Old Julian Highway Ride-1 December 2018
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Eric R, Hodges, Sheehan, Tony, John A, Rick W, Shawn D, Bill B, Rob and Peggy for a cameo
San Diego got some much needed rain just after the Thanksgiving holidays. A break in the rains came just in time for our Saturday Descenders group ride. It was cold and there were patches of dark clouds on the horizon when I spun from PQ towards the start. I met John A at the top of Black Mountain Road and we pedaled over to the designated meet location.
A good group of riders showed, ready to ride. Bill & Peggy were not there, one of the clouds must have hung over their house; it was raining there they said via text. We took off to start the HVR climb, already having decided to descend Bandy and climb up the Ramona Grade for a nice change of pace.
Bill joined us before we left Pomerado Road, Peggy was staying away from the rains. The usual acceleration antics took place on the flats before the climb. The hammerheads kept the pace high, a cold wind was in our face and a few sprinkles as well. At the start of the HVR climb we spread out, each in our own suffer mode, but throughly enjoying the beauty of the ride. We regrouped at the corner of Bandy and descended carefully with more moisture sticking to the road. The group split some along the bottom of Bandy but regrouped again at the corner of highway 78.
Now the real climbing was to begin. Eric, Rick, Bill Shawn, John A and Hodges broke away from Sheehan, Tony and me; bigger and bigger gaps opened up on the climb. Sheehan fell farther back while I hid on Tony’s wheel; Ramona Grade is a great climb. The road is in good shape, just wish it was a bit wider. Traffic was not too heavy but those cars/trucks that came by do so rather quickly. Tony pulled me up to the corner of West Haverford, where the rest of the guys were waiting. We all got back together and spun towards downtown Ramona.
The pace was again fast but this time I was able to hide on Hodges wheel to stay with the lead group; Tony & Sheehan fell off the pace. We cruised through the center of town and turned to start the climb towards Old Julian Highway. As the road tilted up, I immediately fell back. The guys spun away and I was now alone, mentally preparing for the seven mile ascent, solo. It was a gorgeous morning, still crisp but with some sunshine breaking through. I turned over the cranks and finally crested past the 7.5 mile marker. Up ahead I could see the guys already coming back towards me. Rather than descend alone too, I spun around and had to hammer to get onto the wheel of Rick W, Hodges and Shawn. Eric R was just ahead and John A was maintaining his conservative descending pace behind us.
We flew fast down heading back towards Ramona. We passed Tony at about the four mile mark and he looked like he was continuing on to the top, but there was no sign of Sheehan. I got spit out just before the end of OJH but kept them in sight as we cruised into town and stopped at the Mobil station. We had a good break, yet there was no sign of Tony or Sheehan. Hodges was his usual impatient to roll and Bill said Peggy was climbing HVR to meet us, we had to leave.
The paceline back along Dye Road was quick but the seven of us remaining riders stayed together to the light at highway 67, where we met up with Peggy. Bill, Hodges, Eric, John A and Peggy kept straight to descend HVR while Rick W, Shawn and I turned onto 67 to make our way to Poway Grade. I told the guys to go, I was done; let me pootle along alone at my own pace to get home. Rick W would hear none of it, he forced me to continue. Rick pulled, Shawn held his wheel and I struggled to keep up. We rode past Mt Woodson and spun along highway 67 to get to Poway Grade. Rick was again on point while we hid on his wheel, turning onto Espola Road, then Twin Peaks Road. Thankfully Rick turned towards home near Midland, I was too pooped to keep up his pace. Fun riding with Rick, especially on the downhills. Shawn now picked up the mantel and pulled me along. I was dying fast and needed a rest. My college roommate lives in Arbolitos, so I said good-bye to Shawn to let him make his way back to Carmel Valley.
I coasted to Tim’s house and caught up for 30 minutes. After a much needed break, I pedaled past Carmel Mountain and got back onto the bike path to make my way home. It was a fun 68 mile ride with almost 5K of climbing, another fun group ride. Tony did make it all the way to the top of OJH before returning home via HVR. Sheehan skipped OJH but did Mussey Grade before he pedaled home via HVR. Below is a link to the photos I took on the ride.