Someone once wrote, “The spirit of the West made its last stand in Topanga.” So much has happened in this hazy bohemian enclave nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. A litany of rock n’ roll and folk heroes, from Gram Parsons to Neil Young, called Topanga home. From Woody Guthrie to Alice Cooper, the cultural ripples that emanated from this place affected the American landscape we know today. The more things change, the more they stay the same – not much has changed up here in the ensuing decades.The canyon currently still holds a certain allure for the friendly alter-natives and seekers of all stripes doing their own funky thing in the mountains. No chain stores exist in the 28 miles from the top to the bottom of the canyon,and the locals want to keep it that way. This freethinking, intentional mindset led me to the prayer flag-festooned doorstep of a little bike shop at the edge of Topanga State Park: Topanga Creek Outpost.
The Outpost, which once was Jim Morrison’s studio, integrates elements of that storied Topanga heritage into their space. Chunky wood tables and workbenches with the usual array of bike tools and ephemera sit next to finely detailed handmade clocks and leatherworking tools. The interior smells of rich leather, grease, and wood, accompanied by Mama Cass or the Grateful Dead records spinning on the turntable to bolster their mellow atmosphere. This is no ordinary bike shop; in fact, it’s clear right away that the very concept of the bicycle, how it’s used and which accessories go with it, is different at the Outpost.
Here, the bike is akin to a swiss army knife on which you hold your accessories of adventure. Tent, guitar, coffee making supplies, beer, and cards are all a part of the experience as much as derailleurs, bottom brackets, or tires – they are tools to creatively be outside with your friends. Get some exercise, sure, ride bikes, sure, but mostly have an adventure, share stories, and UnPredict your life.
Co-owner, Chris Kelly and Outpost shop dog, Rover.
The kind folks at Topanga Creek Outpost are obsessive, but in a different way than what you might expect. They carry only the best-in-class products for touring, bikepacking, and mountain biking, but they obsess over creating an inclusive community which celebrates the beauty of sleeping under the stars. The owners, Chris Kelly and Jay Barre, have made camping on a bike approachable for pretty much anyone, from weekend warriors to Continental Divide racers.
Co-owner, Jay Barre on his 2700+ mile Continental Divide Tour.
The Topanga Creek style is unique and gives a warm sense of inclusion that facilitates the exchange of ideas and fosters a sense of belonging. Bike nerds and newbies alike are equally welcome to share smiles, tips, stories, or advice. A common thread among all of the people who pass through these doors is the desire to “get out there.” That’s what this place is all about.
When we first visited the Outpost several years ago, it wasn’t clear how Kitsbow would fit in as a brand. It wasn’t until we really understood the level of detail, attention, and heart that Topanga Creek puts into everything they do that we realized that it was actually the perfect place for Kitsbow. There’s no room for junk at the Outpost. Every item in there is the best expression of its form, made to function over a lifetime of starlit campfires and long days in the saddle.
Topanga Creek Outpost and Kitsbow join forces in Point Reyes National Seashore for one of TCO’s UnPredict Your Wednesday adventures.
It’s clear right away that Chris and Jay posess a pure dedication to a lifestyle that is an expression of how they want to engage in the world. As fellow #obsessives we are so proud to be a part of it. The spirit of the West lives on at Topanga Creek Outpost.