Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hoodoo 500 training weekend #1

I had a crazy idea inspired by my friend Stefan who does this kind of thing regularly. It would be great training for the Hoodoo 500 race, which I am doing in August. Hoodoo has 35,000 feet of climbing during the 519 mile race in Southern Utah.

I had the idea that I would go up to Big Bear Lake to visit my Mom, Dad, two of my sisters and their families, from home, on my bicycle.What?

Not a big deal. I do this kind of thing all the time...right?

This time I planned to do a highland route up to Big Bear Lake. I planned on riding fully "self supported" style.This meant carrying all my lights, food, gear and clothes for 3 days of riding and visiting up in "The Bear".
 I had about 15 pounds in my Camel-bac pack.

 I talked to my friend Chuck Bramwell about the Breathless Agony event which he is involved with. I asked him if I could help out with the Grimm Reaper duties and help at the check point on Onyx Summit above Big Bear. I wanted to surprise some of my friends who were doing the event.

I left West Hills a little after 12:30 am on a Friday morning.

Once I left the San Fernando Valley it was all up-hill!

I took La Tuna Canyon up to the La Canada area where I picked up Hwy 2, Angeles Crest Hwy.

Angeles Crest Hwy traverses the entire crest of the Angeles National Forest encompassing 3-4 summits over 7,000 feet.

Riding Hwy 2 in the wee hours of the morning was just MAGICAL!
Heading up Hwy 2 with the city lights below and to the south

No traffic, ( saw 2 cars from the bottom to Cloudburst Summit), cool temperatures for the climb, and spectacular views of the Los Angeles basin lights below as well as the Mojave Desert on the other side as the sun came up.

I was a little worried leading up to my training ride. We had terrible winds in the entire area up until the day before my ride.

Up...up...up ...I went.

I was carrying 2 large water bottles plus 70 ounces in my back pack bladder. I could really feel the extra weight on the climbs. (excellent training though). It was very dry and I topped everything off when I reached the first water at the junction of Hwy 2 and Angeles Forest Hwy. It was really lonely up there but I have always been a little bit of a loner and have no problem doing things on my own.

Next stop....Red Box. 
Red Box is well known among cyclists in the area. It is the junction of Red Box Road and Mount Wilson Road on Mount Wilson. Many people ride up to the observatory at the top of the mountain here. It took a while to get there but I was feeling great.

Onward I went for my next water stop at Newcombs Ranch.

It was just getting light when I approached Newcombs. I filled up quickly, ate a breakfast burrito from the "Scratch Labs" cookbook and was on my way.

Next stop Cloud Burst Summit.

It was beautiful on my way up to Cloud Burst. The sun was rising, it was nice and cool and the pine trees smelled wonderful. The smells are never mentioned as one of the perks of riding a bike in wilderness. One of my favorite things.....the smells of nature!

I did not stop this time by the sign. I just wanted to make it to my next break which I planned for Dawson Saddle.
The views are just spectacular on this Hwy!!
I took my camera out for the first time once the sun came up and started snapping away.

 I was reminiscing about my skiing days up at Kratka ridge and Mount Waterman which I passed along the way. Not much snow up here on this day though.

Heading to Dawson Saddle

I used to ski at Mount Waterman when I was a kid

 The sunrise was beautiful and it energized me. I was almost to Islip which has spectacular views of the San Gabrial Canyon, the San Gabriel River Water shed area and Hwy 39
Looking down at Hwy 39 and San Gabriel Canyon from the Islip area

Climbing to Islip Point
Palmdale in the distance
Looking down at Palmdale

After stopping for a little bit to take a few pics, I started the trek up to Dawson Saddle. The view from this section opens up to the north side of the mountains and the Mojave Desert below. You cannot see it well in the pics above but Palmdale and Edwards Air Force Base could be seen in the distance.

I took a much needed break for second breakfast at Dawson. It was pretty cold so I stayed in the sun.

Taking a much needed break and basking in the sun
Now off to my next destination, Mountain High and Wrightwood

I have never been beyond Dawson on my bike before so I did not know what to expect.

It turned out to be much easier than the privious section I had been on. I had a very long descent before the final climb to Wrightwood. It was great but I got the chills. I had to stop and put my jacket on for the first time. The temp was in the low 40's in the shade.
The climb to Wrightwood was beautiful!! I was getting low on water so I was glad it was not far.

Heading into Wrightwood

Heading into Wrightwood
It really warmed up when I rolled into Wrightwood. I stopped at a local store for water and a soda. That soda really hit the spot!!

Then my Garmin got me a little bit lost getting out of there on Lone Pine Canyon Road. The road dead ends near some houses but the mapping program did not take me around to where it continues. I had to ask a local guy working in his yard after climbing about 300 feet extra in the area trying to find it. All along it was about a block away.

Lone Pine Canyon Road was awesome!! A really long straight descent down to Hwy 138 near Interstate 15 and Cajon Pass.
I just relaxed and cruised down that hill. It was GREAT.....after being  up on the ridge climbing all morning.
Looking down at Cajon Pass

Lone Pine Canyon Road
I am on Hwy 138 in Cajon Pass. Looking at Interstate 15
Next stop: Silverwood Lake

Now it was really getting warm. I stayed on Hwy 138 now for my next destination, Silverwood Lake.

The ride up to the lake was pretty hot and steep. I was reading the mid 90's on my Garmin. The road was a little narrow to start. I had never been on this road before. It was beautiful. The wild flowers were blooming everywhere and the sweet broom plants were so fragrant you could almost taste them in the air.
It was a pretty good climb just to reach the lake but not too bad. It was the heat that made it seem worse.
I had a fantastic flat to rolling descend down to the lake. It was really nice and I could see the San Bernadino Mountain range looming ahead of me. My first time seeing them from this angle. They were looming and I knew that I had to get up to Crestline which is right up on the Rim of the World Hwy. Having never climbed up there from the north side, I did not know what to expect.

Heading up Hwy 138 toward Silverwood Lake

Silverwood Lake

Silverwood Lake. Sweet broom plants everywhere

Starting the climb on the south side of the lake.
Now......onward to Crestline.

This was the toughest part of the day. No one ever told me how steep the climb to Crestline is. It started off easy enough but then with about 10 miles to go to Hwy 18 it really kicked up. For about one hour I had to deal with some very steep switch-backs. I had steady grades about 12% and many areas kicked up to 18% in the switch-backs. I was going so slow that the knats and other bugs were buzzing my face and driving me crazy. I don't know what the maximun grades were because my Garmin % would shut off on everything over 18%. Weird!
Every time I would summit one of the short steep turns, (switch-back), I would think it was over, only to come to another corner that would kick up insanely steep again. It seemed never ending with all the wieght I was carrying.
I finally did make it up to Crestline and thought it was over, such luck.....I still had about 2 more miles to climb in Crestline before joining the "Rim of the World Hwy".
Hwy 18 offered some spectacular views of the San Bernadino Valley below.

Rim of the World Hwy

Rim of the World Hwy

The climbing was far from over though. I still had to climb to Lake View Summit before dropping into Big Bear.
I stopped for a break at a convenience store then headed up the road. I passed Snow Valley ski resort then started the climb up to the summit. This was an easy climb since I was starting to smell the barn.
I have done this climb many a time on Ride Around The Bear so I was familiar with it.
I reached the summit and took a little break to text my sister and tell her I was on the home stretch.

Lakeview summit above Big Bear dam

I rode around the lake on the north shore and arrived at my sisters around 4pm. What a great ride......but pretty tough!
Pulling into my sisters driveway at the top of yet another hill.

End of day one

After a great pizza dinner.....excellent cycling food.....I went to bed.

Day two:   Grimm rides to Onyx Summit on a bike

I had a great cup of coffee while watching the birds at my sisters place. I then stopped at my sister Michele's house on my way out. Michele lives just down the street. I saw a few of my nieces who showed up at the house too.
Left to right: John, Denise, me, John and Michele

On day two I did a nice little recovery ride without all the weight. The Onyx summit climb was just effortless after the prior day carrying all the weight and I did not even notice the high altitude.

I went over the top and down a little ways before coming back up to work the event.
I saw many of my friends up there, some doing the event and some staffing it.

Here are some of the pics from the event:

Joel was the first to the summit. With my partner...Grimmet...Jen Koles and Chuck Bramwell
What Jen really looks like. We both were wearing our Triple Crown Gold 1000 mile club jerseys.
With Chuck and Planet Ultra's Debra Bowling.

With my friend and "Adrenalin Enduro Racing", Race across the West, team mate Debbie. The climber on our team!!

With my Swiss friend Roland

With my friend and super climber Karen

I look pretty scary don't I?

All done and ready to head back to Denise's. With Mr. Triple Crown himself, Chuck Bramwell

With Chuck and my friend Teresa just before heading down the hill

I dropped back down the hill to Big Bear at about 4pm. It was a blast working up there and seeing everyone. It was a very warm day and contrats to everyone who finished that brutal ride.

We had a great family dinner when I got back. Then we watched a little TV and I was out like a light.

Day three: Grimm rides home

I arose at 5:45am for a nice cup of coffee, loaded up my pack and was out the door.
Bye bye Big Bear

It was 32 degrees when I left the house. I was heavy again carrying everything but I decided not to carry the 70 ounces of water in my pack since there are plenty of places to stop for water on the route back.

I  rolled the 3 miles to the base of the Onyx climb from my sisters house.
Heading up Onyx north side again
On the way up, I had company. I met a guy named Robert who was staying up in Big Bear. He was riding out to Jenks lake. We rode over the summit and to Jenks lake together.

Robert at Onyx Summit
The rest of the ride home, I felt great. I took lots of pics on the way off the mountain.

Heading toward Angeles Oaks

Looking down at Redlands descending toward Damnation Alley

Descending Damnation Alley. The only way to go!!

I think I hit every traffic light in town on the way back. I got home before 5pm and made good time despite all the stops.

Here are the links to, both my ride to Big Bear through the high country and my ride home:

Ride to Big Bear:

Ride home from Big Bear:

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