Growing up in Chatsworth, or anywhere in the valley for that matter, you can’t help but be in awe of the uninhabited mountains that surround you. Oat Mountain is the fattest of the bunch, stretching from Simi Valley to the I5, rising above the CA-118 thousands of feet up. The hillside is bare – though the developments have been creeping up the foothills just past the CA-118 for the last few decades. A few buildings sit at the top – radars and communication towers – where after winter rainstorms you can occasionally see snow for a few days.
Shortly after I learned to ride a bike, around the age of 11, I wanted to take my Diamond Back up to the top. I had no idea if it was ever done, so I convinced some friends of mine to go with me. We stocked up at AM/PM for supplies and then headed up Reseda. From there, we found some dirt stretches that went up, but we got tired quickly and turned back. The Dr Pepper we fueled on felt like the right choice, but in hindsight we may have been better off with Mt Dew or Gatorade. The team also wasn’t so motivated, and I realized this is probably a climb I must do on my own.
When I was 19 I started mountain biking quiet a bit. I tried a western ascent of Oat Mountain, going up Rocky Peak. As I summited, most of the trails continued out to the west and I was once again not fueled right or in good shape to do the ride.
Shortly before my crash this year, I headed up Brown’s Canyon which starts from De Soto and CA-118. It looks like it goes straight up to the top. I left from work and made my way up. After a few brutal 9% climbs and tons of no trespassing signs, I turned around.
Months go by and then a Bicikillers rider posted about a road that goes up to the top. It turns out to be Brown’s Canyon. Preparation would be key to making this climb. That and no fear of the trespassing signs. On Sept 21, I had errands to ride so I drove to work and then road up from the park-and-ride.
The climb is tough. Without my bike computer, it was hard to gauge the climb but I pushed on past the no trespassing signs, deer and coyotes watching me as I ride or walk my way up the climbs. I pass a state park, making me feel a bit less nervous about trespassing.
I get to a flat section after more than an hour before I realize I need to turn back and head to work.
Curious, I went to check the route online. 2000 feet of climbing in 4 miles! The total climb was less than 10 miles but it felt like 20. Was I really going that slowly. All the breaks added up. That and the walking.
I knew I needed to wake early to make this ascent and on Sept 27, I decided to wake at 4am and ride no matter what. The usual critters were out when I finally start climbing around 5:30. Giant owls sweep across the canyon. I make it to a gate and have to walk my bike over it.
The road stays steep for the climb and I check my bike computer. It mostly rest at 9% with often spikes to 12-17%. I play around with how steep a hill I can ride and almost fall over on a 15% grade dodging potholes.
If I keep trying to ride the steep stuff I would blow myself up and would be walking all morning to the top. I opt to walk much of the steeper stuff so I can ride the 9-10%.
I can see the top and start riding along a ridge to get to the back of the mountain. I am in suspense as the route snakes around old oak trees and oil wells. The road conditions get worse and I wonder who ever drives up here.
As stoked as I am, I need to head home and I am dreading the ride down. I recall some gravel stretches at 15% grades and start making my way.
With all the stopping and slowing, it takes time to get back to the gate to hop over. Shortly after I hit the paved road and let go of the brakes. As I approach the bottom I see a cyclist coming up. We laugh at each other, not expecting to see another body on this obscure but taunting climb. That smile stays with me all morning.