Grizzly Llama Rides

Grizzly Llama Rides

Over the first weekend of October Howard Garfinkel and Bill Heidler went up beyond L.A. and did some riding in Central CA. We found beautiful weather (for the most part), over 100 miles of roads with no traffic lights or stop signs, elevations from sea level to 7300 ft, a few interesting animal sightings, and in general great riding.

Friday morning we headed north through moderate traffic, over the grapevine, through Fresno to Bass Lake in Madera County. We checked into a nice woody cabin and had time for a spin around the lake.

The next morning we joined in the Grizzly Century, sponsored in part by Howard’s alma mater the Fresno Cycle Club. This offered us some 8000 vertical feet of climbing spread over about 50 of its total 75 miles; it also offered 8000 vertical feet of descent condensed into 22 miles, and 3 relatively flat miles. We were able to bring the best San Diego style weather with us, temperatures being in the 62-72 degree range with gentle breezes. There were five rest stops and one beer stop so we were never thirsty or hungry (although we did choose to stay sober).

Sunday was a recovery day. After a nice breakfast with a couple of Howard’s Fresno buddies, we drove to the San Luis Obispo County coast at Avila Beach. There we found warm sunshine, a relatively inexpensive parking spot, a few token hills to climb, a whale, and locals who told us about the hidden world beyond the Antarctic. After a late lunch we bid all this goodbye and headed to the northwest corner of Santa Barbara County, the staging area for Monday’s ride.

The Santa Maria area route I chose was a little short of 50 miles: beginning with a three mile dirt bike path, it continued through a neglected farming area, on to a state highway through golden Central CA hill country, then turned south and up a lovely grade through pines and live oaks. This stretch was in sunshine and was quite nice. So was the descent, until we returned to the cloud cover and it became cool and increasingly windy. Unfortunately in the last ten miles quite a few big trucks reminded us of the massive scale of agribusiness in this region.

The drive home through LA that Monday afternoon was… well, you know. But other than that, this was a great trip. We invite you to think about coming along next year. We could design rides to fit the riding goals of whoever wanted to join us, please don’t be scared off by my (slight) exaggeration of the Grizzly route.