Friday, November 14, 2014

To Crest By Unconventional Way

With the cooling weather I'm back to exploration rides out east. Last week the Vzrd and I decided to go check out a few paved cul-de-sac connecting trails just down the Granite Hills from Crest before going up to the little town on the hill itself through Crestridge Ecological Preserve.

We met up at the Santee Trolley Station on the coldest morning in months. Feeling the need to warm my limbs up in a hurry I led us over Rattlesnake Mountain, the home of the posh Sky Ranch housing development, instead of around it on our way east.
The sneaky steepie road up Rattlesnake Mtn.
We lucked out as we approached the bottom of the Sevilla Rd climb and got up the steeper alternate route instead. The first ramp of it averages close to 25% (it feels way worse than Illion St in Bay Park and Lucinda St in Pt Loma... though not quite as bad as Maria Ave's 32% grade block), and we had to dismount just a bit up to hike the bikes around a rope gate (and, of course, remount and restart on a 21% -ish slope). I only made it to the first switchback turn before dismounting again since the entire lane was covered with more broken glass than you would expect after a Greek wedding plate smashing party. The gradient mellows a bit after the first turn, though is still somewhere north of 17%. We had to tread quietly pass a house near the top before taking the exit ramp back onto Sevilla Dr... thankfully after the steepest part of the road.
Looking SW from the sneaky steepie up Rattlesnake Mtn.
Mt Woodson & Iron Mtn from Ocotillo Dr.
The beautiful curvy descent down Golden Ridge Dr.
By now we were quite beyond 'warmed up' and took it easy traversing to the east side of the compound and descending down the always beautiful (and car-free) Valley High Rd gated exit. A delightfully curvy downhill  run on Golden Ridge Blvd then took us into Lakeside where we picked up Los Coches Rd south toward the Vons shopping center on the south side of I-8. I had spotted a few paved trails connecting cul-de-sacs in the little residential area just north of the shopping mall and wanted to check them out. They turned out to be quite rad.
Connector from Harwick to Avenida del Charro
The steepie roller coaster connecting Braewood & Harwick.
After fooling around for a while the Vzrd and I decided that we had better get our acts together and get on our main objective for the day - riding up to Crest by way of probably-not-road-bike-friendly (but also completely traffic-free) Rios Canyon Rd through the Crestridge Preserve. Having taken our road bikes onto not-so-road trails before, we were quite curious as to how far we could manage to ride our mostly aluminum steeds before we would have to switch and let our steeds ride us.
First gate on Rios Canyon Rd.
Entering Crestridge Ecological Preserve... with posted rules.
Well, the switch happened quite soon, as it turned out, as the paved Rios Canyon Rd is doubly car-gated at its terminus and we had to do some bike-tossing to get to the other side. After the second such gate the road turned into a wide firm dirt fire-road as we entered the northern boundary of Crestridge Ecological Preserve (open to public, but with rules you can find in foto above).
A steepie dirt ramp to nowhere off Rios Cyn Rd/Trail.
Rios Canyon Rd creek crossing (a proper little stone bridge there).
A milder climb up Rios Cayon Rd/Trail toward Gibson Highland.
Having been so sluggish in getting up that morning I hadn't had the time to re-memorize the Google Earth overhead look of the area before leaving the house (I had perused it the night before, of course). It's amazing how different things can appear when viewed at ground level! Naturally, I got us a bit lost up and down some nasty steep dirt ramps to nowhere that we ended up having to retrace out of. We stayed on the 'path' at all time, of course, though we now know that not all paths lead somewhere. Back on the main Rios Canyon Rd/trail is quite road-bike-able, though requiring quite a bit of determination and good line-picking. We were lucky that it had rained in the area the week before, so much of the trail was firm enough for 25 mm road tires (there are short bits here and there that are too loose and steep, however). We spent most of our time climbing in the small ring and fish-tailing liberally when the slope get steeper than friendly.
Trail gate at Montana Serena Rd.
Leaving behind the gated Montana Serena complex on Gibson Highlands.
Looking back on Serena Montana Rd (looks sort of lightning bolt-ish doesn't it?) from Mountain View Dr.
After much moaning and groaning we rounded a curve to see a house and the lower concrete section of the ever tantalizing Montana Serena Rd straight ahead up the hill that meant we were on the right path. Another hike-a-bike around a car gate (with more Crestridge Preserve rules sign) and we found ourselves back in civilization, so to speak, at the right turn bend on the base of Montana Serena Rd. We were tempted to give the concrete steepie a go, but it was getting quite warm and we had taken too long to get there, so we passed on it and descended out of the gated complex onto Gibson Highlands and Mountain View Dr instead. It was now close to noon and we pedaled mainly on fume up into Crest, dreaming of all sort of fattening fuel we would treat ourselves to at Sonora, the only restaurant in that hilltop community. Alas, it was closed, so we went next door to the Rainbow Farms Market to score some drinks and snack instead.
Rainbow Farms Market in Crest.
This is why you should control the lane while descending La Cresta Rd. Look out for root bumps right center of lane when you see pine trees along side the road.
We made a well-excused and executed speedy descent down bike-unfriendly La Cresta Rd into the Granite Hill. You see, the downhill side of La Cresta Rd has only one lane and no shoulder, with 50 mph speed limit that encourages some really mentally-challenged driving. It's almost suicidal to 'share the way too narrow lane' with speeding cars. Your best bet of survival is to ride down the center the lane as fast as you could until it levels out and more shoulder appears for you to scoot aside.
Bike Path along SR67 to Cactus County Park.

Some farm fresh eggs and local honey at Buchman.
Having spent all morning on abysmal mileage, thanks to our dirt road adventure, we decided to inflate the ride a bit on our way back to Santee by swinging up to San Vicente and Buchman Eggs Farm off Moreno Ave for a dozen farm fresh a piece to take home (grade A large go for just $1.50 per dozen!). Call us a pair of gluttons, but there's nothing like a fresh omelette with honey for a post ride meal!

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Thanks for stopping by. Be safe on the roads!