Sunday, August 31, 2014

Over the Rainbow Crest on Road Bike (2 of 2)

Part 1: Pala Mission - Rainbow.

It took two hours to go just 7.5 miles!
I had never struggled so much and taken so long to go just 7 1/2 miles on a bicycle! By the time I emerged onto Rainbow Crest Rd from the Gomez Creek Rd's monster mile of agony it was a few minutes past 10 am. The sun was starting to melt the sunscreen into my eyes and the ice that I had put in my 'insulated' water bottles before the ride had lost its battle with the outside heat. But, but, that's only a small price to pay for setting foot on a rainbow, isn't it?

Looking back east on Rainbow Crest Rd just after the top of Gomez Creek Rd climb.
Heading WNW on the narrow tarmac lane of Rainbow Crest Rd from the top of Gomez Creek Rd toward Rainbow I was reminded yet again at how not-level/flat traversing a mountain ridge often is. True, the climbing is much more gentle now, but the occasional steep ramps interrupted whatever rhythm I had gotten myself into were all the more aggravating for it.

The well trimmed hedge lining Rainbow Crest Rd as it winds NW toward Rainbow proper.
There are plenty of view to compensate, though. The beautiful valley on the right (NE) side of the road, was strikingly bucolic in charming in a ‘remote Alpine village’ sort of way; acres of avocado and citrus orchards presided over by cute wooden or stone chalets along the moderately tamed mountain ledges. The air smelled of roses and other refreshing blooms in the roadside gardens.

NNW on Rainbow Crest Rd overlooking Rice Canyon.
The road finally turns north after a while and the exposed crest offers a broad view of the valley that houses Interstate 15. The roadside hedge thickens and I descended onto the charming three-way intersection where Rainbow Peaks, Rainbow Crest and Rainbow Heights Rds meet (I wonder if the locals just call them by the second words, omitting the ‘Rainbow’ bit altogether?). The question was, which of these ends in a pot of gold?

The junction of Rainbow Heights & Rainbow Crest Rds.
Rainbow Heights at Rainbow Peaks, Rainbow and Arouba Rds.
After spending a few minutes in the lovely roadside shade refreshing myself while looking around in vain for a stray leprechaun to interrogate I decided that the day was still young enough for a side excursion before heading back down to earth. A right turn it was, and then another slight right down the gentle curves of Rainbow Rd for the dead-ender by the name of Mt Olympus Valley Rd.

Mt Olympus Valley Rd branching east from Rainbow Rd.
I had chanced on it Google-Earthing the route beforehand and found its street view rather fetching. I’m afraid in real life it is rather not spectacular enough for its short length, however. There is no proper street sign where it branches east from Rainbow Rd, but a white wooden ‘Mt Olympus Estates’ sign by Sunshine Properties marks the spot. Sling-shot down the steep little dip, then up a couple of curves around a couple of really big houses before the road dead ends in a cul-de-sac by a Valhalla of a country house with a huge duck pond and white picket fence… and that was it, unless, of course, you are on a 4-wheel drive off-road vehicle or a heavy duty full-suspension mountain bike that can go up a rutted dirt trail to the top of the nearby peak.

Looking west from Mt Olympus Valley Rd at Mt Olympus & Rainbow Peaks Trail.
On the other (west) side of the valley is Mt Olympus itself, of course. It’s a striking looking peak with sharp white cliffs… and is serviced by the paved Rainbow Peaks Rd, though it also houses a women’s correction facility whose guards aren’t keen on visitors, even harmless ones on two wheels.

Descending beautiful Rainbow Heights Rd.
Looking west from near the top of Rainbow Heights Rd. Antennae-topped mountain right center is Red Mountain.
Re-tracing back to the three ways corner and then down winding and steep (about 8% average) Rainbow Heights Rd was not for the novice cyclists. The descent is quite technical with sharp blind turns and lots of cracks and potholes to dodge without there being many turn out opportunities (if the surface is well paved that wouldn’t be such a problem since good bike handlers would easily drop down that road faster than cars, but with the potholes what little car traffic there is soon catches up with you and there is just no room to pass).

Heading south on delightfully curvy Ranger Rd in Fallbrook.
View of I-15 from Ranger Rd.
A little photo stop at the Old Bridge across the San Luis Rey River on the ride home.
I decided to bail when I got back to the valley floor... That is what sometimes happens when you go on solo exploration rides and there isn't anyone aside from yourself to keep on torturing needlessly. I had planned on heading south on Rice Canyon Rd and then attempt a traverse of Monserate Mountain by way of little known Stewart Crest Rd, but it was now too close to noon and the sun had burnt off what little clouds the morning had thrown up. Not keen on suffering another super steep hiking-a-bike up unfamiliar mountain (and this one with a good chance of running into fenced gates at the top), in >90F heat, I opted to head down Rainbow Valley Blvd for the Old 395 into Fallbrook instead.

The fastest way home would have been to keep going downhill on Old 395 until the bus stop at Hwy 76, of course, but I still had some chubby weight to burn and some pride to uphold, so I went uphill a bit more on E Mission Rd before taking a left onto the irredeemably twisted delight that is the downhill direction of Ranger Rd. The fun came to a stop at Reche Rd, which I took west until I could get on Mission Rd again to speed to the coast on Hwy 76 and then the much more tranquil San Luis Rey River Trail... and the straight forward coastal ride back to town on the PCH. It summed out to be a bit over 92 miles ride whose elevation gain per mile ratio would have been much more respectable had I toughed it out and came home via the inland route instead.

Oh well, there's always another day!

Friday, August 15, 2014

What a bloody week of San Diego Cycling!

This week has been pretty horrendous for San Diego cyclists in terms of 'accidents'.

Last Saturday, Aug 9th, the Southern California randonneur community lost a great friend and rider when Matthew O'Neill (formerly of Chula Vista, but has been living in Carpinteria while completing is PhD study at UC- Santa Barbara) was hit and killed by a car driven by a teenager while cycling on Foxen Canyon Rd in Santa Maria. Like other randos he was lit up like a Christmas tree and obeying traffic laws, but there isn't much a cyclist can do when drivers decide to not give him the safe space of at least 3 feet... Why is that so much to ask when the consequence is the loss of an upstanding and kind human being just a year shy of a doctorate degree with so much to live for?

On Tuesday morning one of my riding partners was riding at the tail end of a group through Valley Center when he was clipped by a close-passing car (that didn't even have the decency to stop) and ended up with two fractured vertebrae, a concussion and a slew of road rashes on his face and limps. He was lucky to not be more seriously injured and that there were other cyclists around to help, and is now home after spending two nights at Palomar Medical Center.

On the same day a bunch of cyclists from the San Diego Bicycle Club riding laps around Fiesta Island was hit by a drugged out driver speeding her car the wrong way on the one-way road. Eight were injured, one, Juan Carlos Vinolo, remains in critical condition. The driver appears to live in her car and is un-insured... so it isn't likely that she will be covering the medical bills of all the folks she injured. (You can help Vinolo pay for his likely to be astronomical medical bills at Gofundme, though!).

ALL taxpayers own the roads no matter if they are driving or cycling or even just walking. The road belongs to everyone. The driver's license and car-related fees just allow you to operate a car on the public road, because your car can easily cause damage or even kill other people... along with causing most of the pavement damages. Giving cyclists AT LEAST 3 feet of space when passing is not only common sensical and a decent thing to do, it is also the law (especially after September 16th).

A last word on the issue... Cyclists do not cease to be human beings when they get on the roads (that they help pay for and use and damage a lot less of it than drivers do), but some drivers cease to be human beings when they get behind the wheel of a car and instantly lose the sense of responsibility for the well being of others around them.