I will explain that question in a minute, but perhaps even more surprising is when 19 women show up to do a ride they know involves repeats on Soledad. There is no doubt – we have some tough women in this group.
So with birthdays coming up for members Heather K and Janice, poor Janice got the short end of the stick and didn’t get to pick the route, with Heather K stepping up and stating that she wanted Soledad and wanted to include the “Bridges” route. I am decidedly not to be blamed for the “Bridges” route. Perhaps part of the blame can be placed on fearless leader Michell, since she was the first one to take us on this hidden gem, but certainly no blame can be placed on me. I do love this route, though, I should disclose.
The start – groups A and B
I may have failed to mention that both groups had to first climb Torrey Pines before heading down to La Jolla for the repeats proper. For many of these riders, it wasn’t long ago that just Torrey Pines itself was a significant accomplishment (and heck, for some days when you’re not feeling it, it can still feel like an accomplishment years after you first climb it). At 1.5 miles and 5% grade, it’s nothing to sniff at.
I should also mention that while we designed a beginner route for last Saturday that contained no repeats on Soledad, we had zero takers. Like I said, tough bunch.
The prelude to Soledad
One of my favorite parts of this ride is the view on the descent of La Jolla Shores. Too bad I am too focused on the descent to ever stop and take a picture. But it’s awesome, trust me.
Both groups wound around the (hopefully) safer streets of La Jolla and up toward the first climb for group A, and the wrap around to B’s first climb.
Climb 1 (Group A): The Bridges Route (~1.6 miles, reported average 5%, contains >12%)
We make a tough left (due to traffic) off Torrey Pines Road and up to the neighborhood of horrible climbs. This is a steep face of Soledad, and we head up Prospect toward Soledad Ave, where we veer off onto Al Bahr Drive, which takes you up into a cool little series of underpasses and bridges, with amazing houses and great views and delayed suffering until about halfway up. At first, with the neat stuff to look at, it lures you into a sense of complacency. Surely, I’ve heard things like, “This isn’t so bad”, “I’m not sure what she was talking about”, etc., until you wind around onto Hillside Drive. I will just say, ouch. This hill seems somewhat relentless, and just when you think you can’t take too much more, there’s a gate, you have to dismount, and then you have to re-clip in to climb on the same grade on completely torn up pavement. Heather K lives for stuff like this.
Then there’s another gate, that if you’re brave enough, you can definitely get around, but the hill doesn’t let up really until you reach the crest and the dangerous left turn over to the cross. I am happy to say that there were no falls, no blood, and most likely no tears (at least, I didn’t see any) on this time up the Bridges Route. The smiling faces in the picture at the start of this post is evidence of our survival.
Climb 2: La Jolla Mesa/Scenic (1.7 miles, 5%)
That 5% average reported on Strava is again, very misleading. Much like the “descent” I designed after our first climb that actually involved a decent amount of additional climbing in the Muirlands (Michell, was, I’m sure, extremely proud of this diversion), “5% average” fails to describe the first 0.5 mile of the climb that clocks in at a solid 10%. I should mention that we did stop for a little refreshment, again according to the birthday girl’s desires, at Bird Rock Cafe – which may have the strongest espresso in San Diego.
This second climb levels out quite a bit at the top, and rather than return all the way to the cross, we descended Soledad Mountain Road, to transverse via Beryl, where we immediately found another little surprise ramp to test our shifting abilities.
Climb 3: Cardeno Road (1.7 miles, 5%)
Again with the 5%, and again with the initial grueling grades more toward 10%, Cardeno proved that there really isn’t any completely easy side to Soledad. It was my first time on Cardeno, and I had thought it was going to be reasonable. I may have heard reports of that from such known fibbers as Michell, and really, by now when it comes to steepness of hills, she is decidedly not to be believed (just as I guess I am forced to admit, I am not to be believed about speed of rides). We considered skipping it, but everyone was just sort of resigned to the route at that point – punishment upon punishment was the name of the game for the day.
Finishing it off
Heather K also requested that we descend Via Capri (yikes), and then head back up to Torrey Pines via Calle do Oro, yet another hill that starts off steeper than you’d like it to but levels off nicely for a long way at the top. Via Capri is pretty much misery to ascend, but for those of us less brave descenders, it’s pretty much misery to descend as well. It is especially miserable when a very large, very slow moving trolley tour car starts down in front of you, blocking the road for you and innumerable cars stuck behind it on this steep, could-be-in-better shape road. But we made it, and then we finished out the ride back to Solana Beach.
Total Distance: ~41 miles, 3800 ft elevation gain
B Group Climbs
The B group also enjoyed several ways up Soledad, taking both the Nautlius and Cardeno routes. I can only imagine their suffering was akin to ours, and I even heard that someone described the route as, “It was so hard, I thought I was giving birth at one point.” Excellent – goal met.
Total distance: ~39 miles and 3000 ft elevation gain
Here are a few more pictures from the B ride:
This week one Team Fun contingent is set to tackle the Swami’s Fondo, or “Swamdo”, and another group will be looking to stay cool along the coast for a ride to Torrey Pines and back.
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