Highland Valley & Old Julian Highway Ride Report-25 February 2017
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Jim W, Eric R, Bernie, Rick W, Dave (Rick’s friend from Tucson), Oleg, John M, Larry, Bill B, Garet, Justin (Garet’s friend), Len, Tony and Rob
It was a very brisk start to the day, just ask Oleg and Larry who rode to the start separately but were both on bikes before 7 am. Oleg noted a temperature in the low 30’s for his start and below 40 degrees until he got to the 8 am group start; it was cold for us wimpy CA boys. I rode off from PQ just after 7 am hoping to see Guido at the top of Black Mountain Road. I knew Proulx was traveling down under, having just finished his Australia Descenders ride with Bill Wood in Melbourne and posted to Strava already. No photos, but I am hoping for a short ride report! Guido did not show so I had to ride cold and alone to the corner of Pomerado.
There were a number of guys waiting for me when I arrived right at 8 am–Jim W, Eric R, Bernie, Rick W and his friend Dave were bundled up and ready to ride. Dave is a furniture maker who lives in Tucson, a very strong rider as you will see throughout this ride report. Oleg spun in a minute later; he had icicles on his beard; it was cold. John M had left to start the HVR climb just before I arrived, he was maintaining his parallel universe of riding. We left the corner at 8:05 am, according to fly-bys; all you other riders that joined later were simply late. This ride was definitely a Descenders group ride, if you could maintain an A-team pace. We did plenty of regrouping, but the pace was strong and I was off the back most of the day.
We rolled to HVR where Tony and Len were supposed to meet us, fly-bys showed that they were about 5 minutes late. We assumed they were ahead like John M so we started the flat sections of HVR. The pace picked up and I was burning matches to hide in the back. At the start of the climb I immediately lost contact and rode up solo, watching the group get farther ahead. We all passed a number of others climbing up HVR, including John M. I asked him about Tony & Len but he had not seen them. That was the last time I saw John for the day. After passing Bandy Canyon and up by Starvation Mountain, Larry M came up on my wheel. He had ridden from home but did not make the meeting corner in time. He chased us down and now pulled me along as we caught up to Eric R. I hit a pot hole in the road and lost a water bottle. Larry and Eric rolled on while I circled back to find my bottle. I continued up my solo assault of HVR. Near the Eagles Crest Road gate Bill B caught up to my wheel, he also left home late and was chasing us. We rode together to Mt Woodson Elementary and the regroup spot on the corner of Archie Moore Road. Soon after Garet and his friend, Justin, rode up; they also started late. We might have to reconsider our roll times for our 8 am group rides.
The large group rode the 3 mile flat section to 67 in a brisk pace, I was again burning matches to hold the paceline. At 67 we lost Oleg, Garet and Justin. They headed back down Highway 67; Garet and Justin hit Mina de Oró and High Valley while Oleg pedaled back home via SPP, getting in about 70 miles for the day. The remaining riders hit Dye Road in a fast paceline all the way to San Vicente Road and then to Hansen Road as we made our way to Old Julian Highway. Still no sign of Tony or Len.
As soon as we hit the start of the climb on OJH, I dropped off the back. The A team–Larry, Rick W, Dave, Eric R, Bill B, Jim W and Bernie–were off to the races. I rode solo up OJH, made time to take a few photos of the beautiful flowers in bloom, enjoy the bright blue skies and slightly warming temperatures. I finally crested the last bit of the climb and planned to ride to the end of OJH. Bernie and Tony were planning to add Mesa Grande and Palomar to the ride so I thought Bernie would be at the corner waiting for Tony. The A team was coming back towards me, including Bernie. By the time I slowed and turned around they are gone; I tried in vain to close the gap and find a wheel; I rode down OJH solo. Just before getting back to the corner at the bottom, I see Tony and Bernie just starting the climb. Bernie on his second repeat! They rode to Santa Ysabel, over Mesa Grande, up East Grade, down South Grade and over to Cole Grade before getting back home via Escondido. Bernie clocked in 125 miles for the day and Tony completed a century; both are mental, real cycling studs and masochistic. Those are epic rides.
The rest of us mere mortals regrouped just past the corner and rolled to Ramona for a water break. Len was with us but quickly rolled towards the Ramona Grade to get back to Tony’s house, he had a crew working on the backyard. The next Descenders social should be at Tony’s–his new yard is looking good! After a short break and taking a few jabs about my new white shoes, we rode back towards Dye Road. These group pacelines were painful but fun. Jim W offered a brief respite along Dye with a flat that we quickly fixed. I somehow was dumb enough to be second wheel behind Rick W for the last mile of the ride to the light at 67. We flew through the light, Eric R headed straight down HVR and I immediately lost contact with the A team.
They pedaled on and I rode solo along Highway 67. Some of the guys went down SPP to get home while others dropped down Poway Grade. I was so far behind, only Fly-bys gave me their route info. My pace slowed as I pootled on Twin Peaks and back along the 56 bike path to home. I got in 69 miles and 4,400 feet of climbing. It finally warmed a bit as I headed back into PQ. Great group ride, fast paced and good fun. The link below shows a few of the photos I took.