Monday, February 07, 2011

California - Day 14 Palomar!

Today the weatherman said it'd be nice out, 70s around here, mid 60s as high up as Palomar.

Palomar, you say. Really?


Since I've been making the Palomar attempts pretty much since the second trip here, and since I hadn't been able to make even a pretend attempt (where I ride inland), I decided that this was the day.

Other factors helped. I felt fine after yesterday's race, no soreness, no nothing. Goes to show that the legs are fine but that I'm simply not aerobically prepared. Walking downstairs to breakfast didn't hurt like maybe it should have; instead I felt better than usual.

The warmth really helped too. I knew it'd be cooler up on Palomar Mountain, but mid 60s... that's positively balmy.

I felt good, it was warm out... to me that just screams Palomar.

I ate, did a few things real quick (like made reservations for the shuttle to drive me to the airport, did some dishes, ate more, prepped the bike, showered), then got ready. I decided on the CamelBak backpack thing, and gathered things based around that concept. I set out, a bit later than I'd hoped. 10 AM, not the 9 or 9:30 I initially envisioned.

After about an hour I realized that I'd be hard pressed to average 15 mph, especially with the climbing, and I did the math in my head. Two hours to get to the base. Two hours to climb. 30 minutes to descend. Two hours to get home.

That put me home at 4:30 PM.

But after the first hour I'd stopped for a few things, putting me behind schedule. I stopped at the little convenience store at the bottom of the climb, then again at the top.

I figured I'd be getting back to home base at 5:15 PM, maybe 5:30 PM.

A long day.

One with a pretty tight deadline. Since the sun sets around 5:30 PM, it would get really cold really fast, and it'd be dark around then too.

I was glad I packed leg and arm warmers. I also had a long sleeve jersey, and wore a short sleeve jersey, a vest, and my shorts.

The trip's first leg involves a lot of long, flat roads out to Escondido. In such mindless settings I start thinking about things, and one thing I thought of was that I've missed the Missus. We talk each day but it's different when we're a few thousand miles apart.

I got through Escondido okay (I used Ash Street to cross over to Valley Center whatever it's called). Once on Valley the phone rang. Normally I don't answer because I get a lot of spam calls, but this time I dug the phone out of my pocket.

The Missus.

I called her back because, you know, I had just been thinking about her.

Ends up she was thinking of me.

(You can all say it. "Awwww.")

We said our "I miss you" stuff and I repacked my pockets and got on with the program, hitting the Lake Wohlford climb. It's narrow so I kept my rhythm high and steady, trying to reduce the time I spend in the danger zone. My legs protested vociferously; I started to worry about the 2 hour effort for Palomar proper.

Once done with the climb I headed down to Rincon.

I have to do a kind of big descent here, one I really don't like. No real turns, gusty wind, and not much room for error. I hung on for dear life, thinking morbid things like, "Hm, did I really make sure the front wheel was on tightly?", or, "Is my stem tight?", or, "I hope the bars don't get loose."

Descent down to Harrahs, near the base of the climb.

The morbid scenarios never manifested themselves and I made it to the store at the base of the climb. There I bought a small Gatorade, ate a few mini Balance bars, and headed out.

I have to admit that I never felt good on the climb. I struggled the whole way, wondering if I'd have to turn around somewhere. My legs never really faltered, even if the power dropped from about 200 sustained watts to something like 160 watts.

I did get distracted by what I think was a coyote. A small dog like animal with big ears and a fox-like bushy tail. It'd just caught something and was looking at me in a way that reminded me of our cat Mike, proud of its catch and some comfort and familiarity in its environment. I tried to tape it but you can't see it at all.

I surprised myself by getting up the first bit of climbing kind of quickly. A short flat section gave me a reprieve, then I saw this sign:

The left is the beginning of the actual climb.

This is where the real climb starts, and it takes me a good 90 minutes to climb the thing. It gets steeper and the real switchbacks begin.

See that road down there? I was just down there.

Beautiful day, nice view.

Palomar is one of those zen like climbs for me. I have to always keep the climbing in mind because it's hard. But I also find myself thinking of all sorts of various things.

Right now I'm having a hard time recalling what I was thinking so I'll have to try and remember when I'm a bit less tired. I do remember it was pretty warm, enough so that I pocketed my gloves and rode much of the climb with my base short sleeve jersey halfway unzipped. The vest stayed on but unzipped, the flapping tails designed to catch a motorist's eye.

More view.
Notice the red circle.

I did note the red spray painted circle. It's a cracked bit of pavement with a lot of plant growth in it. I'm guessing they need to patch it and get rid of the plant.

The Palomar Net.

This is one of my landmarks, a goal. I think of it as a net, except this one is made with steel. You can see where it's sagging a bit to the right - some rocks slid into the net, taking out the lighter chainlink stuff, with only the big ring things holding it in place.

At a few points I'd run into a swarm of gnats. I knew I wasn't going fast when they'd fly with me for a while.

I also discovered my CamelBak broke. I'd try and get water out of it but none would flow. This really bummed me out because I had no bottle cages on the bike and I'd have to figure out a way to carry fluids.

Finally, very close to my self-appointed deadline of 2:30 PM, I saw this sign.

5000 feet. Almost there.

In fact, if you look at that picture, the light colored rock way up there in the back (the road points to it) sits just before the top, maybe a hundred or two hundred meters short of the intersection up there. A white truck just started down the road; it reached me pretty quickly but it took me a bit of time to get to where it started.

General store in front of white pickup on left.
Little shack on right is the post office.
White building inbetween are bathrooms.

The top of Palomar isn't that busy. I mailed a card to the Missus at the post office, then headed to the general store. There I bought a large Gatorade and a bottle of water. I also ate three more mini Balance Bars, which, luckily for me, led me to discover that the CamelBak hadn't broken, it just ran out of water. I loaded the CamelBak with water, polished off the Gatorade, put on the LS jersey, and headed back down.

The rest of the ride is kind of a blur. I never felt terrible and actually started feeling better and better as I got closer to home base.

The run back from Escondido went really well - I kept finding myself able to surge, to make efforts. I ground out a big gear on the last climb back to home base, then actually did an out-of-the-saddle jump just before I turned onto our road.

When I rolled into the garage, I checked my watch.

5:15 PM.


I headed inside, ate and drank a bit.

Then, because it was my last night here, we went out for dinner.

I'm exhausted but I'm packed, except for the computer stuff, and have to be ready to go at 8 AM in the morning.


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