Tour de Los Padres

Bikepacking the Backcountry


It's one of those words that has been overused to the point that its meaning has been trivialized, but it's the best way to sum up Tour de Los Padres. TDLP is 260-mile, self-supported bikepacking journey through California's remote southern coast range in the Los Padres National Forest. Arduous, splendid, punishing, marvelous. A proper adventure.

We're off at 7:30 the next morning. It's cold in the mountains, just above freezing when we start. We begin to climb immediately, up and over Mt. Pinos. There is snow on the ground at the top. We descend the other side, and stop for a quick snack at the market on the other side of the mountain.

There's not a lot of traffic off the beaten path.

The Place.

The Place is a restaurant in Ventucopa, a wonderful oasis. It's also the last place to get water for the next 80-something miles. They graciously supply us with pitcher after pitcher as we fill up.

The miles are relatively easy the first day, and soon the sun begins to sink below the mountains to the west. We pedal on.

Camping on top of ridges means packing up with a beautiful backdrop at sunrise.

We descend as the soft morning light fills the valley below. In front of us lies a 10-mile climb up to the Sierra Madre ridgeline.

The dirt road along the ridge is brutal. It’s hot and exposed; the road seems to rise endlessly ahead. Just when I find my spirits starting to dip, I round a bend...

The flowers, the views. Worth it.

And then, a little descent. And magic in the sky as the sun sets. Idyllic.

We are finally rewarded for all the climbing: glorious singletrack.


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