Written by Jeff Kendall-Weed
On frequent trips to southern California, we raced within the confines of suburbia. Compared to the beautiful, steep hills of the central coast that I had come to know and love, it was a serious surrender to travel to SoCal race courses, consisting of trails that seemed underwhelming in comparison. Even worse, while on those race courses in the L.A. basin, through the smog we could see legitimate mountains soaring above the city -- almost so close we could touch them.
Fast forward about 15 years to the delivery of a brand-new bike, the first of its kind, on my doorstep. I knew nothing about the bike, and it looked rad, but the snow-covered trails where I now live in western Washington State made it impossible to open up the throttle and fully experience this new ride. A few folks had recently claimed that trail conditions in these mysterious southern California mountains were actually really, really good. I wanted to believe them, but based on my experience, I felt skeptical. But, the snow on the ground around me put my skepticism in check.
I called some friends, explaining that I wanted to try something different for the first few rides on my new bike. John Watson, an L.A. photographer and journalist with a background in architecture and design, answered one of these calls. His descriptions of the juxtaposition of downtown Los Angeles in the distance with the rocky and narrow singletrack of the San Gabriel range painted an intriguing picture. Was I crazy for leaving an actual mountain bike mecca to head to the place that many people leave when they want to go riding? And with this new bike, could we even film an interesting video in these mountains?
I decided to roll the dice...
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