Palomar Ride (Feb 15)

All, as Rob already noted in two previous email reports, we had a great turnout for our Palomar ride today.
By the way – Palomar (South Grade) is ranked #17 in US (12th in continental USA) and #9 in California. Along with Mt. Baldy, Palomar is one of the two major “Queen” climbs in Southern California. If you look at the numbers it’s on par with great european climbs like Alpe D’Huez etc.

More than 20 descenders showed up, somewhat surprisingly considering what was on the menu (some riders even showed up thinking the proposed full ride was 130 miles – for some reason strava kept showing ride in km instead of miles – not sure why).
A lot of regulars, plus Jordan Babb who joined us for a while, and Mike Fitzsimmons, a physicist colleague of mine who is spending his sabbatical from Los Alamos here. Hodges and Jeff S. showed up for Wohlford section of the ride but didn’t do Palomar.

Because of 3-day weekend, there was a LOT of car traffic today, especially in casino area.

Whoever was at the front decided not to do Mary Ln and go up Bear Valley, which had a lot more traffic and bad shoulder (= I vote we go Mary Ln next time). We caught Len and John who escaped the group early on, prior to group picture at the mall. The climb up Wohlford was more conserved than usual, as everyone anticipated the worst to come up Palomar.

We rode together to Taco shop but split into small sub-groups as soon as we started climbing. Rick blew by us early on – Larry, Matt and I rode together chasing Bryan, who was chasing Rick. My power meter was not calibrated correctly (possibly due to warm weather) and it took me a while to get the right pace instead of yo-yoing above and below the “red line”. Rick rode another sub-1hr up South Grade, by the way and he did it relative ease, or so it seemed to me.

I was feeling quite hot. We were keeping Bryan in our sights and actually gained on him a bit, he was only maybe 20 seconds in the front as we hit the Y. On the straight section just before the first switchback two motorcycles zoomed by past us, and I heard a loud clank. Matt yelled out and the motorcyclist pulled over – it turns out the rider somehow clipped/grazed Matt’s calf and his bike’s seat stay, fracturing the seat stay – even though we were far to the right, in the bike shoulder and the road was wide open. Matt also had a scratch on his leg – fortunately he was Ok (physically), but understandably upset with the rider. Could have been a lot worse! Larry and I pulled over as the motorcyclist provided her insurance info, and to her credit, immediately accepted being at fault and apologized profusely. Still, Matt’s bike was totaled and I hope he gets insurance company pay for a new one. Matt had to call Jordan to come pick him up.

Voris, Tony, Guido, Claus rolled up soon afterwards. Eventually we all resumed our climbing – Larry and I rode together but never quite regained our previous tempo, and just rode steady but not super-hard. Putting aside about 6 minutes we waited with Matt, we ended up at about 1:16 for the climb. Bryan was at 1:11, and Rick at 59 minutes.

Voris, Tony and Guido finished a few minutes behind us, collectively abandoning their previous gentlemen agreement and sprinting against each other at the top.

Claus, a Palomar virgin, enjoyed his first trip up South Grade, riding up with Ernst.

We regrouped at Mother’s (blueberry muffins!) and discussed Matt’s accident. John had discovered he had a flat tire just as we were ready to descend – Ernst and I helped him fix it as most Descenders took off. Ernst and I descended together at pretty good clip – I enjoy learning how to descent from the experts like Dave or Matt. On the way down we saw Yi-Shiou who was still climbing, near the top, Larry who stopped to fix his own flat (with a few helpers) and Matt who was being picked up by Jordan. Descent was a lot of fun – nice reward for all the climbing!

It was really hot when we got to Taco Shop. Cole Grade was as horrible as I always remembered it – a never-ending climb that just keeps punishing you while playing with your mind. When we regrouped at the grocery store at Valley Center (my Garmin recorded 104F, who knows what the actual temperature was, but it was certainly in mid-to-high 90ies) we made a collective decision to take a Valley Center shortcut to Escondido. The ride back was rather uneventful. We got back to shopping mall with about 68 miles of riding and more than 7,000 ft of climbing. Bryan and Claus added some more miles, ending up with 105 or so miles – to add to Claus’ 265 commuting miles from the past 5 days alone! Claus said he is not touching his bike tomorrow, but I suspect he will end up the mileage king for the week. This is also 8th consecutive weekend that Claus recorded a 100+mile ride.

Some photos are attached, the rest are here:

Fun ride despite the heat and a lot of climbing. You should have come! Oleg.

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