Adventure Dispatch Vol. 1
34.2164° N, 119.0376° W
CAMARILLO, CA - 93010
This month, I ventured to new heights (literally) on the West Coast. A pleasure trip took me from the harsh cold of the New England winter to the waves and sun of Camarillo, California. And of course, the bike went along.
My rig of choice was a 2018 Specialized Sequoia. This build features a 9 speed Shimano Alivio drivetrain and Tektro cable pull Spyre-C disc brakes. 700 x 42c Specialized Tracer Pros wrap the stock wide gravel specific wheels.
Added onto the bike for more food and camera storage, I outfitted my bike with both a half frame bag and a drawcord front bag from Outer Shell Adventure (links below).
After pulling off the main road and beginning some back road riding, I came upon a new challenge never before seen at home.
Potrero Road begins with a sweeping bend around Round Mountain just past the University of California’s Channel Islands Campus and quickly turns into a 3 mile climb starting at 33’ of elevation and ending at 950’. Just above the surrounding peaks, but far below the larger outlying peaks.
Following this first climb came a 4 mile descent back down to 200’ over 4 miles before I went up again. This next climb would be the most grueling ascent of the trip, starting at 200’ at mile 17 and rising up to 1,125’ at mile 19. Back and forth around short switchbacks, I could only hope the next corner would be flat. After several false hopes, I stopped to catch my breath, not knowing yet that I wouldn’t be able to get started again. I tried to clip back in and keep my balance up enough to start climbing again, but could never quite get enough push to truly get started. So for the first time in my years of riding, I tossed my leg back over the bike and began to hike to the top of the road.
Once at the top of the road, I was finally met with a flat road heading towards the sharp snow capped peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains. Once off the asphalt the riding became much more fun as I found myself riding small gravel paths, where the steel frame of my Sequoia was designed to be.
The pay off of the big climbs came quickly and with much more fun than I had anticipated. A fast, bendy, paved descent brought me from 1,125’ at mile 20 down to just 47’ at mile 23. At the bottom, my knobby Tracer Pro’s were met once again with the gravel of the Big Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, a road that runs the length of the canyon from the back end towards Thousand Oaks all the way through the park to the coast of the Pacific Ocean.
Naturally, I took the more difficult but more scenic route to the coast. Breaking off from the fire road, I found myself along Two Foxes trail. A fast flowy single track mountain bike trail that runs parallel along the fire road, but features low, rolling bumpy rocks, sweeping berms that run high into the mountainside before sending you back onto the single track. Running a short 2 miles or so, I was put back on the fire road for just a little longer before I went climbing again.
After stopping for a quick lunch of mango slices, kiwi and larabars, I continued on my trek upwards, this time on the Overlook Trail- another single track mountain bike trail that was anything but smooth and flowy. Instead what I began up was an increasingly more exposed trail that was only about as wide as my bike was, peppered with rocks large enough to strike my pedals, and was constantly uphill combing along the mountainside all the way through the rest of the canyon.
While riding up the trail, there was no true end in sight. Just where the next crest cut off my field of view, but on this trail that was okay. The views definitely made up for the long slow pedaling up the side of this mountain. To my right, I would look and see rolling mountains beneath me that continued on for miles and miles into the State Park and to my left, I saw the canyon floor a few hundred feet below me and the peak of Inspiration Point just a mile or so away from where I was. Straight ahead of me poking through the low spots in the hills was the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean. I arrived to the peak of the mountain and decided it was a good spot to stop and take another break before continuing on.
Continuing up the climb only lasted a little longer, only about 2 miles or so before I started descending again toward the Pacific Coast Highway. This descent, although not as fast or flowy, was just as fun. Instead of smooth pavement I could soar down I was met with washed out roads and ruts that would make the strongest gravel wheel tremble. About halfway down, crossing one rut proved to be too much for my tubes to handle and I pinch flatted my front wheel. In any other case, I would’ve not been pleased with having to change a flat. But this case was different.
Once all fixed up, I continued with caution down the rest of my decent towards the ocean. Without any more troubles, my wheels left the gravel for the last time and I rode on the pavement of the Pacific Coast Highway for the remaining 10 miles or so. Living in New England, one would think I would be sick of riding along the coast and constantly looking at water. But the Pacific was different. I still found myself staring off at the horizon in awe of how far it went and then following waves all the way up to the beaches that would dwarf anything I’ve ever seen at home.
Along my journey home, I would ride into and past a colorful, vibrant sunset that illuminated Hines Peak in the distance. Shades and hues would change as the sun dipped closer and closer to the horizon, from yellows and oranges to purples and pinks. Miles ticked by until I finally pulled back into the driveway where I started my journey several hours earlier.