Monday, November 16, 2009

Mt Baldy Ski Lift Ride-Epic, or just hard?

Fueled mostly in part by Josh Webster, and not wanting to be dropped in road races next year, the Sprinter heads for the hills. Most riders in the IE tend to head towards Baldy Village via Glendora Ridge Road, which offers a much more gentlemanly grade towards said village. The steeper and more painful option is to traverse directly up the face of Baldy Road; which in fact is the story for today. The more the Sprinter climbs Baldy Road and the ski lift switchbacks, the more he becomes skeptical of the claims of others. Many self-proclaimed “hardcore cyclists” spin tales of climbing to the ski lifts as the Sprinter watches them struggle up grades one-third the difficulty of the mentioned switchbacks. Forcing to the Sprinter to call bullshit where needed, seeing as though hundreds of cyclists claim to ride to the lifts yet on a beautiful Sunday the Sprinter sees but four total humans on bicycles. Seeing as though there is only one way there and back, the chances of missing all of these hardcore studs is unlikely. Back to Josh Webster. This one:

Josh Webster; current 35+ state road race champion, leader of a small group of children of the corn, a grammar Nazi, and a damn fine citizen, (for a developing Homo Erectus of course.) Josh is someone the Sprinter respects and admires from many standpoints. From his dedication on the bike as well as his character out of the saddle. It is mostly Josh which motivates the Sprinter to climb this mountain today. First, because the Sprinter was unable to rendezvous for a ride with Josh, and second, the Sprinter wants Josh to know he suffered like a dog without the calculated hurt that he would surely have put on the fat sprinter. When I mention to an average person that I am too fat to race with Cat 1's and 2's I get the customary look of disgust. Mostly because they are much fatter than I am. Josh however, pulls no punches. Last weekend whilst climbing with Josh the Sprinter begins to plan his racing future.
The Sprinter does NOT want more than he actually wants. For example, the Sprinter WANTS to upgrade to Cat 2 so he may ride in the service of Josh and other SC Velo Tribal Elders/pro studs. The Sprinter does NOT want a free ride. He does not want free wheels, races, kits, or Gu's. The Sprinter will not upgrade to Cat 2 and five minutes later ask Josh how many free bikes he gets. The Sprinter does not want to demand goods and services from club sponsors and/or bike shop owners. The Sprinter does not want to email club presidents and ask for team spots.
The sprinter rides on: Here is the route:

Admittedly, it doesn’t look very hard on a map. The road lacks switchbacks during the beginning making it appear to be flat or easy. It’s a 22.3 miles to the lifts from home. Again, not very impressive by the numbers if you are talking distance; but let’s take a look at the ride a little closer. Straight up Euclid through Ontario and Upland it’s a mild 2-3% until you reach San Antonio Heights. A quick stop at the fire station for water and the climbing starts.

At the top of what is called Shin Loop, is where majority of the people stop their ride and go home. There is a 3000 foot elevation sign which oddly enough is off by several hundred feet. The Garmin registers a scant 2600 feet at this point.

Now the fun begins. A right hand turn onto Baldy road and it’s 11% for small bit and then back down to 7%. Now, Baldy Road has been compared to Alp D’Huez due to its average gradient. But how accurate is average gradient? As a hefty sprinter it seems absolutely retarded. Both Baldy and Alp D’Huez register at around 8% average. Now if you are a cyclist and want to try a new ride and someone tells you the ride averages 8%, you would be thinking 8%; not 6% in some areas and 17% in others. But that’s what Baldy is. It’s easy in some parts and then steeper than shit in the others. The second part of the climb isn't too bad, some up and down areas and the two tunnels, which are about 8-9%. The last mile from the second tunnel to the Baldy Ranch sign are in my opinion one of the hardest parts of the whole ride. It's a good 11-12% the while way, which unless you are a little 140lb mountain goat, makes for a long mile.

No time for church, the sprinter has prayer of his own to do; prayer to the pain cave.

After the sign there is a small 8% uptick to the village which comes down to 5% as you come into town. The post office is the usual watering hole where one can grab a snack and some liquid.

Tired of Gu's and Bars? Then do what Jeremiah Wiscovitch does; go to Costco and get yourself a 79lb box of Uncrustables. Wisco claims he can finish the entire Redlands Stage Race on one Uncrustable, so it's gotta work. By no means gourmet; but on a ride like this it tastes like heaven in plastic wrap. Chef's note: No need to thaw the sammiches simply throw them in your jersey pocket they will be nice and chilly by the time you eat them.

Now that the Sprinter is full of PB & J goodness, time to head to the lifts. There is a short climb of 7-8% out of the village, then the switchbacks finally hit. From above:

And Below:

Halfway up the switchies and the Sprinter is now thinking this was a dumb idea. This area is fairly steep, and the turns are about 15%. It's Sunday, God's ordered day of rest, as per. If this is so then why are there so many men who ride like suffering fools EVERY Sunday? Are they unGodly, or just gluttons for punishment? The Sprinter does not fear the wrath of the God at this moment. In fact, at this particular moment of labored breathing and acid filled legs, the Sprinter's fears are minimal. He does not fear violent switchbacks, sharp descents, and rocky cliffs. He does not fear motorcycles, forestry trucks, or over-medicated housewives in large SUV's. He does not fear bears, goats, coyotes, or timber wolves. He does not fear Mountain Lions knowing that the SC Velo hunters are lying in wait in the bush clad in Ghillie suits with lion-seeking missile launchers. He does not fear killer bees, falling rocks, or angry men in Mini-Coopers. In fact, there are only two things the Sprinter fears at this moment: Circus midgets and Josh Webster. At 5000 feet we're getting somewhere now:

Last switchback, and the Sprinter is on the final stretch. A small respite and a quick downhill before the hardest part. The nice 60 degree weather down in Chino is now 26 degrees and gusty. The Sprinter has forgotten his gloves on mountain rides enough and will not be fooled by that bitch elevation any more.

The Sprinter can suffer if needed. But he has no problem admitting near defeat. Grinding up this 15% section into a headwind was brutal. The 25 cog felt like a 19, and the pedals were not frisky in the least. But there is no way the Sprinter comes this far and stops. Up to the ski lift sign and the climbing is done.

The numbers:
Final Elevation: 6200 feet
Total climbing: 5300 feet
Miles: 44.6
Will the Webster respect me more for riding to the lifts? I don't think so. But the fact I left half a lung and parts of my Aorta on Baldy Road might count for something.


Unknown said...

oc sprinter,

dave right. was surfing for scvelo and came across your blog. way cool and very entertaining.

so how's the riding look in 2013?


Unknown said...

i am back on scvelo team.. will be focusing on the jr mtbers... hopefully we can finally do a ride together one of these days.