Cycling Mount Wilson

Los Angeles does not appear to by the most cycling friendly city, even though it bills itself as the health capital of America, if not the world. Think big cars, smog, bad road conditions and to many traffic lights; and did I mention the really big cars who are not used to cyclists on a day-to-day basis.

But when you look beyond the inner city and Venice Beach, you will see coastal and mountain routes that just beg to be cycled. The Malibu Coastal Route is beautiful rolling road where you can simply can cycle a never ending road whilst enjoying a stunning scenery. The Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills are easily reachable with some great climbs, all which are challenging but manageable. And then of course we have Mount Wilson which rises to 6000ft above sea level, one of the highest point in the mountain range east of Los Angeles, and simply too beautiful to ignore for cycling.

Mount Wilson is a must do climb if you ever cycle in the Los Angeles area, to beautiful to ignore and challenging enough to ensure a bit of suffering to make it a good climbing session. M planning involved an early start to beat the sun, however rush-hour and my Sat Nav playing haywire ensured a 10am start. Not ideal as it was a predicted 30degrees Celsius day. With the start being in the foothills in La Canada straight up the Angeles Crest Highway, a good 1mile climb with the feeling that I was leaving civilization behind with an immediate open air feeling. The route itself to Mount Wilson is only 30km long, but with 1400m of climbing to be done and an average of 4.5% gradient, but it does reward you with a relative smooth road, almost no traffic and stunning views. With each pedal stroke I could see myself rise further and further out of the Los Angeles Smog; a reward well worth the effort.

The climb has one a brief respite just after Clear Rock, a great way to recover my legs. But once you hit Red Box the final 9km Climb comes up, with the road continuing to be smooth, but no rest period! I bear and grin the last 9km, no easy as I m not a great climber, simply as I don’t train for hills and live in flat area of Germany. By the time I hit the top of Mount Wilson I m covered in salty sweat marks, a sign of working hard in my eyes. Was it worth the climb? Hell yeah; on a clear day one can see everything from LA to Catalina and up and down the coast, although on my day it was a little smoggy over LA, but still worth the view. And I did have 18miles of descending on a twisty clean road to look forward to.

For anybody visiting Los Angeles; this climb isn’t easy, but manageable if you have some basic fitness and if your not in any hurry. Plus the the view and the long descent makes the climb really worth it. If you need the route have a look at my Strava Entry for the day.