I have done the Great Western Loop (GWL) and climbed up cat. 2 Honey Springs Rd a few times on my own, though I had never tried riding on Campo Road/Hwy 94 from Rancho San Diego to Otay Lakes Road... and probably wouldn't try it alone. Call me a chicken, but to connect to Honey Springs Rd from Otay Lakes Rd you have to spend a hundred meter or so on Hwy 94, and that little stretch alone is enough to scare me off soloing any significant bit of that narrow two-laned highway between San Diego and the turn off for the Mexican border in Tecate. There is hardly any road shoulder to ride on, and the road is too curvy and over-populated with speeding semi trucks and RVs for yours truly. Being in a group would help, though, I thought, if I can manage to be in the middle of the line of cyclists rather than at the slow end of it (so the trucks and RVs would spot the others and know to expect more cyclists on the road by the time they get to me, see?).
Anyhow, we went off a bit late since one of guys that signed up for the ride pulled a no-notice no show on us. An icky thing to do to stand up a group on a hilly ride like this! If you ever sign up to ride GWL or Honey Springs Rd in the summer & fall months, call the group if you have to bail out and don't make them wait. It gets really hot on the climb and even 20 minutes delay can make all the difference in the world!
|Rolling east on Otay Lakes Rd on a hazy morning.|
On the east shore of Otay Lake sits Nichols' Field, a little landing strip that is home to Skydive San Diego. Its little clubhouse contains Lemon Drop Cafe (food & drinks) and a row of really nice port-a-toilets (I mean, deluxe level port-a-toilets! They even have wash basin with tap water!). It, along with the Pio Pico general store at the campground another 3 or so miles up the road, are the only watering spots along this east end of Otay Lakes Rd.
|Honey Springs Rd climbing up toward Lyons Peak, the rocky peak on the left side of the road.|
|Looking back down Honey Springs Rd|
|The Honey Springs Rd 'Dip'|
|Mother Grundy Truck Trail turn off on Honey Springs Rd|
|Honey Springs Rd at Jacob's red barn.|
|Deerhorn Valley fire station with water faucet on its left wall|
|Looking south on Honey Springs Rd from DV fire house. The tall rocky peak is Bratton's Peak (Eagle's Nest), actually on the near side of the road (it curves right at the white tree).|
|Honey Springs Rd crests at Barber Mountain Rd.|
|Heading NE on Lyons Valley Rd. Gaskill Peak in left background.|
|Equestrians preparing for a ride in Barrett Valley area|
|Lyons Valley Rd carving its way northeast toward Japatul|
|View east of Lyons Valley Rd as it nears Japatul.|
|Re-grouped at Japatul Rd junction|
|Heading east on Japatul Rd after descending The Wall|
|Loveland Reservoir from Japatul Rd. Looking rather anemic.|
A left turn at Harbison Canyon Rd junction to stay on Dehesa Rd and through the Singing Hills neighborhood of Rancho San Diego. No photos from this bit of the ride, I'm afraid. Too downhilly followed by too trafficky for me to fish the camera out. By now everyone was running low on water again, so we veered into Cottonwood Golf Course along the way to patronize its well stocked clubhouse to-go bar. I was so content, resting in the shade while nursing a cup of iced Sierra Mist, that I totally forgot to take photo there, too...
|Heading back SE on Steele Canyon Rd.|
|Campo Rd/Hwy 94 between Rancho San Diego & Jamul has a decent shoulder to ride on.|
|The 'Phantom Hill' on Campo Rd/Hwy 94 heading into Jamul|
|Elvis was here! In Jamul!|
|When the road shoulder disappeared on Campo Rd/Hwy 94 SE of Melody Ln|
|The view sure is good off Campo Rd|
It was a relief when we finally turned right onto Otay Lakes Rd for the home stretch of the trip. Everybody was dragging a bit by this point, though I was familiar enough with the area to have saved some reserve just for the next 9 miles of strong headwind back to the west side of the lake, and did some serious pulling. That didn't help keep the group together, however. I wanted to stay just ahead of the two gals in our group that were struggling a bit, but I didn't dare losing touch with the two guys who were forging on ahead either, because they didn't know the route and I was afraid that they would miss the Wueste Rd turn off to go back to our start point.
|Back west (and into the wind) on Otay Lakes Rd|
|Up another Olympic Pkwy roller toward the finish!|
After this ride I was reminded of how difficult leading a group ride of this caliber must be, though. I really was spoiled when I started doing group rides with the LUNA Chix last year (they're predominantly woman riders, but they also welcome guys who will stay with the group rather than going off on attacks) since they always have at least 3 lead riders taking care of the group (a lead rider heading the way, a sweep rider at the back of the pack, and an intermediate rider who makes sure everyone makes the right turns along the route). Perhaps only 2 lead riders are enough for shorter and easier rides, but on punishing hilly ones like this ride you'd either need a marked course or a third, I think... That, or making all the riders study the route before hand!