Monday, March 15, 2010

Mont Palomar – awesome!!!

One of my favorite cycling adventures is going to a new location and riding its most infamous climb.  When cyclists visit Sonoma County we ride King Ridge.  In San Diego, they take you up Mt. Palomar.

Climbing Mt. Palomar was very exciting to me.  I learned about it watching Stage 8 of the Tour of California last year.  As I watched the pro riders work their way up the switchbacks of the l’Alpe d’Huez of California I became infatuated.  I also knew that one day I would have to climb this mountain for myself.

As a result of my infatuation, Mt. Palomar became a focal point of the San Diego road trip.  However, it was going to come after two hard days of riding and I was concerned about how well my legs would hold up this early in the season.  The original plan called for climbing Mt. Figueroa on Thursday, Mt. Wilson on Friday and finally, Mt. Palomar on Saturday.  Each one of these climbs included 4,500 feet of climbing so you can see my concern.

Then our plans changed.  After dealing with the epicness (I love poetic license) of Mt. Figueroa, we headed towards Mt. Wilson.  On the way, Brian started checking the weather.  Friday was looking very nice for Mt. Wilson however Saturday’s forecast for Mt. Palomar was rain, snow and high winds.  We made the unanimous decision to climb Mt. Palomar on Friday.

DSC04573 There was one order of business to be conducted on the way to our hotel.  You see, the bikes were covered in mud and dirt from the Mt. Figueroa climb with its two miles of non-pavement.  Then Brian came up with the brilliant idea going to a coin-operated car wash.  He consulted his connection to life (his Blackberry) and found just such a place about a mile from the hotel.  We found it with no problems and $2.50 in quarters later the bikes were clean.  We never even took them off the car.

Finally, we checked into the hotel, found an awesome Italian restaurant for dinner, and then kicked back and relaxed.  Brian once again called on the powers of his Blackberry and started reading us stats.  Surprisingly, they helped.  Yes, it was a 13-mile climb but it never goes above 10% and averages 7.5%.  On Mt. Figueroa we dealt with long grades of 10% or more and topped out at 18%.  The bottom line, Mt. Palomar was beginning to sound like a climb where you could find a rhythm.

Friday morning brought more beautiful blue skies and soon we were in the car and on the road.  After a couple of hours, we pulled into the Indian Casino where we were staying and got ready to head out. 

DSC04575 For us, the climbing began 400 yards after we left the parking lot.  Then we each settled into our rhythm and started what would be two hours of climbing.  And climbing.  And climbing.  After 6 miles we turned left onto a smaller road with less traffic and climbed some more.  I was feeling great and any concerns about my strength vanished as I floated my way up the climb.

With a mile an a half to go, I finally started to feel the fatigue of two hard days in the saddle.  Still, I kept turning the pedals in a steady rhythm.  Finally, I looked up to the right and saw Tim’s Fitness Journal kit shining like a beacon from the top.  A few minutes later, I was there. 

DSC04590We all headed over to the restaurant and quickly consumed hot chocolates.  Then it was time to head back down.  Of course, it’s freezing so we put on every article of clothing we have, stuff newspapers into our jerseys, and start the descent.  A mere 30-minutes later we were once again enjoying our favorite recovery drink in the parking lot of our hotel.

There you have it.  Another great climb in the books.  To be honest, after the mud, wind and snow of Mt. Figueroa, Mt. Palomar was a fairly routine climb.  However, it absolutely lived up to all of my expectations and makes we want to find more mountains to climb.  In the meantime, I’ll remember the awesome day I spent on Mt. Palomar with friends.


PS. For those friends who know I am currently in Yosemite, I promise stories about that adventure next.

1 Comment(s):

dan said...

sounds like a FUN ride!!! and great call on the car wash!