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.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/vb8tNonFcF9Ne6DC6

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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.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/AVRMxoK818DDkGxc9

Posted in Local Ride Reports

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.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/qtqJBSK3bNHg3Yqk6

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.

Posted in Local Ride Reports

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.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/APdk8aji9AsaRevy7

Posted in Local Ride Reports

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.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/34n5eGvzSBcHksJJ8

Posted in Local Ride Reports

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.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/qCmFF3U1By5astiz8

Posted in Local Ride Reports

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.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/3fcmWocFvFzk8wnT8

Posted in Local Ride Reports