5.5 Faces of Soledad Adventure (by Oleg)

Twelve Descenders rode Soledad Adventure today. Eight of us met at BMR, and we picked up Chris, Jeff (two Englishmen!) and Eileen on the bike path, and Len (who was working today) at the top of Torrey Pines. With Tony and myself, a third of the group was europeans.

Geoff and Steve were pushing the pace up Torrey Pines – Larry and I worked hard to bridge up but then Larry declares he needed to use the bathroom at the top and just rode away from us – quickly disappeared in the distance, as if the three of us were standing still. He took top honors on every single climb after that as well, by the way, strong climbing. We grabbed some free bananas handed out at the top of TP and kept going. Rob broke a spoke as we approached UCSD campus, which made Proulx (who was riding behind Rob) immediately hit the brakes before any of us had a chance to figure out what was going on, giving Rob about 30 feet of extra space, in case something goes really wrong. Good instincts, Proulx! Luckily it was just a minor problem. Rob fixed his wheel in about 10 seconds (impressive!) and we carried on – we decided to incorporate Black’s Beach as an additional climb – I think this was a new road for most, except for (I think) Geoff, Len and I.

We rode over to Soledad, and added another extra bit – a fun loopy detour via Al Bahr and Crespo Dr. – which look very scenically european – down to narrow, winding (and rather bad quality) roads and all. Rob pushed the pace on the first climb up Hillside, while Larry and I had to work really hard to chase after him – I was finally able to do it just barely by the end of the cyclocross path. I think it’s because Rob’s bike was now lighter by one spoke. I am removing half of my spokes to see if this makes me climb faster. (How many spokes does one need, anyways?) Proulx left as we continued to Country Club – his form is coming along nicely after his injuries.

As we hit Country Club now I was forced to chase Tony and Larry. I rode on Larry’s wheel to the top. I do this a lot lately. We took group photos at the scenic outlook and went up via Casa Alta, to another free banana and water station, courtesy of anywhere bicycle repair. Third climb featured Muirlands, LJ Scenic and Candlelight Dr and was comparatively mellow, perhaps in part because nobody knew this part of the route. Even I remembered it only vaguely.

At fourth climb up Soledad, up Pacifica and Soledad Rd, Len’s endurance was just amazing – he started Pacifica dead last, but rode through the group and finished strong 4th by the time we got to the cross. This was also first time for two Pacifica virgins – Rob and Chris. I can’t believe Rob never did Pacifica before – he says he always found an excuse to quit early. Not this time, Rob!

Len and Steve called it quits after 4 climbs, while the remaining 9 of us continued on to Via Val Verde, fifth and final climb. Despite a relatively smaller group at the start this is by far the biggest group of “survivors” who completed the entire route (plus a few fun extras we added today which did not deter anyone).

After our fifth climb six of the nine survivors went down Nautilus for a coffee break. The Starbucks at Fay was recently relocated somewhere, so we looped aimlessly around La Jolla downtown until we settled at the Living Room Cafe. Muffins and cappuccinos – what a fantastic way to finish the climbing portion of the ride (for the most part). We rode up along Calle del Oro, and as we got to UCSD, Larry and I parted ways with John, Eileen and Jeff. 69 miles for me and Larry, with 6,600ft of climbing.

Some photos are attached, the rest are at http://goo.gl/qWkVFQ.

Fantastic ride (fog and rain are gone), on some new roads and climbs. You should have come!

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