Double Peak Ride Report-30 June 2018
by John Moran
Riders: Jeff, Monica and John
It was a tiny turnout, likely do to the scheduled hilly ride right after the Monster Climbs. The only people at the start were John M, Monica, and Jeff, whom waited until the obligatory 8:08 start time. While heading north on the bike path looping around Lake Hodges, a Descender’s kit could be seen up on the highway shoulder, but the rider was never found or identified. The small group stayed roughly together, with Jeff and Monica waiting just a couple of times for John to catch back up at Elfin Forest and the top of Double Peak. The tiny group also stayed together on the return, until breaking into three solo raiders on El Camino Del Norte, and regrouping at Lago Lindo. The group then split at the start of the three witches, as Jeff pushed hard to get home, Monica stopped to buy a drink, and John took the middle. No pictures, so I guess the ride only happened in John’s alternate universe.
Faces of Soledad Ride Report-16 June 2018
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Hodges, Todd, John, Geoffrey, Rob, Andrey and his friend Ethan
It was the last weekend of training before the Monster Climbs trip. We had Descenders tackle Palomar, some rode with the Ranchos, others got in quick rides before family duties took over and the group planned to ride Soledad. We only had four riders going on the trip there, plus a few other riders. John was back testing out his healing separated shoulder. Andrey was there and he brought along his strong riding friend, Ethan; unfortunately Marissa was out sick. Geoffrey had already been out riding for 1.5 hours so he only joined us for the 56 bike path section on the way to the coast.
Andrey was pulling the crew nicely along the bike path until Hodges waived him off to get me into the wind. If he wanted me out front, fine. I sped up, dropped the group and got onto the wheel of a fast guy who had passed us 5 minutes earlier. He and I flew along to the end of the path where we all regrouped, down to 6 riders with Geoffrey heading home. We headed for PCH and climbed inside of Torrey Pines. Todd and Ethan pushed the pace. As we regrouped at the banana and water stand, Hodges rolled up and rolled out, we caught him near Scripps. The turn south to La Jolla Shores was slowed due to UCSD graduation traffic. Lot of cars trying to get to the gliderport parking with police manning the intersections. We made it through and pedaled south, hit the descent to the shores and cruised past the tennis club before fighting a bit of traffic to start our first face of Soledad.
Todd, Ethan and I got to the top and waited for Andrey and Hodges. John was now gone for the day. As soon as Hodges got to the cross, he wanted to go. He said he was cold. Andrey and Ethan were only doing one climb so they headed home. We were down to three riders–Hodges, Todd and me. We looped down Nautilus and around to the Country Club climb. I rode with Todd while Hodges fell behind. We regrouped at the banana and water stand, then descended down again. Hodges wanted to show us a different route for this loop. He had us go past our usual third climb turn and loop through Bird Rock before heading back up. We rode by Mike McGowen’s house and Hodges turned into the driveway, so Todd and I kept pedaling. We thought he might be stopping to have tea; that was the last we saw of Mike.
Todd and I got back onto the 3rd face route, descended again and climbed up our usual ride. From Flybys, it looks like Hodges went up and did the fourth face while we went to do the original third climb. Todd had to exit to home after the completion of the third climb. I was on my own, but unknowingly behind Hodges. I descended Soledad Mountain Road and climbed Pacifica, going back to the cross for a water break. I then did the 5th climb and did a few extra loops in the neighborhood before coming out again near the cross. I descended fast down Via Capri and made my way along La Jolla Shores before turning right onto Calle Del Oro. This is where my ride ended.
I hit the turn and moved my chain up into the 30 gear rear cassette. I am pretty sure my front derailleur was already in the smaller 34 cog but it all happened fast so can’t remember if I also shifted down to the front 34 cog at the same time. In any event, what happened next was not good. My rear derailleur must have hit one of the wheel spokes because it immediately snapped up and off the hanger. I came to a quick stop and looked down at my rear tire. I could see the chain was fine and the derailleur was on the chain, but not connected to the bike. I was alone and had my camera, but no phone at the bottom of the hill; I was in deep kimchi.
There was a guy and girl walking towards me on their way to the beach, both had phones out. I asked if I could make a local call. I called Serena, but was pretty sure she was not available due to her yoga teacher class; no answer. I gave the phone back and thanked them. I was standing in front of a house so I carried my bike to the front door. A nice young woman answered and let me use her phone to try to reach someone. She asked me where I was riding and since she and her sister were on their way out, offered to drive me home. She asked if my bike would fit in a Prius. I said I have two Prius cars so think my bike will fit. They drove me all the way home, very generous of their time. Those two sisters are my new best friends in La Jolla Shores.
I still got in 48 miles and 5,200 feet of climbing, but now had a serious mechanical issue. I spent a long afternoon at the Performance Bike stores in Carmel Valley and Clairmont trying to find the right hanger and a fix for my derailleur. It is still in the shop so I will be riding my Cervelo for the Monster Climbs trip. The link below shows the photos I took from the ride. Guess we are all ready for the weekend ahead.
Oceanside and Inland Ride-9 June 2018
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Hodges, Tony & Diane, Quoc, Geoffrey, Bill & Peg, Andrew, Bob, Peter, Rob and Sheehan
The planned group ride over Palomar and down to Borrego Springs was changed due to the high desert temperatures forecasted for Saturday. We changed the meet location and planned a coastal cruise.
The group of 12 riders headed toward the coast on the bike path. Hodges guided us up Portofino and Mango, before meandering our way back down to Jimmy Durante Blvd, where we rode by the county fair. We looped around over to Nardo, a tough little climb. I spun ahead and then Bill B powered up the watts to close the gap and sailed by me easily. Bob, Peter and Quoc turned towards RSF when we got to Loma Sante Fe while the rest of the group looped around the neighborhoods and over the pedestrian bridge by the Solana Beach train station, then turned north onto PCH.
The pace was brisk until we got past Swami’s, regrouping there before Hodges lead us down towards Moonlight beach and up side roads and along our normal Neptune route. We regrouped again at PCH. When we got to La Costa, Geoffrey & Diane turned east; we were down to 7 riders flying up the coast.
We picked up two additional strong riders as we rode towards Carlsbad. The pace was again brisk, Bill & Andrew doing the lion share of the pulling. We rode through town and made our way towards the pier. I pushed off the front just to test the group a bit. Hodges grabbed my wheel and hid pretty much all the way to the harbor. I made him go on point at the last intersection and followed his wheel until the last 500 meters. I pulled left and he was not able catch my wheel. I died quickly, but still had plenty of room to coast into the final circle at the end of the harbor, small victories.
I, of course, received plenty of abuse when we regrouped at the bathroom about not stopping completely or riding unsafe through town or not doing enough pulls as we rode up PCH; all true of course. We had seven Descenders and one of the two strong riders we picked up earlier. His name is Calvin and we hope he rides with us again. Hodges was ever impatient after our water break so he pedaled off. I left as the group started to roll out, then pushed a bit to catch up to Mike. When we hit the San Luis Rey Bike Path, there was no one behind us. Mike slowed and stopped, I kept pedaling. I thought the group would quickly catch me and I would fulfill my pull duties, so I just kept a steady pace. No one was in sight so I push more and rode alone all the way to College Blvd, our normal path exit to Sleeping Indian. I waited for a bit and the group came back together. Tony was the only hardy sole to head over to Sleeping Indian. Calvin reversed course and headed back to the coast, we were down to 6 riders.
I had ridden the bike path farther east before and Andrew had looked at his phone map, so we had a pretty good idea of how to get back toward Lake Hodges. I did my requisite pulls duties to the end of the bike path at N Sante Fe Ave. We rode past Guajome Park, where the kids use to run XC meets, and made our way southeast through Vista and San Marcos. Bill and Andrew were pacing animals, the rest of us hung on the best that we could. We stopped for water and continued on S. Sante Fe Ave until it turned into Mission Road. After passing Palomar College, we rode over Twin Oaks Valley to get south of Route 78 and turned onto Barham Dr, by CSUSM. Bill & Peg led us on the back roads of Country Club to Harmony Grove and got us eventually to Gamble Lane. We turned onto Felicita Road in Escondido when Sheehan decided to sow the last of his oats. He built up a sizable lead before Bill B pushed the pace and we all hid on his wheel to close the gap and pass Sheehan before getting to Via Rancho Parkway. Sheehan rode strong all day, as did Peg; she never gets dropped off a paceline!
Water levels were low so I decided to head to the gas station by the mall. Hodges, Sheehan and Andrew went over the pedestrian bridge at Lake Hodges and turned to Pomerado to get home. Bill & Peg went right toward their house. After a quick water refill, I spun over the bridge and saw Bill & Peg climbing toward the park. I never did catch them before they turned into their neighborhood. I was alone, hot and tired. The slow spin through 4S and behind Black Mountain got me home with 80 miles and about 4K of climbing; nice coastal cruise. Everyone seemed to get about 80 miles for the loop. Tony was the man of day as he did Sleeping Indian and Twin Oaks Valley from Gopher Canyon and rolled home with just over 100 miles, a nice century for Monster Climbs training.
Below are the photos I took on the ride.
DeLuz Ride Report-2 June 2018
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Bill, Peg, Hodges, Tony, Sheehan, Paul, Rob, Diane & Bob (friend of Tony)
The Descenders ride group met at Gopher Canyon on Saturday. Mike Hodges and I came decked out in our new Eliel kits. We had met with Jordan Baab the day before to go over the Eliel options for a potential new Descenders kit. Lots of work still to go, but we both liked the Eliel products we saw and so we even bought a kit of the same style that will be used for our team kits–Laguna Seca bib shorts and the Rincon jersey. Hodges squeezed into his large jersey and complained a bit about tightness. He might want to consider a larger size or push back from the table earlier. I think I looked resplendent in my XL bibs and jersey, you be the judge. We showed off the new kits to the Descenders on the ride. More info soon.
We climbed up Circle R and made our way over to Couser Canyon and then Rice Canyon. Bob turned off way back on West Lilac while Diane rode back along Old 395 after climbing Rice, while the rest of the group rode to Temecula. We stopped for a water break about mile 25, then headed for the Rancho California climb. Everyone regrouped at the start of DeLuz Road, then Bill and Paul did some nice long pulls in the tree covered roads. I tried to pull away from Tony & Peg to no avail as we all sped along before stopping at the DeLuz school house for another water break. Sheehan needed a quick nap on the picnic table, he pushed himself pretty hard all day. Between mile 40 and 50, the climbs back up to Fallbrook took lots out of our legs. It was a beautiful day, even with a bit of a headwind. The pace was club ride level all day, lots of good conversation and fun. At Mission Road, we headed down to Olive Hill Road. Hodges and I were on point and we spotted Simon Planken riding north on Olive Hill. We were not in team kits, so Simon did not know it was the Descenders group until well after we passed each other. Simon saw the team kits on the other riders, but we were long gone. Sorry to have missed riding with Simon. Bill then took point and pulled the group down to the last water stop near highway 76. Paul snacked on a cheeseburger and others followed.
Sheehan was cooked so he went straight on Camino Del Rey while the six remaining riders rode up West Lilac Road. Bill led us out with Hodges holding his wheel. I tried to stay up with them; Hodges purposefully accelerated when I faltered. He hid on Bill’s wheel and they spun off into the distance. I was able to keep them in sight and started to close the gap when Hodges fell away from Bill. The stop sign was up ahead and I pushed hard to catch Hodges but he rolled to the line just ahead of me. I was now very tired and pulled over along the bridge with Bill to wait for the others. Paul came up soon and he had to descend down Old 395 to get back home, great day out riding with Paul; he is very strong.
Peg and Tony swept up our now smaller group of riders. Bill again held point while Hodges and I followed. Tony left his legs at the last water stop so he and Peg were losing time to us, thanks to the efforts of Bill. We all regrouped before the turn back onto Circle R and the last descent back towards the start. We had covered 70 miles and 6,400 feet of climbing, super fun ride. The link below goes to the photos from the ride. The other attached photo was taken by Tony.
Tucson Cycling Trip Ride Report
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Len, Bernie, Shawn, Jodie, Ruben & Rob
Len had been to Tucson about five years ago and done a number of great rides in the area. Todd Calloway was recently there and rode up Mt Lemmon twice, stud. Len pushed the Italian cycling trip gang to consider Tucson as a riding training adventure. We opened it up to the Descenders and a small group planned to head to Tucson. Our goals were to ride the following climbs:
- Kitt Peak Observatory
- Mt Lemmon
- Madera Canyon
- Mt Graham
On Friday, 13 April, Len, Bernie, Shawn and I loaded up two cars and headed for Tucson. Due to work, Jodie and Ruben planned to meet us later that night at the hotel. We made good time across I-8 and headed south to get to Kitt Observatory, just 40 miles west of Tucson. It was not until about 3:30 pm that we started our 12 mile climb up to the top. It was cool and breezy at the bottom and got colder and winder as we climbed. Bernie was way out front. Shawn and Len passed me at about the 5 mile mark and I swept. The views were awesome and we fortunately had a bit of a tailwind for most of the climb as the road circled around the mountain covered in white observatory domes. I got to the top at about 5 pm. We took a few quick photos and put on any extra layers we had; they were not enough. It was cold and blustery. Wind gusts around corners pushed us sideways and almost stopped us at times; we took the descent cautiously for sure. The ride total was only 24 miles with over 3,500 feet of climbing, nice warm-up for Mt Lemmon. We drove into Tucson and got to the Comfort Suites in Sabino Canyon in time for dinner. Len took us to the Eclectic Cafe. We had a nice meal and then met up with Jodie & Ruben who had just arrived.
The next morning, we had the complementary breakfast and were ready to tackle Mt Lemmon. Our route took us east on Tanque Verde Road and then north on Old Soldier Trail, we rode through a nice park and looped back to get to the start of the climb. Mt Lemmon is about a 24 mile climb up to Summerhaven, we did not go to the ski slope just a few miles farther. We do get to over 8,000 feet and climb for a long time. The road is clean, smooth and has a nice shoulder. The grade averages 4-5%, but there are plenty of rises that drain your reserves. We spread out on the climb with Bernie way out front. Len and Shawn passed me about mile 5 again, Ruben passed me about mile 15 and Jodie swept. The views were stunning; lots of photos in the link below. I was passed a few times by much better riders. I pushed to catch a wheel and hung on for as long as I could; burnt a few matches. The sun was out and it was not windy or cold, a perfect day to climb Mt Lemmon. My paced slowed and I was out of water. At mile 20 there was a bathroom and water pump near a hiking trailhead. I stopped to refill and eat my banana, I felt much better. Refreshed, my pace increased a bit as I neared the end of the climb. After mile 21.5 and after topping over 8,000 feet, you do a fast one mile descent and then retake the same elevation again for the final miles into Summerhaven. I caught up to Ruben as he was experiencing a bit of oxygen deprivation from the altitude. He said he would go slow and/or wait for Jodie. I headed up the last bit to get to the Cookie Cabin, where we planned to regroup. Bernie, Shawn and Len were relaxing on the outdoor patio in the bright sunshine. It was a beautiful day in the mountains. We ate and drank a bit with Ruben and Jodie joining us soon after. We put on finger gloves and layers, something we sorely needed the previous day at Kitt Peak. The first mile or so climb out of Summerhaven jolted the legs and then there was the one mile descent at mile 21.5 that you now had to climb, but overall it was a 20+ mile epic descent. Bernie, Shawn and I stopped at the same water hole I found at mile 20, Len kept going. Bernie waited for Jodie and Ruben so we decided to chase Len. The descent was one of the best I have ever experienced. Car traffic was light, the road was smooth and I passed a handful of cars. I averaged well over 30 mph for about a 14 mile stretch, the bottom came quickly. We all stopped on the side of the road to take off layers and regroup. The final 8 miles home to the hotel were a straight shot along East Catalina Highway, we finished with 70 miles and just under 7,300 feet of elevation gain. It was worth all the pain, great climb.
The gang relaxed at the hotel, hit the pool & spa and then got ready for a quick trip down memory lane. They were all gracious enough to join me in going to Cafe Molina, only a mile or so from our hotel. Cafe Molina is an old Mexican food establishment that has been there since 1947. My parents were there every week when my mom was finishing her education degree at University of Arizona and my dad was in flight school for the USAF back in 1956. I ate there every week a few years later when we lived in Tucson until late 1961. The food was fine, we had fun enjoying a cheese pizza and other Mexican specialities. I had a nice margherita and Negro Modelo as well. I took some photos for my parents that we also included in the trip album. We had a nice group dinner and headed back to the hotel for bed.
Sunday had us up early so we could drive to Madera Canyon and still allow Bernie and Shawn to drive back to San Diego. Ruben had to leave that morning, so he missed the ride. We drove about 45 minutes south of Tucson to Green Valley. The road stopped after 13 miles. Bernie and Shawn headed out right after the group photo. Len, Jodie and I took our time getting prepped and starting our ride. It was warming nicely and there was no wind, another nice morning to ride. We climbed slowly up the two-lane road with very little traffic; probably as many riders are cars. Early on we passed what appeared to be a bee hive right on the side of the road. All the bees were just in a pile, swarming and buzzing around. From a respectful distance we watched and took some photos. The gradient was only 3-4% with some pitches as we made our way toward Mount Wrightson in the distance. About mile 10.5, Bernie and Shawn were descending fast towards us. They flew by, went back to the hotel to clean up and then drove back to San Diego. Len, Jodie and I pootled our way up the steep 15+ degree pitches the last few miles to get to the hiking trailhead of Old Baldy Trail. It takes you to the top of Mt Wrightson. Len met two couples from Canada that were on vacation . He made his best moves on one of the wife’s; at least they were still kind enough to take a group photo of us. We had another speedy descent back down to Green Valley. We took in the bees again, they had moved a few feet close to the road. The ride was only 26 miles in total with about 2,600 feet of climbing, we were saving ourselves for Mt Graham the following day. At the bottom we relaxed at Posada Java, where lots of cyclists go, to have something to eat and drink. We hit the pool/spa again and then decided to walk around the University of Arizona campus. It is a nice campus and I was able to take a photo of my mom’s sorority house. I dropped them at the hotel and spun by my old home, just a few miles south of the hotel. I was a wee lad and remember nothing of the place but captured a photo for my parents. Len, Jodie and I hit Eclectic Cafe again and had a nice dinner. We had been checking the weather at Mt Graham and things looked bad for our planned Monday ride–20+ mph winds at the top. We decided it was not wise to drive two hours to the start of a climb to 10,000+ feet with cold temps and high winds predicted; plan B started to be considered.
Our last day in Tucson and no Mt Graham. Len knew of a ride along Old Spanish Trail to the Saguaro National Park. We left from the hotel by 8 am and spun about 10 miles to get to the park entrance. Len had his Senior Pass so we got in for free. Inside the park is a beautiful 9 mile loop road of one-way traffic. The saguaro cactus, ocotillo and tons of other desert flora provided dramatic scenery. Jodie & I snapped a number of photos at many of the vista spots along the hilly, curvy road loop. We met a local cyclist who recommended we continue on Old Spanish Trail for 10 miles and do the Pistol Hill Loop. It was a nice addition to our ride and we then spun back towards the hotel with a reroute along one of the many "river" pathways. The "rivers" are all dried river beds, there only to avert flooding if/when it does rain, but they do provide a nice platform for paths on both sides that cuts through the east side of Tucson. We got back to the hotel with 52 miles and 2,300 feet of climbing; no Mt Graham but a fun morning of riding. We relaxed again in the pool/spa and packed up for the trip home. For dinner, Jodie found a pizza place called Falora; they had vegan options. Falora was only a few miles from our hotel and it proved to be a great find. We had a nice dinner and then went back to finish packing.
There was some discussion to have us drive via Kitt Peak to tackle that climb again on the way back to San Diego. Fortunately, that crazy talk quickly died. Our legs and bodies were done. The drive was uneventful and we discussed the good news around Jodie’s new Sociology book she is having published. Thanks to Len for driving his car. We dropped off Jodie and then Len got me to my home by mid-afternoon. The Tucson Cycling Trip was a great time. The Descenders should do one in the spring or fall in the next couple of years. I will go again and plan to tackle Mt Graham on the next trip. Enjoy the photos.
HVR & OJH Ride Report-24 March 2018
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Rick W, Shawn, John A, Garet, Justin, Hermann, John M, Sheehan and Rob
As I suspected, no one was there at the top of Black Mountain Road; I rode solo over to the group start. I was even ahead of schedule, rolling to the Pomerado corner before 8 am. Rick W, Shawn D and John M were already there. Others joined and we were just getting ready to roll when Sheehan showed, we now had a total of 9 riders. We rode as a group to the HVR climb when all hell broke loose. The fast guys spun off; Sheehan and I settled into a nice pace up the climb. It was our birthday celebration ride so we chatted a bit on the less steep sections. Hermann rode with us up HVR, with John M sweeping. At the school at Archie Moore Road, we regrouped and bid adieu to Garet and Justin. They could only ride for a quick loop. Rick W must have been anxious to get going, he pulled the group at a blistering pace over to highway 67 where we said good-bye to Hermann; he had to go to work. We were down to 6 riders. Rick W again pulled the group along Dye Road to San Vicente. We lost John M but continued on towards Old Julian Highway.
Rick, Shawn and John A cruised off at the turn to OJH. I waited for Sheehan and we rode up the climb with John M sweeping. There were tons of motorcycles out and lots of cars. When we got to the top for the regroup, a huge line of "race cars" were coming up on their way to Santa Ysabel. We road cyclists don’t care too much for noisy motorcyclists and lots of fast moving cars out on the back country roads. That said, it was a nice day to be out on a bike. Rick W hammered on the descent back to Ramona. I held his wheel for most of the descent but eventually lost contact. Shawn and John A tried to catch me to no avail. We all regrouped at the corner before another quick pull into town. Sheehan and I shared a pop tart treat to celebrate our birthdays, which don’t really happen until this week but that was our last ride together before the big events.
We had a brief respite at the gas station before we rolled back to Dye Road. Sheehan was feeling the last of his oats as he pulled the group to highway 67. I fell off and John M was sweeping. At the light Rick W turned towards Mt Woodson. Sheehan, Shawn and John A waited for me as they were heading straight back down HVR. I turned left too but never saw Rick again. John M was somewhere behind me. The road going south on highway 67 is just as bad as my experiences from the week earlier. Rumble strips on the side of the road, lots of traffic and more concerns for the centerline plastic pipes so cars drive even closer to cyclists. The parking near Mount Woodson forces us to ride in the road, another dangerous section of roadway. I decided to get off highway 67 and turned right onto Mina de Oro to descend High Valley Road. I did capture a nice photo of Lake Poway on my way to the steep descent. By the time I got home, I hit 70 miles and over 5K of climbing, another great club ride. Photos are in the link below.