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05 May 2024

Tour De Los Padres 2024 Recap

Tour De Los Padres 2024 Recap

Tour De Los Padres 2024 

The 11th annual Tour De Los Padres took place on April 19th, 2024. With road damage unfortunately canceling the longer “proper” route, riders made their way to Frazier Park, California for the grand departure. Frazier Park sits only minutes away from the busy I-5 freeway separating the central valley and Los Angeles. Around 30 riders were present at the start. This ride happens each year due to the efforts of many individuals on our “TDLP Collective” spearheaded by route creator Erin Caroll. While the event has historically been free, riders are encouraged to fundraise for a cause of their choice or consider donating to the Los Padres Forest Association as well as the “Get it Done Trail Crew based out of Ojai, CA. Many of the trails included in this year's route were made possible through the efforts of the Get it Done Crew. 

After a short talk and group picture the participants embarked on their 185 mile journey climbing the steep pavement as they headed to the snow laden mountains. With several riders taking on the challenge of their first “TDLP” (The abbreviated way to refer to the route), we quickly found ourselves off of the mountain highways and onto dirt. One of the primary challenges of the route is to enjoy the journey off-road. Most riders were on hardtail mountain bikes running two inch or larger tires with a brave few electing to bring their gravel bikes. Climbing up to the high point of the route at 7,500 feet, a recent storm had created less than ideal conditions with sections of the trail inundated with snow. 

After pushing through, we enjoyed a quick resupply in Pine Mountain Club, one of the few options available on the tour route. With the ever changing landscapes behind us, we traversed through large open meadows before descending into Quatal Canyon which is more commonly referred to as “the wash” by veteran riders. Beautiful canyon walls arch up on each side of riders as the dirt turns from brown to copper. While known for being a slower moving section of the route, it does not disappoint with its views. 

Our group of 10 riders pedaled on moving quickly as the light of day one began to slip away. Enjoying a nice meal at the Cuyama Buckhorn, a restored restaurant that retains its historic roots, we opted to camp closer than we expected we would get to that night. Luckily finding room at the Blue Sky Center behind the restaurant we were able to keep morale high with our last big meal before covering the ground between New Cuyama and Ojai. Steep sections of trail awaited us as we said good-bye to the pavement and crossed through Aliso Campground. 

While the progress was slow, we crested out on the top of Sierra Madre ridgeline to find water to filter in the backcountry. Visiting Painted Rock Campground we took in the beauty of the paintings that adorned the rock walls filtering water that ran off of the rocks.

Seeking shelter from the sun, we regrouped and rested. Despite last week's storm, we were fortunate with great weather during the entire weekend. Knowing that our group would split up, we decided to all meet back up at mile 112 at Bluff Cabin campground. A forest service worksite that houses rangers during their backcountry stays. The damage from the 2023 storms that had shut down this part of the Los Padres National Forest was considerable but also made for a type two sort of adventure ascending ten feet tall boulders and more. With tired legs and our group back together, we woke up early to share a breakfast of laughter and telling tales of the misadventures we had gotten into the previous day. At this point, we knew we were going to get into some new territory and gained another rider within our group. 



With abundant sources of water along the route including creek crossings and the Santa Ynez River snaking parallel to the lowlands of Santa Barbara, it was easy to pull over and filter what you needed. We got into the rhythm of ride, filter, and snack. Meeting other riders and forging new friendships kept the spirits high as the gradients started to tilt upward. We sadly had scuttled our plans of visiting the backcountry hot springs in favor of finishing on the third day. As we exited the lowlands, you couldn’t help but look up ahead to see a handful of riders hiking their bike up Monta Arido trail. A tough section but nevertheless what remained on the other side was worth it. Climbing up to Ocean View Trail, we were treated with a finale full of singletrack and colorful benches that acted as little landmarks within the trail. While we optimistically hoped to finish with the sun still out, we quickly pulled out our lights to finish our journey as we descended into Ojai. A surprise river crossing added to the many challenges of this year’s TDLP but nevertheless we pushed on and rode the final few miles down the bike path from Ojai to the Ventura Pier. Our three day journey had us climbing around 18,000 feet and after a quick pit stop for celebratory cokes, we finished at exactly midnight. If you’re looking for an off-road adventure the Tour De Los Padres certainly is up for the task. This was our third year on route and we hope to continue to get out there each year. 

 

  • Drew Raney “2024 Tour Route Organizer” 
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