I told Dave on the drive out, “If I don’t have good legs today, I just don’t have good legs.”
After spending the week in recovery mode (which makes me crazy), I was very much looking forward to testing myself on Palomar Mountain this morning. We choose a short course that allows us to maximize our effort towards climbing. Here’s the profile:
It was hot, hot, hot in the valley (eventually 105 F when we came back down), but got cooler as we gained altitude. Once the climb began, I put myself on the front of a group with Voris and Rick, set my HR at 90% max, put my head down and climbed. I was looking to do a repeat performance of how I climbed to Whitney Portal a couple of weeks ago.
Palomar is nowhere as steep as Whitney (7% compared to 11% for Mt. Whitney) so I was able to keep my cadence high and even shifted up a few times when it eased off a bit. We climbed and climbed and it got cooler the higher we got.
Dozens of motorcyclists buzzed past us, up and down the mountain. Palomar, with 12 miles of very sharp turns through an oak/pine forest, is a very popular destination for these guys (and gals), who like to see how fast they can take the corners. We passed at least two motorbikes that had crashed and I wonder how many bikes go down here every weekend. The paramedics were on the scene at one incident, in the other, just the motorbike was broken.
For much of the climb, I was on the front, setting the pace for Voris and Rick. About 2/3 the way up, Voris came around and slowly built up a small gap. The gap began increasing. My HR was still right around 90% max and it seemed the prudent thing would be to let Dave go. But I’m not very prudent. The gap got a little larger and I thought, “Maybe if I just give it a few good kicks, I could close it down and hang on Dave’s wheel.” So I gave it some gas and closed the gap pretty easily, but as soon as I settled on his wheel I was gapped again! And now I was in debt from chasing him down so this time I really did let him go rather than risk a bonk. Dave is very, very strong. It’s a mistake to compare your performance to another rider on a long, hard road like Palomar – it’s too easy to blow up. You just have to ride your own pace, and that’s what I did.
I got to the yield sign in 1:26:37 which beats my previous time up by a little more than a minute, which I think was good. I ended up only losing 1:37 to Voris, and that’s good too, especially given how strong he is.
We stopped at the store to refill bottles and regroup then headed out to the observatory. I was still feeling pretty good and again I pegged my HR right at 90% and took off. Mike was along today and not feeling super strong so he and Voris pootled their way up together. Rick decided to put the hammer down. He was gone up the road in seconds. A few minutes later I passed him, he had a flat and was just starting the repair. Maybe 5 minutes later, he passes me again. That guy is amazing.
On the way back from the observatory, on the little climb back to the store, I was feeling kinda froggy and jumped off the front. Voris went with me and I tried to taunt him a little, hoping maybe I could find even the smallest chink in his wall of uber-performance. No such luck, he laughed me off and dropped me. Doh. Did I mention he’s very strong?
Then it was time for fun, we began the 12 mile descent. Twisty, turny and super fast. Really good road surfaces and I’ve done it a few times now so I recognize some corners. I managed to stay with the group on the descent and rather enjoyed myself. Very little brakes except in the tight corners.
We got back to the team van Jim pulls out a jar of ice-cold dill pickles, just like on our Monster Climbs trip! Awesome. We put the gear away, changed into swimsuits and jumped into the pool – we had parked at a condo complex in Valley Center which has a beautiful pool. You gotta imagine what it felt like – legs aching from 6,000 feet of climbing, 105 degree heat and then jump into a clear, cool pool. If we had more beer, we could have made it a party
Oh btw, Mike is back – he’s been traveling a lot and even had to miss the Monster Climbs trip. It was nice having you back today Mike.