Escape to High Ground

Michelle and I have wanted to do an overnight bike trip near by for a while. Something that doesn’t involve those infernal machines, but that lets us get away from the city, just a little bit. A S24O as it’s sometimes called. The only option for such a trip out of Pasadena is the San Gabriel Mountains, which are criss-crossed with hundreds of miles of fire roads. Mostly steep and unpaved, mostly waterless, but nearby, and scenic. On the north slopes, you can almost convince yourself LA isn’t there anymore.

We picked this last weekend because it was open. It also happened to be long (4th of July and all that), and hot. The route was supposed to be about 50 miles round trip, up Clamshell Truck Trail to an overlook near Santa Anita Canyon, making a loop including Van Tassell Motorway. In retrospect, this was overambitious to say the least, especially while carrying 2 days worth of water, in near 100°F high temperatures. We left far too late, and got to Monrovia Canyon to discover that it was closed for the entire weekend due to the fire hazard (drunk+fireworks+dry=bad). Argh. We retreated to Chantry (also being guarded against yahoos by concerned Sierra Madre residents), intending to follow the dirt road from the helipad upwards toward the antennas, but we were already half spent, and halfway up the paved climb, Michelle was overheating and light headed, and I was unhappily grinding away in my lowest gear. I probably would have continued out of (foolish) stubbornness on my own. Luckily we didn’t have any lasting bodily heat-damage. But it was a bummer.

Sunday I felt like I was wasting the weekend. Feeling trapped in LA. In the heat. So I rode up Chantry alone (Michelle would have none of that and headed into air conditioned work). I napped at the tree by the dam, and again on the bench by the helipad, and coasted back down into the brown muck to buy a month’s supply of bread flour and sample all the proffered cheeses at Whole Foods on the way home.

What am I doing in this city? It hates me, and I return the sentiment wholeheartedly. I feel like an expatriate. Thankfully there does seem to be a like-minded expatriate community, but still. I miss my home country, wherever that is.

By Zane Selvans

A former space explorer, now marooned on a beautiful, dying world.

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