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.

Posted in Local Ride Reports

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.

Posted in Local Ride Reports

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.

Posted in Local Ride Reports

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

Posted in Local Ride Reports