After my ride today I was thinking about how lucky I am to be able to enjoy rides right from my front door. Today with the internet, it's easy to get jealous of "epic" looking rides that you see all over the world. Sometimes you just need to stop and take a look at your own backyard to find your own epic ride.
I have to admit that I have a pretty good backyard. Living in SoCal, I have access to the Santa Monica Mountains, which are just a short ride from home. I can even do a few of the rides before work in the mornings. One of the great standby rides is Sullivan Ridge, or canyon, on a CX bike. Sullivan Ridge isn't all that long or all that steep, but at nearly 6 miles and just about 1,300 feet of elevation gain it can be as hard or easy as you like.
Being able to get into the mountains so quickly from Santa Monica is amazing. One moment you are in a sea of latte-drinking, yoga-crazed, BMW-driving crazies and the next you are in the mountains with nothing but dirt, rocks and scrub brush everywhere you look. The views are always stunning and then some days, when the mountains are shrouded in clouds, the ride can take on a truly epic feel.
The main route is along a fire road, but there are mountain bike trails all over if you are feeling adventurous. Part way up there is a lone tree in the middle of the road to help mark your progress or lack there of. It was put there by the cycling gods to temp you with the idea of stopping for a respite from the climb or a photo op.
At the top, you're treated to great views of the Valley. Actually, looking at the Valley from miles away is the best way to see it. Having it shrouded in fog with early morning light doesn't hurt either.
The descent can be a fire road bomb session back the way you came, a trip through the canyon or a short ride over to the whoop-de-doos on Kenter, aka Kenter Coaster.
The ride is all about what you make of it.