We had another epic ride today, as promised.
12 Riders (including two female riders – Denise and Amy) met at Santa Ysabel’s Julian Pie Bakery. On the drive over from Poway we were arguing if the thick fog was going to clear – our weatherman Voris made a bold prediction that it will clear as soon as we get to Santa Ysabel and it did just that!
We rode to Mesa Grande, enjoying the sunny skies and beautiful views. A thick layer of fog was hanging above Lake Henshaw. Rick continued down 76 to the Taco Shop to attempt a first ever sub-1 Hour South Grade Palomar Climb (Taco Shop-to Yield Sign segment) on Strava – more on that later. The rest of us turned right and went up East Grade to Palomar. Traffic was light, we saw a few hunters, but otherwise the road seemed almost abandoned. Ernst attacked to go on a solo breakaway and for a while disappeared from our sights, as the peloton tried to chase him down. Eventually, at a short downhill section, Matt went to the front and set a blistering pace, with the rest of us hanging in his draft, just barely – thanks to Matt’s efforts we rapidly bridged the gap to Ernst who seemed to have sat up, anticipating the catch. We kept climbing, with Keith hurting us by setting a fast pace for most of the East Grade. At the top of Palomar we enjoyed amazing views of low clouds and fog covering the valley as far as the eye could see. We rode all the way to Palomar Observatory (first time for at least three of us!), then turned around and headed to Mother’s Kitchen. When we got to Mother’s, we soon witnessed the arrival of Rick, who seemed a little tired (is Rick ever really tired?) – it turns out he did break 1-hour mark after all, climbing Palomar from Taco Shop to Yield sign in 59 minutes and 51 seconds!!! (On behalf of all Descenders, I would like to think that we all share the credit for Rick’s amazing performance, as it was really a team effort, somehow – don’t ask me how!)
We headed down South Grade to the 76, along with Rick who didn’t mind climbing it for the second time. We climbed back up as a large group, except the final mile when Keith got a bit animated and blew the group apart – only Rick stayed with him. At the top of the South Grade it got very warm, almost hot. We got some food and went down East Grade, into a very thick and cold fog that moved in over the few hours! Visibility in thick fog was almost non-existent, down to only 30 feet or so up the road, making the descent very tricky and dangerous, at any speeds! Luckily there were no cars passing us. We went up Mesa Grande with unspoken gentlemanly agreement, keeping a nice, steady pace but no attacks.
The disorienting fog around us must have finally gotten to Mike Hodges who got border-line delirious, and for the final 20 miles just kept mumbling non-stop about foot massages (he kept offering money to me and Voris to give him foot massage on the spot, an offer that we both respectfully declined – no offense, Mike!) as well as poetic description of cycling Goddesses riding up and down Palomar. But as long as he kept pedaling, we rolled our eyes, politely nodded in agreement and focused on getting him back to the cars. Rick did some really strong pulls at the front as we finally got back to Santa Ysabel, riding through a bit of a drizzle and what at some point felt like light nanoscopic hail. At Santa Ysabel we got some pies and hot coffee (it was still quite cold outside!), and headed back to Poway, accompanied by continued colorful commentary by Mike Hodges on merits of foot massages, Goddesses on bikes, Etape and Tour of Flanders.
79 miles with 9200 ft climbed (and more than 10,000 ft for Rick!).
An epic ride in a rather strange weather conditions. Strange but very enjoyable and certainly memorable.
Selected photos are attached, more photos are here: http://goo.gl/QbBk3
You Should Have Come!