Lake Wohlford & Couser Canyon Ride Report-13 May 2017
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Bernie, Rick B, Jim W, Rick W, Neil, Eric R, Dave Sheehan and Rob
What is wrong with the first picture? You are looking at only "A" team riders at the start; A team plus me. I was in big trouble. I pedaled over to the mall from PQ. Hodges told me he was coming so I was hopeful that someone would ride my pace; he did not show. Sheehan was not at the start, I got some temporary good news later in the ride. As I rode up to the group, Larry Murray was also there, resplendent in his new Ranchos kit. Larry said he was over saying hi to his "homies"….then he went back to start the Ranchos ride. I know the Ranchos ride hard, kind of surprised Larry did not think about riding with the Descenders on this Saturday, the A team looked pretty good.
We rolled out a few minutes after the Ranchos left, I was still hoping Hodges would show. I started burning matches on the climb up Mary Lane. I held onto Eric’s wheel as best I could while the rest of the guys went well away from us. The pace over to the start of Wohlford was civil, but still work for me. We hit the start of the climb and I was quickly dropped. I kept Eric in my sights and caught up to him at the 2-mile mark. We all regrouped at Lake Wohlford, where my good news awaited. Sheehan had some early mechanical issues so he got dropped off and rode up in front of us. I now had someone I could ride with, or so I thought. Lake Wohlford looked good, lots of water and it was still very green.
Rick W hammered out from the lake, everyone was strung out on the way to Woods Valley. Sheehan was up near the front; I struggled to hold on at all. We did a quick regroup at the turn and then hit it hard. I somehow was on point when Sheehan said let’s go. I pulled for a bit and then quickly retreated to the back. The pace was furious,32-33 mph along Woods Valley. I thought about getting my camera out to capture the beauty of the 7-man paceline in front of me, but I would have lost pace before getting the photo. Near the end of Woods Valley, Sheehan stuck his nose out and then Eric & Rick B hammered for the corner. I was pretty far back so not sure who got their first, looked like a tie to me. We spun along into Valley Center and then to Lilac, past Daisy Deli and to the start of Couser. I was riding now with Sheehan at a much more civil pace. We climbed Couser, chatting about various family updates; at the top Dave said he was turning around to get to Old Castle Road. I was bummed since I was losing Sheehan and now had to push to get back with the A team riders. I flew down Couser, but not too fast; very scary for me. The guys were patiently waiting for me on the corner of highway 76 at the end of Couser.
Bernie led Eric and me along highway 76, the other guys were a bit slow to restart the ride and were just behind. I cut through the neighborhood ahead of the guys as they waited for some traffic to clear before turning. I thought about staging for a good group photo up the Old 395 Highway climb so pedaled fast to get ahead. I saw no one behind me so just kept up my pace. I looked back about halfway up the climb and saw a few riders well back, at least they were finally coming. I could see the final curve ahead. I was almost to West Lilac Road at the top when Neil and Rick B caught me, at least I made them work for it. Jim W caught up as we hit the overpass bridge. They were flying towards the planned campground rest stop. At one point, Rick, Jim and Neil all were giving their best "Chris Froome" impersonation, lying on the top tube, head at the handlebars. Another great opportunity for a photo, but I was working to stay just behind them. We got the RV Park and had a nice water break.
I knew I was the weakest of the riders so I rode out early while the guys enjoyed a bit longer of a break. The section from the campground, past the Lawrence Welk Resort to the corner of Mountain Meadow is always tough for me; long, straight and slightly uphill most of the time. I left early enough to barely hold off Neil and Rick B. They were breathing hard when they got to the corner. We regrouped and spun straight to downtown Escondido at a fast pace. The accelerations on Centre City Parkway were brutal. Eric was trying to tell me the story about his son’s upcoming prom date, it was too fast to even chat. The pace did not slow until we got back towards the mall. Bernie turned to ride over the freeway. It looked like he finally caught up to Sheehan on Pomerado when I saw the Strava fly-bys. Dave was ahead of us by 5 minutes or so the entire way down Old 395, we were at our water break when he came out of Old Castle Road. I pedaled back to where the cars were parked and bid adieu. Rick W & Jim rode out and I followed toward the pedestrian bridge. Lake Hodges looked even more full and very green. Rick turned left after the bridge while Jim and I rode toward PQ. I planned to stop at the gas station at RB Road, I was tired and needed to slow down; Jim was continuing to push the pace. He climbed up RB Road while I decided to head over West Bernardo Road. We both rode behind Black Mountain to home. I got in 77 miles and 5,400 feet of climbing. It was a great training ride for Monster Climbs, less than 5 weeks left to get in shape. Below is a link for the photos I was able to take during the ride.