Udo Heinz Memorial Ride Report

Udo Heinz Memorial Ride-16 November 2019

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Hodges, Denise, Bernie, Tony, Monica, Bryan J, Ernst, John S, Cliff and Rob. Also Larry M and Scott were there at the start

The Ranchos have done a nice job organizing a memorial ride for one of their fallen riders. Udo Heinz was hit and killed by a bus while riding near Camp Pendleton about five years ago. His widow, Antje, is a cyclist as well and she gives a short and moving speech before each memorial ride. Udo left behind two young children and his wife, Antje. The Descenders have participated in the ride previously, as have a number of other cycling clubs from the local area.

The ride and route for this year was exactly as it had been last year. There were about 150 total riders in the event. We had a bit smaller turn-out this year, but the Descenders were still represented. Most were in their blue kits and some were in their dual-role Ranchos kits. Bernie was in his Ranchos kit and he helped lead the B group all day. We all gathered in the parking lot across the street from Stone Brewery in Escondido ahead of the 8 am planned roll-out. Kit Knox visited for a bit where we discussed the recent Peter Sagan Gran Fondo event. Bryan Jones was off the dirt and back on his road bike for the memorial ride. There were a couple of sponsors supporting the ride that had tables and bike mechanical stations near where all the riders gathered.

After the Ranchos spokesman went through the basics of the ride and identified the leaders of the A group and B group, Antje spoke to us about Udo and the family. Udo would have been 50 years old on the day of the ride. It is great that the cycling community can come together to show support for Antje and remember Udo. The bigger A group rolled out with the fastest Ranchos leading them off. Larry and Scott went with the A group. The Descenders and the rest of the B group rolled out five minutes later with Bernie supporting us on the ride.

We quickly rode to Harmony Grove and sped along towards Elfin Forest. Most of the group turned right onto Questhaven to ride the dirt and steep hills up towards Twin Oaks Valley. John S quickly gained some time on the pavement after the dirt section. Bryan J, Hodges, Ernst and I all stayed in view of one another. I noticed from the flybys that Bernie, Denise, Tony and Monica all stayed on the road into San Elijo Hills and then climbed up towards Twin Oaks Valley. Cliff must have been a bit farther behind as we did not see him on the ride.

When we got back to the main road the B group leaders were stopping for a regroup. I briefly stopped and then spun up the hill as I saw Denise and Monica up ahead. Ernst was on my wheel for a short time before he went to the front to pull all the way over the top of TOV. We sped down past Cal State San Marcos and regrouped at a number of lights, crossed over highway 78 and continued on North TOV. The B group seemed to split into two groups with most of the Descenders in the first pack. I was trying to not get dropped from this group. We turned at the Deer Springs Feed & Supply to continue on NTOV Road. This climbs up and then down to a back road full of pot holes before last climb up and over to hit Gopher Canyon. We regrouped there before turning left and riding to Little Gopher Road.

A quick pace pulled us along to Old River Road, where the group turned left, eventually looping around and over an old bridge, more dirt and a dirt road climb to get to Olive Hill Road. Folks spread out a bit on the rough roads and dirt, but we all basically met back up about mile 30 of the ride and the designated rest stop, the McDonalds and gas station on the corner with Highway 76. It looks like from the flybys that John S had just left the gas station a minute before we arrived. He was riding strong and was well out front.

Our B group relaxed and refreshed on the snacks and drinks for about 15 minutes before we got organized to head out again. We sped along Camino Del Rey with the larger group getting split up into smaller bunches along the fast paced 5 mile section. After going under I-15 we turned right onto Old 395 and then left on Old Castle Road a mile later. This is where Dave Ernst bid farewell as he continued straight down Old 395 to make his way back to Escondido. Bernie was at the corner directing riders to make the turn. I was at the back and was quickly dropped from the group. Bernie passed me and pulled me back up to the pace line before he pushed on ahead for more B group leader work. The climb up Old Castle is long and I fell off the pace again, basically did most of it alone until I turned onto Wilkes Road. I remember this turn from last year and also remember making some wrong turns as we made our way to Sierra Rojo Road last year. There were no signs or helpers at the corner, but I managed to find the route. I noticed from flybys that John S stayed on Old Castle all the way to Lilac Road so he missed some of the dirt sections from the planned route. He was probably riding alone and eventually caught back onto the route.

I saw a few other stragglers navigating the climbs and dirt sections to know I was following the correct ride. I got back onto Lilac Road as the group was only 100 yards or so up the road. Bryan Jones was well up the road by this time; maybe he caught up to John S before finishing the ride. The B group rode to the Lilac Market for a much needed water break. Cold water and coke never tasted so good. The group finally sped off with Tony & Monica still trying to finish up their drinks. Hodges pulled us to the corner by the fire station as we turned onto Valley Center Road. The group was mostly together when we hit Woods Valley. The pace was too much for me and Bernie pulled away part of the group that included Hodges and others. I rode with Antje and another Ranchos rider with Denise and others just behind.

We hit Wohlford descent and flew down to the light where the group waited for others to catch up. There was no sign of Tony & Monica but we had a large group and we rode off towards El Norte Parkway. The pace was civilized as we were in the last ten miles of the ride. The group stayed together as we looped around towards the Palomar Medical Center and back to the start by the brewery. A fun 65 mile, 5K of elevation ride.

Lots of the cars were gone by the time us B group riders made it back. Denise got a text from Tony saying he had a derailleur issue and that Diane was picking him up. Monica must have been chasing us to the finish. Below are the photos I took on the Udo ride. It was a fun day of cycling companionship and I was privileged to ride many of those miles with Antje, an amazing person. A big thanks also to the Ranchos and to our B group leader, Bernie.


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