The Descenders had a strong presence at the Pedal the Cause ride last month. We started on Saturday morning at UCSD with 7 Descenders riding for a great cause. We were riding for Tony O’Gorman, who has been a real trooper battling his prostate cancer and riding us into the ground through all his chemo treatments. Our group included: Dave Sheehan,Tony O’ Gorman, Bryan Jones, Eric Gruff, Peter Psahoulias, Jeff Langley and Rob Verfurth. We were joined by Steve Bosowski later in the ride. Team Descenders raised more than $15,000 towards cancer research in the San Diego area. The mass group start rolled from the campus parking lot in a "controlled" pace to Genesee Road, over I-5 and up the hill to Torrey Pines Road. Sheehan was already picking up the pace and most of our group was at or near the front of the riders. We hammered down Torrey Pines, by the water treatment plant and looped back around to get to El Camino Real. By the time we crossed Del Mar Heights, the Descenders lead group included Sheehan, Bryan, Tony, Jeff and me. Simon Planken was there, resplendent in his new UC Cyclery kit. He certainly has quickly figured out how to switch from MTB to road bikes and can ride super fast, all day long. Everyone pushed hard by the polo fields on San Dieguito Road to get us to Apajo.
I looked up from about 20 riders back to see Sheehan on point hammering on the Apajo Road curve. It was a beautiful sight to see with a handful of Descenders in the lead group and Sheehan out front. By the time we got to Del Dios things spread out a bit. Those who rode last year recognized a tall, lean young rider who was on point most of the ride last year too. He is a PhD named Ryon Graf who works at a local biotech, Epic Sciences. Such a same to have so little natural talents. Ryon smoked everyone again this year as he pedaled off into the distance by the time we hit Del Dios. We rode past Lake Hodges and through Escondido. The group seemed to stay about the same size with a couple of super fast guys going off the front. We all finally got the the Sag stop at the top of Jesmond Dene Road. The group stopped for drinks before riding up Old Highway 395, past the Lawrence Welk Resort. The ride continued north all the way to Temecula. Bryan Jones suggested we get off the straight road and loop around to Couser Canyon.
At Circle R, Tony, Sheehan, Bryan and Rob turned right and started to climb. We hit West Lilac and Lilac, past the Yellow Deli and turned up Couser Canyon. I hit the accelerator to get out front and decided to keep going. The descent was fluid with the curvy roads and no traffic. I looked behind every so often and did not see the other guys, so I kept riding. I came to Highway 76, turned left and then right onto Rice Canyon Road. It was getting hot and I expected to get caught as I slowly climbed up the road. It was a beautiful day and a great road to climb into Rainbow. I crested Rice Canyon and made it to the Sag stop at the elementary school. No sign of the guys. This was a great Sag with a portable pizza oven and lots of drinks. I went through a full pepperoni pizza and three cokes before the guys finally arrived. Tony had flatted. We all rested and regrouped for the last segment of the ride into Temecula.
After a nice descent down into Temecula we looped around through an area called Red Hawk. We connected back up with Peter and Steve. We had a nice group of Descenders cruising along the roads. The temperatures were getting warmer and we stopped in the shade to regroup and then hit our last Sag Stop with only about 8 miles still to go. Tony met his new girlfriend at this stop. He has made her an honorary Descender. The final miles were full of rollers out by the vineyards as we neared our destination at Tucalota Creek Ranch. The final hill really took it out of our tired legs but we all rolled into "Tent City". Those of us that took the Couser Canyon detour had ridden 80 miles and almost 7,000 feet of elevation gain, nice day on a bike.
We found our tent and luggage prepositioned for us. I made a bee-line for one of the portable showers to get cleaned and cool off. It was only about 1 pm so we had all afternoon to relax as the rest of the riders finished their ride. The lunch was on the far side of the site, decent eats, and some nice shade and a band playing. I sat in a relaxing Adirondack chair in the shade and read a book while the slight breezes kept me nice and cool. All the boys showed up eventually and the crowds grew. It was becoming a large happy hour. Simon P had some Pfizer friends from Boston that joined us for the ride. Tony and his wife were smart enough to bring a case of ice cold beer. There was a shortage of decent beer due to some snafu but we were saved by Tony from Boston. Sheehan and I put some of our Midwest roots on display with a fun Cornhole match. Despite back to back swishes by yours truly, Sheehan and his teammate beat us soundly. We all relaxed in the shade until it was time for dinner.
The whole group of riders, some 800 plus, along with all the organizers had a nice banquet dinner. There were many stories of cancer survivors and groups riding in the memory of others. The dinner nicely summarized why we were participating in the weekend event. After dinner it was off to bed for me. Tent city is never a great night’s sleep. It was a bit warm and the snoring thunderous. Everyone rose early to get some breakfast and prepare for the ride back to San Diego. Team Descenders lined up for the 7 am roll-out. Sheehan immediately hit the accelerator another Hogwash ride. Our group took off with the lead pack and we did our fair share of pulling as we made our way back through Temecula. Just before the climb up to Rainbow, Sheehan flatted. Tony stopped to help and the rest of us kept rolling along. Bryan and I got to the elementary school Sag stop with the leaders but we stopped to wait. We saw Simon roll by a few minute later. Sheehan and Tony arrived and we took off again. Jeff Langley was with us too. We flew to the Lilac Bridge and descended down West Lilac, heading west toward Oceanside. The route changed a bit from last year and we rode along Highway 76 for a bit to get to the Sag stop near the bike path on the San Luis River Trail. It was so early, the pizza truck was just getting set up; no pizza today.
We flew along the bike path, hit Oceanside just below the harbor and headed south. The pace was much faster than the climbing of Saturday. By the time we got to Solana Beach we were still averaging 20 mph. We made a brief Sag stop for drinks and had one final push through Del Mar and up Torrey Pines. We rolled into the UCSD parking lot by about 11 am, 75 miles and less than 3,000 feet of elevation. It was a breeze compared to the Saturday slog. We all changed and then had some good BBQ lunch provided before heading for home. It was a great two days of riding. The Descenders were strongly represented in riders and in donations for a great cause. Keep fighting Tony O. Look forward to seeing more riders next year. The link shows some of the photos from the weekend.