Time to Revisit Crystal Lake

It’s time to visit Southern California again, but this weekend, most of my buddies are out doing Solvang Autumn Double. I’m not in double shape at all, so that is out of the question for me. My friend Rick was doing Crystal Lake, and I haven’t done that in a long time, and conditions look great for this.

We met up at Encanto Park, and there was a big group of riders there (thinking that’s the group Rick was riding with, but no, it was just a solo ride). There were a large number of Filipino riders, but not what you would expect. There were only a few Adobo Velo jerseys there. I think they were going to Baldy, because we didn’t see any of them pass us up on they way up to Crystal Lake.

It was a bit chill to start off with, but was comfortable for vest and arm warmer weather. I think a full jacket would have been way too warm, and too much to carry. While on the climb, we saw a lot of runners running down the mountain. We even saw runners coming down even above East Fork Road. It’s kinda weird … I’ve never seen a large group running down a mountain. Rick tells me he saw a group of runners doing a marathon, all downhill.

We kept going in and out of the shade, and that kept the ride interesting.

On the way up, we heard a loud rumble, and it was the sheriff or some surveillance, hovering over the mountains. I’m not sure if they are looking for someone lost, but it’s strange how this would be done this early in the morning.

The grades were not intense, but this was a long climb. It’s not like Mt. Hamilton climb, although it is long … it’s just different. It’s about 25 miles from the park up to Crystal Lake. As you can imagine, with the length of the climb, it would wear on your legs eventually. Lucky I brought my triple.

Oh yes, 5000 ft elevation … This is an indication that I am close to the final destination, but also a sense of accomplishment. I’m 5000 feet up! We don’t have hills that go to this elevation. In order to get up this high, we’d have to go to the eastern sierras. I looked at my Garmin at this point, and notice my elevation was only at 4850 feet. Hmm … I wonder which one is calibrated wrong?

And the road to Crystal Lake is around the corner. I could feel the fatigue creep into my right leg, but I didn’t shift into my absolute lowest gear, which tells me I wasn’t completely spent, and still had some energy left in reserve.

As with any remote coffee shop, you see all types here, including motorcyclists, bicyclists, hikers, and of course, firefighters. I know the grilled cheese sandwiches are great here, but I’m not sure that would be the best thing for my stomach, after climbing 5000+ feet (although the rest of the ride is a long descent).

The descent allows you to pick up some very high speed, in a short time. Without trying, you could get to 40 mph. This was fun … up until I see a bunch of cyclists slowing down, and the horrifying look of fire trucks and sheriff trucks stopped along the roadway.

Approaching the scene closer, unfortunately it is a downed cyclist. Damn, that sure puts a downer for the group of cyclists, and this was probably still about 3500 feet up, so still a bunch of descending to go.

On the way back on the bike path, we see a formation of National Guards, and they were on the bike path. At least they were formed on either side of the bike path, so we had a lane to ride through. When’s the last time you’ve seen that!

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