Completing an LA Tourist Race has always been a fascination of mine, but in its four years of existence I haven’t gone all in on an attempt until now.
Given a specific number of checkpoints, it’s always a big conversation how you plan your route where you trade off distance for difficulty.
As part of our core, Team GBC’s Vic, Bill and Sam have completed Tourists before in some form, but never have all four of us try to complete one together (possibly my fault).
My follies came from timing to weather to not feeling prepared enough, but this was the year I felt I could look past all three and conquer my first one.
This was the debut of my new Lauf Seigla at an event and I felt with the suspension fork, wider tire clearance and gearing would make this a far more palatable ride than my set up on the Niner RLT.
Unfortunately, this course felt like it had a higher degree of difficulty than others, not to mention more checkpoints than others.
In this particular case, it seemed like there was a good amount of hike-a-bike going in that we tried factoring best in our planning.
The reality was it being worse then we imagined as for at least four of the six checkpoints (our route had five), there was no way of reaching them without getting off your pedals for each one.
With the LA Tourist Race also being basically self-supported (they did add an aid station along Big Tujunga Canyon), planning for water became a big key with us having four adequate stops spaced in-between.
While our route had almost 11k of climbing, strangely our biggest problem we found out later was timing, as we had over two hours of recorded stopping that really hampered us reaching the twelve hour time limit…and I’m not even including the forty-minutes it took to repair my chain!
Our first stop along La Tuna Canyon Trail was embedded in the Verdugos and while our incursion from the north added two miles, it cut down a great deal of climbing ultimately reaching the checkpoint the same time those going over Stough Canyon did.
It’s easy to say that at least a quarter of this mile and half out and back riding was useless and we abandoned our bikes for a good portion of it.
Our second stop on the Ken Burton Trail was straightforward in reaching it with a good amount of familiar climbing, but we avoided a lot of hike a biking continuing on the trail, but got some slowing progress crossing the Arroyo Seco before ultimately reaching the Angeles Crest Highway.
Getting up to the third checkpoint beyond Hoyt Mountain was straight forward, but coming down was took the five mile option going down Grizzly Flat Trail versus eighteen taking us mostly on road with more climbing.
Overall we did save time though only minutes because the majority of downhill we used cyclocross carrying techniques while the flatter parts involved many river crossings.
Let’s Ride Cyclery set up a pit stop right by the exit, but it was clear that finishing on time was not likely that was definitely confirmed once we started the adjacent Condor Peak Trail.
The first third of a mile to the junction was all hike a bike and then while the majority of the three mile climb was ridable, factor in all the walking and doing six and a half miles in about an hour and a half didn’t work out in our favor.
Since we figured we’d be at least an hour past the cutoff time, we decided to hightail it back in the night rightfully putting our lights to good use.
It might be a bigger challenge with a group, but weighing in on how we would complete this as a team was a large part of the fun and while we didn’t reach our goal, we all came out of it with adventure stories to come and there will always be more LA Tourist Races to come…