Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fun Time In Valley Center: Part 2: Bates Nut Farm, Lilac & back to Escondido

Part 1: (Paradise Mtn, Hellhole Canyon & Lake Wohlford Castle Lookout.

Team Fun was (as to be expected after a long-ish climb) scattered a bit with Heather K, Judy, Jill & Andy in the lead group, zooming through at great speed. A few seconds later came Julie, Ariel, Dee & John, then my steepie-climbing partner the Vzrd and Sian bringing in the rear. I snapped a few shots as they rolled by before scrambling back on the bike to play catch up.

Heather K, Judy, Andy & Jill on Lake Wohlford Rd.
The lead and the chasing group in the process of disappearing up N Lake Wohlford Rd.
Being a smorg, however, means that instead of immediately hitting N Lake Wohlford Rd in hot pursuit of my favorite cycling fun gals I made a pit stop at Smokey's Lake Wohlford Cafe even though it wasn't Friday and there was no all-you-can-eat catfish deal to be had... then (they have since expanded that to an everyday deal!). It was getting to be a warm day and they have fountain drinks sold by very fetchingly engaging staff. I just couldn't resist!
Smokey's Lake Wohlford Cafe.
Smokey's Halloween bar mate.
Smokey's cozy and well spooked out interior.
I shot off a little text to Judy (Team Fun's B group ride leader for the day) before hopping back on the Smorgmobile and zoomed after my cycling buddies. Traffic was really picking up now and I found myself doing a lot of control & release maneuver on the uncomfortably narrow and shady N Lake Wohlford Rd.
Step trail to Lake Wohlford Lookout.
The merry gang at Bates Nut Farm.
Turning left(west) onto Woods Valley Rd on a weekday or almost any other time of year would normally be quite a relief in traffic compared to staying on N Lake Wohlford Rd into what's locally known as the Gamblers' Loop (casino-rich narrow highways servicing Valley View, Harrah's, Pauma, Pala and Pechanga casinos). But this was the weekend before Halloween and Bates' Nut Farm was THE pumpkin patch to go on this side of Escondido and soon there wasn't a stretch of empty pavement to be found. Team Fun's fun gals were patient, though, and waited for me at the extremely busy Bates' and we had quite a merry reunion, so to speak.
After a bit of looking around and chatting up unsuspecting firemen who were out fundraising for charities we took off again, west with traffic to Valley Center Rd, which was quite less busy north of Woods Valley turn off. Yours truly hung in the back under the pretense of picking up the 'sweeper' job while in fact I was starting to feel the effect of a morning spent cycling (mostly)up and down hills and was doing my best to draft while I could (since my ride wouldn't end at Welk Resort like the group's would).

We turned west on beautifully repaved (with still not much shoulder to ride on) Lilac Rd and suffered our way up the steeper pitch on Old Castle Rd (not quite my preferred cycling road due to traffic, but you can't have everything your own way!) before enjoying the fast and curvy downhill run to Champagne Blvd (Old 395). I had hoped to sneak in a mid-downhill stop for a new good pic of the Woreland Castle in the Pamoosa Valley on the south side of the road, but Sian and I were being passed by a couple of trucks just then and it just wasn't safe to do a pull-out maneuver.
Heading west on Lilac Rd in Valley Center.
Looking back east on Old Castle Rd just before the crest.
We re-grouped at the Champagne Blvd intersection and had uneventful last couple of miles back to Welk Resort where I had multiple offers of a car ride back to Escondido Transit Center (because I have awesome friends!). Being a lot of a mule that I am, though, I turned them down and went circling about Welk Resort's little shopping center looking for a way of getting into the Pizza Hut there (they were repaving the sidewalk and had that place surrounded by ropes! A few other people were also walking around trying to find their way in to the restaurant from the shops next door. Hungry folks can be really persistent, I tell you!).

Fortified with pizza and iced soda in my insulated water bottles I headed back south on Champagne Blvd which turns into Centre City Pkwy upon entering Escondido. It's marked as a bike route, I think due to the presence of a wide bike lane, but I really wouldn't recommend riding on this thing for longer than a block since it keeps getting interrupted by uncontrolled merging lanes! After braving a few of those I gave up and scooted one block east to continue south on the quite safer-to-cycle Escondido Blvd instead.
Rolling back to Welk Resort north of Escondido.
Heading south on Champagne Blvd to Escondido didn't earn me any level-ground riding!
Cycling-unfriendly high speed Centre City Pkwy... and its many uncontrolled on/off ramps.
If only I'm a more dedicated randonneur I would have cycled all the way home, but hot weather made me lazy and so I hopped on bus 235 instead. It was another good day on the bike, especially since I got to spend part of it with such fun friends!

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Thanks for stopping by. Be safe on the roads!