Sunrise, on the bike. Sunset, on the bike. In between, San Diego’s most famous mountain, good times with friends and 130 miles. Perfect day.
Back when we were 18, my friend Matt J. had the idea to hike all day; we picked one December day and spent all the daylight in the Appalachians. Since then, full-day activities have become more my norm, but I’ve never spent the full day biking. (NB, I did spend almost the whole night biking Death Valley, see here).
Since Palomar Mountain is my favorite bike climb in San Diego county, I had the vision to ride all the way there from my home in La Jolla. It’s far, 130 miles r/t, and of course has one of the country’s top bike climbs in the middle (see this post for some lists of hard and famous bike climbs). This Fall, I got a chance to realize this vision.
Taken while riding–action shot of sunrise over Torrey Pines lagoon
Nov 8, Matt N. and I started from my house at Dawn, 5:55 AM. We warmed up on the La Jolla Shores hill and joined Kerri up at UCSD campus. We saw a gorgeous sunrise while going through Del Mar and tried to stay warm on the cold November morning. We all biked the ~50 miles to the base of Palomar hardly taking a sip of water and trying to keep feeling in our fingers.
Then, the sun was up high and we were at the foot of the mountain. It was go time. I pushed hard, at least in 2nd gear almost the whole time. I stood up frequently and powered up the steady 6-7 percent grade for 12 miles. Despite fatigue from the miles already on the legs and (as I found out later) a flatish back tire due to a slow leak, I posted my fastest time up Palomar yet: 1:40! Riding with no watch (Naked Wrist!), I had to ask the times from people at the top and bottom. Otherwise it was just me, the views and the asphalt. Another win for the Naked Wrist.
This was my 3rd time up Palomar, but my first time to visit the Observatory, a huge 200″ telescope. We filled up water (had only drunk 4 bottles in the 65 miles to that point–it was cold). Then heading down, and thankfully the always joy-filled descent was not as cold as I had braced for. Matt had bought some newspapers to stuff his jersey just in case…
Heading back, it’s impossible to not notice that East County San Diego and especially Lake Hodges is beautiful in the late light. We saw it all on this trip–and even got a sweet burrito stop in Escondido around mile 100!
We rolled back through Del Mar in time for sunset and climbed Torrey Pines in the twilight, finishing back home in a few minutes faster than 12 hours. 130 miles and almost 10,000′ climbing, and no time in the car all day. The great day ended with some sweet frozen pizza at home!