Joe Kudla: an off-grid adventure in Southern California

Joe Kudla’s Vuori is the $4billion fashion behemoth that you’ve never heard of. But, trust us, that’s about to change. With America conquered, he is turning his attention to Europe and his understated, high-end activewear is about to be everywhere. Made from moisture-wicking, quick-drying, super-supple performance materials, his clothes do all that you want your gym wear to do, and they do it in that West Coast downbeat way, which is, as he says, ‘casual and sophisticated and effortless’. We talked to him about his favourite not-in-the-guidebooks off-road adventure in California’s Santa Rosa mountains

I live in a part of the world that’s great for adventures. I love back country skiing, climbing mountains and surfing. But if I had to choose one incredible outdoor adventure in Southern California it would have to be the Palm Epic, a little-known off-road mountain bike ride that I do every year with friends. It starts at the top of the Santa Rosa Mountains, and it follows a 30-mile downhill route. You descend 6,000 vertical feet on a bike through incredible countryside.  

Be warned, though, even on an electric bike this is a trip for people who ride bikes – it’s an arduous day and although it’s mostly downhill you do 2,000 feet of climbing. Don’t do it in high summer because the heat is unbearable then and be sure to get a guide because the track isn’t always obvious, and you really don’t want to get lost up there.  

It takes about half an hour to drive from Palm Springs to the top and you start up high at 4,500 feet on this vast plateau of rock and cactus. It’s cold and crisp, and the view is astonishing. From the summit there’s a single-track trail that you follow all the way down and you’re riding over dirt and rock. The uphill sections are dispersed throughout the 30 miles and none of them is really steep, but the landscape is always shifting with the light and the beautiful textures of the rock.  

The last time I did it I was riding very fast over this section, and what I thought was just a little roll turned out to be a seven-foot cliff, which I went flying off. When I landed my front wheel wiped out and I ended up tumbling into a cactus: my friends had to pick dozens of spines out of my body before we could get going again. It wasn’t all bad, though, we timed it perfectly so that we were cycling towards a crescent rainbow that almost looked close enough to touch.  

The way to do it in style is to ride all the way down to the Parker, a beautiful hotel with Jonathan Adler interiors. It’s got a real 1950s Palm Springs vibe and an incredible pool scene. After a day of getting rugged, it’s the perfect place to unwind with a poolside margarita.  

 Go to Palm Desert Bike N Brews in Palm Springs to discuss guided trips on the Santa Rosa Mountain; pdbikenbrews.com 

And head to 25 Long Acre, London to buy Joe’s clothes: vuoriclothing.co.uk

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