Udo Heinz Memorial Ride-17 November 2018
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Dave Ernst, Mike Hodges, Bill Wood and Rob in Descenders Kits; other riders: Bernie B, Neil, R, Geoffrey M and Jason Ryan in Rancho or non-team kits. Also about 90 other riders from many riding teams
The 5th annual Udo Heinz Memorial Ride took place last weekend with Stone Brewery again as the starting point. The group ride last year was much larger as this year Pedal the Cause and other rides conflicted with this memorial event. Udo would have been 49 years old on Friday. His widow again gave an update on the family as we remembered one of our cycling brethren lost due to a lousy driver. We have had a surge in car/cyclist interactions. We cyclists never win. The latest is Jim Wilkinson who was hit by a car this past week on his commute home form work. Jim is still recovering in the hospital. Be careful out there.
The Udo ride is special because it remembers him and brings together a large group of riders from many local cycling clubs. The route also includes some dirt every year since Udo was a big CX rider. The group of almost 100 riders split into two with the A riders being led by Kit Knox and a few other stud Rancho riders. I saw that Neil, Geoffrey and Jason all leave with the A group. Bernie was one of the leaders of the B group where the four of us in Descenders kits started and showed our team support. Bill W planned to ride his own route and catch the group at various points along the route. The rest of us planned to ride the B paced ride.
We headed out along Harmony Grove in a fast paceline and turned onto Questhaven. Bernie led some of the riders to Elfin Forest Road to stay on the pavement with a regroup on the climb before Double Peak. Ernst and Hodges were near the front of our approximately 50 person group as we hit Questhaven. After the first gate, there was a steep and rocky face that had a few riders off their bikes. Hodges, Ernst and I managed to avoid the congestion and we spun through the dirt road to the second gate. We climbed our way back to Twin Oaks Valley where the leaders regrouped. We started to climb up past Double Peak and kept going over the top. Somehow I managed to be near the front and sped down fast, past Cal State San Marcos and continued heading north. There was one fast rider out in front of me, so I kept pedaling. The rest of the B group got caught at some of the lights. The strong rider pulled off at a 7-11, so I kept going and did not see anyone behind. I think Ernst and Hodges backed off a bit and let me hang out in front, burning away what few matches I had.
After turning onto N. Twin Oaks Valley Road and starting the climbs up and over to Gopher Canyon, I started to worry. I knew the general route to Old Gopher Canyon and knew where the rest stop was at Olive Hill, but did not know the exact route to get there. I chugged along onto Gopher Canyon and did not have to worry about the route as the Group B leaders blew by me with Hodges and Ernst in the group of about 15 riders. I grabbed a wheel and hung on through Old Gopher Canyon and out to find our next gravel section. We first had to navigate a small gravel climb and then wait for a group of motorcyclists blocking the road on a descent; this kept us at a slow pace that was probably a good thing. We ultimately rode more dirt sections and made our way to Olive Hill, about a mile north of the rest stop. Ernst was now on point with Hodges only a few spots from the lead.
Just as we got to the big intersection of the gas station, McDonald’s and the rest stop, the A group riders were there at the light. They had just finished a nice break at the rest stop. A few of us B group guys decided to ride with the big boys; most others took a quick break, including Hodges. I hung onto the back of the A group as we made our way along Camino del Ray. Ernst was a few riders in front of me and I had seen Geoffrey Mayne and Jason Ryan in the group ahead. I figured I would hide in the back until I blew up. We rode quickly along, under I-15 and turned south onto Old 395. I was barely holding on as we made our way to the turn onto Old Castle Road.
Ernst headed south towards home, his day was done. I managed to hold with the A group until the climbing started. Neil R and those studs up front put down the hammer and I was off the back. The A group started to splinter as the climb continued up and around the bend. I saw a Descenders kit ahead and knew it was Bill Woods, he must have looped a different direction. Bill looked great as he pedaled along, enjoying a day in the saddle at his own pace. I passed a few stragglers and then turned right onto Wilkes Road as directed by a couple of Ranchos that stopped to provide directions. I was alone now and heading into new territory, another gravel section lay ahead. I caught up to a rider and we asked a local woman about an intersection on which way to turn. She gave us good info to head along Sierra Rojo Road. I was a bit skeptical as it climbed up what looked like a dead end, but we came upon some dirt and saw the tracks from the A group. The rider ahead was stronger but kept me motivated to try to keep him in sight. We finally turned onto Lilac Road and headed towards Valley Center.
We rode into Valley Center and turned onto Woods Valley, heading towards Lake Wohlford. This is the opposite direction from our usual Descenders club cycling route, but I knew where I was going. Traffic kept us in check riding down Wohlford. We turned and made our way to El Norte Parkway, catching up to a couple of other riders I recognized from the Old Castle climb. They too must have found a short-cut for the ride. One turned off in Escondido while the other guys led me back along Centre City Parkway and then onto the bike path that dumped back onto Harmony Grove. I looped around back to Stone Brewery and finished the 64 miles with 4,900 feet of climbing in right at 4 hours. Hodges showed up just as I finished, he took a shorter route as his knee was hurting. The A group guys were either already gone or had decided to grab a beer at the brewery. As I was changing I saw Bernie roll back into the parking lot with more of the B group guys. As I left the parking to towards home, I spotted Bill Woods finishing up his ride day as well. The Descenders put in a good showing, either in kit or incognito.
It was a good cycling event, a nice memorial for Udo and a great day to be out riding in the north county. Below is a link to the photos I took on the ride.