backside of the climb.04-May-2014 14:11
 
I was glad that I brought both a filter and iodine pills. Gilliam Spring had a very little water in it, so I filled straight from the pipe and used pills.I was glad that I brought both a filter and iodine pills. Gilliam Spring had a very little water in it, so I filled straight from the pipe and used pills.
I was glad that I brought both a filter and iodine pills. Gilliam Spring had a very little water in it, so I filled straight from the pipe and used pills.04-May-2014 17:15
 
Two minutes prior, there was a large herd of cows around the spring. They obviously weren't used to seeing mt bikers because they freaked out and all took off when I showed up looking for water. Throughout the route, it felt like the animals (wild and domestic) were not accustomed to people, which was nice.Two minutes prior, there was a large herd of cows around the spring. They obviously weren't used to seeing mt bikers because they freaked out and all took off when I showed up looking for water. Throughout the route, it felt like the animals (wild and domestic) were not accustomed to people, which was nice.
Two minutes prior, there was a large herd of cows around the spring. They obviously weren't used to seeing mt bikers because they freaked out and all took off when I showed up looking for water. Throughout the route, it felt like the animals (wild and domestic) were not accustomed to people, which was nice.04-May-2014 17:33
 
This section of trail followed a lot of cow paths and became a bit difficult to ride with a fully-loaded bike.This section of trail followed a lot of cow paths and became a bit difficult to ride with a fully-loaded bike.
This section of trail followed a lot of cow paths and became a bit difficult to ride with a fully-loaded bike.04-May-2014 18:10
 
The section before hwy 166 had some ridiculously steep sections. My fully loaded bike was too heavy to safely descend on them, so I did a of walking downhill.The section before hwy 166 had some ridiculously steep sections. My fully loaded bike was too heavy to safely descend on them, so I did a of walking downhill.
The section before hwy 166 had some ridiculously steep sections. My fully loaded bike was too heavy to safely descend on them, so I did a of walking downhill.04-May-2014 18:33
 
A little floraA little flora
A little flora04-May-2014 18:38
 
Gifford Spring was overflowing, so I topped off using my filter. The next reliable water source was over 50 miles away, so I left the spring with 4.5 liters.Gifford Spring was overflowing, so I topped off using my filter. The next reliable water source was over 50 miles away, so I left the spring with 4.5 liters.
Gifford Spring was overflowing, so I topped off using my filter. The next reliable water source was over 50 miles away, so I left the spring with 4.5 liters.04-May-2014 18:49
 
Sunrise as I climbed Sierra Madre Rd. I loved this section of the route. I got to ride, rather than hike, and the road followed the spines of the Sierra Madres and the Los Padres mountain ranges. Beautiful!Sunrise as I climbed Sierra Madre Rd. I loved this section of the route. I got to ride, rather than hike, and the road followed the spines of the Sierra Madres and the Los Padres mountain ranges. Beautiful!
Sunrise as I climbed Sierra Madre Rd. I loved this section of the route. I got to ride, rather than hike, and the road followed the spines of the Sierra Madres and the Los Padres mountain ranges. Beautiful!05-May-2014 06:10
 
I stopped at Miranda Pines campground to use the bathroom. It had an awesome view, but it also had a rattlesnake coiled in the corner. I use a stick to fish the rattlesnake out and was able to do my business in peace.I stopped at Miranda Pines campground to use the bathroom. It had an awesome view, but it also had a rattlesnake coiled in the corner. I use a stick to fish the rattlesnake out and was able to do my business in peace.
I stopped at Miranda Pines campground to use the bathroom. It had an awesome view, but it also had a rattlesnake coiled in the corner. I use a stick to fish the rattlesnake out and was able to do my business in peace.05-May-2014 06:17
 
More great views along Sierra Madre Rd.More great views along Sierra Madre Rd.
More great views along Sierra Madre Rd.05-May-2014 07:52
 
Last photo of the route because my phone was dying. I finished the following day.Last photo of the route because my phone was dying. I finished the following day.
Last photo of the route because my phone was dying. I finished the following day.05-May-2014 11:22
 
The route did involve a bit of hike-a-bike. Unfortunately, my newer bike shoes were not up to the task and left me with some love bites.The route did involve a bit of hike-a-bike. Unfortunately, my newer bike shoes were not up to the task and left me with some love bites.
The route did involve a bit of hike-a-bike. Unfortunately, my newer bike shoes were not up to the task and left me with some love bites.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Responses to Tour de Los Padres 2014 – ITT
  1. Greg S.
    June 19, 2014 | 10:42 am

    Hey Forest,

    Nice write-up on the Tour de Los Padres. I have enjoyed reading about some of your adventures…what a stud!!
    It was great meeting you early this year on the Stagecoach. Take care

    • Forest Baker
      June 27, 2014 | 10:29 pm

      Hi Greg!

      Thanks man. It was great meeting you during the SC400. I was dragging on the last day/night. I did see you as you were pulling out of the Anza RV park, but I was ready for a break and some coke! I even stopped and slept for an hour when I hit the pavement climb back to Idyllwild.

      You did extremely well on your first bikepacking event. There is a learning curve and I look forward to watching you pull away from me (early) in future events.

      Best,

      Forest

      • Greg S.
        July 11, 2014 | 1:39 pm

        Hi Forest,

        With the SC400 being my first event I was pleased with the results and I had a good time. It was eye opening and a great learning experience.

        That final 50 miles was a real grunt. I felt good when I pulled out of the Warner Springs Fire Station, but about 15 miles later I starting feeling really bad. I had to take a long break at the bottom of one of the steep, rocky climbs and that’s where Jeff rode past me. When I finally got rolling again I was moving really slow and didn’t think I was ever going to get to Anza, but the thought of that coke and ice cream bar waiting at Sunshine kept me going. I also started hallucinating, which was a new experience for me.
        I ran into Jeff again at Sunshine and he pulled out about 30 min before me. I also had a nice conversation with Earl…he was quite the talker and had lots of stories to tell. That final push into Idyllwild was a challenge, I’m glad it was late at night and there was no traffic, because I could not ride a straight line…

        Overall it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to doing another event in the near future.

        Take care,

        Greg

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