Climbfest – Baldy and Crystal Lake … Good Heat Training

I got to ride another one of Ken and Teresa’s climbfests … this one went to Baldy via East Fork, GMR, GRR, then back the same way we came, then up Hwy 39 again, onto Crystal Lake, then back on East Fork again, up GMR, then then to Glendora, before heading back to the cars.  Well, that was the plan, at least.

We had a terrific turn out.  Steve had never done Baldy (shocking).  We had two fixies doing the cling (that’s insane) and Karen has her sights set on the ski lifts (I actually would have if I didntehave my sights set on doing Crystal Lake).

Everyone was in great spirits in the morning … that’s before the miles, the climb, and the heat settled in.  Karen was leading a good pace up the hill, so I hung im with everyone at the front.  The rollies up to East Fork is always nice.

First water stop was Camp Williams, right before East Fork turns into GMR.  We then hit the real climbs.

While I had the chance to, I just had to film myself passing up the same guys who would be leaving me in the dust.  I just love Teresa’s tiger roar … it’s almost as good as the devil jumping up and down, or antler man running up the hill.

Group shot at Mt. Baldy Village

I was able to ride along with Vic and Steve for a while, up until the last 1-2 miles on GRR.  We eventually all regrouped at Mt. Baldy Village.  Some went on to climb the ski lift, others went down GMR back to the cars, and others “attempted” to backtrack to Camp Williams, and continue to Crystal Lake.

Now I did have a brain fart here.  I went to the bathroom, and we were ready to leave, but I couldn’t feel my glasses on my face.  So I figured I must have left it at the bathroom.  Luckily, someone noticed they were hanging off the neck of my jersey.  D’oh.

Ok, onto Crystal Lake, and back up the hill we just descended down.  We had a rousing descent here, which is nice to have, just before the big climb.

The descent down GMR to East Fork was fast and furious, and Teresa was descending like Thomas Voeckler.  By the time we got to Camp Williams, all the campers were out in force, and it was pretty darn busy.  Everyone refilled water, loaded up on ice, and in the meantime, Vic and I had our own sandwiches (and of course, and abundance of fries).  It was around 1 pm before we left Camp Williams, ready for the journey that lies ahead.

Hang a right on Hwy 39, and on we go.  I didn’t really get too bad until after we passed West Fork (and it was crowded there too … lot of people hiking from West Fork).  About 5 miles up, the heat was really getting to me.  I’m all the way in my granny, and I’m only sustaining a 3 mph speed, which is not good.  I looked at my Garmin and it was registering 107 F … damn, that’s hot.

Not only was it hot out here, it was completely exposed, and very little shade at all.  I got to about 7000 feet of total climbing, before I had to call it a day.  I was running low on water, and I had to muster up any strength I had to flag down Ken, letting him know I’m done.  So I made it just to the bridge, then headed back down.  It’s too bad, because I really wanted to make it to Crystal Lake.

Totals on the day .. 74.6 miles, 7560 feet climbing.  Gotta get more heat training in, but this was a good trainer for Knoxville.  Good thing I’ve still got 1.5 more months to train for that.

Climbing Hwy 39 to Hwy 2

This weekend was my turn to visit my dad in LA, and coincidentally, I got an invite to do a ride, starting at Encanto Park, going up Hwy 39 up to Hwy 2, then back. Now how I got the invite is quite interesting. Ken Mathis sent the email. He got my name originally from a ride invite from Teresa Beck, who I know from Facebook, and who I met once at the Awards Breakfast for Ca Triple Crown. Now how did I get Teresa’s name via Facebook … well, who else …. Lynn. She knows everyone!

Anyways, there were 4 of us to go on this epic journey (epic for me at least). There was Mike, Ron Hanson, Ken, and I. As we went out on the bike trail, we were greeted by fierce headwinds. It seems like everytime I head out on the bike trail, I am greeted with headwinds.

Ken and Ron

Once we got on Hwy 39, the headwinds weren’t that much of an issue. We could concentrate on climbing, which is really what we’re here for. At 7 am, it is a bit crisp and just barely requires a light jacket. However, the sun came out pretty early. I didn’t want to stop either, and lose my momentum. One thing I did notice though, is there was plenty of bathroom stops along the highway. So I didn’t have to worry about finding a bush somewhere.

The pace leading out was not the usual pace I’m used to when I ride with Ramon, or Chris … I was in the middle of the pack, climbing-wise. However, perhaps it’s because Ron and Ken were pacing themselves. This is 6000 feet up … straight up, after all.

Heading out, my Garmin kept turning itself off … oops … low battery … damn.  I guess I’m going to have to ride this the old fashioned way … by feel.

East Fork Road

Previously, when I climb Hwy 39, I usually hang a right on East Fork Road.  Usually it’s because I am on my way to either Glendora Mountain Road or Mt. Baldy.  So this is the first time I’ll climb beyond East Fork Road … I’ve always heard about this climb, but never really did it.

As Ron Hansen says, past East Fork Road is where the real climbing, or the fun begins.  Translation … hard climbing.  By this time, the sun was out in force, and it was gorgeous.  How can anyone look at this and not want to live in California?

As we got to steeper climbs, I ended up in the back again. My shoulder blade started getting stiff at this point, making my climbing a little weaker.  Since I didn’t have my Garmin to rely on, I had no idea how far we had come, or how far we have to go.

Halfway up Hwy 39 at the Road Closure

Halfway up the climb, we get to the Hwy 39 Road Close sign. This was a nice break from the climb, and gave us an opportunity for a little bit of rest, at least. What’s nice here is we have the whole road to ourself till we get to Hwy 2, at least.

Mountain Biker with Ski Boots and Skis

Here’s something you don’t see everyday … even on a bike ride. Here was this guy, in ski boots, carrying his skis, with the ultimate intentions of skiing. I mean, he’s in his ski boots. Later on, when I was descending, I saw him hovering around the Crystal Lake turnoff (which is closed by the way … weird).

Anyhow, the climbing continued, and it would just be continuing, at about a 5-8% grade for about 30 miles. We had done about 20 miles already, and this is where fatigue started to settle in. Before this, the longest sustained mountain climb I did was Mt. Hamilton, which was 20 miles … but we definitely surpassed this.

Wow, I'm really high up .. 5000 feet elevation

I'll have to go down those roads eventually

This is definitely a ride that categorizes as HTFU … but one thing that kept me going is the amazing scenery, mixed in with an almost perfect weather day.  We got to a point eventually where we passed some black ice.  Funny how a harmless little wet patch of road can cause such horror in a cyclist.  I could tell, as I rolled over that wet patch, I felt my wheel slip, but luckily it wasn’t too bad, and I did not end up on the ground.

I was really struggling at this point, but I wanted to go as far as I could possibly go.  My shoulders, back, knee … were all screaming out in pain.  Unfortunately, I forgot my Ibuprofen and my electrolyte pills, so I couldn’t replenish myself.  All I had were clif bars, perpetuem, and water, and I was constantly going through those.  I got to one point where I just had to throw in the towel.  I saw one more climb, and that was it.  I was really bummed, as I did not want to “give up”, but I just could not take any more of it.  Later on, I found out from Ken that I had < 1 mile before the top.  I kind of figured that, but I just didn’t have it in me.

So I turned back, and was descending really slow, especially with that patch of black ice.  Plus, it’s another opportunity to enjoy the scenery.  However, it was not all completely downhill.  The section below East Fork Road had some uphill pitches, and after climbing 6000+ feet climbing, my legs were definitely feeling it.

One oddity .. the original ridewithgps plot showed 57 miles, and 8100 feet climbing.  Not sure about that, since the peak of the climb was at 6670 feet.  I’d be fine with 55 miles, and 7000 feet.  Great day for a ride.


Cool Breeze Century … A Fun Century

I took an extra day off on Friday, and drove down to Ventura to do the Cool Breeze Century.  This is a really fun century, and is really well supported.  It’s less than 4000 feet total climbing, so make no doubt about this … this is a fun, social century.

Getting to the ride start, directions tell you to exit on Stanley Ave. off of Hwy 33.  However, when I get there, it was jammed.  Took me about 15 minutes to get off the freeway, and into the parking lot.  Wow, that’s the first time I’ve had a traffic jam like that for an organized ride.  This is just like trying to get to a Dodgers game or a concert.

Finally got to the start to meet up with Herb.  It’s great to see Herb, and ride with him again.  Also met up with his friend Mike, and on queue, we roll at 7 am.

As we roll, we could see more people waiting to get off the freeway … Maybe the organizers should recommend taking California Ave off-ramp as an alternative.  I heard someone in the parking lot trying to guide their friend in … that traffic jam was just terrible.  We even waved to some who were just coming in.

As expected, there were a ton of riders on the road.  The beginning of the route had a narrow bike path, so it was hard to get past some of the slower riders ahead of us, so it was a relaxed easy pace for the first 10 miles or so.  The first rest stop was at 15 miles … jeez, hardly enough to get my heart rate above 110 bpm.  So we skipped this, and headed onto some climbs.  Once we got onto the climbs, the sun pops out, and perfectly timed too.  By the time we got to the peak of the climbs, we were treated to great views.

I was feeling really good out there … maybe part of it was the relaxed pace early on.  As soon as the hills came out, I decided to flex my legs, and powered it up the hill … getting my heart rate up to the 170’s.  Nice!

One famous landmark on this route was mailbox in the form of a cyclist.  I later found out this is the property of Theodore Roosevelt Gardner II, who has a number of interesting sculptures throughout his property.  And where is the mail stored?  Out his rear end, where else?

It’s a good thing I was riding this for fun, otherwise I would have missed this.  I just had to stop and take a pic of this.  Too many times, we are so focused on riding, that we never notice interesting sites as we zoom passed.

Michael was having some mechanical problems while on the climb.  It seems that there was some issues with his hub.  We definitely have to have it checked out when we get to the lunch stop.

On to the lunch stop.  Who do I find there?  Shai !!! … It was good to see him.  For once, he’s not doing a 200 or 300 mile ride, but he was doing this on a fixie … what?

While at lunch stop, we also caught up with MarkAJ … another from socalbikeforums … it’s so cool to come down to SoCal, and meet up with friends.  This is the social aspect of riding … yay!

Mike’s rear hub definitely has issues, and will probably have to get it looked at when getting home.  We rolled on, but soon after leaving lunch, Mike still had some issues.  The wheel still locked up, and eventually he had to give in and sag it in.  That’s so sad, as this is his first century.

Herb and I carried on, and we bypassed the next rest stop, and will hold off until we get to the Rincon rest stop.  When I got to Rincon, I was pleasantly surprised to see Mike there.  He got sagged to another rest stop, where he ran into a cycling version of McGiver.  They were able to jerry-rig the hub back to life, and he was then able to ride on.  So he won’t get a full century in, but at least he’ll get in a good 80 miles or so.

Cool Breeze is famous for having the popsicle stop at Rincon … so I just had to have a picture with me and my popsicle.  Other rides will have their signature (Davis Double for their chilli bowl), and Cool Breeze has its popsicles.  It’s a terrific backdrop too, with the pacific ocean in the background.

Ok, now on for the final stretch .. 15 more miles and another century will be in the books.

The route back to the start begins with a little stretch along Hwy 101, and it straddles along the ocean side as we approach Ventura.  For some reason, traffic was really slow along this stretch.

(Update:  I later found out two women got caught in an accident along 101 on bike path (perhaps got caught by turbulence of the tail end of a big rig).  They had to stop traffic and airlift the cyclist.  Shai took a short video of this, and you can see this at

Got back to the finish, and logged in 101 miles, 3971 feet climbing.  This was a great ride, a fun ride … This may be my new favorite ride.

Just couldn’t hang on to the pack

I felt pretty strong over the past week, hill climbing pretty strong, so I felt I was ready to tackle Montrose.  My speed was pretty good, and I was continually up in the middle of the pack, so things seem to be looking up.  We were screaming … I mean just screaming down Huntington Dr (averaging between 25-35 mph), and I felt as if I might actually hang in with the pack for the entire ride.  Then, we got to Arrow Hwy, and I was struggling to follow the wheel in front of me.

At this point, I recall a great Phil and Paul quote … “turning your body inside out” … and that’s exactly how I felt at this point.  Then, I lost touch with the pack.  So the next thing I know, I am now at the back of the pack, and being distanced.  My heartrate peaked at 181 bpm … no wonder.  I just wanted to stop and curl over.  Then, suddenly, I see about 20 cyclists huddled around the slow lane.  Holy crap … a crash.  Reports from some of the other riders I talked to was wheels crossed, and it affected 4 riders.  I also heard 1 of the riders suffered a broken hip.  That sucks!

I decided to take a shortcut on Irwindale, and cut over to Foothill, then Encanto and onto the route.  What was amazing is they were only 5 minutes behind, till they caught up with me.

The original plan was to go hammer with Montrose, climb Chantry, then climb St. Katherine’s.  Well, hammering with Montrose really took a lot out of me, so I opted just for Chantry and not for St. Katherine.  My climbing wasn’t as strong as I hoped it would be, and it probably impacted my time, so I was not shooting for a personal best on this climb.

While I was up here, I figured I might as well go up to the helicopter chopper pad.  Even though I was spent, I still wanted to charge up the hill.  It doesn’t seem like many people know about this climb up to the chopper pad, or maybe they just don’t care to climb this.  For those that don’t know about it, you don’t know what you’re missing.  It’s an amazing view from the top.

Ride Stats:  53.1 miles, 3105 feet climbing (most of it after breaking off from the Montrose ride).  More stats at

Montrose – Dropped at Irwindale Again

I couldn’t find a ride with anyone (many of them were either doing the Mulholland Challenge, or Mulholland Double, or volunteering for the event).  So I decided to ride with the Montrose pack ride.

As I rolled out, I realized I didn’t pack my heart rate monitor … damn, I won’t be able to tell how hard I’m working, especially when speeding down Huntington … oh well.

It may be my imagination, but I swear there were more red lights today than in past Montrose rides.  This kept the whole group together longer, which is not a bad thing.  Of course, maybe I feel that way because I’m more fit, and able to hang in longer.  It was hard to keep at a rhythm, like you can with a long hill climb.  There was a lot of quick stops and starts, so it definitely worked a completely different set of muscles.  Too bad I didn’t have my HRM …. I really would have liked to see what it was doing.

I kept up as we were passing the rock quarries, but then I could feel them turning up the screw, and eventually, there was only so much I could take, and I was dropped “like a badly microwaved potato”.  I was dropped right at Arrow Hwy and Irwindale.  It seems to be the same place I get dropped, no matter if I’m in shape, or out of shape …. and when I used to ride this regularly (when I lived in LA), it was exactly the same place I get dropped.  What is it about Irwindale?

I knew the route, so I took a shortcut, and cut right to the front of the route, where the group eventually swallowed me up.  At least I could finish the ride with some of the pack.

Observation:  There were women on this ride, but it seems like all women who are in pack rides are usually in the top echelon of the pack.  Nice eye candy while riding, granted I can keep up.

Now my original plan was to do Montrose, then climb Chantry, then head over and do St. Katherine … well, Montrose took all the life out of me, so I didn’t have anything left for Chantry, much less St. Katherine.  I did come down to visit dad, so that’s my lame excuse …. spending more quality time with dad 🙂

Social Ride with Old Friends

This was weekend was my scheduled monthly visit back to LA.  I hooked up with my old friend Lynn, who I have known for about 15 years … jeez, has it been that long?  Actually, it might be longer, but who’s counting.

Lynn is a veteran of about 90 double centuries, and is someone who I hold in high regard in cycling.  I’ve also known her since the old days when we rode with Foothill Cycle Club, and then later on with Bicycle Club of Irvine.  At the time, I was still living in Pasadena (in Southern California).  We had been riding together for a while, then we decided to ride Wine Country and Grizzly Peak (back to back rides on the same weekend).  We hung out at my brother’s place in Fremont, and after talking, we realized that we both had the same teacher, in the same IS Math class, and of course the same high school, Mark Keppel High School.  Now here’s the stranger part … she and my brother were in the same IS Math Class together, and Lynn was in the same graduating class as my sister.  No one knew this … boy what a small world.

We also rode with her friend John, who also has a number of double centuries under his belt.  And here I am, with a scant 4 under my belt … I was the newbie in doubles in this group.

This was a long but flat ride, where the first 30 miles or so had < 500 feet.  This was a nice change from the typical Wrecking Crew ride (averaging 1000 feet climb per 10 miles).  Well, I definitely wouldn’t be accomplishing this.  As Lynn says, sometimes you need a break from this, because otherwise you’ll get burned out.

Lately, in the Bay Area, the rides have been cold, and even when the sun comes out, it is not enough to peel off your arm warmers, or take off your jacket.  Today, when the sun was out, it was nice.  The temps were in the 70’s … nice contrast to the mid-50’s we have been experiencing lately in the Bay Area.  This is Southern California cycling … gotta love it.

This was the first time I rode with no arm warmers on at all.  But as I was riding, with no arm warmers on, I realized, I didn’t put sunscreen on.  Gotta remember this next time.  Good thing the clouds did come later, and the sun intensity wasn’t too bad.  However, we had to keep pulling arm warmers off, putting it on, pulling off, etc …  I even contemplated taking off my knee warmers.

I started to run low on water, so at the top of the last major climb, we decided to hang out at the Pavilions to refuel with water (okay, I was the only one, since both Lynn and John had camelbacks, and have ample water).  Just as we were about to head off, Lynn’s rear tire was flat.  Doh!  We couldn’t find source of the leak, so maybe she had been climbing on this flat all along, without realizing it?  Maybe that’s why she was having an issue climbing?  Well, I find that a little hard to believe, but we’ll never know now.

We ended up having lunch in Seal Beach, and with the best sweet potato fries.  This was at the 75 mile mark, and that really hit the spot.

By the time we got back to the cars, we had logged in 85 miles, and roughly 2900 feet of climbing.  This is a far cry from the Wrecking Crew ride, and this was a nice change of pace.  This was also a bit odd, not being the last one to the top of the hill.  And this answers everyone’s question … yes, I can do social rides, when needed.

Balmy California Winter

While the east coast is being pelted by snow blizzards, with temps in  the 20’s or even lower … How is it in California?  Do you really want or need to visit family back east? What’s the weather like in Chicago?  New York?  Philadelphia?  20’s?  Well, while they are digging their snow out so they can drive their car, I had to wear shorts, in mid-70 degree weather.  Ah, gotta love California winter.

I drove down for a visit to SoCal (since I won’t be able to make it during Christmas).  I forgot to email the usuals that I ride with when I come down to SoCal, so I couldn’t arrange to ride with the usuals,.  I decided to take my time, and do a solo ride.  My route was to go climb up Chantry Flats, up to the helicopter pad, then hop over to St. Katherine’s and St. Augustine.  My ride over is along the Montrose route (which is a fast group of 100+ riders), but luckily, they had already passed by before I started.  It would have made a pretty cool shot to see the 100+ pack breaking every traffic law around, but that will have to wait another day.

Wow, I’m glad I didn’t bring my knee warmers.  I did bring my vest, but that stayed in my jersey pocket.  I had my arm warmers on, and even though I probably didn’t need it, I just left it on, more because I’m just lazy.  I fear though that I didn’t put enough sunscreen on my face.  Hopefully I won’t turn into a tomato tomorrow.

I decided to try to run my heart rate up, and work as hard as I could, and not try to get into my granny gear.  This is to help justify if I should convert to a compact double crank, or not.  I got my heart rate up to 175 bpm, but the limiting factor here was lack of power in the legs.   I had no choice but to switch to my granny gear … ugh, it serve as a good recovery.  It also was a good excuse to stop and enjoy the scenery. After I recovered well enough, I switched back to my middle ring.

Now, look at this and notice one thing … there is no snow. Sorry, had to throw that in.

So this switching from granny gear to middle chain ring seem to be going well. I only did this because I have done this climb several times before, and I don’t have this agenda to finish the climb in a specified time. In other words, I was enjoying my ride! I went early enough that there wasn’t too much traffic going up, or maybe it’s because everyone is flocking to the malls getting in last minute christmas shopping? Whatever the case may be, it’s an advantage for me.

Got up to Chantry Flats parking lot and it was completely filled … so I guess not everyone is out christmas shopping. It was just amazingly crisp up here. I decided to continue to go up to the heliport, which adds probably another 200 feet to the climb. This extra climb is well worth the effort (no matter how tired or fatigued your legs are).

So when going up to the heliport, you do have to cross a gate, so there is no car traffic to contend with … however, you do have to watch out for hikers, especially on the way down. But hey, I’d rather be confronted by hikers instead of cars.

Getting ready for the descent, it was really sunny, and normally, I’d put my vest on, but not today. Still had my arm warmers on (just too lazy to take them off). As I was descending, I saw quite a few cyclists climbing up. I guess I went out earlier than everyone wanted to go out.

On to Altadena I go. This brings back a little bit of nostalgia to me, as I used to do this route every Tues/Thurs morning before my commute into work when I used to live in Pasadena. It’s a fairly gradual climb, but it’s enough to get you working. More power training! Forcing myself on my middle ring, I got my HR to zone 5. Funny how I got to this zone more on easier, gradual climbs than the longer sustained climbs.

Onto the Rose Bowl, then Inverness. It still amazes me how this is one of those hidden treasures that most cyclists don’t go on, except those few that love it, like myself. Fantastic views overlooking JPL in the distance, Arroyo Seco … how could anyone resist this?

Typically, after climbing St. Katherine’s and St. Augustine, I head over on Figueroa to Lida, then down past the Art College. Here is a view from just before descending down Lida.

One of my favorite descents in the San Gabriel Valley is going down Lida back to the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, there was slow car traffic in front of me … doh! Oh well, so much for the fast fun descent.

More pictures at

Great day overall for riding today. Total stats … 47.5 miles, 4300 feet climbing.