Julian Fall Ride Report

Julian Fall Ride-6 November 2021

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Geoffrey M, Len N, Mathijs, Dennis C, Dave Ernst, Don W, Brain V, Hodges, Tony O, Dave Voris, Cresap, John M, Bernie, Larry, Rick B, John A, Oleg, Flo and Rob

The annual Julian Fall Ride could not have picked better weather and a great group of riders. We had a total of 19 Descenders out for a fun ride. Everyone met in the gravel parking lot behind the Julian Pie Company in Santa Ysabel. It was supposed to be in the high 40’s according to the weather forecast. There was fog in Poway on the drive there that broke to clear sunshine past Ramona and the temps were already in the low 50’s at the start. Arm warmers were needed but most riders put away their vests. Hodges, who drove the decision to add the lightweight gilet to our team kit inventory, still wore a vest; but it was a yellow one! His faux pas was overlooked because he volunteered to buy pie for everyone if we had more than 15 riders. The team gear concession stand was opened on the back of my car. Two pairs of socks for $5 was the deal of the day. We sold a number of pairs of socks and gave away the last of the old Sock Guy inventory. We had a special guest rider, Dave Voris, down on a visit from NorCal. He bought one of the last pair of arm warmers.

Most riders were in Descender team gear. A few riders needed to update their kit inventory and we also had a number of guest riders out of uniform. The two most spiffy riders were Dave Ernst and Rick Bienias. Both wore the newest Descenders jersey they designed and it looked awesome. Dave drove the design changes with Eliel that lightened and brightened up the original "Blue" kit jersey. He bought the minimum of 5 jerseys from Eliel and apparently shared this new gem with his best riding buddies. It goes great with the original blue kit bibs as well. Rick B wore the new jersey, along with the original "Blue" kit bibs and arm warmers. He accented perfectly with his yellow shoes, socks, gloves, helmet and even glasses; no wonder he is just a good rider, just look at him! Fortunately, Dave E has now made this new Descenders jersey available to all of us. I recently sent out a kit order message to the group. All kit items are available. Xmas is arriving soon and there are no shipping delays expected since this gear is made in CA. Get your new gear ordered and call me if you have any questions.

After a group photo, there were attempts to go over the route for the benefit of the new riders. Tony O started the discussion. Hodges tried to interpret the Irish and translate it into Queen’s English. Someone tried to add some good old American words, but apparently it was all lost in translation. I fault myself for not breaking through all the misinformation and make clear that ONLY the "A" team riders should descend all the way down Banner Grade; others should turn around at the store or somewhere later on the descent but well before Scissors Crossing. As we tried to tell riders we would ride up towards Julian and turn onto Wynola Road, Voris gave us his best command voice by telling everyone to regroup at that corner. Clearly no one was really listening; everyone was just so eager to ride.

We set off from Santa Ysabel in the brisk mountain air with the sun just starting to peak over the rising road. Car traffic was not too bad as we rode, mostly single file, up highway 79 towards Julian. The Apple Tree Inn finally came into view as we approached Wynola. The group took the right and, of course, no one stopped. I looked back and slowed to see Tony and John A pulling the caboose; everyone at least made the first correct turn. Bernie pulled John M and I back towards the main pack. The pace was pedestrian and most everyone rode in a large group. We even stopped once to let cars pass along the tight curves of Wynola Road. It is a beautiful section of tree-lined road that loops around Julian and past Vulcan Mountain before getting to Banner Grade. It could use some road repairs but it is still a fun loop. After the Vulcan Mountain turn the road descends slightly and speeds accelerated in a nice line of riders as we headed to highway 78/Banner Grade. Everyone turned left and I waited at the corner to make sure all riders knew where to go. John A and Tony showed up on the road just above the turn before I took off down Banner.

With no riders near me, I swiftly descended Banner Grade giving a quick nod at the tight left turn corner where I wiped out in 2009. I saw riders ahead and quickly passed a half dozen of them. Banner is such a smooth descent, Strava said I got a PR for the segment: 8:04. Funnest eight minutes of the day. I eventually saw the lead pack of "A" team riders just ahead but could not catch them as they blew by the General Store and past my designated turn around location-Queen’s Banner Ranch. Ernst and I have turned around there the past few times we have ridden Banner. I saw a number of riders continue on down the descent and tried to yell for them to turn around soon; that is a long climb back up to town. I failed to get the message across.

Ernst took a photo of me and we began our ascent back up. We quickly picked up Len and then passed Tony who had stopped at the store. Ernst, Len and I rode together up the climb. Near Wynola Road we finally corralled John M. We all continued on back into Julian and rode up to our usual stopping point at the Julian Pie Company. The pretty fall day brought out lots of folks as most all the tables were full and a line was out the door to buy pie. We sat down at the last table, relaxed and waited for the rest of the group. The wait extended much longer than we had hoped as the "A" team riders showed but a number of others were still missing; mostly the new guys. Hodges was slow to show so no one got pie. A planned event, only Hodges knows. The lines were too long anway.

We were concerned the new riders might get lost so we congregated at the main Julian intersection continuing our wait. Flo called Brain and we learned that Don had a mechanical, they were still climbing Banner. Geoffrey M had stayed to help fix the tire. Ernst, Voris and Rick had already descended towards Pine Hills Road. Ernst was heading all the way back to his car as his schedule was tight. I suggested that the slower riders head out while the fast boys waited for Geoffrey, Don and Brian. Hodges volunteered to stay as did others. I pedaled off with Cresap, Len, John M, Tony and Mathijs in tow. We met up with Rick B and Voris near the turn and explained that others were waiting at the top. Voris and Rick led us along Pine Hills and Eagle Peak to Boulder Creek and eventually to the climb up Engineers. Eagle Peak Road and Boulder Creek Road had recently been repaved so the slick new tarmac provided a great riding surface along the tree-lined mountain road with great views. I pulled to the point near the white fencing to make sure no one made the mistake of riding the wrong direction onto Boulder Creek Road. Voris and the rest of the guys followed close behind as we sped fast down towards Engineers Road; fun descent with some tight corners.

By the time we hit Engineers Road only Cresap, Len and I were with Rick and Dave V. We followed their carrot pace as long as we could, eventually falling behind on the long switchbacks of the road. The last steep sections before North Peak had us fall farther behind but it was a fun chase. We all regrouped at the Cuyamaca Fire Station, overlooking the lake with Stonewall Peak in the background. Water refills and snacks were needed while we waited for the rest of the riders. Larry, Oleg, Bernie and Dennis showed up first; they had kept up a "smooth" 240 watts climbing Engineers; awesome stuff. It now seemed like most riders had either made it to the Fire Station or planned to turn before the last descent to start the long trek back.

I quickly headed out as I knew I would need as much of a head start as possible. I passed Tony and John M who had started back already. I saw Flo still heading towards the fire station and suggested he turn around. The faster riders quickly passed me. I hid on their wheels while we all speedily descended down Engineers and Boulder Creek Road. When the road started to climb again, the wheat separated from the chaff. Larry, Oleg, Voris, and Rick disappeared ahead of us before we passed Camp Winacka. Dennis, Cresap, Bernie and I kept pushing but settled into our own group. We regrouped when Pine Hills Road met back up with highway 79 before the final six mile descent to Santa Ysabel. The faster boys were long gone. Cresap and I traded front position on the pulls as we screamed down the road. I got back to the parking lot with nearly 52 miles and 5,500 feet of climbing; many were over 60 miles with 6K of climbing.

Don’s market was having a 30 year anniversary party with live music. I had to head out so I missed the post ride pie feast that I assume Hodges bought. He just pedaled up as I drove out of the parking lot. It was a great morning Descenders group ride. Below are the photos I took, along with a few from Oleg and Ernst that I added to the album. Julian Fall Ride is one of my favorites of the year; it saved my life, remember. We have Dudley’s Dream Ride scheduled for December 4th, another favorite. Mark your calendar.


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Winter Solstice Coastal Ride

Winter Solstice Coastal Ride-21 December 2019

Riders: Tony, Shawn, Sheehan, Dennis, Bob P, John A and Rob

Last Descenders group ride for the year for me, off to Boulder next week. Cold start, fun ride. We rode down Three Witches and out to PCH. Fast pace heading north through Encinitas. Bob, Dave and Rob turned inland at Palomar Airport Road while the rest of the guys went to Oceanside. It looks like all the guys headed back south through RSF except Tony. He went to Sleeping Indian Road to get in more elevation and miles. Awesome way to spend the start of winter.

Happy holidays to all.

A few photos from the ride are in the link below.


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Lake Wohlford & Couser Canyon Ride Report

Lake Wohlford & Couser Canyon Ride-14 Dec 2019

Riders: Bernie, Cresap, Shawn D, Bob P, Len, Hodges, Denise, Tony, Rob, Garet and Bill B

Liquid sunshine ride…cold and misty for most of the ride; sun broke through near the end. Bill B came to start of the ride with a broken bike and went home. Garet caught us on the Wohlford climb and left after Woods Valley. Denise headed back via Circle R. Tony and Mike looped around to Twin Oaks Valley Road while the rest of us went south on Old 395 back to the mall. Fun ride.


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Coastal & RSF Ride Report

Coastal & RSF Ride-7 December 2019

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Bob P, Oleg, John S, Cresap, Hodges, Voris & Rob

We are very fortunate to live in San Diego, a location with near perfect weather most of the year. The rains of late November provided some needed water to our arid climate but put a damper on some riding days. The weather window for a group ride was supposed to be open with early afternoon rains in the forecast. I was late getting ready and received a call from Dave Voris just as I was about to leave my house. Dave was in town for a family early Xmas event and he planned to join us when we hit Solana Beach about 9 am. Dave also texted me and Hodges. I left the house and was on my bike at 8:04, according to Strava. Hodges met up at the corner of Black Mountain and the bike path and when no one else showed up, he headed down the bike path for the coast. Unfortunately the published route had us going north on CDS and down Three Witches.

I got to the bike path a minute after Mike had passed my street, according to the Strava flybys. I was sure I was still ahead of the Descenders as they never leave the corner until a few minutes after 8 am. I waited on the bridge for five minutes and then rode to the top of Three Witches where I knew Bob P was waiting. When I got there I saw Bob, Oleg, John S and Cresap but no Hodges. We all assumed he was still behind us so we waited. Oleg & John had already found a pocket of rain on their ride over from the coast. The skies looked ominous, rain was coming for sure.

Just as we were starting to leave Jeff noticed he had a flat. We were now behind schedule to meet Voris but Jeff quickly got his tire changed. We flew down through Fairbanks Ranch and along the polo fields. Oleg & John S hammered us toward El Camino Real. Cresap & I could not hold pace so we fell off the back in the last half mile, regrouping at the light. We continued a fast pace on Via De La Valle toward the fairgrounds. Cresap noticed he had another flat and he fell off to try to get his tires fixed. We sped forward to meet Voris. Cresap limped home.

Just past the fairgrounds we spotted Dave and Mike as they rode toward us. Our group was now six riders as we headed up the coast. It was great to see Voris again. We caught up a bit riding at a pretty good clip towards Encinitas. The pace line pulls were fast and furious. Most of the discussion was how far north were we riding knowing that the rains were coming soon. Oleg, John S and Voris did a u-turn off PCH at Breakwater Road to head back south. Oleg & John hit some big rain before they got home as evidenced by Oleg’s Instagram story. Hodges, Bob and I rode up to Palomar Airport Road before heading inland.

We made our way towards RSF. I told the guys to leave me as we were already starting to get some rain; get home I know where I am. We climbed up El Camino Del Norte and I quickly fell off the back. I was sure they would follow my guidance. At Lago Lindo I stopped for a nature break and some nutrition. The rains were starting to get heavier and I was dreading the climb up Three Witches to get home. As I got back to corner both Hodges and Proulx were waiting for me. That was very nice of them but unnecessary. We would all now get more wet. I hammered down towards El Apajo and again asked them to just head towards home. I fell off the pace up Three Witches and expected to pootle in the puddles.

Bob had gone into SantaLuz but Hodges had waited for me at the top. The rains were now steady as we headed south on CDS toward the bike path. I was now soaked but almost home; Mike still had to get back to Sabre Springs area. Thanks to Mike and Bob for helping get me home. Fun ride and always good to get out with Voris. Oleg & John did lots of hard pulls during the ride, both are in good form. We all got home pretty wet and with very dirty bikes. Hodges even got out the brush to clean off the grit. Photos from the ride are below.


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RSF & Del Dios Ride Report

RSF & Del Dios-Rick W Farewell Ride-30 November 2019

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Rick W, Bob P, Sheehan, Shawn D, Garet and Rob

Thanksgiving was a rainy affair and many folks were traveling during the week. The planned ride might have been a small group of riders. I pedaled up the bike path to the Black Mountain Road meeting spot to find only Rick W waiting for me. It was good to see Rick as I remembered his last ride with the club was about this time. We caught up and discussed his upcoming drive and move to Boise, ID the following week. Sheehan got dropped off by the Stater Bros shopping center less than a mile away and pedaled up just as Rick and I were about to head towards Three Witches to meet the other riders. The three of us headed west.

We sped past Westview HS when Sheehan noticed his rear tire was flat. Rick helped Dave fix his flat while I spun along to make sure the guys at the top of Three Witches knew we were coming. I got there just before 8:30 am to find Bob P and Shawn D waiting. We chatted and hoped more riders would join us while waiting for Sheehan and Rick W to catch up. They cruised up a few minutes later and we sped down towards RSF. The sides of the road were full of all the gravel and junk from the rains during the week. A good sized pebble got kicked up by one of the bikes ahead of me and nearly took off part of my check, we sped to El Apajo and climbed toward the start of Stud Loop.

At the corner Garet flew up the climb to catch us. He was winded as he had rode hard having left his house very late. Garet & Rick led out while Shawn and I hung onto their wheels. Bob P and Sheehan threatened to skip the extra miles and head straight to Del Dios; they swept behind us. I fell off the pace about halfway but closed the gap as we all regrouped at Del Dios. Thinking Bob & Dave were ahead, we sped down to loop around Lake Hodges.

The pace was too much for me on the climb up to Lake Drive and I spun solo under the overhanging oak trees to meet the guys on the corner of Via Rancho Parkway; still no sign of Bob & Dave. We figured they were heading to the gas station so we pedaled off. Garet, Rick W and Shawn dropped me again but I caught them before I-15 as they hit one of the lights. We relaxed at the Shell station and waited. Bob & Dave finally showed; Sheehan had another tire issue and had a side blow out. He was only able to put 50 psi in the tire; his day was done.

The route was supposed to have us climb HVR, but there were no takers. Rick W had to finish preparing for his movers, Garet had his family to get to, Shawn was just coming back from an injury so he wanted to take it easy and Bob & I were ready to head towards home.

We all rode over the Lake Hodges bridge, Sheehan headed for home while the rest of us climbed West Bernardo Road. Shawn left by the Westwood Club for his place. Bob & I said our good-byes and best wishes to Rick W before the light at RB Road. Rick W has been riding with the Descenders for about 6 years. He will be missed and we wish him and his wife, Tina, all the best in their new life in Boise. Rick is coming back to San Diego this week to do some final police duties, then it is back to Boise and full retirement. Good luck Rick.

You can see from the photos that is was a blue sky, dry day on the roads, a much needed break from recent rains. Bob P & I spun along behind Black Mountain where I turned south for PQ while Bob continued west to home. It was a fast, fun final group ride with Rick W. Good times.


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East Grade & Palomar Observatory Ride Report

East Grade & Palomar Observatory Ride-23 Nov 2019

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Geoffrey M, John A, Len, Hodges and Rob

Previous Dudley Dream Rides have been epic cycling adventures. The climb up Mesa Grande is a good warm-up for the East Grade climb ahead. Palomar Mountain is one of the best local climbs around. There are lots of options to take once you get to the top and the inevitable return back up and over Mesa Grade is a last leg thrasher as you try to get back to the car. Lots of great painful cycling memories for sure.

The group ride last Saturday felt a bit like the days when I use to surf at dawn in Del Mar or La Jolla Shores before work over a decade ago. The guys would decide on a meeting spot based on early surf reports. We would meet at the designated spot and watch the waves breaking before getting our wet suits on and surfboards out of our cars. If the waves looked bad, the guys would suggest another spot and we would drive there, hoping for better waves. Sometimes we were equally disappointed and then they would maybe try a third location. I quickly tired of wave chasing so I would bring my running gear and would just run if the group moved onto a second surf location.

Our experience on Saturday was not quite as frustrating, but we did change the ride due to weather conditions. As we drove into Santa Ysabel the trees were bending from the wind gusts and it was even colder than forecasted. We decided NOT to ride along a fairly busy highway 79 north to Mesa Grande. We decided to drive over to Lake Henshaw and start from there. After an hour drive to Santa Ysabel, we drove another 30 minutes to get to the store by Lake Henshaw.

Our group was fairly small, only five riders. We put on layers as it was still a bit breezy and cool. The sun was shining as we spun out toward East Grade. Geoffrey M was riding up East Grade for only the second time with Strava data so he was going for a PR. The rest of us stopped at the early observation deck for some nice views and a group photo. The boys were nice and they kept up an easy pace so I could hang onto their wheels for most of the way up the climb. About mile nine Hodges, John A and Len picked up the pace so I was left sweeping. It got colder as I approached the top of the climb and headed straight for the Observatory. Len had stopped to put on his extra jacket and the rest of the guys were already on their way there. Len passed me on the climb and then Geoffrey came back down a mile to escort me to the top. There was lots of snow on both sides of the road as temperatures fell into the low 40’s. The winds blew in strong gusts but it was a pretty day on top of Palomar. Hodges and John A were up looping the Observatory when I made it there.

We did not stay long and all headed back to Mother’s for coffee, pie and some warmth by the fireplace. There was talk of going to Boucher Hill Lookout Tower, but I said I was heading back down East Grade to get home. I headed out first and the gang eventually all followed. I stopped by the observation deck near the top for more photos before making the rest of the fast descent . The winds whipped, especially in the narrowed funnel sections of the road. The new pavement on all of East Grade is great, but we were all a bit cautious on the way down due to the winds and cold temperatures.

Everyone regrouped at the bottom and we made our way back to the Lake Henshaw Store. Any ideas of then riding to Mesa Grade for more miles was quickly dispelled as we were all ready to call it a day. It was a fun 35 mile ride with over 4K of climbing, but by the time I got home it was a seven hour adventure. I recommend we look to plan the next Dudley’s Dream Ride away from winter weather and decide on a local option the day before if conditions look bad. I did manage to take a few photos, even with the gusty winds; tough to ride with no hands for sure. The photos are in the link below.


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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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Julian Fall Ride Report

Julian Fall Ride-2 November 2019

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Len, Oleg, Dennis, Jim W, Larry, Neil, Bernie, Hodges, Cresap, Tony, John M, John A and Rob

Our annual Julian Fall Ride was scheduled last weekend, a perfect fall day in the hills around Julian. The ride drew out a good group of riders, totaling thirteen in all. A number of fast riders came out to join in the fun. Hodges made a great suggestion that we do not wait to regroup at the designated spots to allow the "A" riders to keep going without having to wait for us slower riders. The route is full of long out-n-back roads, so it was perfect for a ride to keep everyone spinning. The weather was much warmer than first forecast and the Santa Ana winds were still swirling a bit more than expected. We all set out from the parking lot, after I closed the kit concession stand. Some socks and bibs were sold with more expected sales soon. There are still bibs, arm warmers and socks available.

The climb out of Santa Ysabel was conservative and we mostly all stayed together up the road toward Wynola. At the turn, the pace quickened and I took the last few photos of the "A" group as they spun off in the distance. The fast guys consisted of Larry, Jim, Neil, Bernie, Dennis and Oleg, with John A and Cresap trying to hold their wheels. Hodges, Len and I rode around the Wynola Road loop while Tony & John M swept. I hit the Banner descent and flew down towards the store. I gave a quick head-nod and pause as I turned the corner where I fell back in 2009, always a good memory. It was a bright, crisp morning with very little traffic on Banner Grade. I caught up to Cresap and we flew by the store, where we saw John A had stopped. Cresap and I rode down to the Banner Queen Ranch before turning around for the seven mile climb to Julian. The A team riders were planning on going all the way to Scissors Crossing, about three miles of additional descent into the desert.

I rode back to the store and picked up John A for the climb. Hodges and Len had already headed back up. We spun together on the smooth, curvy road looking up at Vulcan Mountain, off to our right. Cresap rode by us and was on his way to catching the other guys ahead. John A and I eventually passed John M and we rode into Julian for our planned stop at the pie shop. Tony, Hodges and Len were already there. We relaxed in the sun at the outdoor tables. Hodges went inside because it was too cold for him; coffee and apple pie were consumed by some. We waited for the A team and eventually said we need to get riding towards Engineers Road. John A waited at the pie shop because he wanted to push himself when the A team arrived.

After a review of the Strava fly-by tool it looks the the A team had a big mechanical issue on the climb back up Banner Grade. I think it was Oleg and the group stopped for almost 20 minutes while we were already on the next leg of the ride. We headed out of Julian and turned onto Pine Hills Road, making our to Boulder Creek. Hodges, Tony, Cresap, Len and Rob basically rode as a group. The sections of road that had recently been repaved were awesome. We flew down past the girl scout camp and made our way to the climb up Engineers Road. We spread out on the five mile climb with Tony and I sweeping our group; John M was back somewhere.

We regrouped as planned at the fire station just above Lake Cuyamaca to rest and relax. We decided to head back assuming the A group would be coming up soon. The A group finally got the Julian Pie Shop but decided to make a long stop there rather than chase us to Engineers, according to Strava fly-bys. The winds were in our favor for the climb back Engineers and Boulder Creek. We finally spotted the A group coming fast up one of the switchback climbs; they were spread out a bit but all still smiling. Jim W, Neil and Larry were pushing the pace up the climb. Oleg, Dennis, John A and Bernie were just a bit behind.

The B group rode together, swept up John M, and made our way back to the end of Pine Hill Road. Tony, Cresap, Len and John M headed down Highway 79 for the speedy return to the cars. Hodges and I decided to climb back up into Julian and ride the Wynola Road loop back around to add some extra mileage with the hope that the A group would catch us at the cars. Mike and I rode quickly up and around, the winds provided a nice assist as we headed west. We flew down to Santa Ysabel, finishing with 55 miles and about 6K of climbing. The other B group riders were getting ready to leave the parking lot. The A team arrived only a few minutes after I finally packed up my bike, changed into dry clothes and headed back home; according to Strava. It was another fun cycling adventure. Oleg posted a number of beautiful photos from the ride. The link below shows the photos I took from the ride.


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Lake Wohlford & Circle R Ride Report

Lake Wohlford & Circle R Ride-26 October 2019

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Dennis C, Rick W, Dave S, Garet H. and Rob V

I drove to the mall early to set up the gear concession stand, the plastic container holding extra Descenders kits and socks. It was close to 8 am before Dennis rolled to the lot. Neil R came over from the Ranchos group of riders to say hi. He and Jim W were ready to hammer out a fast Ranchos ride and both planned to come to the Julian Fall Ride for the Descenders set for Saturday, 2 November. Dennis and I watched the Ranchos ride out and we were just getting ready to roll when Sheehan drove up. He said he saw Rick W in route. I also knew Garet was also coming late and planned to meet us on the Wohlford climb.

It was another cool, crisp morning as the four riders headed up towards Mary Lane. The split happened fast with Rick and Dennis out front and me and Sheehan rolling along. We cruised through the side roads and onto Citrus to make our way to the climb up to Lake Wohlford. I had ridden it the previous week and knew the terrible conditions of the narrow road. It is a great climb but a classic example of a dangerous place for cyclists. A very narrow road with no shoulder and tons of broken asphalt and pot holes. It always amazes me how many of our local roads are in such disrepair. I stopped for a nature break and the rest of the guys sped up the climb. I saw Sheehan off in the distance and tried to close the gap. At the top of the 2.5 mile climb we regrouped and Garet quickly came up behind us. We were now five riders.

We spun off towards Woods Valley when a BMW 300 series driven by a country singer wannabe honked and yelled at Rick W, Garet and Dennis. He sped in front and them, pulled over and got out of his car. Garet stopped to engage with the driver. Sheehan and I were far behind but as we rode up to Garet and the cowboy hat driver, we could see the animated dialog. Before we got to them he jumped into his car and sped away. Apparently he was not happy with the way they were riding, taking up too much of the road and not directly on the shoulder. Garet had tried to politely explain the rules of the road and with no bike lane, cyclists are entitled to ride safely in the road; cars have to wait to safely pass. Garet tired his best and felt he made some progress; I am betting it does not stick.

We had regrouped on Woods Valley where Garet told the full story. Another ride with too much car interaction; a terrible trend. We finally sped out past Bates Farm and flew towards Valley Center. The five of us were hammering with Garet and Rick taking turns on point. I held on for as long as I could but backed off just past the golf course. Sheehan turned off along Valley Center Road to head back while the four of us rode to Lilac Road. A quick stop at the fire station for some water and then we sped along. Rick W was verbally and physically pushing me along to hold the pace. I tried a few times to fall off the back; Rick would hear none of it. We hit the decent of Lilac and I eventually fell away.

Garet had to get home, so he continued onto Old CastleRoad while Rick, Dennis and I turned onto Lilac Road. No one was interested in Couser, so we hit West Lilac to make our way back towards Old Highway 395. I again tried to ask Rick and Dennis to head off, but Rick would hear none of it; with their support and occasional push, I held it together all the way down Circle R. At the bottom, I finally convinced them to take off; I was spent. I pootled my way down to Escondido and made it back to the mall; 44 miles and 3K of climbing. Fun ride, photos in the link below. I will bring the Descenders kits and socks in the gear box to Dudley’s this weekend for our planned Julian Fall Ride. I hope everyone can make what is traditionally a fun group event. Bring some cash or a check if you want to buy any Descenders gear.


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DeLuz Ride Report

DeLuz Ride Report-12 October 2019

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Rick W, Bill B, Peggy B, Dennis C, Tony O, Bob P and Rob V

It was a crisp fall morning at Gopher Canyon. Bob P and I drove to the start, parking in my usual hideaway space in the camp ground just north of the park-n-ride. Rick W called us and joined us in the lot. This location has been a great place to park for past rides since there is a bathroom right next to all the RV’s parked there. It was cold and sunny as we got ready to ride, I was glad I had my arm warmers at the start. We rolled over the the dirt parking lot to meet the rest of the group. We had a hardy seven person crew with a couple of notable rookies for the DeLuz ride. Both Rick W and Bob P had somehow avoided this awesome ride in the past. Today was their baptism by fire.

We rode out and up Circle R. I quickly went to my appropriate sweeper position. The 3 mile climb spread us out on the road. Rick W and Bob waited for me at the turn to Lilac where we descended past the Yellow Deli and made our way to Couser Canyon. Peggy was kind enough to slow her pace so I could find her wheel before we got to the top of the short climb. The four mile descent of Couser is always beautiful, the views in the cloudless blue sky were great. After a quick regroup at Highway 76 we started towards Rice Canyon. Peggy and I went out first and then the group passed us. Peggy was again kind enough to keep her pace at a level where I could keep her in sight and slowly get her wheel before we finished the five mile ascent. It was still cool, but all the climbing had definitely warmed up the body.

The group rode north towards Temecula. Rick W, Dennis, Bob and Bill all took turns taking wind on point. I hid in the back as much as possible. We descended fast, past the golf courses, and made our way to the gas station for a short water break. Bill led us on his side roads before going over the I-15 bridge and we made our way to the Rancho California Road climb. A similar pattern developed; we spread out on the climb with me closing onto Peggy’s wheel as we rode the switchbacks up the mountainside. The group was waiting for us at the mile 30 mark to start the DeLuz Road section. I told Rick W and Bob that this is a great ten mile section of riding, except for the spots in the road that are rough. The overhanging oaks on the narrow roads and the steep, curvy descents are always fun to the ride. I lost the group but could see them ahead on a few occasions. We all stopped at the DeLuz old school house for a water break.

The next ten miles seem to sap the remainder of my legs every time I ride DeLuz. The rolling hills are beautiful; the climbs hurt. I finally caught Peggy’s wheel. Bill was also kind enough to wait for us as we rolled towards the steep descent before the climb back up to Mission Road. We rolled fast through Fallbrook and made our way to Olive Hill Road, where we sped quickly down to the designated stop. Bob P slowed a bit to pull Peggy and I along. Tony & Dennis were planning to flog themselves further by climbing Lilac Road and looping back down Circle R to the finish, an extra six miles and plenty of climbing. The rest of us were heading straight back along Camino Del Rey to get back to the cars.

I only survived the paceline for about mile before falling off fast. I pootled my way to Old Highway 395 and south to the RV camping ground. Bill and Peggy waited to say good-bye, then they rolled down towards their car. Bob and Rick throughly enjoyed their inaugural DeLuz ride–63 miles and 5,500 feet of climbing. There were the expected complaints of the road conditions and brutal climbs. It is a leg smasher and I was feeling it. The locals in the RV area did not like us parking there and said they would tow us in the future. Looks like I will have to find another secret parking area. It was another fun Descenders group ride. The link below is to the photos from the ride.


p.s. The following day the club founders had a planned ride. Sheehan, Boyle and I met at Sheehan’s house for a planned loop of our original rides of Poway Grade to HVR. We had just started the ride and were on the fairly wide road of Espola, a half mile before the Blue Sky Ecological Preserve, in a line near the edge of the road. Sheehan in front, I was in the middle and Boyle swept, there was at least ten yards between each of us. All of a sudden a car mirror hit my left butt cheek and my left hand; fortunately I did not fall. The car buzzed by Sheehan as well before slowing and then speeding away. It was either a case of inattentive driving or a deliberant attempt to hit me. Boyle got a good look at the car; it was a grey Acura 4-door sedan. There were other cars behind the one that hit me. No one stopped or attempted to make the violating car stop. We rode to the parking lot of both Blue Sky and Poway High School looking for the car. We never found the guilty party. The impact tore a couple of small skin tears off my hand, no damage to the left cheek. We continued our fun ride, recognizing that we always have to be careful on the road. I am only relating this story to document it if needed in the future. Be safe out there.

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RSF, Del Dios, Summit, Bandy & HVR Ride Report

RSF, Del Dios, Summit, Bandy & HVR Ride Report-7 September 2019

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Shawn D, Monica, Geoffrey M, Oleg, John M, Paul P, John A, Garet, Rick W, Peggy, Tony, Dennis, Bill and Rob

Lots of folks were out, ready to burn some calories ahead of the planned Descenders BBQ at Casa Hodges. We had 14 riders when we are grouped together at the top of Three Witches. The pace was spirited but under control as we sped towards RSF. The group spread out a bit on the short climb to Stud Loop. I was planning on skipping the loop to get a head start along Del Dios, my first of multiple shortcuts throughout the ride. Only Paul P joined me, everyone else hit the loop.

Paul and I sped down Del Dios and started the climbs toward Lake Hodges. We kept up a good pace, trying to get to the planned regroup spot ahead of what we knew would be a charging peloton. It was a beautiful morning and starting to warm up quickly. Lake Hodges looked good as we rode along Lake Drive, the last climb up to Via Rancho Parkway is all that we had to tackle before getting a well earned rest. The group came up in phases before we all headed toward the next stop at the gas station on the other side of I-15.

More spirited riding as folks pushed the pace, accelerations came from many as we made our way to some much needed water and snacks. We had covered only about 25 miles, but is was pretty quick and the weather turned warm. Everyone got plenty of drinks and food as we relaxed in the shade beside the gas station. Paul & Geoffrey M had to get home, so they headed towards the pedestrian bridge over the lake to get back towards PQ while the rest of us went north towards Mary Lane. We spread out on the climbs but did a quick regroup at the turn to Summit Road. The group sped downhill along Summit and turned onto Old Milky Way, where the pace really got hot. John M was blown off the back and I sat up just as the paceline sped past the turn to Ysabel Creek Road; my second planned short-cut. I hit the gravel/dirt road that cuts across to Bandy. I looked over my shoulder a few times expecting John M to join me; he never came. There was some truck traffic, unusual for the quiet dirt road. The sand was thick in a few places, but I made it across to start the climb of Bandy. I knew this gave me at least a four mile lead on the group, so I was sure I could get to the top of Bandy before anyone else would show.

I pootled up the road and enjoyed the views, lots of wineries and grape fields now on Bandy; Raptor Ridge just off to the east side of the climb. At the top I relaxed and took a photo of my bike by the road signs; plenty of time before the group showed. Tony O wanted to head up HVR, while everyone else was heading back down. John A and John M were behind, the remaining riders spun down HVR. John A went up part of HVR with Tony and John M followed us a few minutes behind the group. The pace to Pomerado was quick. The group split at the light, with Bill, Peggy, Shawn, Oleg and I heading towards Lake Hodges. The rest of the group went towards Poway.

We dropped off Bill & Peggy at their neighborhood just south of the lake. Shawn bailed when we got to his area near the Westwood Pool. Oleg and I stopped again for more water at the gas station on RB Road. We slowly cruised up past the HP offices and past 4S to climb behind Black Mountain. I headed down Black Mountain Road into PQ towards home while Oleg went straight towards the coast, he still have 15 more miles to go. I got home with only 45 miles and 3.5K of elevation gain but my legs were tired.

Fun group ride and an even better time at the Hodges house a few hours later. Good to see all the Descender riders and families. Thanks again to Mike and Shelley for hosting the event. The link below are the photos from the ride.


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HVR & Mussey Grade Ride-12 July 2019

HVR & Mussey Grade Ride Report

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Rick B, Bob P, Cresap, Garet, Shawn, Sheehan, Eric R, Rick W and Rob

It was a cool morning in PQ when Bob P and I meet at the top of Black Mountain Road. It was definitely going to get warmer fast; hot by the time we got to Ramona. The planned route was Old Julian Highway. Bob and I spun over to the start location where Rick B and Eric were already there; the group formed. Cresap met a rider named Kevin on the way to the ride. He left after the first mile climb of HVR. Hopefully he comes out again soon.

Rick W was a bit behind schedule so he did not catch the group until the start of HVR; he burned a few matches to catch us. The cloud cover was quickly evaporating and heat rising as we spread out along the HVR climb. It was a bright, sunny, hot and humid morning. I spun up the climb slowly and was a bit surprised to see all the guys waiting at Archie Moore Road. I had suggested they head onto OJH and I would get there eventually. Cresap, our newly fully retired rider, came up just after me. Sheehan suggested we call an audible and go to Mussey Grade instead of OJH. Everyone readily agreed. We spun fast along the last sections of HVR and spread out in three smaller echelons, each with 3 riders. We regrouped at the turn to Mussey except Garet, he had to head back for family time.

There were still eight riders left as we started down one if our favorite roads. The pace was too high for me and we split into a few groups, flying down to stop in the shade overlooking San Vicente Reservoir. It was a gorgeous day to be out riding, even if the temperatures were starting to rise. Rick W noticed that I had a flat front tire. Rick B helped me get the tire and tube out. My tube must have been bad since it would not hold any air. We were a bit slow in getting it changed, but Rick W came to the rescue with an extra tube and showed us proper use of the CO2. All back working and we started the climb back up Mussey.

The hammer was down and we were flying up the climb. I held it together until the corner of Mahogany Ranch Road but blew up and watched the boys roll away through the oak lined road. We regrouped at the corner of Highway 67 and heading to Poway Grade. A few guys stopped for water at the country store and the group began to splinter. Cresap headed to SPP while Bob P, Sheehan and I went down Poway Grade. Rick W was out ahead on Poway Grade while Rick B, Eric R and Shawn headed to SPP, way out in front. Sheehan left us to ride Espola Road to home. Bob and I pedaled along Twin Peaks when Eric R came up behind. We rode together until Eric turned onto Bernardo Center for home. Bob pulled me along Camino Del Norte, around 4S and to the north gate of Santaluz; he spun for home while I went to the neighborhood park by Willow Grove Elementary. I was parched and in need of some water.

After a few bottles of cool water, I spun home. Last Descenders ride for a bit for me. Good times and a fun 60 mile ride with 4.4K of elevation. I will be back soon, fair warning. The link below shows the photos from the ride.


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Oceanside Ride Report–Dave Voris & Jeff Langley Ride

Oceanside & RSF Ride-6 July 2019

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Rick W, Bob P, Shawn D, Hodges, Geoffrey M, John M, Jeff L, Steve B, Rick B, Tony O, Dave V, Don W, John A, Dennis C and Rob V

It was Reunion Weekend for the Descenders. Dave Voris and Jeff Langley were back in town for a visit. Their presence inspired a large group of riders out for the Saturday group ride. John A and I met on the bike path off CMR and waited for the riders to come down the hill from BMR. We spun to CDS and rode to the top of San Dieguito Road. At the top of Three Witches we were 15 riders strong, ready to head north to Oceanside.

After the photos, the group made it about 25 yards before Geoffrey M pulled over with a flat. Jeff L wanted to get some lead time on the faster riders so he suggested we start down the hill and let the peloton catch us. John M, Steve B, Jeff and I sped down Three Witches with another group of riders just a bit farther back. At the polo fields, Voris suggested we stop. John M, Steve B and Jeff L kept heading to the coast while the rest of us waited. A quick tire change had Geoffrey and the rest of the group reform fairly quickly.

We sped along the flats, past the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, to El Camino Real. The pace did not let up as we hammered past the Del Mar Racetrack to PCH where we saw the huge swell of weekend riders and runners; great day to be out near the coast. We flew up to Encinitas and continued north. Rick W, Bob P and Geoffrey M headed inland at La Costa Road and made their way back through RSF to home. The rest of us hammered on.

At Carlsbad Rick B did a u-turn and bid adieu to the group. We were down to eight riders, where were John, Jeff and Steve? The traffic was busy coming out of Carlsbad Village so I took a flyer and tried to sneak away to Oceanside. I did not look back except at the first turn off PCH to see that I had already established a sizable gap; head down pedal on. I made my way towards the harbor and hammered to the end, afraid to see who was closing on me as is usually the case. I spun around the end of the road to see that no riders were in sight. I almost made it back to the bathroom break location before the group came by me. It was an empty victory to the harbor since no one even tried to catch me.

We rested, re-filled water bottles and relaxed. John M finally came our way to say that his small group had taken the beach roads after Swami’s and saw us pass on PCH but they could never catch us. Jeff L and Steve B had turned around in Carlsbad; maybe Rick B rode with them a bit on his way back south. Good to see Jeff Langley on his first visit back to San Diego since he left for the great state of Texas more that three years ago.

The group split as many guys were heading inland to Sleeping Indian. Tony O, Hodges, Don W, Shawn D and Dennis C rode along the bike path heading east. Voris. John M, John A and I went back down the coast. I saw that both Hodges and Tony rode Centuries from their Strava post, good riding from the inland boys.

Voris had to get back to his place in Solana Beach so he pulled us through Carlsbad and then hammered off. Great to see Dave, riding strong as usual. We decided to head back through RSF so John M, John A and I turned inland at La Costa Road and continued to the El Camino Del Norte climb, past the San Dieguito reservoir by Lago Lindo and bypassed Stud Loop. We rode along El Apajo and instead of climbing back up Three Witches, I suggested we climb up towards The Farms Golf Course and cut back to the bike path. It is a bit of an up and down push to get back over the 56 and onto the bike path. We dropped John M so John A and I pedaled back along the bike path to our exit at Carmel Mountain Road.

Just as I got home, John M called. He got a flat on the descent from The Farms and his CO2 failed. I jumped in the car after grabbing a tube and new CO2 canister and drove to get John. Unfortunately my CO2 had threads, he needed no threads. We put his bike in my car and got him home. My ride was about 62 miles, good Descenders group ride. Glad Dave Voris and Jeff Langley motivated the gang to get out; fun group ride.

The link below are photos from the ride.


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Tour of CA-Mt Baldy-17 May 2019

Tour of CA Mt Baldy Ride Report

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Bob P, Quoc V, Paul P, Hodges, Bill B, Peggy B, John M, Neil B and Rob

We are very fortunate to live in a vibrant cycling community that attracts world class professional races. The UCI event, Tour of California, has been running for about ten years. While it seems unlikely that Mt Palomar will be back in a stage of the race, the event always comes down to the Los Angeles area; close enough for the Descenders to plan a group ride. Stage 6 of the 2019 edition of the Tour of California happened to fall on "Bike to Work" day, so it seemed very appropriate that we all should play hooky from work and go ride.

The early meet time of 6 am at the mall did not deter the group that wanted to drive up to Glendora. We originally started with ten riders, but Don Wilson had to head back home due to a family medical issue that seemed to come out well. The nine remaining riders parked behind the middle school in the baseball parking lot and were ready to ride before 9 am.

We rolled out and covered the short flat warm-up along Sierra Madre Ave before hitting the climb of Glendora Mountain Road. The road barrier was up, so no cars were on the road as hundreds of cyclists climbed over the crossing and started the climb up towards Baldy Village. Our usual plan of descending down GMR after the first KOM marker and then back up to tackle Glendora Ridge Road had to be changed due to the addition of the UCI Women’s race scheduled just ahead of the Men’s event. The women were climbing up from their start in Ontario and expected to be at the top of GRR by about 11:30 am. Our plan was to ride all the way up to the crest of GRR to watch the ladies pass through the second KOM, on their way to Mt Baldy.

The group spread out on the climb up GMR and we regrouped at the split of GRR. Our timing still seemed good to get to the top in advance of any potential road closures as the women raced up GRR. The views and beauty of GMR and GRR are always breathtaking. It was cloudy and cool, but nice weather for climbing. We stopped at our usual spot on the crest of GRR that also allowed for viewing of the planned men’s course coming up Mt Baldy Road, riding up from San Antonio Heights.

I have worn a small pack in previous group rides watching the pro races, but I decided to keep it light today and only carry one extra water bottle. Fortunately for me, Bob P offered to be a mule and carry my flip flops and vest…both needed at the top of GRR. Bob P and Hodges were the first to the top, Neil B closely followed. We all gathered to wait for the women’s race. Hodges was staying warm in his snazzy Rapha windbreaker. I borrowed Bob’s jacket to put over my vest while draping my jersey and base layer on my bike to dry out. When the sun broke through, it was nice and warm; it stayed cloudy and cool most of the time.

The women were coming up GRR. Coryn Rivera, of Team Sunweb, led a small group of three riders over the top and sped past towards Baldy Village. Katie Hall and Anna van der Breggen, the eventual top two racers for the day, came by in the peloton soon after. The women were flying up the mountain, but still faced the tough last six miles to the top of Mt Baldy. Impressive racing for sure. After all the riders and car caravans went by we settled into a long wait for the Men’s race to climb up Mt Baldy Road. Everyone snacked, took photos and checked the race app on the status of the men.

A breakaway group of about eight men were leading the early climb. We saw the peloton snake fast up Mt Baldy Road. The leaders flew by us on their down GRR, all the way down GMR to Azusa, before making their way to the start of the GMR climb in Glendora. They would then ride the same route we took to the top of Mt Baldy. The men were early on in their race day and were flying over the top of the crest; they had lots of miles still to go. After all riders and cars went by, we got all our gear back on and prepared for the climb to the top.

It was a slow, solo effort. My legs were feeling both the early climbing and the almost two hour break period. It was cool and cloudy, getting cooler as I climbed. The road climbed up from Baldy Village and curved left at the Ice House corner. There were plenty of riders, spectators and spectacles along the curves to Mt Baldy. Traffic slowed at the Phil Gaimon Cookie Corner. I had to spin towards the center of the road to get by cars and almost stopped when a lovely lady in a Superman lycra costume offered me a cookie. I suppressed the desire and pedaled on, only about four more km to the top. Larry Tanzo was out riding that day as well. He is an old Matt Baab buddy and a great rider. Larry yelled at me at the cookie corner but I did not hear him over the din of the crowd. He spun up next to me and we chatted for a minute before he pedaled off on his second ascent of Mt Badly that day; what a stud.

My paced continued to slow but I made progress past the kilometer signs. The slight descent with about two km to go helped but I knew the final face of climbing was still ahead. The straight 400 meter "Ice Rink" face at the one km sign looked steep; it was hard. I got to the turn where things flattened out over the last half kilometer over very bumpy roads. The switchbacks to the top were all that remained of my painful climb. I saw Mike Hodges at the top and he told me Paul P and Bob P were over by the finish line. It was very cloudy and cold. I decided I could not hang at the top for an hour or more waiting for the Men’s race to finish. I told Mike I would meet them back at the car; I was heading back down.

As I speedily descended off the top, I yelled at most of the rest of the Descenders I saw finishing their climb. The spin back through Baldy Village happened fast. I climbed over the KOM at GRR and descended down. It was sunny and warming nicely as I kept looking ahead for any sign of the police vehicles leading the Men’s race. I managed to get about 20 km from the top of Mt Baldy before I had to pull to the side as the breakaway was coming around the bend. The helicopter hovered over the leaders. They sped by me with the peloton in pursuit. I snapped a few photos and waited for the later groups of riders to come through. I saw Cav and Sagan in the late group and a rider from Hagens Berman tossed me his water bottle; nice souvenir.

The road finally cleared and I sped down GRR and GMR, despite a strong headwind. Those a beautiful roads and the views of the San Gabriel Reservoir off to the west was just spectacular as the sun glistened off the water. I made good time back to the cars and finished with 55 miles and 7,800 feet of climbing. It was only 4 pm, so I knew I had a bit of a wait. I changed, stretched, relaxed and watched some of the little league baseball practices while waiting for the gang to get off the mountain. Everyone safely made it back to the cars. We loaded up and departed for home. Despite a long drive back, it was a great experience and another fun Descenders event. Lots of photos taken by several of the riders have all been placed in the photo album in the link below.


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Coastal & BWR Rides–4-5 May 2019

Coastal Ride Report

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Bill B and his friend, Shawn, Bob P, Tony, Peter P, Hodges, Rick W, Don W, John M and Rob. BWR ride day: Bob P, Eric R and Rob; along with 8 other Descenders

Tony HAD to change the planned Lake Wohlford route since Mike Hodges said eight Descenders were riding the BWR–Wafer or Waffle–and they all needed to ride the coast to get their race packets. Tony swapped the ride and we were now riding the 56 bike path to CDS and heading towards Oceanside on PCH to meet the needs of the BWR group.

Unfortunately the Rancho Penasquitos Family 5km fun run started right where our usual group start meets for coastal rides AND no other Descender, except Hodges, riding the BWR showed up to get their race packet. Not to mention that the packet pick-up moved inland to a brewery in San Marcos, very close to our original planned Lake Wohlford route. Oh well, the Coastal ride was still fun.

I opted not to fight the 5km fun run traffic by going up the bike path towards Black Mountain Road. Instead I went slowly towards CDS as the families of runners took up most of the bike path. We all converged at the corner of Three Witches and had ten riders heading down the hill. A number of riders were sportin’ the new Descenders kits that had just arrived. Bill and Peter looked great in their new blue kits. It started fast with Rick W hitting the front quickly. I hid on his wheel for the descent but quickly fell off the back as the group sped off towards the coast. John M and I swept and did not catch the group until we got the racetrack where they had stopped.

The pace did not slow along PCH as we again spread out along the road. The group flew up through Encinitas before I got lost off the back; John M farther behind me. Rick W waited and pulled me along to regroup with the guys as everyone stopped at Palomar Airport Road. Hodges, Bob P, Bill and his friend Shawn were going inland; I joined them as my knee and legs were spent. The rest of the group continued up to Oceanside and either rode back down the coast or inland towards Escondido to complete their rides.

Our group sped along Palomar Airport Road with the goal of going to the BWR expo. Hodges had to get his race packet. Shawn was doing the event as well, so he and Bill B went there too. Bob and I turned off at Melrose Dr with a planned route back to RSF via Olivenhain. I was already hurting from the early pace so I decided to stop by a friends house near San Elijo to catch by breath. Unfortunately he was not home but I got to snack and drink a bit before pootling my way back towards RSF. I looped back towards the 56 bike path and got home with about 48 miles of riding, knee in tact.


BWR Ride

The next morning Bob and I did an easy ride back down Three Witches and around Del Dios Highway with the hope of seeing some of the Wafer Riders. We were on the Del Dios climb up towards Lake Hodges when the Wafer race leaders were coming out of the trails along Lake Hodges. They blew by me and eventually Bob who was way up the road from me. The racers continued north on Del Dios towards Double Peak while we rode down Lake Drive. We saw lots of fast riders on the gravel roads by the lake and the dirt trails. As I did a Strava fly-by later Paul Pruschki, Keith Sherwood and Skip Virgilio were all riding on the trails as Bob and I were on the road above them. We rode up to Via Rancho Parkway and back east toward our usual gas station rest stop. We just continued on to the start of the bike path where we saw other Wafer riders coming out from the Mule Hill segment of the race. Bob and I pedaled off on the bike path when Eric R came up behind us. Eric was wearing his new blue kit and I was in the new white kit. He had ridden up HVR and to see some of the early racers. We stopped at the pedestrian bridge to watch a few of the last Wafer riders come through. The Waffle guys were way out on the Black Canyon loop still riding to complete their adventure. Bob, Eric and I rode back through 4S along Camino del Norte, dropping Bob off at Santaluz. Eric and I rode up to Carmel Valley Road where we split off to get home, finishing a nice 33 mile spin. The real heroes for the day were all the Descender BWR riders–Paul P, Quoc, Ernst, Hodges, Sheehan, Boyle and John A. Apologies for any riders I missed, congrats to all. Bill & Peggy took some photos of the riders going through the creek by Lake Hodges. They are in the link below.


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Kitchen Creek Ride Report-27 April 2019

Kitchen Creek Ride

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Bill B, Peggy B, John A, Len, Shawn D, Bernie, Cresap, Tony, Monica, Hodges, Don, Cliff and Rob

We drive out of our usual North County ride locations every so often to enjoy the great roads and mountains just outside San Diego. Kitchen Creek is a favorite and provides lots of ride options. It was cool and foggy on the drive out I-8 westbound until just beyond Alpine, then the sun broke through. It was a cool and bright start to the ride. We had a rookie Kitchen Creek rider in Monica and a guest rider in Cliff; he just joined the club and promises to be on future rides. Bob P met Cliff on a local commute and invited him to join our cycling club. Tony O was late getting to the ride so after a short wait and group photo, we rode off along Highway 79 towards Pine Valley not knowing if he was coming.

The group stayed together along Old Highway 80, descending down into Pine Valley and then climbing out to cross south over I-8 and ride parallel to the freeway out to the start of the Kitchen Creek climb. The group basically started the ascent together, but we quickly spread out as the faster riders flew up the road. I was testing out my new knee, minus the ACL for three weeks, and being off the bike for most of the most of April. My climb was slow but I had some good company. Cresap, Peggy and Cliff rode near me and Bill B stopped a few times to let us catch-up. We all climbed over the gate at the 5 mile mark about the same time and continued the ride up. We spread out a bit and pedaled our way to Sunrise Highway and over to our planned rest stop at the Laguna Mountain Store.

Everyone relaxed on the porch while the last of the riders regrouped, Tony O one of them. He had a number of driving challenges to get to the start of the ride so was more than 10 minutes behind us. He caught the last of the group and we now were a gang of 13 riders. There were plenty of PCT hikers relaxing on the porch as well. We all chatted before Hodges got antsy and it was time to go. I planned on heading back down Sunrise Highway since both my knee and my endurance were already done for the day. I took Cresap, John A and Cliff with me.

Some riders were doing the 60 mile loop and others adding more mileage by stopping at Julian Pie before riding to Engineers Road and then descending highway 79 back to the start. I saw photos of Hodges, Len, Bernie and Tony eating pie so that was your 80 mile crew. Bill, Peggy, Monica, Don and Shawn did the 60 mile loop. The 60 mile loop headed out from the store going north on Sunrise Highway and looping back south after Lake Cuyamaca. The ironman for the day was Hodges who rode over 114 miles and 9K of climbing, going back through Alpine and up highway 67 to get back home. He was tapering for the BWR the following week!

Our small crew of four riders headed south on Sunrise Highway and descended fast back down into Pine Valley where we basically retraced our ride along Old Highway 80 back past Descanso to the cars. We finished with 51 miles and about 5.3K of elevation gain. Kitchen Creek was a beautiful climb and it was another fun Descenders group ride. Photos from the ride are in the link below.


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Belgium Waffle Ride Report, Article and Photos-5 May 2019


This past month I’ve done the Tour of Flanders "Group" Ride (107 miles / 7.4k vert) plus a self-guided ride of Paris-Roubaix (11 of the 29 cobble sectors, 65 miles total / 0 vert (it’s dead flat), and yesterday the BWR Waffle (133 miles / 10+k vert). A contrast of the these three (3) rides is below, if interested. All done in past 30-days.

This was my 4th Waffle (I think), and did a Wafer 2 years ago, and helped Rick B last year man the aid station in Escondido, which was a blast BTW, and nice to "give back."

Yesterday, I suffered.

My prior Waffles have been a success from a physical standpoint, with a lead in of just 1 100-mile ride and some much shorter rides. It worked. Yesterday, was, the opposite. I peaked 1 week early, when I did a 45-mile dirt bike ride in Mission Viejo, and getting a PR on the following Sunday up the Three Witches, after no less than 80 rides of that beast. I had power both those days, as week before BWR. I guess after 2 months of riding hard, especially the past month, my body said enough! Heck I did a 8-mile spin on the flat on Saturday and could feel my legs were heavy, and dead. Still maybe Sunday would be better, but, by the end of the HVR climb yesterday, I knew I was in trouble. By the time I completed the first climb on Black Canyon Road, and starting the second climb on Black Canyon, my climbing climbing legs simply vanished. It wasn’t a bonk; it was different. I’ve heard riders, even pros, say there are "empty." That was me. I over trained, I guess. I quickly accessed this plight, knowing I have about 85-miles to go, and resolved to finish, which was sobering considering I still had both 85-miles to go, the length of a Wafer ride, but also another 5k of climbing. I focused on conserving enough energy to make it the Wall at the end of Questhaven. If I could make it up the Wall, at least I could get to Double Peak, and do my best to get up that beast. That was the focus the next several hours on the bike, those 2 climbs, both tough and at the end. Finishing was everything – I don’t want a DNF next to may name.

So I rode along and enjoyed the scenery, of which the second half the Black Canyon Road ride was breathtaking with beautiful Oak Trees, birds chirping, and water still flowing down the outrageous rocky canyon far below. The entire rolling hill section to the far eastern portion of the route was simply beautiful. To make it home, I developed a game of making speed on the dirt descents, on the dirt flats, and hooking up with faster moving groups on the open road, which really helped my plight. Heck I even dropped a group of riders on the nasty sandy dirt descent next to Lake Sutherland, way inland, and they didn’t pass me until miles later all the way in San Marcos. I played the tortoise and hare game to the hilt.

BWR & Tour of Flanders & Paris Roubaix
I’ve always loved Paris Roubaix. In fact, because I’m gullible to clever marketing, when I heard the BWR called the Hell of the North (county), I had to do it! So just a couple of weeks ago I packed my bike up to ride part of the Paris Roubaix route, and of course the Arenberg Forest cobble section. I then realized I could ride the Tour of Flanders "group ride" (We Ride Flanders) on the same trip (1 week apart, and literally only 40 or so miles apart). Well, after riding 107 miles and 7.4k vert at Flanders, which included all of the famous climbs and cobble sections the pros have been riding for 103 times now, I have a whole new appreciation of this ride. Flanders is simply fantastic, and for me a total blast. Even though there’s clearly a ton of climbing, I don’t think a single climb was more than a mile, and many shorter. Sure they’re steep, and often cobbled, but no long climbs. Also each is followed by typically a narrow, twisting, descending farm road that are a total blast to fly down. My heaven on a bike. Then there’s the many quaint residential streets, or idyllic village towns, included in the route. The most fun I’ve ever had on a bike, and yes I was physically crushed when done. Roubaix, by contrast, is a tempo of beat-down on the "cobbles," followed by a few short miles riding through farm land or also idyllic village towns and residential streets. At Roubaix, however, the "cobbles" are really boulders placed (years ago) and are simply evil to ride on. Impossible to describe. Most are long sections, from 1 to 2 miles, which take forever on the bike. No doubt riding the entire route, and all 29 sectors, is a complete beat-down, but it’s a pretty repetitive route. I feel for the pros riding it all the better now!

BWR, by contrast, is much tougher than either Flanders or Roubaix. To start many of the dirt sections are nasty, with crossing ruts that beat you up, or nasty rock out cropping, or lose gravel, or the worst, sand! Thanks the to BWR I’ve become almost comfortable riding on sand on a road bike, though it’s impossible (for me) to be totally at ease. A crash is just a moment away. So other than the nice smooth dirt road on the northern section of Black Canyon, it takes total concentration on on 40+ miles of dirt, never mind the physical beating, which is brutal by itself. Conversely, there is no worry to crashing on the cobbles at Flanders, which are certainly uncomfortable to ride on but easy, or even Roubaix, and I did the Arenberg wet, and wasn’t that worried about crashing. At the BWR the climbs are certainly longer, and many times just as steep. Even Peter Stetina said of his win at the BWR yesterday, which I still can’t believe a current World Tour Pro did the BWR, (see pic in link sent by Bill) “I’ve done a lot of classics, and I don’t think I ever suffered that bad in a decade of being a pro.”

So I’m glad I finished BWR, again, even in a physical funk. For me Flanders is more fun. BWR is a unique test, and tougher (I weighed 6 lbs. less this morning, even after a large dinner last night), which I enjoy on it’s own merits. A very tough and rewarding ride. We’re all lucky to live in such a wonderful county that allows for such a unique bike route, and kudos to the BWR team for putting on such a great event.

Way to go Hodges. You looked good passing me at mile 101, and finished strong. Got me good this year!

Congrats to the rest of the Descender participants.

Dave E


2019 Belgian Waffle Ride

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Dave & Rob Bday Ride Report-23 March 2019

Dave & Rob Bday Ride-23 March 2019
by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Sheehan, Rob, Ernst, Don W, Shawn D, Hodges, John A, Andrew, Rick W, Larry, Tony, Garet, Bill B, Peggy B and Bob P

We called an audible on Friday to plan for a more local ride. DeLuz was the original planned ride, it is rescheduled for later when the roads will be dryer and hopefully cleaner. The new local ride was a planned spin down Three Witches, then Del Dios Highway to hit a loop over to Bandy Canyon. We met on the 56 bike path to start the ride towards RSF. The group was good sized at the start with a number of riders we had not seen in awhile. It was great to see Dave Ernst ride inland from the coast and to have Larry Murray back on a group ride. There were plenty of the usual suspects and the group filled out to 15 riders once we got to the top of Three Witches where we picked up more riders.

The pace down the hill was steady and we kept in a nice paceline along Apajo. I was one of the first to fall off the pace on the climb to Stud Loop. The faster riders were to take the extra miles from Stud Loop while us mere mortals were heading straight to Del Dios. Sheehan, Peggy, Andrew and I skipped Stud Loop. Sheehan led us along Del Dios, I fell back. We all climbed past Lake Hodges dam and made our way towards Lake Drive. I caught up to Peggy while Sheehan and Andrew were way out front. It was a sunny and cool morning with lots of folks hiking and MTB riding along the trails of the lake, a great day to be out on a Descenders group ride.

Our regroup location was the corner of Lake Drive and Via Rancho Parkway. The Stud Loop riders finally caught up to us short cut riders. We all stopped for a group photo, except Hodges. He slowly spun up the final hill on Lake and slowly made the turn towards the mall without stopping. We took a group shot with 14 riders before Ernst was the first to head off. He had to head back towards the coast; so glad Dave could join us for a group ride. We rolled out and made our way to the planned rest stop at the gas station, just past I-15. At the intersection of I-15, Shawn hit a razor blade and flatted his front tire. He was able to roll into the gas station.

Bill & Peggy B rode past the rest stop. They were on their way to Kit Carson Park to watch their grandson play baseball; he had recently graduated from T-ball and was now in the machine pitching league. A potential future major leaguer? While various guys tried to help Shawn fix his flat, the rest of us chatted and relaxed. Garet spun out towards home. I announced that I planned to head back over the Lake Hodges pedestrian bridge and skip the climb up Bandy or HVR. Bob P was heading out on a business trip on Sunday so he volunteered to ride back to PQ with me.

I missed the rest of the ride but heard there were lots of spirited pushes of the pace, up Mary Lane, down Summit and along Old Milky Way to Highway 78. Larry pulled the whole crew along 78 to get to the start of Bandy Canyon. At the top of Bandy, guys went up HVR while some descended to head back home. Hodges convinced John A to follow him all the way up into Ramona and eventually back to home after 100+ miles; BWR training in full bloom.

Bob P and I had a nice paced ride back towards PQ. We picked up Steve and Marla Bosowski who were out on a casual spin to Peet’s coffee. The four of us sped along Camino Del Norte and dropped off Bob at Santaluz. The new You Tube ride sensation, Steve, and his strong riding wife pulled me along back towards the 56 bike path. They turned to the coffee shop while I spun that last mile home. Check out Steve in the below link that shows his acceleration at the start of the Torrey Pines climb; he is in the blue helmet. I finished with a short 38 mile loop, but a fun Descenders group ride. Look forward to lots more fun group rides. Also below is a link for some photos.



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descenders Ride Report – Tour de Palm Springs – Sat Feb 9, 2019


Nothing much more needs to be said really!

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Old Julian Highway Ride Report-26 January 2019

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.

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