We had a fantastic ride up Soledad today – we liked it so much we did it four times.
12 Descenders and two cameo appearances (by Roman De Salvo and Herb "Soledad" Johnson, more on that below). Len and I rode from Soledad (all covered in thick layer of fog) over to Carmel Valley where we found Neil and Eileen waiting. Soon we saw Hodges, Sheehan, Bob Raibert, Ernst, Claus, Geoff, Guido and Steve. Geoff and Sheehan got away from us going up Torrey Pines and build up a huge gap – even though we brought Sheehan back, Geoff stayed away to the top. The descent down La Jolla Shores was fast – I was following Ernst who was amazing in the switchbacks. We slowly climbed Hillside, almost everyone taking the gated cyclocross path – it was new way for many descenders. We lost Eileen for a minute – she started the descent before realizing we are gathering at the cross but she found us eventually.
We had coffee, bananes and pastries at the top – then we went down Nautilus – Sheehan and Guido had to get back to Poway because of family obligations, but we carried on to Country Club. Once we started climbing, I informed Neil we are on a KOM segment (about 30 seconds into it) – he took off like a rocket and managed to set two new KOMs, despite late start!!! Via Casa Alta provided another steep section. The descent down La Jolla Scenic drive and climb up Nautilus was less animated, I think. At the top we saw Roman De Salvo who was on a birthday ride with some of his friends. It was good to see familiar faces!
We then descended down Soledad Mountain road, and met Mr. Soledad himself, Herb Johnson, who at 67 years of age placed 2nd at this year's Palomar challenge behind Drew Peterson, and has won it and many other climbs before. He has done 48 minutes up East Grade at age of 67 last year – amazing! He lives on Mt. Soledad and I see him training there a lot. He took off up steep grades of Pacifica and only Neil could follow (and eventually outpace him). I chatted him up on the way up Soledad Road, turns out he has a Physics Ph.D. from UCSD of all places – it's a small world.
The guys kept riding back to Del Mar/56 bike path while Len and I went back home. My ride was shorter but most descenders got 65 miles with 5,600 ft of elevation. Selected photos are attached (more photos are here: https://picasaweb.google.com/109410926478548321411/20120901#)
You should have come!