This is definitely off-season for Palomar Mountain.
No high-performance motorcyclists from Camp Pendleton slicing by at 80+ mph. No convertible Lamborghinis piloted by guys with girlfriends half their age. Nothing but four other cyclists–all wearing full tights, booties and ear warmers, and riding the brakes on the way down after successful climbs.
The Sunday ride up South Grade Road was sublime, in a sick, sublime way. I attacked Palomar with the relish only possible in the full glory of off-season fitness, dwindling mileage–and lack of brains. In other words, thank goodness for the 24- and 27-teeth options with DA-10. The two “bailout” friends came in handy after the mile-45 marker as I neared the top with its slight dusting of dry snow. Screw the 21. Pride goes out the window in winter. And the pumpkin pie is just too damn tasty.
Stats: 5,600 feet of elevation gain over 45 miles (from Circle R base climb outside Valley Center) for a tidy 3:15 in the saddle w/ average heart rate of 151 bpm.
The best part? Doing it. Even if woefully undertrained (and 10+ pounds too heavy) to enjoy the whole thing. Think Jan Ullrich, right? That’s half of the fun this time of year on our local mountains. Suffering makes you appreciate spring, summer and early fall.
Big storms these next three days will move me onto the trainer in my garage for a bit of recovery spinning. It only gets better from here. Hope you’re able to turn the pedals with a smile on your face, wherever you are.