Alpine Challenge Ride Report

Hi All,

Descenders were riding all over the county and southern CA yesterday.  We had a good turnout for the Alpine Challenge with a dozen riders wearing Descenders jerseys.  This is the 7th year we have had a group out for this exciting ride in the mountains of east county.  We all rendezvoused at Summers Past Farms about 7 am in a bright sunny morning with great riding temperatures.  Most of the "Team A" riders were missing so we planned a less competitive group ride, hoping most would hang together.  Things started well as we pedaled over to Harbison Canyon and the fun descent down.  Cresap was on point for the fast descent as the speed broke us up a bit.  We lost Denise and Amy on the final parts of the descent but still had a large group start the Dehesa Road climb.  I could tell Neil wanted to go faster so I reviewed the route with him, noting that getting lost is almost impossible.  A few miles into the climb, Neil took off and quickly disappeared off the front.  The remaining group of 8 riders–Jeff S, Eileen, Len the Elder, Jeff C, Mike, Bryan, Bernie and me cruised up past the Tavern Road return route and kept climbing towards I-8.  It was great to see Bernie out riding again, he made a fast recovery from his shoulder injury on the Couser Canyon fall.  He looked like the same strong Bernie of old.  The group passed many riders on our way up and kept a steady pace to the top.  Len the Elder was on fire as he pulled to the front for much of the climb.

Neil blitzed the 17 mile climb in 1:09, top 4 of Strava entries.  The rest of us hit the top in 1:22, with Hodges a second faster than Bryan based on the ever important Strava rankings.  We passed Barb and a group of her riders just as we went under the freeway.  She excitedly described the Descenders riding club from her ride with us to Oceanside last week to her other riders as we cruised towards Old Hwy 80.  Just before the SAG Stop as I was on point with Barb, I heard someone yell "flat".  Apparently Hodges got a flat but I was too distracted in front to stop.  Bernie and Len stopped to fix the tire with Mike.  Bryan , Eileen and Jeff S stopped at the SAG while I kept pedaling with Barb towards Guatay.  We climbed in a small group with the energetic and infectious enthusiasm of Barb reflected in all the hoots and hollering she gave when we passed other riders.  I was pushing to keep up with her while it looked like a "walk in the park" for Barb.  At the top of the climb in little Guatay I said good-bye and sped off on the descent for Pine Valley.

I made quick work of the mile plus descent down towards the lollypop loop of Pine Valley.  I spotted Neil, now one of the lead riders in the race, starting his climb back up.  He was now 4 miles ahead of me and motoring fast.  I assumed the group was back out riding and closing the gap quickly.  I sped along trying to keep the small breakaway for as long as possible.  Just before the turn in Pine Valley to loop back I was passed by a flying Drew Peterson with his usual camelbak water source on his back as he effortlessly cruised at 25 mph speeds.  Drew finished the ride in 2:57; I never saw him again as he motored out of sight.  I sped through the neighborhoods and back to the climb out of Pine Valley.  The main group of Descenders had already passed but I did see John Moran on his descent.  The climb up hurt as I was still riding solo and the winds picked up a bit.  I needed some nourishment so I did a quick stop at the SAG and grabbed half a banana and two fig newtons.  There had been a guy on my wheel on the climb from Pine Valley that took the turn to Descanso ahead of me so I tried in vain to go catch him.  There were only a few riders on the road and I rode mostly alone back to the freeway where the first of the leg cramps started to hit me.  I was only at mile 42 so I knew I had to back off my pounding of the pedals a bit to find a way out of the leg pains.

The descent back down Japatul Valley Road was fast but I knew my speed was dropping.  I tried to push my pace as I passed a number of riders returning on the 50 mile route.  The legs were not willing no matter what I tried to do.  The cramps caused me to slow again as I took the turn onto Tavern Road and slowly make my way towards Alpine.  Thankfully I was passed by Mike, Len and Bernie on the climb.  I pulled back up to them and hung on as we rode along Arnold Way and the final 6 miles of the ride.  The four of us finished together in 3:45, well behind Drew and the pace of Neil who finished in 3:20 despite having to fix his own flat tire.  We covered about 100 km with almost 5,800 feet of elevation gain; another great Alpine Challenge ride.

We relaxed at the tables enjoying our lunch of pasta and burgers as the rest of the Descenders finished up their ride.  The last stop was to the beer tent area for a cold beer, salted nuts and a few more riding stories before we all headed out for home.  Attached are a few photos from the ride.  Look forward to the ride again next year.

ride on-


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