De Luz Ride Report-19 January 2019

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Monster Climbs XII Ride Report

Monster Climbs XII-21-24 June 2018.docx

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descenders June 30 Double Peak Ride report

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.

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Faces of Soledad Ride Report

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.

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Oceanside and Inland Ride

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.

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DeLuz Ride Report

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.

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Tucson Cycling Trip-13-17 April 2018

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.

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HVR & OJH Ride Report

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.

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SPP, Mussey, HVR & Del Dios Ride Report

SPP, Mussey, HVR & Del Dios Ride Report-18 March 2018

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Hermann, John A, John M, Quoc, Oleg, Neil B & Rob

Late winter rains forced us to move our group ride from its usual Saturday spot to Sunday morning. Tony lined up a local ride for the group to tackle. I was late getting going so did not meet anyone on the 56 bike path as I pedaled over to Spring Meadow. It was a crisp early spring morning, but there were some rays of sunshine poking through the clouds trying to warm up the day. I dropped off at Mike Hodges house his new bibs but did not see anyone yet…thought I might have a lonely ride ahead. Fortunately there was a small contingent waiting for me at the 7-11 store. Oleg was able to join us since the ride was on Sunday and he did not have any camping trips for the weekend. We also had Neil B out for the first time since his crash on highway 67 down in Lakeside. Neil was not sure he was ready for a Ranchos ride yet.

In all, we had seven riders ready to head toward SPP. We spread out on the climb with Neil B, Oleg and John A pushing the pace. After a regroup at highway 67, we headed north. I quickly saw why the Descenders have not ridden along 67 in almost a year. The rumble strips on the side of the road make it very challenging. There is also a new guardrail that narrows the road as you climb towards the Poway Grade light. Traffic is going faster and seem more concerned about center barrier plastic tubes than cyclists on the right side of the road. It is a bit of a scary section of road, all the way until you get to Mussey Grade. We did a quick regroup at the top of the 67 climb by Mt Woodson and Oleg/Hermann took turns pulling us to Mussey, impressive power.

On the descent, Neil B, Oleg and Hermann pushed the pace. John A, Quoc and I hid as well as we could; John M rode in his parallel universe. We stopped to enjoy the views of San Vicente Reservoir at the bottom of Mussey Grade and took a few photos. The recent rains brought out the lush green hillsides on the horizon, beauty day. The climb up was at a fairly pleasant pace and we regrouped before riding over to HVR. We held a nice paceline until Neil B picked up the pace, we held it together at the faster pace until the turn towards the middle school. I was hiding on a wheel and still managed a PR for a segment. The group split a bit more on the rollers before the descent of HVR. Neil B and Oleg headed out first. Hermann, John A, Quoc and I rolled when the group got together. John M continued in his parallel universe.

A few cars distracted us from a nice smooth and fast descent of HVR, but we still flew down one of our favorite local roads. John A and I caught Oleg and Neil on the flats as we rode to Pomerado. At the light, Hermann and Neil B turned left while Oleg, John A and I turned right and over the Lake Hodges pedestrian bridge. Quoc soon followed; John M rode home via Bernardo Center Road. We stopped at the gas station for water before riding onto Via Rancho Parkway to Del Dios. Quoc turned towards Harmony Grove to go abuse himself on Double Peak while Oleg, John A and I rode on Del Dios to RSF where I was able to capture a quick good-bye wave from Oleg as he headed for the coast. Oleg got in over 90 miles by the time he cruised home. John A and I returned to PQ via Three Witches and got back home with 67 miles and 4,800 feet of climbing; a fun Descenders Sunday ride. Photos in the link below.

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Oceanside & Sleeping Indian Ride Report

Oceanside & Sleeping Indian Ride-24 February 2018

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Sheehan, Bob P, Rick W, Garet, Len, John M, Marisa & Andrey, Ethan, Tony, Bill & Peggy, Hodges, Bill W & Rob

It was a cold start to the the ride. I pedaled to meet the group at CDS, where Proulx also joined us. We had not seen Marisa & Andrey for a number of rides; they came with their friend, Ethan. Bill Wood was out again to ride with his US buddies. It was sunny, but cold; everyone was bundled up well. It was super cold in my wimpy view; I could have used a jacket to cut the wind. We cruised on the bike path and headed for the coast, picking up Len along Carmel Valley.

We all rode mostly together up through Del Mar to meet Bill & Peggy on the corner as we rolled into Solana Beach, the group was now more than a dozen strong. We did well until we passed Las Olas & Ki’s, when Ethan hit a sunken manhole cover and flatted. I pushed hard to get the group to stop while Andrey stopped to help fix the tire. We stopped just past the goofy surfer statue. Many decided to continue to roll north. Rick W, Bob P, Sheehan, Bill B and I stopped and chatted. Garet decided to turn back and take Manchester back to his home. The tire was finally fixed and we spun north on the 101. Rick W kept the paced spirited, everyone did some pulls. Bob and Sheehan turned at La Costa, where we met up with Tony. Our small group sped up into Carlsbad where we saw Marisa and Bill W stopping for coffee; Andrey & Ethan joined them.

The rest of us cruised into Oceanside and regrouped at the bathrooms on the harbor. It was sunny and a pretty day, bright blue skies and lots of boats. We took a few group shots and everyone said they were riding inland. Everyone except Rick W.; we convinced him to join us. We had riders 8 heading to Sleeping Indian. Rick was on point and did the lions share of the effort along the San Luis Rey path. He kept going straight toward home when we took the turn to Old River Road, the climbing was about to begin. We all spread out on the climb up Sleeping Indian and regrouped near the top. I took then point but missed the turn onto Morro Hills, we all just kept pedaling to the very end of Sleeping Indian. It added a few miles as we crossed Burma Road and rode the full length of Olive Hill to the gas station down by highway 76. After a short water break, we rolled out again to Little Gopher Canyon Road, then hit Gopher and turned right onto Twin Oaks Valley; more climbing. The views on the climbs and from the tops were awesome, definitely a highlight of the ride.

We all made our way down to Deer Springs and then Tony led us towards Cal State San Marcos where we turned onto Barham Dr. and rode towards Escondido. Tony had us take the bike/walking path that eventually connected into town and hit Centre City Parkway. Tony turned a few streets before us to get home. I took the turn first and headed fast towards the mall. Apparently Hodges flatted at the corner and I never saw the group again. The winds increased, the temperatures seemed to drop and it was a brisk ride back past Lake Hodges and 4S, behind Black Mountain and finally to my house. I did a fly-by and noticed I rode past Bill & Peggy’s street about 12 minutes before they finally got there. I know Hodges followed my route and went all the way down Black Mountain, John M should have gone that way too. Len had to ride back towards the coast to get his car. Long rides for everyone. My Garmin said about 85 miles and 4,300 feet of climbing, legs felt that for a few days. Some nice photos are in the link, come out and ride sometime!

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Five Faces of Soledad Ride Report

Five Faces of Soledad Ride Report-10 February 2018

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Tony, John M, Shawn, Garet, Monica, Guido, Don, Rob, Len, Neil & John

Most of the riders met along the 56 bike path. We started with a handful of Descenders and also had Don, an ex-Rancho who has ridden with us before, join us. It was Garet’s 40th birthday, so Happy Birthday to Garet! We had a slight tailwind, so Guido and John M pushed the pace and flew along the bike path. Neil met us as we got closer to the coast, he had parked on top of Soledad and rode towards us.

We all climbed inside Torrey Pines and met up with Len before pedaling off for La Jolla Shores. Garet looped back home first by going straight on Genessee Road to celebrate the rest of his birthday with his family. There were lots of riders out on the road. It was a nice day for climbing. Guido left us as we started our first ascent of Soledad. Neil took off and sped up the hill and we all eventually regrouped at the top. Neil’s brother, John, now joined the ride as well.

Hodges just cannot get enough of the Descenders. He was not on his bike, but had his family and out of town guests at the top "sightseeing" as we all regrouped following the climb. Riders started to head out as Shawn and Don descended Via Carpi while the rest of us rode down to to begin the climb of Country Club Road. Once again, Neil flew off the point and disappeared while the rest of us powered up the climb. John and Monica were both very strong on the climbs. We stopped for bananas and water before heading back down for the third ascent.

Once we all got back to Soledad Mountain Road, we headed down to tackle Pacifica. John M was grinding out the climbs on his new Fuji but it only had a 25 rear cassette, he was cooked after the 4th climb. Back at the top of Soledad, it was only the two Rintoul brothers, Len, Tony, Monica and Rob left to head to Via Valverde for the fifth face of Soledad. Legs were hurting but we all made it back to the top before heading towards home.

Len went towards Soledad Mountain Road, Neil and John kept riding while I descended down Via Capri. I thought Tony & Monica would be with me, but they were gone. I slowly climbed Calle Del Oro and turned towards UCSD campus. I thought about riding through campus when Tony & Monica caught up to me. We pedaled back towards Torrey Pines, descended to the beach and rolled along Carmel Valley Road. I was pooped and hid behind Tony as he did most of the work.

We got back to the bike path and made our way towards PQ. I bailed to get back home while Monica and Tony had to ride back to Poway and beyond to get home. My ride was only about 60 miles, but the 5,800 feet of climbing was a good workout; another great day for a Descenders ride. The link below are the photos from the ride.

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HVR, Mussey & Pamo Ride Report

HVR, Mussey & Pamo Ride Report-3 February 2018

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Sheehan, John M, Bob R, Rick W, Jim W, Garet, Justin, Tony, Bill & Peggy and Rob

Tony set up the ride to have the group climb up HVR to avoid Highway 67. I pedaled over alone from PQ because I was late to meet Jim W. It was a cold start to my ride but the sunny day warmed up nicely by the time we started our HVR climb. The group met on the corner of Pomerado and we pedaled off with a small group. John M was out on his new Fuji Transonic 1.1 carbon bike, he is suggesting that Fuji be the new required club bike; I am good with that. Rick W flatted within the first two miles due to a large staple in his tire. While he fixed his tire, Garet and Justin joined us. The whole group now headed for the bottom of HVR, that road continues to deteriorate with more holes and cracks, gotta love our local infrastructure. Justin almost lost his front wheel in one large hole, the group motored on.

The climb started and we spread out as we headed up to Ramona. I tried to convince Bob R to ride up Camino Del Aguila since we had ridden up HVR just last Saturday. He wisely declined, so we all pedaled our way up to Archie Moore Road. We met up with Bill & Peggy at the top of HVR by the school. They said they started earlier than us to meet at the regroup spot, but I suspect that they were out doing some early HVR repeats in preparation for the Monster Climbs trip and Italy cycling adventure. They are both riding strong.

We all regrouped and then spun toward the end of HVR. Rick W took point and split the group in the final few miles to the light at Highway 67. Everyone turned right at the light to make our way to Mussey Grade. Garet and Justin kept going on 67 while the rest of the group turned left onto Mussey. It started benign enough, but the pace quickly lit up before we got to Dos Picos Park Road. Jim W, Rick W, Bob R and Dave S, with me hanging onto the last wheel; sped down the five mile Mussey descent. Everyone rotated to take a fast pull, except me; I hid the whole way to the bottom. The pace was over 28 mph average, lots of matches were burned. I took a couple of photos while screaming down and another photo of the four studs overlooking San Vicente Reservoir. The rest of the gang joined us for the climb back up.

I pootled along with Sheehan, who was still shaking off a cold. We had a momentary interaction with a local driver who kept honking at us along the quiet country road, Sheehan went to discuss the rules of the road with him while I waited for him at the corner of Dos Picos. We met back up with the group at the top of Mussey. Bob R had already headed home, Sheehan went back down HVR to get some business work done. Besides, he had already burned lots of matches on Mussey. The rest of us grabbed a quick water refresh at the gas station before cruising along Dye & San Vicente Roads. We cut through Ramona and made our way towards Pamo. Bill & Peggy had not ridden down ever before so we gave everyone a quick recap of the dangerous, off-camber corners. Everyone had a safe descent and we regrouped at the bottom. Everyone except John, he turned back early to climb up Pamo early. He made his way to the Ramona gas station and started back down 67 before Rick W and Jim W finally caught back up to him; his new wheels are fast!

I pootled up the climb with Tony & Peggy. I snapped a photo of Tony at the rock wall he knew all too well. He is riding great and not looking back. The day was warming up and we had gorgeous views of the valley. We regrouped with the rest of the gang and spun off towards Ramona. I decided to descend Ramona Grade and made my way home via Bandy Canyon, HVR and around 4S. It was a long 5 hours in the saddle, some awesome riding and over 77 miles with 5,600 feet of elevation. Another great Descenders group ride. The link below has the photos from the ride, enjoy and come ride with us soon.

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descenders HVR & OJH Ride Report

Highland Valley Road & Old Julian Highway Ride–27 January 2018

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Rick W, Tony, Garet, Bob R, Hermann, Shawn, Geoffrey M and Rob V

It was a bit brisk leaving PQ early enough to ride over to the RB start. We had a nice group ready to tackle HVR. We all rode together to the start of the climb and spread out, with Rick W and Garet charging up the climb first.

We all regrouped at the top. Garet, Bob Raibert and Geoffrey had other obligations so they rolled out along Archie Moore towards Highway 67. The rest of us finished the top section of HVR with Rick W pulling us along. At the main intersection light, Hermann turned right to ride Mussey Grade before going back home; we were down to four riders.

Rick pulled us along Dye Road and over to the start of the HVR climb. Shawn kept on Rick’s wheel while Tony and I backed off the pace. We all regrouped at the top of OJH. Tony was on his way to Santa Ysabel to tackle Mesa Grande, then Palomar and finally Cole Grade. He met up with Len, Jodie and Ruben in Santa Ysabel. He just finished, almost 110 miles and 10K of elevation, phew! Big ride Tony, well done.

We had some gusts of wind in our faces as we climbed OJH, so the descent back into Ramona was a quick one. Rick sped out while Shawn and I chased as best we could. We did a quick regroup at the gas station before retracing our ride along Dye Road to Highway 67. Shawn went straight back down HVR while Rick and I braved the open roads of Highway 67. Rick pulled me along and I hid on his wheel as best I could. We flew down Poway Grade and over to Twin Peaks before Rick turned for home. I pootled from there back to my house, just over 70 miles and 5K of climbing. I only captured a couple of photos…too cold. They are in the link below

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RSF, Del Dios & HVR Ride Report

RSF, Del Dios & HVR Ride Report-20 January 2018

by Rob Verfurth

Riders: Bill & Peggy, Bob P, Shawn D, Guido, John M and Rob

It was a nice, cold and sunny start to the ride. I met John, Guido and Shawn at Black MountainRoad. We picked up Bob P at Santaluz and then Bill & Peggy joined us at the top of Three Witches.

We spun quickly along Apajo and climbed to Stud Loop. Bob P pushed the pace as we spread out a bit before regrouping back at Del Dios. Guido, Bob and I pushed the pace until we started the climb, then Guido backed off. I caught back up to Bob before the Lake Drive turn, he kept going straight while I cruised down along the lake. I caught up to Bill & Peggy, who skipped Stud Loop, before all got back together at the corner of Via Rancho Parkway.

The section to the mall was a spirited pace, but we all hung close together. There was not much enthusiasm to climb HVR by some of the group. Bob, Guido, John and Shawn rode towards Pomerado while Bill, Peggy & I climbed the first mile of HVR. We descended Bandy Canyon, cut through Ysabel Creek Road and endured Milky Way, that road is one of the worst with lots of holes and ruts, along with no shoulder. The climb up Summit was nice, then a fast descent down Mary Lane and back past the mall.

We rode over the Lake Hodges bridge again and spun to the houses just south of Lake Hodges, where Bill and Peggy live. I tried to attack a segment, but the legs were not playing along. I was now alone for the final miles through 4S to get back home. Only 51 miles with 3,900 feet of climbing, but a fun ride. The link below shows the photos I took.

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