Dudley’s Dream Ride
20 April 2013
by Rob Verfurth
Oleg planned and organized another awesome day of riding with the Descenders last Saturday. This is one of my favorite routes, painful, beautiful and memorable. I look forward to tackling it again in a few weeks for the Tour of California ride. The plan was to meet and start the ride in Santa Ysabel as usual. Fortunately a number of us decided to tweak the plans a bit.
Bob Proulx and I did an early morning run a week ago Sunday and were enjoying a post run coffee at Peet’s in PQ. We saw Amy at the coffee shop and she mentioned that she, Denise and Rick were going up early to get a head start on the ride. Bob quickly grabbed at this since his training has not been significant of late. As the day of the ride neared, I too saw the benefit of an early start and hitched a ride with Bob to try to leave by 7:30 am on Sat. Bob had reached out to Jeff S and Eileen, so we planned on having a large group get out early for the ride.
It was a bright and brisk start but warming rapidly. We had 6 riders while Rick waited at the cars for the 8 am start of the rest of the crew. Bob P led us up Mesa Grande and then Jeff was on point for most of the rollers across the top. We all safely descended down to Hwy 76 and spun along Lake Henshaw toward the bottom of the East Grade.
We stayed as a group for much of the climb. Sheehan and Ernst parked at Mother’s and descended down the East Grade to meet up with the 8 am start group. We all expected to see Rick, Matt and the rest of the group come flying up on us before we got to the top. About mile 7 I picked up the pace a bit to try to avoid getting caught. I was able to scope out potential view spots for the Tour of CA. Voris and Oleg had identified locations about the 9 mile post. There are a number of places to park our van or car, including the Conifer Road intersection at mile 9.3 and the Gregory Pacheco memorial at mile 9.4. Oleg will have more ToC details soon. I rode looking over my shoulder just before each turn to see that the early group was still within sight and no super fast guys were there, yet.
We all cruised to the top and stopped at Mother’s. Less than 5 minutes later Rick and Matt came up to the parking lot. The group had closed much of the head start we had with a fast pace over Mesa Grande and awesome climbing. The rest of the guys were not far behind. Amy and Denise planned a few mile descent of the South Grade, climb back up and a return to the cars. Bob P wanted to just ride back to the cars while Jeff S, Eileen and I were headed down to the Y intersection.
I flew to the bottom of the grade and made the turn to start to climb, it was about 10:15 am. Jeff S and Eileen were just behind me. I quickly saw the whole Descender group flying down the curves of the grade. I had a bit of a lead and planned to push a bit until the inevitable catch came. The guys were spread out a bit on their descent and I continued to push toward the top. I looked over my shoulder often and was a bit surprised to not see another rider. About mile 46 I looked around to see Rick flying up towards me. I had just enough time to accelerate, get out my camera and take a photo. Rick slowed just enough to smile, get in the picture and then fly my me. By the time I put my camera back in my pocket Rick was gone. I kept up the pace as best I could waiting for more passes. The top came in just under an hour and I hit Mother’s in desperate need of a breakfast burrito. Eventually the rest of the gang rolled into the rest stop. There were plenty of motorcycle bikers and lots of bicycle riders in front of Mother’s, an interest contrast of activities.
I shared some chips and part of my burrito with Matt and Oleg before we all rolled out to the observatory. Jeff S pushed the pace, Matt came up on his wheel and we rode hard up the climb. After a brief rest and regroup, we all rode back to Mother’s for one last water break. Our group now consisted of Oleg, Matt, Larry, Farkas, Geoff B, Jeff, S, Eileen and me. The descent down the east grade quickly split into three groups with the 4 fast guys off the front. Geoff pulling me and Jeff S and Eileen sweeping. As Oleg noted, the road was very rough and bumpy. Maybe this is why ToC is climbing the East Grade this year?
We regouped at the bottom by Lake Henshaw to ride toward Mesa Grande. Geoff B had endured the early fast pace of the ride as the late start group tried to catch us. He was feeling the effects of all his weekday commuting and the hard ride, cramps started to impact him. Eileen had salt tabs and we all made it to the start of the hot and difficult Mesa Grande climb. I did not actually stay back to keep Geoff company, I was spent and kept up the fastest pace I could up the climb that just happened to be back with Geoff. When I finally reach the top I saw Oleg, Larry, Farkas and Matt waiting for us. Jeff S and Eileen had kept on cruising. Oleg went back to get Geoff and I went on, knowing that I would be sucked up soon. The winds were in our faces and the rollers hurt even more. With about 5 miles left Mike F, Matt and Larry flew by me and told me to grab a wheel; I held it for a few hundred yards. I looked back to see Oleg and Geoff riding together as I trudged toward the descent of Mesa Grande, almost home. The winds never ceased as I rolled slower and slower towards Hwy 79. I rolled into the Dudley’s parking lot with 79 miles and over 9,000 feet of climbing. There were many Descenders riders by their cars having completed their great day in the saddle. Oleg and Geoff came a few minutes later so all safely finished their ride. A number of pies were purchased before heading back to San Diego. It was a great ride and I hope all of you can join us on Sunday, 12 May for the epic ToC event.