Sunday, October 28, 2007

It Just Isn't Right

Jon, Gil and I went for a ride today, and we met up with "Alan" from the Pasadena Tri Club. (I asked Alan if he knew Tri Team Tammy. He said "of course". Tammy is the Kevin Bacon of triathlon, although with far fewer degrees of freedom.)

We met where I have started many rides before: Encanto Park in a quaint little part of Duarte. It's a nice place for a ride; you leave the park and cross a little bridge to get to the San Gabriel River Trail. You have to choose if you want to turn left or right on to the Bike Path. The choice is basically something like this:

So where do we always go? To the right, of course, and we have lovely little rides along the river. Well today Jon was leading the ride, which meant we had to turn left.

We took a winding mountain road up. And up. And up. It was 11 miles of climbing with just enough downhill sections to lull you into a false sense of security. After about an hour we came to a bridge at East Fork Road. Oh, I've never been so happy to see a bridge. Why? Because this meant we were turning off of the mountain pass and leveling off.

I have to admit, I was feeling pretty good. It was a decent climb and I made it. Jon told me we were going to ride about 20 minutes along this road to get to a store and refuel (yay!) and then we had a very difficult 6-mile climb.

Woah woah woah. Wait a minute. The 10-mile climb we just did was only a WARM-UP for the climb we were about to do? He had to be joking.

Turns out, Norwegians don't joke about altitude. We went to the store (yummy Snickers & Gatorade) and then started going up yet again. This time, there were no downhill breaks. It was all up. But I persevered and made it.

Putting things into perspective: During the first 11 miles of the ride up to East Fork road, we had a net gain of about 900 feet. We then rode up another 400 feet to get to the BOTTOM of Glendora Mountain Road. Then we climbed up another 1500 feet. Total gain of about 2800 feet from Encanto Park. My previous highest climb was probably around 1200 feet. (The dreaded "Nasty Grade" at Wildflower is "only" 1,000 feet valley-to-peak, but was steeper and in the middle of an already difficult ride; I say WF was tougher.)

I like to whine and complain, and in all modesty I'm pretty good at it. This would be the perfect place to end the story, with me tired and sore and hating Jon for putting us through all that torture. However, in the interest of full disclosure I should probably continue. You see, after climbing up one side of the mountain, we had to ride down the other side. As Gil put it, "This is where we drop like a brick." Let me set the scene: It was a winding mountain road overlooking a deep valley with a river at the bottom. It was slightly breezy so the air was crystal clear. Perfect temperature. And here's the clincher: because of the severe fire dangers, both ends of the road were gated off. There were no cars at all. None. Zero. We had 10 miles of downhill scenic mountain highway all to ourselves. I'm not real comfortable going fast but there were a few times when even I let go of the brakes for a while. It was one of the most unique riding experiences I've ever had.

At the bottom of the hill there was a forest ranger who yelled at us for riding in a restricted area and warned us that we could be cited for going through the gates. But no matter, we were already done.

Jon was right; it was an amazing ride. But next time, I'm turning right to get on the bike path.

Here's a very crude map of the route we took. My browser crashed when I tried adding too many data points. Total length of the ride was about 40 miles.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should turn left more often. You'll need it for IMCDA.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Left is definitely the way to go. Right is bad... always bad... Wait, this isn't the political forum is it... dang. Always get those two mixed up!

Glad you go out there! GMR is definitely one of the best rides in southern california!

10:34 AM  
Blogger Brent Buckner said...

Love the Disney mapping - really conveys the right/left dichotomy!

12:54 PM  
Blogger Iradoman said...

Welcome to the Jon's house of pain! Wanna ba an Ironman? Get use to it!

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You were a little quick with the symbols. I wonder what character you will use when we turn left (instead of right) at the top of GMR?

Another 2000 feet......., and there is always Crystal Lake too in case Baldy is not enough. We have lots of fun waiting.

You did outstanding by the way. Keep it up, I think some other regulars will have problems keeping up with you now.


6:39 PM  
Blogger Steve Stenzel said...

Nice ride! And I know what you meant by that last comment you let me, and I'm a little disturbed. Flattered, but disturbed..

7:13 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home