I rode Palomar Mountain South Grade (14.5 mile 5,000+ ft) today. I hadn’t been on the mountain since October 12, 2019. I had one goal and that was to ride the climb at 3 w/kg. I ended up with 2.93 w/kg for the 2 hour climb. I am happy not only with accomplishing my training goal but also with how I felt.
Palomar Mountain has three notable ascents. There is a fourth but it is really difficult on a road bike more on that later. The most common ascent would be South Grade. The other two would be East Grade and Nate Harrison Grade, the latter is mixed terrain.
I mentioned earlier there was a fourth ascent that would be Palomar Truck Trail/Divide. It is really rocky and sandy. Going up you can pick your line but descending it will really test your bike handling skills and your tires if you are on a road bike. I speak from experience. I have climbed and descended it on 25mm tires. I don’t recommend the truck trail for the novice cyclist. If you decide to ride a Hardtail MTB you will have the appropriate equipment to climb and descend.
Here is a great resource if you wish to dig down into the details of the 100 hardest climbs in California. South Grade ranks as 18th based on FIETS. Some of you may have your pet climb and may not agree with the list. FIETS is a mathematical calculation so it removes any subjective or personal bias.
South Grade and I have a long history and it’s been love/hate from our very first date. My beautillion should be a case study on how not to climb Palomar Mountain. I nearly passed out from a very serious bonk! I literally fell over just passed the 4,000 ft elevation sign. I look at the boulder-sized rock that I sat down and rested nearly every time I climb South Grade. I give it the finger, mentally of course. I was 80 plus miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing into the ride when I crested the mountain. Great, good job you reached the summit but now I still needed to ride home. It was the day after Christmas and no one was on the road. Additionally, no stores were open. I called my neighbor to come pick me up. He had just become a licensed driver and was all too eager to drive his dad’s pick-up truck and come get me. I was not an endurance cyclist, not even a century rider, at the time. What was I thinking? There is a blog post in there just need to find more time in my days to document that first climb.
Many years later, I was fit enough to climb Palomar without stopping. The challenge then became doing repeats on it because climbing it once wasn’t enough anymore. As the years went by I was doing multiple repeats on it. Eventually, I Everested the climb — 7 plus repeats for 29,029 feet in one ride. I wish I had a link for my blog post documenting my first Everest, Everesting Palomar Mountain, but sadly I never finished it. I will get it done I promise.
TODAY’S TRAINING RIDE
I parked at Harrah’s Casino in Rincon. Harrah’s Casino likes to call their little complex Funner. Silly name I know and there is signage guiding you towards it from six miles away. I like to park at the base of the mountain so that I can be on the climb within a few hundred meters. As I mentioned in the introduction the goal was to pace my ride at 3 w/kg which for me is about 200 watts. Yes, you can now scoff at my paltry wattage but hey I am just an average Joe that loves riding his bike. I have never been a pro cyclist nor anything even remotely close.
When I climb Palomar I take one detour to add an additional small climb and then I add another small climb at the end. For years I rode by Red Gate Road until one day I asked the best question a cyclist should ask themselves routinely, “I wonder where that goes?” I was pleasantly surprised to discover a .8 mile 250 ft climb with steep ramps that led to a dead end road. The bonus climb I tack on at the end, Crestline, adds another 350 feet. So with a few little tweaks I now have a 14.5 mile 5,000 ft climb in my backyard. Below you will see my TrainingPeaks screenshot. As the season progresses the goal will be higher intensity along with a few pick-ups (intervals) on the climb.
FYI – it was cold AF on the descent. I nearly froze on the first 2,000 feet of the descent and never warmed up on the lower 3,000 feet. I pulled the pin on doing an additional repeat today. All good the primary mission had been accomplished.
Ok that is all for now so that I can actually publish a post on the same day I start writing it!
POST SCRIPT – I came away with a little prize for my proper pacing, a KOM. All’s well that ends well.
#Everesting #PalomarMountian #TrainingWithPower #EnduranceRides #WinterBaseTraining #RimBrakesForLife