Velo course: A Cross-Town Loop

After I got my cyclocross Ibis Hakkalugi all fixed up last year, I figured creating some kind of loop on which to ride it was called for. The Cross-Town Loop is my current best solution. By incorporating various city parks, dirt paths, bonus challenge features at the Colleges, and linking them with sections of roadway, the loop provides a pretty well rounded fourteen or so miles, including many features typically bundled into your average cyclocross race. Included are grass, dirt, wood chips, gravel, sand, and sinuous turns on loose surfaces. You can practice mounting and dismounting at any time.  An added bonus (I guess) are rocks, as both Powerline and the dirt Thompson Creek Trail (TCT) will throw those at you in abundance. As for those sections of smooth roadway, just use them for speed - there is no slowing down in cyclocross after all.

Thompson Creek Trail

a beach volleyball court = sand pit

gateway to the Sontag Greek Theater

entrance to the Farm at Pomona College

typical walking / jogging path around the Farm / athletic field perimeter

typical walking / jogging path around the Farm / athletic field perimeter

Use your best judgement when you ride portions of this loop. If some group of students is in the middle of a volleyball match, avoid churning through the sand for that day. If there is a youth baseball or softball game in progress at the city park, avoid cutting across the outfield for that day. Be aware that the perimeter path around the Farm at Pomona College is often used by student joggers. Stay off the upper athletic field, which includes Pomona College's competition track. The last time I rode the loop, a track and field event was taking place, there were people warming up, and competing everywhere. Things like those. So what are the route specifics:

Start from the usual corner at Baseline and Mills, heading north on Mills. Just past Mt. Baldy Road make a left at the gate and enter the Thompson Creek Trail (TCT). Merge left onto the dirt of Powerline, and follow it until it rejoins the TCT. When you have navigated both yellow gates on either side of the intersecting roadway, you can either continue on the paved path, or drop down to the dirt. The section from this point all the way to Mountain Ave has great potential to challenge your handling, your bobbing and weaving. There are sand pits and rocks galore. Some of the rocks are quite large and will do some damage if you let them. The TCT is also extremely popular with pedestrians and joggers, so listen to Prudence, and let her be your guide.

Once you have crossed Mountain the consistency of the dirt TCT changes, largely because it is now elevated above the paved path, rather than below. Because of that it does not serve as a storm channel or drainage ditch. But for the many people and dogs about, you could really rip this section of hard pack. After you cross one more street / driveway, the dirt path changes to the other side of the paved one. That is okay but, after a short distance a slope will begin to show to your left, and the bottom of that slope is populated by some very nasty and pointedly sharp maguey. As I get close, and having no desire to become a pincushion nor to find out how well those serrated edges would work against my skin, I always hop back onto the paved path. And anyway, Towne Avenue, and the end of the TCT is just ahead. When you reach that intersection go left, cross Baseline and the I-210, then bear right at either the bike path or the first street past the 210 exit ramp.

Your are going to cruise around some residential streets now in the following order. Sumner Avenue south, left on Briarcroft Road, right on Lynoak Drive to Foothill. The intersection at Foothill is an uncontrolled one, but keep your wits about you and you can get across without too much delay. You are right at Coates Cyclery now, and if bouncing over and off all those rocks on the dirt TCT have given you a flat, stop on in to pick up a fresh tube. Continuing on, make a right on Towne, then a left at the next traffic signal, Amador Street. Take Amador until it bends right and becomes Northwestern, which you follow to Butte and a left hand turn. At Mountain Ave make a right. Larkin Park will immediately be seen down the street; when you get there ride up the corner ramp and onto the grass and in a diagonal direction across the park. Beside the grass, there is a playground with sand which you might be able to ride through. Eventually though, make your way to the parking lot along the east side of the park, and to the entrance. Cross the street onto Cambridge and continue onto Bonita where you make a left.

When you make it into the Village cut down (right) to Second Street  and turn left, eventually crossing College Ave and entering the campus. Just after, look to the right, across the lawn, to the sand volleyball court - there is some good sand pit practice there. If you have successfully limboed under the net and spun the length of the court a few times, make your way to the Sontag Greek Theater. Right after passing beneath the gateway to the amphitheater make a right on the dirt path. You will ride through a little oak woodland, then make a right at the first dirt road. This will take you on a loop around the perimeter of the Farm and lower athletic field. Get your fill of these gravel, dirt, and mulch paths through this part of the Colleges then make your way north through the campuses, up Mills and back to the ride start. The total mileage, without any extras, might be thirteen miles; I will usually end up with a little more. Now it is time for a second lap.