this weekend was GREAT. so good. super challenging bike ride with new friends, camping someplace beautiful under the stars, and the most fun descending down mountain roads i’ve ever had.
saturday we packed up, and the “support crew” (thank you so much, guys! Adam, Matt, Ryan) loaded up our gear, got food, and headed out by car to cuyamaca rancho state park to set up camp, hike, and get the bbq ready for dinner. briana, justin, and i headed out on our bikes east towards the lagunas mountains. it was about noon. we had 50 miles of uphill to tackle.
cruising through town, the temperature rose degree by degree with each mile we moved east. by the time we were in el cajon, it was blazing hot, and the hills started coming at us one by one.
we took dehesa to japatul to japatul valley to 79. it was basically up, up up.. our campsite was supposed to be green valley, which had a stream we could jump in, and sat at 4000 ft elevation. when the guys in the car checked in, they had double booked us, so they sent them to paso picacho 5 miles further UP the road, literally. at 5000 ft elevation, our new site had a mini gnome house (camping cabin) and was at the TOP of the hill in the camping area. best view and spot, by far, but still… significantly higher elevation, by surprise, at the end of our trip, that i’d tried to purposefully avoid.
the ride was HARD. not impossible, but very difficult. we were smart about breaks and eating (eat before hungry, drink before thirsty, rest before tired…), and found adequate water refilling areas at people’s hose spigots, though kinda few and far between. one house even had a bike rack set up at the end of their driveway next to a spigot :) so kind.
our food, gels, and water were all nice and toasty. a latte flavored clif gel was definitely a latte after being in my back pocket for hours in the heat and glaring sun. not very appetizing to me, bur briana loved it, haha.
we arrived just as dark crept in, with cheers from our camp guys! they had everything beautifully set up, with veggie dogs on the grill and tons of food spread on the picnic table. ate lotsa food, had a newcastle, and took a warm shower (props to cuyamaca. amazing shower facilities). we stayed up by the fire shortly, admired the stars, then turned to bed. everyone had their own spot… B & A took the top bunk in the cabin, matt in the bed of his truck, ryan in his suv, justin on the picnic table, and i took the porch deck of the cabin. i had a wonderful view of the stars, and the temperature was perfect for sleeping outside.
woke up at 530 or so, maybe 6. everyone still asleep, except justin, who was practicing tai chi in a little opening near camp. i packed up my camera and coat, snuck quietly past justin’s line of vision so as not to disturb, and headed out on a morning hike/walk in search of a sunrise shot. the trees and hills are charred from the wildfires that i hear happened several years ago, and it creates an ugly but starkly beautiful scene. the mountain next to us was blocking the sunrise view, but my hike was great. soon, my insatiable appetite kicked in, and i returned to camp after an hour or so ready for breakfast.
everyone was up, eating fruit and bagels. all sleepy bears. cuddled up in blankets with swollen eyes and happy camping faces.
we talked, relaxed, ate, slowly packed up. watched people wash their dishes in a spigot nearby for minutes upon minutes, using the water on full blast, pouring their dawn dish soap all over the grass. yay america. anyway, we all split around the same time around 10am, justin and briana and myself fairly tired still from the previous day’s 5000 ft of climbing.
the descent was pure cycling bliss. about 30 miles of the return is down long winding mountain roads, smooth and never ending (which no one minds, when it’s downhill this time around!). full speed, in the drops, taking turns pulling each other in a full down hill sprint. coasting, flying, surrounded by beautiful scenery, hidden lakes, and valleys. briana is a downhill beast! she flies down those roads, faster than justin and me, without some effort to keep up. we had a headwind on many of the straightaways and shallow downhills, so justin and i took turns pulling the group drafting. we had a great little team of smiling people. what a WORLD of difference it makes to have a good attitude. i can’t thank you guys enough for being such happy and hard working individuals.
of course, we encountered a handful of unwelcome climbs throughout the route back, which were more irritating than anything this time around. we all had the “but today is supposed to be only downhill!!” mindset somewhat, haha. we sucked it up and sweated and panted up those 5 or 6 return hills, and made it back in record time. we met adam at Red Sea Restaurant (an Ethiopian place in city heights), where the lady was sweet enough to offer an indoor parking spot for our bikes. we shared a GREAT meal, drank a ton of kinda funky tasting water, and called it a day well done. adam took B home, and justin and i hustled through the crazy city heights traffic at a pretty quick pace back to the south park area, where we parted near palm st, ending the most epic bike weekend trip ever.
thanks guys, that was well worth every minute.
briana trucking up the hills on her awesome bike
so close to the campsite. right before the 5 miles 1000ft end climb..quick break.
the camp crew! adam, matt, ryan
the riders! me, briana, justin