The mountains were calling, and the BULLS Grinder EVO was the bike of choice for this mixed terrain adventure. Drop bars allowed for an efficient bike position through 20 miles of suburban streets while the Schwalbe G-One tires' 40mm width provided smooth sailing over chunky roads and old river paths. Dusk settled in just as the pavement yielded to a fire/service road, and again, the G-One tires proved to be perfect for the route, offering plenty of traction up the final ascent. With bike lights glowing, the 2.5 mile climb dragged both rider and bike up 1,300 of elevation... the perfect time for a Bosch powered pedal-assist!
Once up top, the city lights blurred into the incoming fog, creating a soft glow for miles. After settling up camp, it was time to socialize with the other bikepackers as a variety of food began to cook under headlamp light.
The ride was hosted by Kevin at Maverick Cycles and drew a small contingent of riders with a diversity of riding and bikepacking experiences. From huge backpacks overstuffed with bulky sleeping bags & s’mores to minimalist-specific bikepacking bags with ultralight stoves, everyone brought what they had, or could borrow. There was plenty of food to go around: grilled meats, chocolates, soups and of course, alcohol.
After a solid night’s sleep, the smells of coffee, oatmeal, fried rice and ramen got us going. Overlooking a fog-banked Los Angeles, we slowly packed our bags and headed back down to civilization, and honestly, I was impressed by the Grinder EVO’s Apex disc brakes...no brake fade doing the dirt road in reverse, a 10% descent down the same loose, bumpy service road and back into the city of Altadena.
To schlep the gear, Ortlieb's gravel-oriented pannier bags were fitted, easily and cleanly providing 40 liters worth of storage. The Handlebar QR bag has a unique mounting system that initially raised an eyebrow, but proved to be simple and quite effective in keeping its contents stable the whole route. The Fork bags easily drop on the included fork mounts, allowing rigid & suspension bikes to carry weight low on the front end. The rear Gravel bags hook up to a standard pannier rack and stay quiet and stable, thanks to the included tube-size adaptor clips. And of course, it’s always nice having a Cockpit bag for snacks along the way. Each of these bags mounted easily, had gaping entry points for loading gear and are super durable...plus they’ve got a 5 year warranty and are sustainably made in Germany.
Who knew what to expect when setting out on this adventure? And that’s part of the fun, enjoying the challenge and beauty of nature with new friends, arriving via bikes!