I have a hard time making it to Julian. I’ve been turned around by weather, I’ve mega-bonked on the way home and been just plain-old, “I don’t have the legs and wont try”. In fact, the only time I’ve had a really enjoyable time getting to Julian and back was on a midweek ride with Mike. Mike and I set out to replicate our success yesterday morning. He’s training for L’Etape in a few weeks and was looking for lots of miles at a reasonably slow pace.
With my poor success record for getting to Julian and back home, I’ve built up some fear around attempting it. It’s my nemesis ride. My goal for the day was to dispel the demons and make Julian mine.
The road to Julian is difficult. First, it’s uphill most of the way there. But it’s not like climbing a mountain, where you can get into a rhythm and pedal for an hour or two, it constantly changes up, so you’ve got to keep changing riding styles and the downhill return trip is something you have to work at rather than just coast through. It’s also a long course – at least 86 miles round trip from my house to Julian, which is a big ride for me. And this time, Mike and I resolved to add Highland Valley Road into the mix on the way back for extra fun and miles. Here’s the elevation profile for the day.
We took the pace slow and steady on a gorgeous SoCal morning. Sheehan joined us for the early part of the ride out Poway Rd and through Ramona. He did a really great job with some long pulls at the front that I think ended up making a big difference to both Mike and I. Unfortunately, his calendar had him turn back before the end of Old Julian Hwy.
Heading through the backcountry east of San Diego is always amazing. I think that I live in an urban area, but within a few minutes, I can be pedalling through rural farmland and past ranches with grazing cattle and horses. It was a beautiful morning.
We climbed out of Santa Ysabel and were soon on Wynola Rd, one of the prettiest mountain roads around and a terrific descent on the way home. In no time, we were enjoying apple pie.
I’m not so sure that wolfing down a big piece of pie is really the best way prepare for the 50-mile return trip, so I just had a few bites. The pie was good as usual though. Afterwards, we stretched out, refilled or bottles and headed down the hill. Wynola road was a lot of fun. I’m remembering the corners and getting to be a better descender. In no time, we were flashing back through Santa Ysabel, headed home.
Mike was feeling a bit knackered so I took the lead to help him for the flat and uphill portions. I was more than happy to take the wind as Mike has helped me get home on several occasions. It was also a great workout and knowing that Mike needed my help to get home was motivation to keep my tempo high and not slack off.
And even though I was starting to get tired by the time we got back to Ramona, we added the Highland Valley Road loop. It was hot, our bottles were empty and Mike knew where to find a hose bib. We stopped by the side of the road and showered off – wow that felt good! I had been 5 hours in the saddle by then and that cool, fresh water felt amazing. With full bottles and a rejuvenated spirit, we zoomed down HVR – a favorite descent for the Descenders because of the fast and twisty roads.
Back on the flat, headed for home, Mike pointed out that if I could find a few extra miles, I had a century day possible (100+ miles). I had just popped my final GU and this seemed like a great idea. The only real problem was that there are very few flat roads in Scripps Ranch on which to get “free miles”. Nevertheless, as Mike and I parted, I kept an eye on the odometer and decided to add a couple of little loops that should put me over the 100-mile mark. That’s when the final GU wore off and it started to hurt But I was resolute and accepted the suffering and the extra miles. I arrived home with my odometer reading 100.9 miles.
It had been a really hard day, but I felt good. Ok, my body hurt (a lot), but my spirit felt good. I made it to Julian and back on a really tough day. One hundred miles for pie.