De Luz Ride-19 January 2019
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Bill B, Shawn D, Tony O, Quoc V, John A, Rob V and Shawn (friend of Bill)
The rains were gone and the skies were clear. It was a cold, crisp morning near Gopher Canyon, where we met up to start the ride. Tony & I had discussed the previous day some ride options that avoided the low road sections of De Luz that were still likely to be wet and potentially slick with gravel and sand. Tony mapped out a route that I suggested, climb Pala-Temecula Road and loop back through Fallbrook. He shared it the night before the ride with options to discuss at the start.
We had a small group of riders, and everyone was ready to tackle De Luz. Hodges sent Tony a last minute cancellation text, he was not feeling up to a long ride and went to play tennis instead. It was in the 40’s at the start of the ride, so I was bundled up and hoping the expected 70 degree day arrived quickly. We had Quoc on the ride; decked out in his Eliel Factory Team gear. He was sportin’ the kits to show any Descenders that had not worn Eliel gear while we were close to opening up the team store. Quoc is a walking advertisement for Eliel and gave rave reviews. Bill B brought his own ringer to the ride. His buddy, Shawn, had ridden with us previously but this was my first time meeting him. He was a nice, unassuming guy until he started to pound the pedals. Shawn came to the USA from Canada in the late 80’s when he rode with the Canadian National Team. Yes, the 80’s were a long time ago but Shawn clearly is a strong rider. He mentioned that he completed seven double century’s last year!
We rolled out to start the climb up Circle R. John A was still fiddling with his jackets and phone by his car so he had to push a bit to get back with us on the early climb. We turned onto West Lilac and looped on the beautifully curvy roads before climbing Lilac Road, down past the Daisy Deli and onto the climb of Couser Canyon. Shawn, Bill and Shawn D spun quickly up the climb. We did a quick regroup and took some scenic photos before heading for the descent. Everyone took it pretty easy on the downhill as spots were still wet and the road was not clean. A safe descent was had by all and we gathered at the corner before heading to Rice Canyon. The climb up Rice was its usual fun challenge with little car traffic. The road surface seems to be getting worse, but still a fun ascent.
After a quick regroup at the top we spun along Rainbow Valley Road, descended into Temecula and sped toward the light. Bill and Shawn were flying, I fell off their wheel when they pushed for the final bit to the light. Everyone got through the next light and we rolled over to the gas station for our planned water break. Drink and snacks helped refuel a bit. It was still cool, but the sun was out and warming. Bill led us along his route that got us over the highway bridge and loop around to start the climb up Rancho California Road.
I was last through the light at the intersection and kept falling farther behind. I stopped as I neared the first bend in the climb to take some photos of the snow capped San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains; the views were breathtaking. I slowly spun up around the bend when I saw Shawn coming back down towards me. He did a quick U-turn and I got on his wheel. He pulled me up around the next curve and up over the top of the climb, coaching me to breath and pace myself while he pedaled faster and I died staying on his wheel. We roped in a number of the other riders and flew down towards the designated stopping point at the start of De Luz Road. Shawn helped get me there quickly, but I burned a few matches.
The next ten miles to the De Luz Elementary School was where we expected to find all the wet roads with possible sand, dirt and gravel. The group started out together but I fell off the pace and took a very conservative route through a number of the low lying ramps, many of which were wet; some were like a small creek. The roads were wet and littered with debris as well; better to be safe than sorry. I lost touch with the group but safely made my way to the school. It was now nice and warm, the sun was out and the skies were very blue; I kept on most of my warm gear. Easier to wear it than try to stow it in my packets.
The next ten miles were going to be tough. The climbs along De Luz Road and the big climb up to Fallbrook. Shawn, Bill, Shawn D and John were the strongest of the group. We all started together but spread out along the route. There was little car traffic, the roads were pretty clean and it was a nice day to be out on a bike. Tony and I stayed close together with Quoc just a bit behind us. We are rolled into Fallbrook and then went as a group down S. Mission Road, turning onto Olive Hill Road. The same duo of Bill and Shawn were on point. I eventually closed to their wheel and we flew down Olive Hill all the way to Highway 76 for a last designated stop at the gas station. I spent the last of my matches on that final stretch and was not motivated to tackle West Lilac back up and around to finish the ride.
Fortunately others in the group smelled the finish and we all opted for the more tame Camino Del Rey section back towards Gopher Canyon. Shawn was on point the entire 5 miles, many of us got new PR’s simply by hiding in the paceline. We flew fast to Old 395, then turned south. Shawn and Bill turned back to sweep up the stragglers while the rest of us rode back to the cars.. I looped up a bit and eventually rode back to the campground, my secret parking lot. The bikes were a bit dirty and the legs a bit tired, but it was a great ride. We rode about 65 miles with 5,500 feet of climbing. Thanks to Shawn and Bill for pulling us along. I took a few photos and they are in the link below.