Heading east on San Elijo Rd across the San Elijo Hills is a favorite climb amongst local cyclists. From the intersection with Rancho Santa Fe Rd to the top the road rises three consistent miles at 6% grade; good little hill that gets even more sportive if you veer off on Double Peak Dr for a side trip to Double Peak Park. For the extra solid mile of 10% grade climb (it starts out gentle but kicks up to 12% for the last 1/4 mile to the top), the gorgeous mountaintop lookout with a nice parking lot, shaded rest area, outdoor amphitheater and nice restrooms with running water.
Cutting into San Elijo Rd from Questhaven Rd, however, involves shorter climbing at a steeper pitch so that turning onto the last 1/2 mile of San Elijo Rd felt much like a respite. The bike lane on the upper part of San Elijo Rd is quite decent (unlike the lower section of the road in University Commons area where it is more squeezed by the sidewalk and much disputed by bikes-unfriendly cars), then the descent down Twin Oaks Valley Rd to E Barnham is fabulously fast and smooth. I was running pretty low on water and was hoping to find a store or little restaurant on the right side of the road to fill up, but everything was on the left side of the wide road. I didn't feel like foraging for water fountain on the Cal State - San Marcos campus, however, and made the right turn onto La Moree with just a full small water bottle, figuring that I could just turn around on Coronado Hills Dr when I run out and it'd be a downhill coast all the way.
|San Elijo Rd, Coronado Hills Dr, Washingtonia Dr.|
|Washingtonia - Indian Ridge Rd to the last car gate near top of Mt Whitney.|
|Discovery Lake and the trail up the mountain.|
Morning was getting quite sunny and old, so finding the nice restroom and water fountains on the top side of the parking lot at Discovery Lake was something of a deliverance for yours truly (after all, there was no water stop whatsoever on Mt Whitney, friendly looking local residents not withstanding). There are two paths leading to Discovery Dam, if you are on bike, you're better off taking the upper trail on the left than the lower one that goes straight in from the parking lot, since the planks on the bridge across the causeway run perpendicular rather than parallel to the path. On the far side of the dam the paved trail pitches uphill in a couple of zigzag curves and gives quite a spectacular view of the lake from above. Pedaling up yet another double digit gradient road/trail does get old rather quickly, but every little distractingly beautiful view really help!
|The steep paved trail from La Plaza to the radio towers on top of San Marcos Hill.|
The first bit of the trail is quite narrow and lined by avocado orchards (which means, of course, sticky fruits on the pavement!). None of that helped with the 14% gradient. A bit after the right elbow turn the path is completely blocked by a heavy gate secured by about a million locks (no, really, look at the photo above!) that I had to half toss the bike over and then squeezed my skinny cyclist body by the little opening on the left side - I swear, the thing is only a little over a foot wide! - recovered my bike and then figured out how to hop on and start pedaling again up a 15% grade slope on a path that was only about 4 ft wide!
The view opens up quite nicely on the right side as I struggled up the steep slope. There were a few pot holes to swerve around along with little patches of loose gravels. After a false summit overlooking Lake San Marcos, the steepest pitch of all came at the last switchback up to the radio towers (it was something quite close to 20% grade), which I labored over only to find no view whatsoever awaiting me at the top! You see, the Cerro de Las Posas where the radio towers are is really a cerro. There was only enough level-ish space for the towers and nothing else, so the entire view to the west (over the lake) is blocked by the towers, and the only way to reap the splendid visage around the place is to... roll back down the hill a bit.
You wouldn't think that would be such a big deal until you see how steep the drop on either side of the radio towers complex is! By this point of my ride my legs were quite shot, it was close to noon and the sun was getting quite maddeningly hot, so I said 'Screw it!' and opted to head east down the Ridge Line Trail toward Double Peak instead.
|Cerro de las Posas - Double Peak Ridge Line Trail.|
|Ridge Line Trail ends at Double Peak Drive.|
|San Dieguito Heritage Museum, Swami Garden, Torrey Pines Lodge animals.|