Five Faces of Soledad Ride (Aug 31)

Descenders, we had a great farewell to August yesterday. It was a hot and humid (by San Diego standards anyways) Labor Day weekend, and we wisely stayed close to the coast, while also avoiding the 101 weekend zoo – Five Soledad climbing repeats! Technically they are not repeats because we avoided repeating the same roads, but they surely felt like repeats to some.

Larry and I met at the Soledad Cross at 7AM – Larry rode from home, while I drove up to bring some snacks and drinks. It was nice and almost chilly, amazing cloud formations and sunrise views from the top of Soledad.

We bombed down Via Capri, and met up with Julio at UCSD – he is a newly hired physics faculty at UCSD, visiting the campus for a weekend, and a fantastic climber – last weekend he rode an infamous Otztaler Radmarathon – a ride through Austiran Alps from Innsbruck, 150 miles with 15,000ft of climbing in freezing temperatures. The kind of stuff Descenders would surely enjoy! Julio seems to never be in difficulty when climbing – smiling even at 18% inclines and I never even heard him breathing hard!

We rolled through foggy Torrey Pines and met with the rest of the group on 56 bike path.
A few "old" faces I haven’t seen in a while – Bob Raibert and Steve Kolokowsky, plus a few new riders – Janet, a friend of Eileen and Jeff’s – an amazingly strong climber, Justin, a friend of Jeff’s I think, and the strava-famous Keith Hoefer who rides with Bob, but who most of us met for the first time. We had 20 riders at this point, a huge group!

Julio hit the bottom of Torrey Pines hard, and I chased after him, expecting others to follow, but nobody did. We slowed down a bit near the top but still got 6-minute flat time, not too bad. After some short regroup we carried on, down La Jolla shores, negotiated an unusually heavy Sat morning traffic (everyone wants to get to the beach) and hit our first climb. Bob took off but he didn’t know the way. I caught up with Keith and kept him company to make sure we all follow the beaten Paris-Roubaix style path up to the top. Keith and Rob needed to get back home after first climb. At the top we saw Roman DiSalvo, who was doing his own coastal loop.

Just before second climb, Country Club, Voris dropped his chain, Rob and I stayed back to make sure everything is Ok. Rick was taking it easy because of some inflamed knee tendons, so I chased after Larry who was leading the way up Country Club. We stopped to take photos at the overlook. Rick and Voris turned back home, as well as Geoff who had issues with his rear wheel.

We momentarily "lost" Rob and Hodges, as well as Jeff S. who stopped to wait for them. We waited a few minutes at the Muirlands turn on Nautilus but figured they went down a different road (they descended LJ scenic instead). The third way up was relatively painless with fairly mild gradients. We regroupped at the cross, joined again by Jeff S. and Hodges and descended down Mount Soledad Road. Julio had to rush back, and Guido and Jeff L. went back home through Santa Fe while the rest of us (still 10 riders at this point) climbed Pacifica. According to Eileen it wasn’t as painful as her last time. Janet must have really enjoyed it as she was climbing those 15% slopes with ease, right behind Larry, Hodges and me.

After we slugged back up to the cross, surprisingly everyone was eager to do the fifth (and final) repeat, through Via Valverde. We still had 10 riders! Usually we are down to 4-5 riders by the time we start the 4th one. We rode up Via Valverde, and this time it was Hodges who was pushing the pace, ahead of everyone. I forgot to mention that it was Hodges’ birthday – happy birthday, Mike! In Mike’s honor, we will refer to the Via Valverde face of Soledad as "Mike Hodges climb". Mike told me he likes it the most and as our final climb it has all the sadomasochistic components that suits Mike’s nature. See photo below.

The rest of the guys still had to ride to Poway or Del Mar, while Larry and I were basically done, due to our clever early morning riding. The "biggest ride of the day award" goes to Bernie who rode 90 miles (in the heat and humidity) with close to 9,000ft climbed. Way to go, Bernie!

A few photos are attached below. The rest of photos are at:

You Should Have Come!

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