Sierra Madre and San Rafael Mountains
Over the course of 6 days, 10 students from the Thacher School and I bikepacked the Sierra Madre Rd/Buckhorn Rd route across a section of the Los Padres National Forest. We departed from Aliso Canyon Campground, climbed to the Sierra Madre Road via the Hog Pen Spring Trail, followed the Sierra Madre Rd to the Buckhorn and the rode some great single track near 19 Oaks Camp as well as the last mile of the Santa Cruz Trail above Upper Oso Campground. This trip was organized as part of our bi-annual (fall and spring) 6-day expeditions into the backcountry as part of our school’s curriculum.
We had a wonderful tour and enjoyed camping in the solitude of the Los Padres. This part of California is absolutely amazing; it never fails to delight and surprise. Conditions were cool, water was readily available and the students were among the most adventuresome and enthusiastic about bikepacking as I have ever experienced. Some bumps, scrapes and minor crashes were sustained, but my students wore the scars and bandages like badges of honor. We also had very few mechanical issues, but one of our group bent his front rim badly only 2 miles from Upper Oso Camp. He was forced to pack up his bike and hike out, but otherwise sustained only a scratch. “I am just bummed to not be able to keep riding singletrack” was his only negative response after the crash. Upon reaching the road, one of his comrades gave him his bike to ride the 1.4 miles while he “piggybacked” on the OMM rack of a fellow student. They bent the rack skewer a bit, but otherwise I have to praise them for coming up with a solution and keeping the band together. Awesome kids.
Our camps were: Hog Pen Spring Camp, Painted Rock Camp, Alamar Camp (a dry camp, but sufficient water was available at Chokecherry Spring), Bluff Camp, and 19 Oaks Camp.
- Hog Pen Spring – trough was full, steady trickle from the spring
- Painted Rock – used Montgomery # 2 Spring – cattle trough – very fine sediment, supply a little low. Montgomery # 1 was pooling, but insufficient supply for our group.
- Oak Spring – steady trickle as of 5/20
- Chokecherry Spring – steady trickle down the creek. 26 oz in 1 minute (5/20)
- Bluff Camp – 32 oz in 18 sec. (5/21)
- 19 Oaks – ample water in pools in the creek below camp (5/22)
- I am deeply appreciative of the superb racks from Old Man Mountain in Santa Barbara as well the support from Channing. These racks have been solid and are easy for my students to work with in the field (a critical element with a large group).
- I used a handlebar bag (a Sweetroll), Gas Tank and Jerry Can from Revelate Designs this spring and am very pleased with how well they install and pack loads on the bike. For one reason or another I have been skeptical of carrying gear on my handlebars on technical single track, but this bar bag has changed, or perhaps better informed, my perspective on carrying gear in this manner. Mounted on a Santa Cruz Blur, I didn’t feel that the load on the front was problematic at all while riding. In fact, I appreciated the way that it allowed me to balance out the bike.
- Hammer Gel, Hammer Perpetuem and Endurolytes.