I’ll be honest, I don’t really like riding my bike at night. I’ve done it before of course, but typically any time I’m out past the time the sun goes down is purely by accident. Yet, each year I seem to end up doing two or three rides that push the limits of what I’m comfortable with, be it some ungodly number of miles, silly amount of climbing, or most often, a combination of the two.
This time though, the ride that some of my closest riding buddies and I started concocting would be fairly average in the mileage department. Ninety miles with less than 10,000 feet of climbing was just a normal weekend ride, but there was one caveat. We’d be riding the 102-year-old closed portion of Old Ridge Route that’s a true test on a road bike with the best of circumstances, and we would be doing it at night under the Harvest Moon.
What made this ride idea especially cool is the historical significance of Old Ridge Route, a road that is credited in helping keep California as a single state after talks of a Southern and Northern split were considered in Sacramento. After its completion in 1915, it connected the textile rich Los Angeles basin with the farms of the San Joaquin Valley by creating a path over the Tejon Pass during a time when workers were flooding from the East looking for work.
While portions of the Old Ridge Route is now covered over by Interstate 5, there’s a section closed to vehicular traffic and truly lost in time. Foundations of filling stations, restaurants, and motels that once served the travelers dot the single lane, partially paved road that’s covered in many places by a blanket of fallen rock, dirt and debris that has collected over the years since its closure. It’s easily my favorite stretch of road I’ve found anywhere, and having the opportunity to experience it at night wasn’t something I was about to pass up.
Armed with a Lezyne Power Drive 1100 XL headlight (and Lite Drive 700 XL as a spare that went unused) and the glow of the full moon we tackled a loop that consisted of 90 miles and nearly 9,000 feet of climbing.