The Training Ride to Palomar is a 203 kilometer permanent route. It begins in Encinitas, CA, rides through Escondido, by Lake Wholford, and ascends Palomar Mountain. From there the ride goes to Santa Ysabel, and then returns to Encinitas via Ramona, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, and Carlsbad. There is about 9,000 feet of climbing, with 7000 of it coming in the first 70 miles.
We started with a group of about 12, and left Encinitas at 0600 under cloudy skies with a temperature of 62 degrees. We stopped at a dog park in Escondido to pick up an additional rider. I have to say I felt better than I did a week ago, and felt like I climbed Lake Wholford, part of the Amgen Tour of California Race in 2009, on the 8th stage, fairly well, at least for me. Most of the group passed me, but I kept many in sight, and arrived at the first control only a few minutes after they did, at mile 35.
This is where the climb up Palomar begins. We gain about 1000 feet on Hwy 76 over 5 miles, then turn onto South Grade Road, where we will gain another 3200 feet over the next 7 miles. The climb begins at just under 1000 feet of elevation, and the summit is 5200 feet. I have never gone all the way up Palomar, I have gone by South Grade several times via Hwy 76, and that 5 mile stretch is always tough for me, but felt like I did okay today. Again, the group had passed me, but I felt like I was hanging in there. The climb was getting warm, and tougher, when about 3 miles from the summit I heard a deafening BOOM! I knew immediately I had blown a tube. Stop. Checked my rear tire, and it was solid, but the front was beyond flat, as the blow out took the tire off the bead! That made removing the tire easy. I gave it a good inspection, as one other time on a blow out I damaged the sidewall. Not so this time, so insert a new tube, get the tire back on and go. Not so fast. If you read last week’s blog, you know I killed my front wheel, so I am on a loaner wheel. It is a Mavic Cosmic Elite, which is a bit of a deeper dish, and I had a hard time getting the tire over the bead. Back to basics, make sure the tube is drained of air after giving it some to help get it in the rim, push, push, push. Grrr. It’s getting real hot, I’m on the side of a mountain road, with little shoulder, and I’m getting frustrated. I set the wheel down for a minute to gain my composure. Pick it up, and I finally got it. What should have been a 5 minute change, took over 20 minutes. Back at it, but I am really warm, and I quickly drained my bottles. I did the last 2 plus miles with no fluids. By the time I reached the summit, I was cooked, and had some minor cramping. I hit the Palomar General Store, and drained two Gatorades, filled my bottles, and sat down drinking a Coke and eating a Hammer bar. I also had been hitting the endrolytes hard with the heat.
I took extra time trying to get feeling okay, which I hate doing, I like to get in and out of controls, its one way I make up for being a slower rider, especially on rides with an abundance of climbs. Finally I took off down the descent on East Grade, back to Hwy 76, and Eastward to Lake Henshaw. Past the lake, and to Hwy 79 which climbs, albeit, not drastically for about 4 miles or so. This is where I knew I was in trouble, as even one to two percent gradients were causing me to stop with cramping in the quads, shins, calves, and hamstrings. A note on cramping, I don’t often cramp on the bike, and when I do it is usually mild enough that I can spin easy, hit a gel and e-cap, and be okay in a short time. But this was different. I was stopping every half mile to mile, and a couple of times the cramps were intesnse. Last week Kelly had mentioned Tums helps cramping, and I had a couple of those too! It seemed like the more I did, the less effective anything was. With about four miles to go on 79 before the Santa Ysabel control, I called the Team Car, otherwise known as Wifey, and asked her to pick me up in Santa Ysabel. It wasn’t just the cramping, I also had intestinal issues, which I have not had on the bike either. Perhaps the heat got to me, perhaps I wasn’t 100 percent at the start, or maybe I dehydrated worse than I thought on the climb, and simply couldn’t recover from it.
The day was done. I have to say, in doing eight double centuries, plus exceeding 200 miles on two other occasions, I have never felt as cooked, as I did when I hit Santa Ysabel.
Hopefully the rest of the group had a good ride, I thoroughly enjoyed the views from Palomar, and am happy I completed my first summit of the legendary local climb. I will be back, and I will finish this ride.
Final stats: 70 miles, 7,333 feet of gain, temperature range per Garmin 62-107, 39 MPH top speed.
The ride on Garmin Connect: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/41677795
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