Riding Fixed, Up Mountains, With Pros – Episode 5: Glendora Mountain Road


On this very Sunday I'm writing, Coryn Rivera will go home to her trophy room and hang yet another U.S. National Championship on her shelf. It's not a proverbial shelf and actually more like five or six well hung and supported shelves (that probably look something like Buzz's dream room setup in Home Alone) that amass her collection of, at the time we shot this episode, 71 U.S. National Championships. I'll do the arithmetic for you. Coryn Rivera at this time has won 72 U.S. National Championships as a pro track, cyclocross, mountain bike, and road cyclist. She started racing when she was 11 and went pro at 16. I got out the calculator to make sure of this one – at 25-years-old, she has averaged 8 national championships a year for the 9 years of her pro career. Coryn Rivera is a Virgo.

Today's women's pro road race in Knoxville, TN consisted of 9 laps at 8 miles each, totaling 72 miles. For the numerologists, 72 is a number of tolerance, philanthropy, and intuition. I said it six months ago when we had the privilege of spending the day with U.S. National Champion Coryn Rivera, and I'll say it again, Coryn Rivera, you are a patriot and an American Hero, and we salute and thank you for your service.

It's important that if you're unfamiliar with her name we establish the correct pronunciation at this time. Common spellings of the same phonetics such as "Corinne" and "Corrine" also sound like kuh-RIN, koh-RIN, or core-IN. Just pick one and get the second syllable accent right, and the same goes for her last name. Coryn Rivera is google's most famous "Coryn".

We've had a very-chill, slow-starting morning breaking ice with the national hero at Flo's Diner in Azusa, a smallish town adjacent to Glendora in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, just outside of Los Angeles and next door to Mt. Baldy. Both Coryn and our team rider, Erica Schwanke, are familiar with the hella-hyped, v dangerous Glendora Mountain Road (GMR), and they pick out East Fork Bridge as a staging area and start point for the ride.

Erica lets her hair down in the morning light and Coryn takes notice.

Saxon did an amazing job securing the audio equipment to Coryn, and I don't think he was nervous at all.

No offense, Michelin. Rivera rides for the pro team, Sunweb, and they're outfitted head-to-toe, tires-to-bartape with exclusive sponsorship from Liv, Giant Bicycle's dedicated women's brand, and they claim it to be the first.

Pay attention to the gleaming artifact in the foreground. Saxon is an adult, and adults plan ahead, and that braid is no accident. Sure as heaven and hell he is ready for a day of work.

Erica's bike is dialed in, and maybe she was a little inspired with a final touch, but I won't jump to conclusions. Nonetheless, she gets those locks suffer-ready.

Not even scared at all

 East Fork Road is a nice warm-up for a few miles before we turn onto GMR.

Not even a mile in, and Erica is talking about beer already. This should be a good one.

Spoiler alert: we get to the turnoff and Saxon talks Coryn through a proper fruit snacks hand-off. I believe right here he's preparing her for the impending experience of the "fruit snacks shower". It's so crucial in production that your subject is at ease, and since Coryn is technically a snack shower "virgin", it could be really overwhelming unless sufficiently groomed beforehand.

On the left is Julio Bustamante, and to any and most west-coast fixed-gear cyclists, he needs no introduction. Our fearless leader, Mehdi, was back home getting ready to welcome his first-born child into the world, and Julio was a worth understudy.

She's ready. Not even scared

The GMR proper segment of the ride has begun, and they make it look easy.

Starting to look less easy

If you've been with us throughout the series, there's always the stop for the drone shot. Julio's a certified drone-whisperer and helped us with this one. At this point, I'm pretty sure we had already got it and Saxon was online shopping. 

I flew in the night before and made the snack run at Ralph's because adults plan ahead. I have no problem tooting my horn here – I'm a snack professional. I do some freelance work, but most of my time is dedicated to State Bicycle Co. While I'd love to disclose the comprehensive art and science of procuring snacks, this is not the time nor place, and I just can't jeopardize my job security, I'm sorry.

But I'll give you a pro tip. There are your universal staples, crowd-pleasers if you will, that must be secured to enable necessary improvisation. Here's a freebie: potato chips, usually salt & vinegar, are part of every run. That's easy – you know that one. Now, Twizzlers Pull 'n' Peel, that's improvisation, and it was successful.

While Saxon finishes shopping for sandals, look how occupied our subjects are.

I'm much less of a photographer than a pro snacker, but I know you always get the pointing shot. I have no idea what they're pointing at, but it's crucial and cogent photojournalism.

Another one is the pensive gear staging photo, absolutely critical.

Saxon is a real genius at his craft, and he wasn't online shopping after all. In delaying for so long, he was building anticipation for them to get back onto the bike, and it worked perfectly. Well, so did the Twizzlers.

As we progress further along the climbing portion of GMR, I've realized we sorta fucked up on the scenic stop. This road and its vistas just get better and better.

Saxon's occupied with the improvement of audio quality, lacking almost any interference as we ascend – really feeling it.

WAIT. But first...

Gimme water break and make it pretty. It's about to get real punchy.

Fun fact: on a long ride snack stop Coryn Rivera does not reach for a Coca-Cola, but instead prefers a Fanta or Sprite.

They know they almost there yet!

We arrive to the intersection of Glendora Ridge Road on GMR, a quintessential vista on the route with views off both sides of the mountain.

Coryn takes a business call with her father while we snack break, again. Studies show that snacks, sometimes spelled "snax", are an extremely effective method in guaranteeing a substantial boost in morale, focus, productivity and frequently, but not in all cases loyalty, obedience, and friendship.

Mott's brand fruit snacks are extremely effective at guaranteeing tastiness, gustatory happiness, and retro-nasal joy. When intended use is applied, the sharable, individually portion-controlled size estimates a whopping 69% friendship rate and 99% reengagement rate. Users almost never enjoy just one 8-quantity snack pack. Consumers and fans often describe the snacks as a "tasty treat" that is fun to eat one, two, or three at a time.

We're downright floored to find out that Coryn is somewhat of a snack-catching savant. Her mouth-eye coordination is nearly supernatural, as seen in the episode.

Techno Music intellectuals, such as Skrillex and Imagine Dragons, attribute much of their genius to "fruit snax breax". More than 42.0% of professional drift car racers attribute their inspiration and success to Techno Music.

This is truly what creative fulfillment looks like.

Snacked and stoked 

There's not too much more uphill before we go way way down.

Upon the summit of the ride's elevation profile, we gear check for the descent and are surprised to find an easily missed vista of the San Gabriel Dam. It's a must see along the route.

The dam provides flood control and hydroelectricity for the massive, and well-populated San Gabriel Valley that stretches across nearly 30 cities from Pasadena to Pomona.

Coryn is a ton of fun to watch. She has the power and finesse of the real greats and I've only seen her climb. On the way up she said that she's done the GMR descent so many times she could do it with her eyes closed. This is her first descent on the fixed gear, and we can't wait to see her walk that talk.

Bless this descent.

Pray for beer.

I did a pretty good job preparing and talking Julio through the descent footage drive experience, that is as a merciful passenger in the Dodge Grand Caravan. I think he was already fed up with my driving at this point, and he had no idea yet what it feels like to keep up with two wheels on four wheels, downhill on an exhilaratingly twisty road. And it has nothing to do with the DGC – handles like a champ. So here you see Julio praying for Julio.

Everyone makes it down to the base for burgers and beer at Congregation Ale House. Julio's a little upset about his passenger experience, but I feel like everyone else had a good day. Coryn Rivera, much love and gratitude for your time and incredibly icy cold chillerism. Hats off to you!


Video by Saxon Richardson, photos and article by Jeffrey M. Olsen