Old Julian Highway Ride–26 January 2019
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Bob P, Paul P, Shawn D, John A, Geoffrey M and his friend, Rick, Scott, Rick W, Garet, Tony O, Bill & Peggy, Rob and his friend from Spokane, Neil
The planned ride was one we have done many times, OJH. It seems that my ride schedule is matching up to this ride more than most. Tony suggested we ride up highway 78 again, but I noted we had some guests coming so let’s stick to the full HVR climb. I had a buddy from Spokane in town for a medical conference. We rode from PQ and picked up John A right as we rode into the Crestmont neighborhood. A quick spin to the top of Black Mountain had us meet up with Bob P. Paul P got the wrong location and he was at Black Mountain and the 56 bike path. Paul quickly figured out his error and met up with the group at the start on Pomerado. Tony had emailed me early in the am to say that he, Bill & Peggy were getting a head start and would meet us at the top of HVR at Archie Moore Road. We had eleven riders at Pomerado ready to go by 8 am. Garet was the last to show, wearing his neck gator that he quickly removed. It was warmer than expected and a nice am for riding. The winds were blowing and that was the big cycling challenge ahead. Geoffrey had a buddy, Rick, join us. Rick had driven in from Borrego Springs that morning. He said the winds were blowing hard in the desert.
The eleven riders spun off from Pomerado towards the start of HVR. A quick paceline formed and I fell off before the start of the climb. My meds are either not working or are working too well. I labored up HVR and watched everyone roll out of sight. Bob P planned to stop at the Bandy Canyon corner. I stopped to chat with Bob for a minute before continuing the slow slog up HVR. Bob descended Bandy Canyon and came back via highway 78 and them Summit & Mary Lane to get home with 40 miles under his belt.
The winds were blowing but many sections of HVR were fairly well protected. It was a nice day and I was making slow progress. The gang was waiting for me at the corner of Archie Moore, including Tony, Bill & Peggy. I need to do the head start with them next time. Paul P was heading back down HVR where he proceeded to do a big loop toward the coast and ride almost 75 miles for the day. Garet, after a fast climb up HVR, was doing a quick return home to the family heading back to highway 67 and down Poway Grade. We were back to 11 riders.
The final section of upper HVR is always a paceline mash. I split off the back and rode with Neil and Rick while the rest of the group sped towards the highway 67 intersection. They made the light and we got stuck with a red light and a highway cleaning crew that blocked ALL traffic for a few minutes…wish they kept the bike lanes as clean as the intersection that two vehicles swept before allowing any cars to move. We made it through the light and most riders went over to the fire station for some water.
The group got going again and sped along Dye Road. I dropped off again with Rick and we got caught at the San Vicente Road light, the rest of the group headed for OJH. Geoffrey M waited for us by Ramona high school and now the three of us turned onto Hanson Lane toward the OJH climb. My wheels looked round but they felt like squares. I was not pushing many watts and dropped back as soon as the climb started. I pedaled alone and slowly up OJH, brisk wind gusts slammed into my bike. The winds were coming from the east so it was mostly a headwind all the way up the climb. Only on a few turns did the winds subside; fast blowing sand exfoliated exposed skin. The mile markers slowly clicked off. I expected to see the guys coming back down before I got to the 5 mile marker; it came and went. I climbed just past the 6.5 mile marker before I saw Rick W coming back down towards me. I was spent so I did a u-turn to start my descent. Bill B and then Shawn D quickly blew by me. Tony O came next, followed by Scott. I held close to their wheels. The winds were blowing fiercely from behind and we all hit 35 mph easily on the way back towards Ramona. A few tight corners with a fast blowing cross wind caused me to slow down and think about my buddy, Neil. He had never been on this road and I wanted to make sure everyone was save.
I stopped halfway down and watched the other riders blow past. Eventually Rick came and he said Neil was just behind him. I snapped a few photos of the views and then spun off after Neil. We zoomed down into Ramona and made our way to the Mobil station for our designated water break. I was tired and needed a rest. After some snacks and drinks, including an ice cream bar for John A, we headed out again towards the Dye Road return. The pace quickened and the group split in two. As we hit the highway 67 intersection, most riders made it through the light. Tony, Bill, Peggy and Shawn D kept going straight, back down HVR. Rick W, Scott, Geoffrey, Rick, Neil and Rob rolled along highway 67 towards Poway Grade.
We spread out along this section of highway 67, with Rick W and Scott disappearing in the distance. Neil and John A were just ahead of me and Rick was just behind me. Geoffrey stayed close to his buddy Rick a bit in front of us. We sped quickly along the scary sections of highway 67, aided by the tailwind and descended Poway Grade. I was on point and barely pedaled, garnering a second best time for the descent, only 6 seconds slower than my 2013 PR; should have pedaled more. I hit the brakes to wait for traffic on the turn at Espola and waited for the rest of the guys to come by. I wanted to make sure Neil did not miss the turn either. Rick W and Scott were long gone for the day.
We descended to Twin Peaks Road and met up with a few other riders out enjoying the day. We all rode towards Ted Williams Parkway and back towards PQ. Geoffrey waited a bit for his buddy, Rick, so it was just me, Neil and John A that rode the 56 bike path down past Black Mountain towards home. I finished with 67 miles and 4,800 feet of climbing. Neil and John were closer to 70 miles with 5K of elevation since I turned on OJH before the top. It was a fun ride and I was pleased to be able to show Neil a classic Descenders ride. Next time I will need a head start with Tony, Bill & Peggy; might need an e-bike to keep up the rest of the ride. Below are a few photos I took during the ride.