Ok, the big day has come, the stage that everyone has been waiting for. So obviously, us amateurs must do the same climb that the pro’s are doing.
Now I’ve done GMR to Baldy Ski Lifts before, just like what the men’s and women’s are doing, but this is different. This time, there is the environment, adrenaline in the air. You’ve got fans lining up along the route, some with cowbells, some with horns, some with tents, and a lot of loud classic rock songs blasting out.
We did Glendora Mountain Road, then Glendora Ridge Road (some call it little GMR … to me, it’s bigger, tougher, and has more pain points). By the time I got to the end of little GMR, crowds were waiting at the Cow Saddle. Got to see a lot of my old friends (that I typically ride with when I come to visit LA). It was just one big party atmosphere. I even saw the devil there, and took a picture with him.
The women’s route was going in the same direction that I was, and so we waited for them to come. Coryn Rivera, a local girl, was leading the pack as they head down the hill, before climbing Baldy. However, she couldn’t keep it up … instead, another California girl, Katie Hall took it (Bay Area hero).
Unfortunately, timing made it so that I couldn’t make it to the top in time to see the women finish. It would have been cool to see Katie cross the finish line first.
We had to wait for the men to come by, before we can head up the ski lift. When we finally go to the village, it was mayhem, a madhouse, a circus, as you would expect.
Climbing this today was different, most likely because you had hundreds of other riders doing the same climb. There is just something about having a target of others, who are struggling the same amount as I am, and you get some adrenaline from that.
I was originally only going to go up to Phil’s Cookie Corner, who hilariously entices riders with chocolate chip cookies. Who am I to refuse … I grabbed a handful (about 5 cookies), and was munching them on my way up to the Ski Lift. I think that gave me an extra boost to make it to the top.
After passing this switchback, I hear more classic rock, like the Stones, Allman Brothers Band … it helped me get through it. Seeing others get off an walk for a little bit also gave me self confidence, and guided me up the hill.
Finally made it to the top. A friend of ours had some VIP passes, so we were able to get into the tent, with some nice warm pastries, mash potatoes, coffee … at least it’s something to fill the stomach with. We also got to see the broadcast on big screen tv, so we can get a sense of what was going on.
After finishing the ride, I did check my stats to compare with some of the pros … it’s laughable, really.
That is just insane!