29 November 2008

Pathfinder Ranch to Idyllwild on the road

I went to the California Men's Gathering at Pathfinder Ranch over the Thanks Giving weekend. On Friday night there was a dance which I ended up co-DJing and even though I expected to be up early in the morning, I was up until well after midnight. So, on Saturday morning when I woke at about 6:30 I was still a bit groggy. I spent about 10 minutes rustling through my things trying to find all the clothing I needed for a ride in the chilly mountain air while trying to not wake the people who were sleeping in the dorm.

After locating all the clothes that I should have organized the night before, I headed to my car where my road bike was sitting patiently in the roof rack. Before I could ride, I had to clean the chain which had gathered enough dirt from the previous week's riding to seem a bit stiff. After cleaning and lubing, I plugged in the ear phones and headed down the road.

When I arrived the on Friday evening, I had gone the wrong way on highway 74, and made a round-about trip through Hemet rather than the more direct way through Anza. However, it was rather fortuitous as I decided to head up the 243 to Idyllwild before going to Pathfinder Ranch.

Just as I was driving through Idyllwild I saw Mary and Brendan Collier of Siren Bicycles. I had followed Mary's adventures on the Tour Divide race. There wasn't any real reason that I looked forward to reading about her daily exploits on that Canada to Mexico race other than that she was the only one from SoCal, so it was like rooting for the "hometown" team. Anyway, I had emailed her about a month before to inquire about riding in the Idyllwild area and her reply told me to contact her closer to the date I'd be in the area. However, when I did that, I didn't receive any reply. I don't know if it was because of troubles with my email account or because she just didn't reply, but seeing the two of them walking down the road made the communication about riding a bit easier if not forced. Had I not gotten stuck in traffic in Temecula and gone way out of my way, I wouldn't have seen them, so I'll thank my rationalization that since Idyllwild was north of Temecula, that I should take Highway 74 North rather than the 371 to 74 South.

We went to a coffee shop to chat and get to know one another. There was going to be a MtB ride on Sunday with some of their friends from Orange County. We exchanged phone numbers and I headed down the mountain. As I drove down, I became aware that past the obvious altitude difference between Idyllwild and Mountain Center at the intersection of Highways 74 and 243, there was an elevation change from the lower Mountain Center to the Keen Camp Summit and then a several mile elevation change from Keen Camp Summit to Lake Hemet.

So, when I got on my bike Saturday morning, I wasn't actually looking forward to the long climb from Lake Hemet to Keen Camp Summit that would be followed by the climb up to Idyllwild. But, I had about 13km to go from Pathfinder Ranch before I got to start climbing, and the road undulated sufficiently to warm my legs up fairly quickly.

The climb to Keen Camp Summit reminded me of climbing Torrey Pines, except that there is almost no shoulder on the road so, I kept watch in my mirror for cars that might cut the corners a bit tight. After I made it to Keen Camp Summit, it was a fast zip down to Mountain Center and then the real climbing started. Except, while it was 5 miles of solid non-stop climbing, I felt like it wasn't very difficult. Sure, it was a grind, but there never came a time where I felt like I needed to stop to rest.

I made it up the hill and to the coffee shop in Idyllwild in a bit over one hour. I sipped a coffee and skimmed through the front section of the newspaper (almost everything in the LA times I had read the day before on the internet which makes me wonder why anyone would read a newspaper anymore.) After about an hour, I decided it was time to head back to Pathfinder Ranch and the California Men's Gathering.

The descent from Idyllwild to Mountain Center was fairly fast. Being on a bicycle I was able to take the turns much faster than the car that I spotted several times in my mirror, so I took the entire lane for myself and swooped into the curves with some gusto, although muted because of cracks and crazes in the tarmac left me uncertain if something might grab my wheel and spill me onto the road.

The climb from Mountain Center back up to Keen Camp Summit was a bit slower than I had expected, but I made it without trouble. Then came the best part of the ride. From Keen Camp Summit down to Lake Hemet was fast and for the most part without sharp curves. I managed to hit 75.3 km/hr, which is the fastest I've ever gone on my bike.

The undulations from Lake Hemet back to Pathfinder Ranch seemed more uphill than down, and when I arrived, breakfast had been over for about half an hour.

1 Comment:

Mary Collier said...

Gyan, It was good to meet you and ride with you. You're welcome anytime. Also, it's been a little hectic here, so sorry I didn't get back to you right away. I'm really glad we met up, though. Can't wait to see the video.