Newport Beach to Encinitas – via Mount Palomar

Yep you read that right.  I went from Newport Beach to Encinitas …the long way.  I made a left turn at Oceanside and headed East.  I climbed Palomar Mountain in triple digit heat again and it totally sapped me… again.  I climbed Palomar Mountain less than a week ago on Saturday July 17th.


155 miles 9,000 feet of gain.

Lot of heat again — triple digits climbing Palomar Mountain

My first 80 miles were great! The weather was cool and overcast.  I drank only two bottles of Infinit Nutrition. I averaged almost 20 mph from Newport Beach to Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center.  I like the route I chose.  It was mainly coast and flat so I could work on my aero position on the aerobars I had installed on my road bike.  Yikes! Aerobars on a road bike?  Yep …get over it :p  So here I was at my first stop of the day.  I had been rolling for 4 hours 14 minutes (my download told me that) and this was the first time I had dismounted.  AND that’s when I realized it was freakin’ hot out there lol!

I filled my bottles and rolled on to face my nemesis, Palomar Mountain.  A few turns, a downhill, and there I was at the foot of one of California’s 10 toughest climbs— Palomar Mountain 12 miles and 4300 feet of gain.   I began the climb in the 100F+ heat and within just a few minutes I felt my pace was slowing. I have climbed Palomar Mountain many times but I never had close to a century (100 miles)  on my legs before reaching the base like I did on Friday.  Had I made a mistake?  Is it still too early in my training for a century before Palomar?  And if I’m suffering now how will finish this 12 mile climb and the 50 miles back to the coast in Encinitas?

After the first 5 miles I pulled over totally overheated and totally spent.  I took five minutes in the shade and finish my first bottle.  I had three – two on the bike and one in my jersey pocket.  I rolled even though I wasn’t feeling any better…got to stay moving.

As I began the second half of the mountain I just couldn’t pedal on.  I pulled over and took 20 minutes in the shade. I looked at my SRM and it said it was 102F.   I still had about 5 miles to go on the 12 mile climb.  Now you must know something about me and climbing…I love to climb, which is to say I love to suffer.  But when I climb I hold myself to one and only objective…DON’T GET OFF THE BIKE!  So for me to have pulled over twice on a climb I have climbed probably 100 times is a grave situation.  I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.  I didn’t feel under-fueled.  I did feel dehydrated but that shouldn’t affect my legs that much. I had to be economic with my fluids to finish the climb but I needed to take more fluids in NOW!

You might ask yourself …why is he doing this to himself?  Right?  In case you don’t follow my blog regularly, I am training for the Furnace Creek 508. It is a 508 mile non-stop bicycle race through the Mojave and Death Valley deserts with 35,000 feet of climbing over 10 mountain passes.  It is my fifth year returning to this extreme race.  It is my goal race every year and if I don’t suffer now I will really suffer in October.

Well 20 minutes off the bike was the key and I got back on and finished the climb feeling better but still feeling terrible.  As I think back I hadn’t stopped for my first 80 miles at which time I was stopped fewer than five minutes.  I then stopped for five more minutes after the first 5 miles of the climb.  So basically in over 90 miles I had been off the bike only 10 minutes…in this heat.  OK now it’s starting to make sense.  Funny how things are clearer when you’re at home rested and comfortable in your favorite chair and not dehydrated and smoked on the side of the road.

Even though I wanted to hang out in the cooler temperatures (low 90’s) above 5000 feet I knew I just had to get down off the mountain. I then descended as quickly as possible. I love the 12 mile free-fall from over 5,000 feet elevation to 800 feet.  I love descending at speed.  It’s a blast taking hairpin turns at twice the posted speed limit.  One of the things I also love is there are a few right handers that I am leaning so far over as I cut the apex of the turn that the I feel the long blades of something brush my face at 40 mph.

I had a lot more hot climbing still to do.  But the great thing about coming back from Palomar Mountain to the coast is that little by little it  gets cooler. It’s also into a headwind so that helps in one respect but hurts in another…pushing into a headwind sucks actually.   I eventually started to feel better… just better.  I wanted to ride back up to Newport Beach which would have made a 200 miler but the damage had already been done on Palomar Mountain.  I was very dehydrated and just needed to pull the plug on this ride.


OK so Saturday July 17th I climbed Palomar Mountain on a 127 mile 10,000 feet of climbing day—  Start/Finish Encinitas

Friday July 23rd I climbed Palomar Mountain (90 miles in) on a 155 mile 10,000 feet climbing day Start Newport Beach Finish Encinitas

The goal is to climb Palomar Mountain (90 miles in) on a 210 mile 13,000 feet of climbing day Start and Finish in Newport Beach.  Mid August

Next goal is to climb Palomar Mountain (90 miles in) go down the other side and climb Mesa Grande, go towards Santa Ysabel and then work my way back to the coast and North as part of a 290 mile 17,00 feet of climbing. Start Finish Newport Beach end of August.

All for now…thank you for reading my blog please pass it on to your best friend.

4 thoughts on “Newport Beach to Encinitas – via Mount Palomar

  1. George: Your 7/17 post inspired me to climb Palomar on 7/24. I suspect I never saw you since I started up the mountain around 9. I couldnt believe that temps were increasing 3 degrees/ mile to 90s at the peak of palomar. How did you come back? I took Cole (1st time for me) and it destroyed my legs. I would like to do the Tam double in 2 weeks, but with only 70 mi and 7k feet on this ride, Im worried.

    • ty90– thank you for reading my blog and taking the time and effort to leave a comment. How did you come across my blog? Please pass it on to your best friend.

      I left Newport Beach at 6:08 am and it looks from my download that I started the climb 4 hours and 47 minutes later so about 10:55 am– a solid two hours later. I remember seeing someone descending on a Cervelo was that you? I returned by climbing Valley Center Rd and Lake Wholford. It’s my usual route. How did you find Cole Grade? Tough little bugger isn’t it? I will do that climb next week.

      As far as Mt Tam double, I’ve always wanted to do it but I always seem to have a schedule conflict. Let me know how it goes. I think you will be fine. I’ve done a lot of doubles and most if not all are easier than my training rides. AND my training rides have been on Palomar so if you did OK on Palomar then you will be fine on Mt Tam. I heard the climb is only like 9.5 miles and gain about 2,600 feet.

      Good luck and good hearing from you.

      • I found your site from google. I was searching on something related to climbing or white mountain or something.

        I checked my data and at 10:55a I finished descending Palomar and stopped at the Taco shop for fluids. I do remember seeing a solo guy climbing near the bottom and thinking “that poor bastard” with the heat! Maybe it was you! I was on a Ti Motobecane and there was a Litespeed that pulled in behind me as well.

        Heres me:

        I had the fortune of catching the SD rando riders on their 200k palomar ride saturday so that helped pass the miles while climbing to 5k feet.

        Thanks for the encouragement on the Tam ride. It shakes your confidence when you feel that you should be able to bang out 70-100mi training rides and your sore the next day!

  2. Pingback: Tour de Francis Ride Report | George's Epic Adventures

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