"Where did you go to, if I may ask?' said Thorin to Gandalf as they rode along.
To look ahead,' said he.
And what brought you back in the nick of time?'
Looking behind,' said he."
- JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit.
Looking back at 2013 on the bike...
1. Camino del Aguilar up Starvation Mountain: What can I say? It's scenic beyond belief, insanely steep for most of the way and no traffic at all to speak of. If only I live closer to Poway or Escondido I'd be riding that thing every week!
2. Millar Ranch & Miller Ranch Rds up Mt San Miguel: Another beastly climb with heavenly view and no traffic at all. A real mountain right on the outskirt of the city!
3. Montezuma Valley Rd (Montezuma Grade or hwy S22): Arguably the most scenic stretch of highway in San Diego County, and a great cat 1 climb to boot. Alas, it's quite far away from me even when taking public transportation part of the way, so I don't get to enjoy it often. And it's way too hot to attempt for much of the year. Winter is a great time to buzz up and down the Glass Elevator and visit Borrego Springs, though.
4. Harris Trail - De Luz Heights - Joan Ln - Cathy Ln variation from De Luz Rd: A lot of people ride the De Luz loop, but not many venture into the little gem that is De Luz Heights! From south to north this string of narrow country lanes is a scenic delight. From the opposite direction, a chain-stretching quads & lungs busting twisty series of all-too-vertical walls that makes your bike wish it's a goat.
5: Old Julian Hwy from Santa Ysabel to Ramona: Compared to the others on this list, this is a gentle climb when heading east and a lovely curvy descent when heading west. Gorgeous views along the way with lots of exotic animals sighting opportunities!
|Camino del Aguilar on Starvation Mountain.|
|Eagle Rock off PCT and Camino San Ignacio on Hot Springs Mountain.|
|The view west from the top of Mt Woodson.|
|Twisty Miller Ranch Rd winding its way up San Miguel Mtn.|
|Daily Rd & De Luz Heights view from Joan Lane.|
Favorite San Diego weekend cycling groups:
1. Team Fun (sponsored by Carbon Connection Cyclery in Carlsbad): Rides start and finish at Carbon Connection Cyclery in Carlsbad. Usually starting at 8am Saturday or Sunday. This is an all-girls ride, but sometimes nice guys are welcome. The fast group goes really fast (20+ mph on the flat) and do challenging routes in the 40-60 miles range. Intermediate group go at a less taxing pace (around 15 mph) at 30-50 miles or so. The beginners group is 'no drop' and usually stay along the coast.
|What could be more FUN than going riding on Saturday morning???|
2. Sunday Road Riders (sponsored by Cal Coast Bicycles in University Heights): Rides start at 8am Sundays at Cal Coast Bicycle, whether in one or two or three groups depends on group size.
|No one left behind on Sunday Road Riders rides!|
3. LUNA Chix San Diego Cycle: Sponsored by LUNA bar with a mission to encourage women to outdoorsy activities to stay healthy, and to raise fund for the Breast Cancer Fund, the LUNA Chix is a team of wonderfully supportive gals who ride safely and take great care of all ride participants.
|A little LUNA push makes the hill more manageable.|
Memorable Cycling Moments:
1.On one of my rides around De Luz I stopped for a snack break off the side of Harris Trail when a big branch in the tree nearby did a giant sway. I turned around and saw... this.
|A home-building red-shouldered hawk???|
2. Zig-zagging my way very agonizingly slowly up the hideously steep trail to Lake San Marcos radio towers in 90F heat with all sort of curse words bouncing inside my overheated head, and finally cresting the final ramp only to find all view blocked by the radio tower complex.
|Guess I should have looked at the view while I was climbing, but when the climbing is all 10-20% grade, looking around was easier said than done!|
|Hippy & Chris on Hillside trail on Mt Soledad.|
4. Getting dropped by Team Fun advanced group about 25 miles into our ride somewhere in Rancho Santa Fe. It was great! I had spent much of the year being the big fish in small ponds, so to speak, and not pushing myself for more speed, so being tested beyond my limit every so often is a wonderful thing. The nice lasses will try to excuse my blowing halfway into a ride with the fact that I had had a 35 mile ride in before their ride began, but truth be told I don't think I could have held their pace for another 25 miles even if I had taken the Coaster in instead. Being able to hang with them at their pace for the entire ride is a goal I'm aspiring to for 2014, though. Considering how the lasses could do sub-5 hrs century (which they did at the Palm Desert Century just a short while ago), that's going to take quite some work!
|Team Fun advanced crew speeding along Paseo Delicias in Rancho Santa Fe.|
5. Climbing Palomar Mountain by unpaved Nate Harrison Grade and running into ice and snow 1000 ft from the top. It wasn't bravery that landed me in that plight, but the sheer lack of good sense! I had known about Nate Harrison Grade for a long while as the gnarliest route up Palomar Mtn. It being a dirt road and me only owning a road bike made the climb a bit dicey, though waking up way too early one winter morning I decided on a whim to have a go.
|Twisty Nate Harrison Grade from about half way up.|
|Had to make it to the top just because I really didn't want to go down Nate's dirt road on a pair of 25mm slick tires!|
|My persimmons goddess on Valley Center Rd!|
6. During one of my easy-going Sunday morning rides with the Sunday Road Riders we were stopped at the traffic light on Navajo Rd at Jackson Dr in San Carlos when an SUV with open windows rolled to a halt beside us. In it were a pleasant young lad and his friendly mom. A few of us exchanged hellos with them and the boy enthusiastically declared that it was his fourth birthday. At that the whole peloton of us cyclists broke into the happy birthday song that ended with a roaring cheer and lots of bell ringing by yours truly.
|Beware of the singing peloton!|
7. Having my Jamul - Barrett exploration ride plan bombed by a cadre of local dogs who decided to escort me up Mother Grundy TT and refused to go home on their own!
|Are you comin'? Are you comin'?|
So what am I looking ahead to for 2014? Doing a few proper rando brevets and permanents, of course, and more fun rides with good friends and meeting more wonderful people on the roads (friendly pedestrians and cheerful drivers included). Hopefully also getting to explore more unfamiliar roads in various corners of San Diego and even Riverside Counties.
Local roads (in no particular order) on my 2014 hit list:
- Cuyamaca Lookout Rd
- North Peak Rd
- Snuz Mountain Rd
- Muth Valley Rd (off Wildcat Canyon)
- Barrett Smith Rd (off Hwy 94 east of Barrett Junction)
- Rainbow Hgts - Rainbow Crest Rd - Mt Olympus Valley Rds (in Rainbow)
- Stewart Crest Rd (north side of Monserate Mtn)
- Red Mountain Hgts Dr (Fallbrook)
- Alta Loma Rd (Jamul)
- Shogo Mtn Rd (De Luz Heights)
- Lyons Peak Rd... is very iffy. Even park rangers can't access that road nowadays.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone! Be safe and have fun on the roads!