Out in the Outpost

12 April, 2017

Over the weekend I was determined to celebrate my final days in LA the best way I could by mountain biking the Santa Monica mountains. Just weeks before, I had done a road ride out here and found it incredibly difficult to climb that I did not get to have the the full experience of being at mountain top to overlook the San Fernando Valley and Pacific. Upon searching for mountain biking trails in  LA, I came upon the recommendation of a friendly bike shop, Topanga Creek Outpost, tucked in the Topanga Moutains that has a 10.8 mile loop and mountain bike rentals for the day. I called and booked our Saturday morning at the loop. Upon waking up, we ate a hearty meal and headed north on the PCH towards the outpost.
Upon arriving we were greeted by Chris, followed by Jeo, Eric, and "the guy with the beard". The shop was enamored with beautiful touring/mountain bikes and gear that I couldn't stop touching and looking at, I felt like a kid in a candy shop! I ask my millions of questions about the shop and was given a tour of the rugged space and offered coffee and banana bread. As we talked shop and prepared to head out to the trail, Jeo sets us up on our bikes as Chris equips us with a map, details of the trail, and some water. After all was said and done, they send us on our merry way up towards Arteique Road where we were met with out first climb of the day.

As we climb up a big single track on Deer Hill trail we are greeted at the top with rolling meadows of wildflowers where we would catch our breath before rolling along Mulholland Drive Fire Road. At this point we were literally breathless with the awe-inspiring views of the San Fernando Valley and the beautiful red soil canyons of Topanga over looking the Pacific Ocean. When I had read online that the trail was beautiful, I didn't imagine that the route was one hell of a technical challenge to be rewarded with epic views.
As we get halfway through the loop, we roll through serpentine trails with hikers and other mountain bikers. You can see some pro riders conquering the technical trails and some new pacing themselves uphill, it's a trail for all. On our way back to Topanga Canyon, we make a right turn just before Eagle Rock down to a technical, rocky waterfall single track that leads out of the park to serpentine roads that cool you down as you head back to the outpost. By the time we got back, my hands and arms were shaking out of maintaining control and speed through that last trail. We were exhilarated and exhausted once we made it to the shop and took offerings of coffee and banana bread.

As we cooled down and settled from an exhausting 2.5 hr ride of technical 10.8 miles of trails, we were awarded (literally) with a certificate of our achievement of completing the loop. Sipping on coffee and ravaging on bread, Chris shows us his skill in leather work while telling stories of the bike shops beginnings and all the bike tours and rides they lead. In that moment, I was filled with so much admiration for this shop that felt more like a community and wishing that every bike shop was just like this. 
Topanga Creek Outpost is the most unique and greatest example of a newer form of bike shop that focuses on the customer experience offering the best of cycling culture: coffee, cake, bikes, gear, trails, adventures, and stories. It was so chill, friendly, and relaxing that we hung out till closing time. We were so impressed with their stories and work that it felt like a place I would want to be in everyday. When we headed back onto the PCH we stopped off for fish tacos and returned home to take hot baths, and rest on the the excitement of the day.

A day out in the mountains on a bike was the perfect way to end a winter escape from NY to CA.