Since attempting to break the Everesting speed record (and failing), I’ve been doing a long ride every week or so. The aim is around eight hours with as much climbing squeezed in as possible. Luckily for me, I live in the Santa Monica Mountains, where racking up 17,000 feet of climbing in one ride is not only doable, but enjoyable. The Émonda is the perfect bike for such a task. Light and fast, it certainly helped me cover more ground and get in an extra canyon on this ride while still being comfortable enough to not leave me with any unwarranted fatigue or strain.
The first hill of the day was one of my favorite local climbs: Fernwood. This pitchy (and at times very steep) road snakes its way up through the old California oak trees on its way to the first dramatic view of the day. There’s not much time to soak it in though because there’s a lot of ground to be covered. Soon I was ripping down Stunt Road to Mulholland.
Mulholland starts at the ocean and flows through the middle of the canyons all the way to the other end of the range. In 2018, the Woolsey Fire tore through the famed section of Mulholland known as the Rock Store, closing it to cars indefinitely. But in 2019, Rock Store reopened to bikers and pedestrians. Many riders would avoid this climb due to the racing car and motorcycle culture that dominated it, but now it is one of the quietest sections of tarmac you can find. I follow Mulholland all the way to the ocean and turn right, headed towards the western end of the range and my favorite climbs: Deer Creek and Yerba Buena. Deer Creek is steep and unforgiving, climbing away from the ocean into the mountains again. This road really feels European: The pavement is good; it’s narrow and twisty and never not going up or down. It leads to Yerba Buena where you keep ascending under the dramatic rock faces formed underwater eons ago, now mounted atop the ridgeline. You know you’re at the top when you pass the gate made from a giant anchor chain. A fast, straight descent down to the famed Pacific Coast Highway and I’m back on another climb called Latigo. This is possibly the most well-known canyon here, where people come to compare themselves to the pros who have provided a benchmark. Another quick descent to the coast and it’s time for lunch. The burrito and soda from the taco truck parked on the side of PCH provide me with almost all the sustenance I’ll need for the remaining half of my ride. But I have a few cookies in my handlebar bag just in case. The Émonda does what a great bike should do: connect you to the road while giving you just enough feedback to make the right adjustments. This is especially critical when racing, but the benefits can be enjoyed by everyone. It makes a really long ride easier because your mind can relax and focus on what’s in front of you. The lack of drag and sense of speed the Émonda evokes just makes you want to go faster and farther every ride.