Skive Ride–Mule Hill, 395, Old Castle, Lilac, DIRT, Cole Grade & Valley Center Loop, 23 December 2014
by Mike Hodges
Tuesday’s skive ride attempted a kind of Utopian state i.e. perfect weather, great route, marvelous company, with a touch of the piquant knowing that others had to work. Rob, Dave S, Tony, Bryan J, Geoff B, Dave B and your auteur met at the normal Skive rendezvous (HVR/Pomerado). The weather required a vest and arm warmers but somehow Dave S convinced us that it was going to soon be 102 degrees and we should strip off. We did so – then shivered along HVR. Somehow we had convinced Tony that he needed to do some dirt – now for those of you who don’t know, Tony is somewhere near Eileen in his distaste for anything slightly dusty and 23 inch tires – we turned left off HVR along Mule Hill BWR section. The ground was compact with minimal slippage and our group of seven remained together. Dirt will feature again. In the 60 mile route we probably did 10 miles of the dusty stuff.
We rolled along El Norte/Bear Valley/Citrus towards Jesmond Dene. Dave S went on point and led the speedsters up and over. Tony decided to pace himself throughout the day under instructions from his Directeur Sportif to save himself for his ongoing Grand Tour which features several Hors Catégorie challenges. Tony should be back racing with us in the lower leagues in a few months.
Regrouped once more we headed off down Champagne – Dave S followed by myself. Suddenly, just before the right hand turn up Old Castle Rd., Dave pulled off to the right mumbling something about needing a pee and that it was most urgent! Tony, whose descending skills are legendary was right behind our mini lead group, so Tony and I rode tempo along the lower slopes of OCR. I set a steady pace up the climb – we were soon joined by Geoff, Bryan and Rob. But none of the Dave’s – there was talk of Dave S needing to pass a stone or some other mechanical (sic) problem. Near the top our fears were assuaged as we heard the familiar heavy breathing (Ed. all relative – Bernie remains peerless as the KOM heavy breathing) of Dave S fresh from his Lithotripsy – he was on a PR mission and quickly disappeared into the distance. Our group chaperoned Tony to the summit where we regroup. Geoff and Bryan having experienced a flat decided to head home leaving the five of us to scream down the hill and follow the “Yellow Brick Road” to the left aka Lilac Rd. to the Yellow Deli.
The Yellow Deli is fast becoming a mid-week Descender ride stalwart. The café is run as a commune http://yellowdeli.com/valley-center. The surroundings are tranquil with lots of Enya playing and the sound of chimes and running water. All that is missing are some Tibetan monks chanting. The food is great – organic of course, and the tea Yerba mate. Not sure how long we stayed at the Shangri-La – time seemed to have no meaning as we were all in the “now” until I roused the group with an up an at ‘em speech. A quick photo opportunity by the Yellow Deli sign and we were on the bikes – not sure if it was the opium pipes we had been smoking or the tea but our legs were heavy.
Just to the back of the Yellow Deli is a little dirt section that flows West-East for about ten miles. The trail runs past the Lavender Farm then though nondescript farm land. There are few houses along the way – just an old rusty tractor and some watchful dogs. There is one steep Flanderian type climb i.e. short (200 yds) and steep (15%) that is lung busting – you have to start as slow (just to the point of tilting over) as possible to save energy for the top part where you need to go into the red zone (to the point of the rear wheel slipping). Dave S “Mr. Hogwash” did not adhere to this sound advice and steamed up the climb then lost his grip, unclipped and slipped back a few places in the “race to the top”. The latter was of course won by Rob (who is riding superb and is knocking on the B team door – Ed. please note that Rob said he would like very much to be on point for most of the next Saturday’s ride) who, in a Lance like Luiz Ardin, had fallen in the dirt earlier and was now focused on the Summit win.
Tony was manfully crossing the dirt and was in need of some pharmaceutical help from his inhaler (Brian Cook look the other way please) and oxygen cylinders. We stopped a few times to look at the view – lovely open views of the farm land with Palomar on one side and the rolling hills of Circle R/Lilac etc. on the other. Our breaths caught once more we eventually emerged onto Cole Grade and turned right to get back to Valley Center. Instead of doing Woods Valley we screamed down the hill – into a head wind so no PRs – and by passed Wohlford descent. We set a nice steady pace (quite a feat as Dave S was with us) towards the mall – cheerio’ed to Tony – crossed Lake Hodges and down Pomerado where the Daves and Rob turned left back toward Sheehan’s while I rode home.
To sum – the Skive rides are taking on their own personality – definitely chilled but with a bite, like a vodka martini, stirred of course unless shaken by the dirt.