Yesterday, we had about 17 descenders and friends on our “coastal” ride. Larry and I rode from home to 56 bike path, about 15 miles worth (starting into a thick cold fog) – but Klaus got to the start already with 25 miles under his belt.
The goal for Claus, Larry and myself was to ride to Oceanside and then split off and go inland, towards Bonsall and then San Marcos to explore some new roads, and get extra miles, extra elevation and some dirt riding experience.
There were 15 descenders at the start, mostly regulars (you know who you are), but also notably Bill Wood who I have not seen in a while, Frankie, as well as Joel and Eric G – Mike’s friends. We also spotted Jeff L. in Oceanside on a similar coastal ride, but an hour ahead of us (daylight savings is one hour, not two, Jeff!). Jeff is bouncing back from a 6-week downtime due to broken collarbone. I gave Jeff an “air-high-five” as he rode past me, smiling.
In Oceanside there was a group of five (Larry, Claus and me, as well as Frankie and Bernie) that separated and went our way along Oceanside bike path.
Larry hit an unexpectedly large rock on the bike path and
pinch-flatted. This was a bit ironic considering the magnitude of rocks and dirt to come. He fixed his flat in about 2 minutes and we were riding off again. In Bonsall, we took a detour past strawberry fields, orange groves, up Sleeping Indian climb and down Moro Hills and Olive Hill Rd. These are beautiful, quiet roads and we need to incorporate them somehow into our rides.
Then we rode more familiar roads – Camino Del Rey and Champaign Blvd, with a quick stop at the campgrounds. It was getting really hot, but we rode steady, not too easy but not attacking either. At the top of Champaign, Bernie kept going straight towards Escondido – he ended up with 83 miles, mapping out a perfect new loop route for future descenders ride. The four of us headed towards San Marcos along Twin Oaks, for more torture, dirt and climbing, as it got even hotter (my Garmin read 100F at some point).
The ride through San Marcos was the least exciting part for me – partly because of traffic, and partly because we were staring up at the looming Mt. Whitney, which seemed a lot higher than expected. We took it easy on the climb – once we turned off Twin Oaks there was about 200m of rather rocky and rough dirt road climbing, the kind of that makes it difficult not to put your foot down, and once you do that in a weak moment of hesitation it’s really difficult to get going again.
Larry floated above rocks like an expert cyclocrosser that he is, picking a perfect line. The rest of the road up to the top is 0.9 miles of “paved” (rather poorly I must say) road, with gradients averaging 10%, and peaking at around 20%. Larry easily got a KOM up the top, despite having to dismount to get over the locked gate. The views were quite spectacular. The Mt. Whitney is about 150 ft higher than Double Peak, but it somehow feels even taller, as if you are looking down at Double Peak.
After descending gingerly (riding the brakes all the way), and negotiating the same nasty rocky section, this time descending, I asked if anyone still wanted to do Double Peak. Surprisingly, everyone was enthusiastically up for it! Claus was at 100mile mark at that point, while Larry and me were at mile 90.
We refilled water bottles and descended down to Elfin Forest. From there we took another 2-mile (I falsely advertised it as 1-mile long) dirt path shortcut along Escondido creek towards Rancho Santa Fe. It felt like we were miles from any civilization, as if we were in the middle of Cleveland National Forest, rather than San Marcos/Rancho Santa Fe. I expected hearing complaints about rocks and short ~30% downhill concrete section, but everyone seemed to enjoy the “teleport” to RSF. Frankie took off towards the coast at San Dieguito, while the three of us went up Three Witches, even pushing the pace a bit. Claus turned left on Camino Del Sur, so it was just Larry and me riding the bike path to the coast and up Torrey Pines. Both of us felt
surprisingly fresh (except stiff necks and back) – we even rode up Torrey Pines at a pretty good clip, 12mph or so, while it still felt like conversational pace – a lot faster than I would have expected, considering we had 120 miles in our legs. Never quite hit the wall, which is good.
When we got home, both Claus and I had to mow the lawn – something else we had in common for the day.
The total mileage was 125-126 miles for Larry, Claus and myself, and 7.5-8K ft of climbing. You should have come and should have joined us!