May’s Monthly Hill Challenge – Holiday Weekend Double Dose

As many of you know, we engage in what we call in polite terms a “hill challenge” on the fourth Saturday of each month.  This month’s route was designed by my route-creating buddy Jill, who was afraid that maybe she didn’t make it hard enough.  I think the consensus, on about the third >10% grade, was that it indeed was hard enough.  For those of you curious about our most difficult route, see the following:

The ride started casual enough, meandering up the coast, but kicked up quickly as soon as we turned onto Batiquitos and made our way the very steepest way possible through the Aviara neighborhood.  More than once people ask, “How do you know these are here?”  Well, Jill lives in that neighborhood and I used to live there – but also, I think we have an affinity for that type of thing.


Group heads up through the Park Hyatt in Aviara

Next up after a few rollers here and there was another favorite neighborhood, which I actually don’t know the name of, but it includes such steepies as Whitman-to-Tolkien and the perennial non-favorite, Hemingway – this time we did Whitman-to-Tolkien only.  There is a great cul-de-sac for pictures at the top (for now, until they sell that plot that’s for sale!).



Kelvin, Fred, Heather B, Mark, Janice, Lorraine, David, Steve; front row:  Stan and Annie. Jill took the photo.  On top of Tolkien.

Due to the construction on El Camino Real, we had to route out around to the coast and then back the north side of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon to begin a double ascent of another neighborhood I don’t know the name of, but now know the steep monsters it contains:  Hillside, Neblina, Avila and High Ridge – someone we were on each of those maybe a few times.

We next headed inland a little bit more, to do what I thought were our last two significant climbs – Trieste and Pontiac – and then I realized there’s a pretty awful way to take Tamarack back around to College.  At that point, my legs definitely told Jill they’d had enough.

We finished with yet another meander through the Tolkien-Hemingway neighborhood, this time hitting the poet streets Longfellow and Byron, before finally returning to El Camino Real and our final stretch to home.

I had parked at our ultimate destination for the day, La Costa Wine Shop off El Camino, and let me tell you, I was very much ready to call it “good” when I got to that point.  46 miles and about 4000′ had me cooked and ready for a few drinks.

The B and C groups followed similar routes, minus the steepest climbs, and many of us made our way back to the wine shop for some post-ride socializing.


Mar Lyn, Kay and Heather K – today’s C group finish up the ride at Nytro

Wine Tasting!

Earlier in the week I had worked with one of the wine shop’s owners to pick a variety of reasonably-priced wines for the group to try Saturday – I took as a theme my recent trip to Piedmont (Italy) and Provence (France), and selected a rose from Provence, a Barbera from Asti, and then filled in other selections that were similar in style to those I had in Europe (one rose, two whites, three reds).  Maybe at a normal party, six bottles of wine wouldn’t be enough for so many people, but after a long hard ride, and adding in some beer and cider, that seemed like plenty.  I also bought some snacks at the Gelson’s to fortify us (or soak up the wine, really).  We try to do an event like this about once a quarter – I think the next one may involve breweries!

And then… we climbed Palomar!

Each month Swami’s organizes a Palomar Mountain ride, beginning at the Harrah’s Casino in Rincon.  With a 11.6 mile climb and 4200′ vertical, this is not your average Memorial Day “fun” ride, but Jason Lee from Swami’s does his best to make it a blast for everyone involved.  For a new rider, the climb can take close to two hours, and the descent is certainly challenging.  If it’s on your bucket list, look our for the Swami’s monthly climbs and ask an experienced friend what you can do to prepare.

We were especially proud of members Kimberly, Doris, and Diana for making it up their first time, and also glad to see Heather Krauss scoring a PR and Lorraine summitting strong (not sure if it was her first time?).  Friends of Swami’s Eileen and Jessica both rocked the climb as well.


Kimberly at the top of Palomar

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