Usually this time of year is about long, cold, wet rides over icy and sand-covered roads. Winter training is a necessary evil in the world of cycling, with races starting as early as February. However, for the first time in my career, I'm not cleaning road salt out of my teeth after every ride in January. Instead, I'm still putting sunblock on each morning and bundling up with nothing more than a windbreaker before heading out the door. I was hesitant to leave my home and epic training grounds of Reno-Tahoe a few months ago in exchange for my new residence in Calabasas, CA, but the differences in winter training have made the transition pretty okay in my book.
Back home in Nevada, morning rides are typically done indoors on a stationary trainer since roads are often too frozen to ride. Here in Calabasas? My favorite early morning ride is from sea level to 2,500' up to the top of the Santa Monica mountains. With a dozen trails and dirt roads heading to the top from my front door, no morning is the same.
Everyone knows the mountain biking is incredible in Tahoe. But how does the mountain biking in a suburb of LA like Calabasas compare? Believe it or not, it compares quite well. The Santa Monica mountains span from Calabasas up the coast another 50 miles and are filled with literally thousands of miles of single track. While the elevation isn't nearly as impressive as it is back home in Nevada, there are hundreds of different 3,000' climbs and descents to be found all throughout this playground.
So all in all, how does winter in Southern California compare to winter in the mountains? It has been a very welcome change for me and I know the quality of riding down here is going to pay off tremendously in my season ahead. Still, I do find myself missing certain aspects of those frigid January rides back in Nevada. But that leads to the biggest perk of being in Calabasas - I'm just a short drive away from being back in the mountains and actual seasons. When I'm getting a little homesick, the Sierra Nevada's are always right there waiting.
So if you find yourself in Southern California this winter with a bicycle, let me know! I'd be happy to show you my favorite roads and trails, just as all of the great riders here have done for me.