St Paddy’s Palomar Punishment Ride-CCSD Event-7 March 2015by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Oleg, Larry, Ernst, Bernie, Rick B (ElliptiGO), Denise B, Bryan Taylor, Eric G, Steve B, Peter, Paul, Geoff B, Bill Wood, Rob V, Nate Miller (with fiance, Mercedes), Herman S, Hodges–17 Descenders
We had a great turn-out for the CCSD St Paddy’s Palomar Punishment ride. The event started up in Escondido, right near the Lake Wohlford climb. It was cold-45 degrees-at 6:30 am when many riders arrived for the start of the ride. The first wave left at 7 am with many Descenders out in front. Bryan Taylor, Geoff, Steve and I got through the light and started quickly up the climb of S6 (Valley Center Road). Paul P was right with us while another group of riders sat at the red light. We knew if we could get to Woods Valley with the lead group, we could hang most of the way to the bottom of Palomar South Grade climb. On the climb we passed Rick B chugging away on his ElliptiGO–I knew I would see him again soon enough. About 3/4 of the way up the climb the rest of the group caught up to us. Now the group surged forward and riders started to fall away. Both Paul and I are in the recovery stages of wicked head colds. We were coughing and hacking while trying not to get dropped.
At the turn to Woods Valley there were many Descenders in the lead group–Bryan, Oleg, Larry, Ernst, Geoff, Bernie, Paul and me. There were a few other guys as we pulled along Woods Valley towards the turn toward Valley View Casino. The pace was quick but doable. We flew down toward Valley Center and took the right turn toward Harrah’s Casino; the steep, bumpy descent toward South Grade. We made it to Harrah’s in the lead group but started to lose touch right before the turn at the 76/Taco Shop. Paul fell away first and then I lost contact, watching the lead guys start the South Grade climb. I spent pretty much the rest of the ride solo, it was a lonely man’s ride.
I kept a few guys in sight heading up the early miles of the climb but mostly just spun away, tried to clear my ears and coughed a lot. It was a beautiful, blue sky day, still a bit cool but warming nicely. I hit the Y about 8:30 am and began my assault up the KOM segment of South Grade. There was a SAG stop in the Oak Knoll campground that I skipped, I got there later on the way back. I rode alone, seeing no one ahead and only got passed by a handful of riders on the climb. About mile marker 44, I hear the bell from Rick’s ElliptiGO and see him charging up fast. He closed the gap so quickly that I barely had time to capture a photo. He flew by and quickly disappeared up the road.
I finally hit the top about an hour later, almost 10 minutes slower than my PR but it felt good to see Mother’s. The SAG stop was right there too. I saw Geoff B still holding audience with a few other riders and enjoying some of the snacks. I ate and drank plenty before Geoff and I decided to ride out to the Observatory. Denise had come up the climb and already set out to try to catch Rick. Geoff and I flew down into some cold sections of road. There was snow still on the sides and I was glad I had my vest on. We saw Bryan Taylor out front, already on the return from the Observatory. He was with one other lead rider; they were humming. Soon after we saw Oleg and Larry returning from the Observatory, followed by Ernst, then Rick B and finally Bernie. They were all motoring towards the East Grade descent. Geoff and I caught up to Denise at the end of the road. We took a quick photo and then headed back. Denise was going back down South Grade. Geoff and I stayed close together on the way back to Mothers. We saw Steve B and Hodges heading out as we were almost back. Geoff did not stop at the SAG so I kept going too.
Geoff had a small gap on me as we hit East Grade. He quickly opened up a huge gap and I lost sight of him, never to see him again on the ride. The descent of East Grade is bumpier than my last descent ride there; it definitely needs some road work. The motorcycle traffic had been light going up South Grade and almost no traffic on East Grade made for a very pleasant descent. About 2 miles from the bottom Oleg and Larry were already heading back up. Next came Ernst and then a bit later Bernie. Super kudos to those four guys–once up and down Palomar was not enough for them!
I got to the bottom and turned onto 76, it was now close to 11 am. The 76 back toward the Taco Shop is a nice road but there was more traffic. I was alone, saw no one behind and nothing ahead. It was a fairly slow and painful spin back to the Y. I stopped at the SAG I had skipped earlier, in need of water and a restroom break. There were a few other riders who had descended back down South Grade, so at least I was not alone. I ate, drank and finally spun out again; heading for Cole Grade. The final descent is always fast and fun, until you hit the flat sections of Pauma Valley. 76 is always a bit busy but it was only a few miles before we took the turn onto Cole Grade Road. I saw a few riders up ahead and began what I knew would be a painful climb. It had warmed significantly and I had dispatched of my leg and armer warmers at the SAG. I wish I could have given my vest to someone but I just unzipped and pedaled on.
Part way up I saw Bill Wood taking a short break in the shade of a tree. The CCSD folks were kind enough to give us a 1 mile to the top marker but it was still a long hill. Near the top I spotted Nate Miller waiting for his fiance, Mercedes, to climb up Cole Grade. Nate might have so traumatized Mercedes that she is now just his girlfriend. At the finish Mercedes said they needed to have a long talk. Good luck Nate. After passing the high school we took a turn onto Miller Road. This looped us around and eventually dropped us back onto Valley Center Road; a nice way to ride next group ride. I was still riding alone but did see one guy ride up behind me at the Lilac Road light. He took the turn for the Supreme Punishment loop. I thought Oleg, Larry & the guys who climb back UP Palomar might have had a chance to catch me before I went straight. I did not see them.
The final 5 miles were just back through Valley Center and descend back to the start. I did have to do a quick loop in the neighborhood to hit 80 miles. My Garmin said 8,950 feet of climbing. My legs felt it. I got back to the car and saw Denise. She was waiting for Rick who was out finishing the Supreme loop. While I was changing I saw Bryan Taylor and the other rider come in–the first guys to finish the full 97 mile loop. Great riding Bryan. After some food, drink and post-ride chat with Bill Wood, Denise, Nate, Ernst & Monica Taylor, who stayed with the kids while Bryan rode, I headed home. I was exhausted and my ears hurt. I had trouble clearing them due to my cold and all the elevation change. It was a tough ride, but great fun. I see from the Strava posts that Oleg, Larry and Bernie all did the twice up Palomar sections and the Supreme Punishment–over 105 miles–nice job boys. Lots of great riding out there for all the Descenders that participated in the event. Thanks to CCSD for hosting. I put a link for my photos below.
ps. Bryan Jones is hosting a PQ Canyon MTB ride and Sheehan is hosting the Sunday Recovery ride. Don’t forget about Daylight Savings–starts at 2 am–spring forward one hour.