Xantusia is an endurance sports playground, or at least it is becoming one (little by little). It sits at 4200' above sea level, in the zone in which the Mojave desert transitions to alpine vegetation. Xantusia sits among Joshua trees and California junipers, and a within a half-mile the foliage changes to pinyon pines, then to bigcone douglas firs, incense cedars, jeffrey pines, and other species as the roads climb to 8000' and the running trails to 9500'.

It is in the hamlet of Valyermo. It is 15 minutes away from Littlerock, 20 minutes from "civilization" in the form of two supermarkets and a WalMart, and is 30 minutes from Home Depot and other necessities.

Almost vacant paved roads roll over foothills, or you can be climbing one of two twisty ascents (one 1500', the other 4000') within six or seven minutes after leaving the property. Or run or MTB on trails in any direction. Your choice.

Xantusia is situated on 13 acres. It has a 3-lane, 25-yard competition pool, a Jacuzzi, a weight room, a full bike repair shop, and 15 or 20 late-model road and tri bikes on the property for loan. Also on the property might be horses (in the stables pictured below) and other various creatures.

We have horse stables, and a bed & breakfast. So that no one is left out, we also have a dog pond, and several dogs on the property who regularly use it.

Anticipating one last question you might have, a "xantusia" is a small, nocturnal lizard, and its life is tied to that of the Joshua tree. You'll find them if you push over a dead Joshua branch, and you'll occasionally find xantusias in Xantusia.


Xantusia is 90 minutes from LAX, 60 minutes from Burbank Airport, or 50 minutes from Ontario Airport (add a bit more time during rush hour). It is two hours from North San Diego County.

There are two ways around to the backside of the San Gabriel Mountains: over the #14 freeway "above" L.A., or over the #15 freeway "below" L.A. From LAX the quickest way is over the #14, which travels from the San Fernando Valley to Palmdale. From Orange County and points south the quickest way is over the #15 (Cajon Pass). From Ontario Airport the #15 is the way to go.


Once over the #14 watch for the Pearblossom Highway exit, as you'll want to head toward Littlerock. You'll eventually intersect the #138, and you'll stay on this highway until you get to 165th, after passing through Littlerock and Pearblossom. (See below for further directions).


About halfway up the Cajon Pass on #15 you'll come to an offroamp for highway #138. You'll take this road west (left turn off the freeway). You'll spend about 25 minutes on the #138, and after spending most of this time traveling through the flattish Antelope Valley you'll eventually come to 165th street (there will be signs alerting you that this is the turn-off for Crystalaire and Valyermo).


You'll turn "uphill" from here, toward the mountains. That's "left" if you're coming from the #15, and it's "right" if you're coming down from the #14. It is a good idea to set your trip odometer to zero at this point. After ascending almost exactly 5.0 miles, STAYING ON THE PAVED ROAD, you'll reach the top of the grade. There's a green wrought iron gate on the left, it's always open. You'll go through here and onto a dirt road. Travel 3/10 of a mile, do not turn anywhere, and you'll see a second black wrought iron gate. You're here (sort of). Turn left and follow the fence line, keeping the fence on your right shoulder. After several hundred yards, you'll see a yellow house on the left. That belongs to Mark Montgomery and is likely where you're staying. The property on the right, inside the fence, is where you'll attend the workshop.

Most important: Do not Mapquest! If you do, you're liable to take a very scenic route that will lead you high in the mountains, and to both seasonal and permanent road closures. Use the directions we provide above.


It used to be bad news on this front. With the advent of ridesharing, things have gotten easier/cheaper. Generally it's either rent a car or Uber/Lyft.


Dan Empfield competed in the first Ironman held on Hawaii's Big Island, in 1981. He is the founder of Quintana Roo. This company began in 1987 on the back of an invention, the first-ever wetsuit made specifically for the swim portion of a triathlon.

Empfield's wetsuit debuted the same year as the "Scott bar," the original tri-specific handlebar. The world's best triathletes struggled with how to use this handlebar design to its best advantage, and in 1989 Empfield debuted another design, the first bike "built from the aerobars back."

The first Quintana Roo Superform had 650c wheels front and back, and an 80-degree seat angle. Nothing like it had been built before. The bike looked and seemed odd, but in its first ever trial Ray Browning exited the bike leg of the New Zealand Ironman with a 30-minute lead over Scott Tinley, and the design was here to stay.

Within a short span Tinley himself was riding a Quintana Roo, Jurgen Zack was setting bike course records all over the world on one, and Lance Armstrong won two U.S. Sprint triathlon titles on one. Spencer Smith, JulieAnne White, Wolfgang Dittrich, Scott Molina, Ryan Bolton, Liz Downing, Heather Fuhr and dozens of other world-class athletes rode on these bikes during Empfield's time at QR, and most of these athletes were positioned by him (some continue to be).

Empfield sold Quintana Roo to Saucony, Inc., in 1995, and stayed on to run Saucony's bike division—which included Quintana Roo and Merlin—for four years.

He left in 1999 and founded Slowtwitch.com, which was almost immediately a prime influencer of triathlon buying habits. The site remains a popular and influential stop on the internet for multisport athletes.

Empfield has developed fit systems for triathletes that are in wide use today. He's given fit clinics and workshops all over the United States and Europe. He continues to write for, and publish, Slowtwitch.com and also writes for Triathlete Magazine, Inside Triathlon and other magazines. He’s a member of the Triathlon Hall of Fame as of 2004, the only inventor/manufacturer ever to be inducted.

He lives in Xantusia along with wife Tanya, dogs, horses and apple trees. He still swims, bikes and runs.


Mark Montgomery, aka Monty, began his multisport career in the early 70's as a lifeguard working the beaches of Los Angeles County. His forte was the "Lifeguard Ironman" which included swimming, running paddling, rowing, and kayaking.

In 1978 he began training for his first triathlon and won his first 3 races. Since then Mark has over 60 multisport wins in over 400 races during a 15 year pro career as a triathlete and bike racer.

Monty has also worked "behind the camera" in triathlon, as promoter and race director of over 50 races, including the Los Angeles Triathlon Series (in it's 23rd year). He founded the Triaction Sports triathlon shop in the late 80's, which at the time was the shop to the stars and headquarters for the latest in new technology. He worked closely with Dan Empfield in designing the tri-specific bike and wetsuit.

Mark went back to work for the L.A. County Fire Department in 1994 as a full time lifeguard and has just recently retired. Monty had a pacemaker installed in 2001, and after 18 months of recovery he got himself back in shape and qualified for the U.S. Worlds team in the 45+ age group. He cometed on the U.S. team in both New Zealand and Portugal (World Championship sites for 2003 and 2004). He's now busy winning, more often than not, in the 50+ category. His job is to ride and run with with guests of Xantusia, and to continue his search for the perfect margarita.