Sunday, June 8, 2008

I'm an Idiot...Ride Around the Bear 08 Ride Report

I barely made it into this ride. I heard about it at Heartbreak Hundred from a few different people who thought it would be a good ride for me to do. I checked out the website, the route profile and some commentary on chatboards about the ride and thought it would be good for training as well. As I get closer to the Death ride I'm realizing it's hard to find rides that get me up in altitude. This ride gets as much altitude as the Death Ride at Onyx Summit. The ride unfortunately was already full. I managed to get on the wait list and thanks to some wrangling by some friends I was able to get in...

Ride Around the Bear starts in Redlands at Sylvan Park. The ride is a smaller ride that is limited to 400, but it's a really well supported ride with a hard core contingent of riders who wake up early on the day registration opens to sign up. It is a timed ride, although not a race, so you have groups of people who are busting their asses, and people who are taking their time like me. It's hosted by the Orange County Wheelman, who also host the Amtrak Century. I arrived at the park, checked in, then sat around and waited for some friends, and then ran into Brad from PAA.

Brad, myself and a couple other guys rolled out. By the time we hit the first climb on the 330 Brad and one of the guys took off as I and one of the other guys, Errit, set our own pace, taking turns setting the pace and just generally easing our way up the first massive section of climbing. Brad tends to be a bit competitive and a bit of a hammer head, but that's why I like the guy, he's always messing around and challenging people for sprints, he doesn't take riding all seriously. I was keeping my heart rate low, so I didn't want to push myself to hard. I saw Brad at the first rest stop, but he was taking off right as I got in. The first 21 miles to the 1st rest stop saw some incredible climbing. Despite the heavy traffic on the 330 the climbing was awesome. It went up and up, from the starting elevation at about 1,500 ft. to over 5000 ft. That's right, 3500 ft. in 20 miles. It was like the secret training route I have, only without all the descending wonderfulness. Instead it's just a constant, grinding up hill struggle...kind of like my work life, only a lot better. The road was lined with these beautiful yellow flowers who's bloom looked like some kind of orchid, but was blooming in mass out of bushes. The bushes were so prominent that you could smell the flowers for much of the climb. Flowers disappeared after the first rest stop and were replaced by evergreens and the smell of pine, I know what pine smells like because I use Pinesol when I mop. What didn't stop though was the climbing. Nay... climbing continued up until the 330/18 junction, where there some rollers that led to the second rest stop at Snow Valley ski resort. By this time I was fighting with some significant indigestion or bad gas or something. Whatever it was it really sucked. This section was beautiful, and like the roads at Heartbreak Hundred, totally reminded me of Colorado.

After the second rest stop, it was 10 miles of rollers and then some sweet sweet descending through the narrows to Big bear lake, The road was steep enough to maintain 35-40 mph, but the bends were sweeping enough that you didn't have to break, or even lean really hard into the turn. By this time the elevation was well over 6,000 feet. I didn't have any issue with the altitude this time, which was great since before I felt like I was affected by it at heartbreak. Before and during the ride I made a couple adjustments to my use of supplements to counter the effects of the altitude. Thankfully it seemed to work.

After the lunch stop the road was pretty flat around the lake, and then went up. And then Up and up and up and up and up. Up all the way to Onyx summit. Despite this section of climbing being not as difficult or as long as sections of climbing that we had done previously it still seemed extremely difficult. It was during this section that I ran across a guy doing his first Century. That's a hell of a Century for your first. As we climbed you could hear the cicadas buzzing in the fauna. I was wondering to myself if the constant buzzing from chains spinning on the climb was getting their attention. The scene at Onyx might as well have been a party. People were sitting around talking, taking they're shoes off, stretching, eating soup... you know, getting crunk. And for good reason, the ride was about to get really exciting.

From Onyx the road went down for a few miles and I was able to clock 45 mph at one point, despite a significant head wind. There was a bit of climbing at Barton Flats, and some rollers after that until the last rest stop. From there it was all down hill. Down hill all the way to the finish. It was awesome. Awesome climbing, Awesome Descending, Awesome Everything. The only thing that sucked about the whole ride was losing my Camera. Despite losing my camera, it was still an awesome ride.

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