Old Julian Highway Ride Report

Old Julian Highway Ride-1 December 2018

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Eric R, Hodges, Sheehan, Tony, John A, Rick W, Shawn D, Bill B, Rob and Peggy for a cameo

San Diego got some much needed rain just after the Thanksgiving holidays. A break in the rains came just in time for our Saturday Descenders group ride. It was cold and there were patches of dark clouds on the horizon when I spun from PQ towards the start. I met John A at the top of Black Mountain Road and we pedaled over to the designated meet location.

A good group of riders showed, ready to ride. Bill & Peggy were not there, one of the clouds must have hung over their house; it was raining there they said via text. We took off to start the HVR climb, already having decided to descend Bandy and climb up the Ramona Grade for a nice change of pace.

Bill joined us before we left Pomerado Road, Peggy was staying away from the rains. The usual acceleration antics took place on the flats before the climb. The hammerheads kept the pace high, a cold wind was in our face and a few sprinkles as well. At the start of the HVR climb we spread out, each in our own suffer mode, but throughly enjoying the beauty of the ride. We regrouped at the corner of Bandy and descended carefully with more moisture sticking to the road. The group split some along the bottom of Bandy but regrouped again at the corner of highway 78.

Now the real climbing was to begin. Eric, Rick, Bill Shawn, John A and Hodges broke away from Sheehan, Tony and me; bigger and bigger gaps opened up on the climb. Sheehan fell farther back while I hid on Tony’s wheel; Ramona Grade is a great climb. The road is in good shape, just wish it was a bit wider. Traffic was not too heavy but those cars/trucks that came by do so rather quickly. Tony pulled me up to the corner of West Haverford, where the rest of the guys were waiting. We all got back together and spun towards downtown Ramona.

The pace was again fast but this time I was able to hide on Hodges wheel to stay with the lead group; Tony & Sheehan fell off the pace. We cruised through the center of town and turned to start the climb towards Old Julian Highway. As the road tilted up, I immediately fell back. The guys spun away and I was now alone, mentally preparing for the seven mile ascent, solo. It was a gorgeous morning, still crisp but with some sunshine breaking through. I turned over the cranks and finally crested past the 7.5 mile marker. Up ahead I could see the guys already coming back towards me. Rather than descend alone too, I spun around and had to hammer to get onto the wheel of Rick W, Hodges and Shawn. Eric R was just ahead and John A was maintaining his conservative descending pace behind us.

We flew fast down heading back towards Ramona. We passed Tony at about the four mile mark and he looked like he was continuing on to the top, but there was no sign of Sheehan. I got spit out just before the end of OJH but kept them in sight as we cruised into town and stopped at the Mobil station. We had a good break, yet there was no sign of Tony or Sheehan. Hodges was his usual impatient to roll and Bill said Peggy was climbing HVR to meet us, we had to leave.

The paceline back along Dye Road was quick but the seven of us remaining riders stayed together to the light at highway 67, where we met up with Peggy. Bill, Hodges, Eric, John A and Peggy kept straight to descend HVR while Rick W, Shawn and I turned onto 67 to make our way to Poway Grade. I told the guys to go, I was done; let me pootle along alone at my own pace to get home. Rick W would hear none of it, he forced me to continue. Rick pulled, Shawn held his wheel and I struggled to keep up. We rode past Mt Woodson and spun along highway 67 to get to Poway Grade. Rick was again on point while we hid on his wheel, turning onto Espola Road, then Twin Peaks Road. Thankfully Rick turned towards home near Midland, I was too pooped to keep up his pace. Fun riding with Rick, especially on the downhills. Shawn now picked up the mantel and pulled me along. I was dying fast and needed a rest. My college roommate lives in Arbolitos, so I said good-bye to Shawn to let him make his way back to Carmel Valley.

I coasted to Tim’s house and caught up for 30 minutes. After a much needed break, I pedaled past Carmel Mountain and got back onto the bike path to make my way home. It was a fun 68 mile ride with almost 5K of climbing, another fun group ride. Tony did make it all the way to the top of OJH before returning home via HVR. Sheehan skipped OJH but did Mussey Grade before he pedaled home via HVR. Below is a link to the photos I took on the ride.


Posted in Local Ride Reports

Coureur Cycling Holiday Ride Report

Coureur Cycling Holiday Ride-23 November 2018

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Dave Ernst and Rob V in Descender kits, Mike Hodges in old BWR garb; also Jason Ryan, Jeff S & Eileen B, Logan F and Marc A; plus about 200 fast riders

Start Location: Canyon Cycles in Carlsbad
Finish Location: Rouleur Brewery in Carlsbad

Thanks to Jeff S for giving us a heads up about this very fun ride. We all converged in the parking lot of the new Canyon Cycle showroom, lots of cool bikes to go see next time you are in the area. After some very brief announcements, all the riders headed north towards Oceanside. The pace was quick, but in control, as the huge group smoothly flowed through Carlsbad and then hit the San Luis Rey path. We maintained a brisk pace along the path as we rolled east, turning off at Douglas Road to find a gravel section; the same gravel section as the BWR in 2013. The pace was fast, Ernst moved up a bit and Hodges passed me, but I hung close to his wheel. I knew we were getting off the gravel at North River Road, just had to hold onto the pace for a bit longer.

Once the group hit North River Road, the A Group planned split was announced. Hodges and I sat up and stayed to form the start of a B group. Logan blew by us and I knew Jason & Marc A were up ahead; the A group rode off fast. Ernst went with the A group too, much to my surprise. As our B group started to form, I found myself riding next to Calvin Smith. Calvin was back in town and riding strong as usual, he had recently moved to Scottsdale, AZ. The Descenders met Calvin on a group ride heading to Oceanside earlier this year. Ernst realized the A group was too fast, so he settled back to join us. Our group pace was quick but manageable, then we hit the dirt climb at Via Puerta del Sol.

I got passed by dozens of riders, including Jeff S and Eileen B. They were taking it easy on the ride and were in our B group. The climb up the dirt road was not too long and I was able to close most of the gap once we hit back onto pavement before we reached the summit of the climb. At the top, we regrouped to make sure everyone was together. A short descent got us to Olive Hill Road. I hit the front and pulled hard, trying to get to the bottom near the front. This dirt section and descent down to cross highway 76 was the exact same route as the Udo Heinz ride the week before, so I knew what to expect. We all got to the light and then sped along Camino del Rey.

Just as in the Udo ride, I hid in the big group as we flew along, under I-15 and then south onto Old 395. The leaders of the B group pulled into the camp grounds to stop at the store. Hodges said he did not want to stop and I was all in favor of getting a lead on the rest of the group. We grabbed Ernst and continued to roll. As we turned onto Gopher Canyon, we saw Jeff & Eileen up head; they must have not wanted to stop either. We all climbed Gopher and turned onto El Paseo, a small side road that connected over to Twin Oaks Valley. It also climbed up and turned at Silverleaf Lane. There was a nice 23 degree pitch we climbed up before getting to TOV, brutal ascent. The group swelled some as we collected riders spit out the back from the A group.

I was on point as we descended TOV, then slowed on the climb. Hodges and about 5 other riders pulled away from us. I peaked first with Ernst, Jeff & Eileen just a bit behind me. I tried to close the gap on Hodges and crew with little success until Jeff pulled both Ernst & Eileen back by me. Now the four of us made great time down the final miles of NTOV with Jeff powering away on the pedals. The Hodges group was just ahead at the intersection onto Deer Springs Road. Jeff & Eileen turned right, they planned for a shorter ride since Eileen was a bit under the weather. We saw Hodges roll through the red light, turning left, just ahead of us and stop on the side of the road. Unfortunately for Hodges, one of California’s finest highway patrol officers also saw him roll through the red light. The cop, on a motorcycle, came up to speak to Mike. We were about 50 yards away, back at the light, so we did not hear the interaction. Hodges got away with just a stern lecture; at least he was not wearing our Descenders kit.

Ernst and I turned onto Deer Springs and tried to close the gap on the Hodges group. Ernst led us out and then backed off. I tried to catch Hodges and could never get close. The climb up and past I-15 was challenging. I got to the freeway just as I saw Hodges turn south towards Jesmond Dene Road, his group was pulling away from me. I hammered down Jesmond Dene and turned north on Broadway, I was getting tired and the Hodges group was out of sight. I looked over my shoulder and caught a glimpse of Ernst as I spun up Broadway. He caught me before we got to Cougar Pass. I was quickly running out of steam. Dave sped away up the dirt climb; I trudged on.

I saw Dave turn at the top, only a minute or so gap ahead of me. I sped down Mountain Meadow but did not see Ernst ahead. Our route had us cross back over I-15 and down Deer Springs. I sped along, alone. Two riders blew by me and I could not catch their wheel. Then a small group of 4 riders went by and I was able to grab a wheel. We flew past Twin Oaks golf course and eventually caught up to both Ernst and Hodges, our group swelled again. We rode south, then over highway 78 into San Marcos. Some of the fast riders I had joined with turned west just before Cal State San Marcos. Our group stayed on the planned route, turning onto Discovery Street. The two fast rider that blew by me earlier were on point, we all followed. The winds were off the ocean so as we headed for the Rouleur Brewery, we hit the stiffening breezes. I stuck my nose out once and quickly hid behind.

We looped around, hit Faraday Ave and made our way to the finish of the ride, just over 60 miles at that point. Once we got to Rouleur, we went inside to find Jeff & Eileen have beers with a group. I also saw Marc A looking refreshed after a hammerfest with the A group. Hodges stayed to party at Rouleur while Ernst and I rode back to the start, then he back to his house. I had just over 65 miles in total with about 4K of climbing in right at 4 hours; a great holiday ride.

Thanks again to Jeff S for inviting us to ride. It was fun to ride with some of the old gang again. Hope to do it more often. Attached are a few photos Hodges took on the ride and at the Rouleur Brewery after the ride. Let’s have a big Descender turn-out for the next Coureur ride.

Posted in Local Ride Reports

Udo Heinz Memorial Ride Report

Udo Heinz Memorial Ride-17 November 2018

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Dave Ernst, Mike Hodges, Bill Wood and Rob in Descenders Kits; other riders: Bernie B, Neil, R, Geoffrey M and Jason Ryan in Rancho or non-team kits. Also about 90 other riders from many riding teams

The 5th annual Udo Heinz Memorial Ride took place last weekend with Stone Brewery again as the starting point. The group ride last year was much larger as this year Pedal the Cause and other rides conflicted with this memorial event. Udo would have been 49 years old on Friday. His widow again gave an update on the family as we remembered one of our cycling brethren lost due to a lousy driver. We have had a surge in car/cyclist interactions. We cyclists never win. The latest is Jim Wilkinson who was hit by a car this past week on his commute home form work. Jim is still recovering in the hospital. Be careful out there.

The Udo ride is special because it remembers him and brings together a large group of riders from many local cycling clubs. The route also includes some dirt every year since Udo was a big CX rider. The group of almost 100 riders split into two with the A riders being led by Kit Knox and a few other stud Rancho riders. I saw that Neil, Geoffrey and Jason all leave with the A group. Bernie was one of the leaders of the B group where the four of us in Descenders kits started and showed our team support. Bill W planned to ride his own route and catch the group at various points along the route. The rest of us planned to ride the B paced ride.

We headed out along Harmony Grove in a fast paceline and turned onto Questhaven. Bernie led some of the riders to Elfin Forest Road to stay on the pavement with a regroup on the climb before Double Peak. Ernst and Hodges were near the front of our approximately 50 person group as we hit Questhaven. After the first gate, there was a steep and rocky face that had a few riders off their bikes. Hodges, Ernst and I managed to avoid the congestion and we spun through the dirt road to the second gate. We climbed our way back to Twin Oaks Valley where the leaders regrouped. We started to climb up past Double Peak and kept going over the top. Somehow I managed to be near the front and sped down fast, past Cal State San Marcos and continued heading north. There was one fast rider out in front of me, so I kept pedaling. The rest of the B group got caught at some of the lights. The strong rider pulled off at a 7-11, so I kept going and did not see anyone behind. I think Ernst and Hodges backed off a bit and let me hang out in front, burning away what few matches I had.

After turning onto N. Twin Oaks Valley Road and starting the climbs up and over to Gopher Canyon, I started to worry. I knew the general route to Old Gopher Canyon and knew where the rest stop was at Olive Hill, but did not know the exact route to get there. I chugged along onto Gopher Canyon and did not have to worry about the route as the Group B leaders blew by me with Hodges and Ernst in the group of about 15 riders. I grabbed a wheel and hung on through Old Gopher Canyon and out to find our next gravel section. We first had to navigate a small gravel climb and then wait for a group of motorcyclists blocking the road on a descent; this kept us at a slow pace that was probably a good thing. We ultimately rode more dirt sections and made our way to Olive Hill, about a mile north of the rest stop. Ernst was now on point with Hodges only a few spots from the lead.

Just as we got to the big intersection of the gas station, McDonald’s and the rest stop, the A group riders were there at the light. They had just finished a nice break at the rest stop. A few of us B group guys decided to ride with the big boys; most others took a quick break, including Hodges. I hung onto the back of the A group as we made our way along Camino del Ray. Ernst was a few riders in front of me and I had seen Geoffrey Mayne and Jason Ryan in the group ahead. I figured I would hide in the back until I blew up. We rode quickly along, under I-15 and turned south onto Old 395. I was barely holding on as we made our way to the turn onto Old Castle Road.

Ernst headed south towards home, his day was done. I managed to hold with the A group until the climbing started. Neil R and those studs up front put down the hammer and I was off the back. The A group started to splinter as the climb continued up and around the bend. I saw a Descenders kit ahead and knew it was Bill Woods, he must have looped a different direction. Bill looked great as he pedaled along, enjoying a day in the saddle at his own pace. I passed a few stragglers and then turned right onto Wilkes Road as directed by a couple of Ranchos that stopped to provide directions. I was alone now and heading into new territory, another gravel section lay ahead. I caught up to a rider and we asked a local woman about an intersection on which way to turn. She gave us good info to head along Sierra Rojo Road. I was a bit skeptical as it climbed up what looked like a dead end, but we came upon some dirt and saw the tracks from the A group. The rider ahead was stronger but kept me motivated to try to keep him in sight. We finally turned onto Lilac Road and headed towards Valley Center.

We rode into Valley Center and turned onto Woods Valley, heading towards Lake Wohlford. This is the opposite direction from our usual Descenders club cycling route, but I knew where I was going. Traffic kept us in check riding down Wohlford. We turned and made our way to El Norte Parkway, catching up to a couple of other riders I recognized from the Old Castle climb. They too must have found a short-cut for the ride. One turned off in Escondido while the other guys led me back along Centre City Parkway and then onto the bike path that dumped back onto Harmony Grove. I looped around back to Stone Brewery and finished the 64 miles with 4,900 feet of climbing in right at 4 hours. Hodges showed up just as I finished, he took a shorter route as his knee was hurting. The A group guys were either already gone or had decided to grab a beer at the brewery. As I was changing I saw Bernie roll back into the parking lot with more of the B group guys. As I left the parking to towards home, I spotted Bill Woods finishing up his ride day as well. The Descenders put in a good showing, either in kit or incognito.

It was a good cycling event, a nice memorial for Udo and a great day to be out riding in the north county. Below is a link to the photos I took on the ride.


Posted in Local Ride Reports

Julian Fall Ride Report

Julian Fall Ride-3 November 2018

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: John A, Mike Hodges, Peggy & Bill Braamse, Jim Wilkerson, Tony O, Dave Ernst, Bernie B and Rob

Tony scheduled a picture perfect fall day to hold our annual Julian Fall ride. I really enjoy this annual club event, it saved my life due to my Banner Grade fall back in 2009: Oleg’s first club ride too. We had 9 riders meet in the parking lot behind Dudley’s Bakery in Santa Ysabel to start the ride. It was sunny and just a bit cool to start us off. We spread out on the climb up to Wynola Road and regrouped before looping to Banner Grade. Bernie and Jim W accelerated off and the group split up again.

I got to the corner about the same time Ernst and John A arrived. John decided to wait for the rest of the group while Ernst led us down a beautiful smooth descent of Banner, past the store and to Banner Queen Ranch. We stopped there and turned back for the long climb to Julian. We finally caught up with the rest of the group who turned around earlier–John A, Hodges, Tony, Bill and Peg; Bernie and Jim went all the way down to Scissors Crossing. John A is a strong rider, but he is still working on fully embracing the team name–Descenders; John takes it a bit slow on the downhill sections. Ernst pulled us towards the top of Banner. Hodges and Tony tried to sneak back up to us, so Dave put down the hammer and we sped away into Julian.

We all regrouped at the pie shop, some ate pie while others just relaxed in the warming sunshine. We left Jim W, John A and Bernie finishing up their pie so we all could get a head start on Engineers Road. Ernst kept descending down back toward Santa Ysabel as he had a busy day still ahead, the rest of us turned onto Pine Hills Road. Great to see Dave out riding with the Descenders again. We rode a nice pace on the back roads that get us to the start of Engineers Road. Hodges was playing coy and he fell back a bit while Tony, Bill, Peggy and I started the climb. The lower section of the road was covered in loose gravel as they were finishing some new road surfaces. Hodges quickly made up the gap and flew by me in the first mile. I tried to hold his pace but fell off badly. Mike spun away into the distance and I grew more tired over the next 4 miles of climbing until the last descent into the fire station house above Lake Cuyamaca.

We all relaxed in the shade at the picnic table and regrouped. Peggy started heading back first and I followed her soon after. It is mostly a fun descent after the initial climb from the turnaround. The views were spectacular and fall leaves were changing, San Diego style. I finally caught up to Peggy as she was stopped on a corner watching a large group of mule deer. One huge male and lots of other deer….I tried to get a couple of shots before spooking them. We rode together back towards highway 79. Bill, Jim and Bernie blew by us. We all regrouped at the corner and decided it was time to head back to the cars.

Jim W led us out fast and we all flew down to the 79/78 intersection; PR’s for most of us. John A spun slowly down the descent and we all got back to our cars. The loop was 51 miles and about 5,700 feet of climbing, a beautiful day of riding in East County. The link below has a few photos.


Posted in Local Ride Reports

Bormio, Bellagio and Baveno-Italy Cycling and Hiking Adventure-August 2018

2018_09 06 Italy Cycling Trip.docx

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Bormio, Bellagio & Baveno–Italy Cycling and Hiking Adventure-August 2018

Posted in Local Ride Reports

Monster Climbs XII Ride Report


Monster Climbs XII-21-24 June 2018.docx

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