I circumnavigated the back of what looks like a sizable lake on the map (Chatsworth Reservoir), but was actually an almost completely dry flood basin. I saw a family of bunnies.
Past the reservoir I left the valley on a road called Bell Canyon, which climbed up to a gated community. There were several miles of nice homes crawling up every available side of the canyon walls. This section of the trip was the toughest. Over the four miles up Bell Canyon the road rose almost 1000 feet. Nearing the end of this road, at an intersection, I saw a big hawk or eagle, perched on a fence post. As a car and I both approached it took flight, made a large circle, and then landed back on his perch, after we cleared out of his way. His huge chest and razor sharp beak were impressive.
At the end I found a series of switchbacks almost too steep to bike up, leading to a ridge that paralleled the canyon road. I went out and back on this ridge for a bit, eventually turning off into Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area land, which went down the other side of the hill I was on into familiar grass-covered rolling hills.
The trail here was a bit scary, as it was completely overrun with wild oats in portions, with a steep decline. Barreling down a hill is one thing (I'm slowly gaining courage there), but it's another thing entirely to do so without knowing if you're about to run into a big rut or loose rock.
It turned out that the trail was well maintained, smooth, and safe under all those oats. My only casualty was some stiff oats stuck into my socks which I had to pick out at the junction with a wider trail.
After a pleasant few miles riding through the Simi Hills, I came back out into the valley in another gated community, called Hidden Hills. Here I saw a coyote at the edge of someone's property!
Out of Hidden Hills I caught the very end of Ventura Blvd. I followed familiar city streets back to the dedicated bike path that parallels Victory and Oxnard Blvds., and finally made my way back home, about 15 minutes after Kimberly. This was just long enough for her to be finishing up lunch, which was alright with me.
Here's my route:
click for a larger view