Long before David Lynch released his Oscar nominated movie “Mulholland Drive” in 2001, there was a stretch of scenic tarmac by the same name. This piece of pavement, named for the infamous civil engineer William Mulholland, stretches from the Hollywood Sign in the east to several miles past of the 405 freeway at the Sepulveda Pass in the west. Mulholland Drive rolls through portions of the Eastern Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills, traversing famed neighborhoods where even more famous celebrities reside. Views of both the Los Angeles Basin and San Fernando Valley unfold as the road winds its way along the mountain ridge.
Cyclists are a common sight on Mulholland Drive. Weekend group rides abound, traveling in both directions along this two-lane road. While the undulating pavement is a great venue for a challenging workout, what lies at the end of the pavement is the true cycling pot of gold. Just west of the Encino Hill Drive intersection, the asphalt fades and the surface turns to dusty dirt. Mulholland Drive becomes an unpaved road littered with potholes and peppered with loose, marble sized gravel. This is where Mulholland Drive becomes Dirt Mulholland.
Dirt Mulholland itself is an 8-mile stretch of gravel road, now closed to motor vehicles, that continues along the ridgeline between “The Valley” and the “Westside,” traversing the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy leading into Topanga State Park. This beautiful wilderness has been slated numerous times for residential development projects, the Reseda-to-the-Sea Freeway and even a municipal dump. Fortunately, due to efforts of passionate environmentalists, hikers and cyclists, these mountains have remained undeveloped and open to recreation. These canyons and mountainsides provide vital habitat for the coyotes, mountain lions, reptiles and raptors that once dominated Southern California. It also allows residents from the greater Los Angeles region an oasis to escape the hustle of the surrounding metropolis.
A network of adjoining fire roads and singletrack intersect Dirt Mulholland. Cyclists can access it on all sides and link together a wide array of routes. From the “Westside,” ascend Westridge or Mandeville Fire Road. At the apex a quick hop across to Sullivan Ridge Road provides a ripping descent back down to Sunset Boulevard. From the East, start on Dirt Mulholland straight away and take it all the way west till just before you ride off the cliff’s edge onto Pacific Coast Highway. This gravel playground is littered with landmarks only notable to cyclists and hikers. Mention the Nike Missile Silo, The Hub, Eagle Rock, to any dirt-inclined Angelino and you will conjure memories of hot days of suffering up to Backbone Trail, or an adventure ride with friends across the mountain for hand made dumplings from the Fernwood Market.
Cyclists looking to venture into terrain like Dirt Mulholland benefit greatly from proper equipment. A bike with wide gear range, ample hydration, modern kit and comfortable shoes all make riding more enjoyable, but the one item that keeps all this rolling is a quality wheelset. Adoption of tubeless technology into gravel wheels has made riding skinny tire bikes on dirt way more enjoyable. The Spinergy GXX’s tubeless-ready profile makes tire setup easy and secure. Centerlock disc brake mounts continue the ease of setup process and make cleaning and maintenance a breeze. And the durability of this $999 wheelset is ample thanks to foam-core carbon rims laced to CNC-machined hubs with Spinergy’s patented PBO Fiber Spokes. Sealed cartridge bearings in the hubs of these strong 1,590-gram wheels mean countless miles of smooth rolling while exploring new areas, be it mixed terrain urban adventures or backcountry gravel roads.