SEVEN YEARS AGO MY SON TREVOR DID A SUPER GNARLY RIDE. For sure, I told myself, I'll do that ride in a couple of weeks. It took seven years, but it was totally worth it...
... up Harrison Grade, down Palomar, with a lot of snow riding thrown in for good times.
I'd share the pictures, but I was so excited to get going I left my preciouspet iphone in the van... so, let me paint the picture.
At 8am, on a gorgeous winter's day, we left the Harrah's Casino in Funner, CA.
The first 5 miles were mainly downhill.
It was 35ish degrees.
I was donning just my kit and the KOM jacket. Andy was dressed similarly... because we dress for the ride and not the rollout.
Within 18 minutes we turned right to start the climb, and thaw-out. Each of us on BMC URS gravel bikes... Andy had just picked his up.
Nate Harrison Grade is an 8.5 mile climb with 4200' of vert... with some pitches close to 20%. And, it's all on dirt.
Nearing the top I spotted a patch of snow on the embankment. Then more patches. Followed not by water, but black ice. It was exquisite. Cool, cool air while we climbed at a decent pace through the pine trees to the lookout.
A lot of people have done that climb. Some famous, some very fast. Most head on over to the store and then drop down Palomar.
Andy had scouted a route that would take us down to a frozen pond then back onto dirt roads that would pop us out at the famous Palomar Observatory.
Now you might be thinking, how are we going to navigate a forgotten road with snow patches up to 50 feet long and 8 inches deep when everybody knows Andy doesn't ride with electronics like phones or bike computers and The Old Diesel left his phone in the van...
... slowly would be the answer.
We didn't care because we were out for an adventure. We picked our way up the next climb, making a few wrong turns along the way.
Finally we came to a snow patch that was at least 100 yards long, down a pretty steep road. We figured we were probably close to the next major road. But, we weren't sure. We'd been riding for 3 hours we were running out of time.
We played it safe and turned around.
Forty minutes later we were at the top of the south side of Palomar mountain.
This is a paved road we have gone down many times. It's famous to the locals, and to anybody who has followed the Tour of California. There are about 40 or so turns. Some are high speed sweepers and some of the turns nearly turn back on themselves with a recommended speed of 20 mph.
It's also a rough road.
Plenty of cracks to rattle your bones and your nerves when your going faster than most cars.
We weren't racing it.
The sensation on the gravel bikes was dramatically different than on road bikes. The big 40mm tires at low pressure give all kinds of confidence...
... like PRs all the way down confidence.
That surprised the heck out of me... to upload and see I'd PR'd it all the way down the mountain without trying.
Speaking of turns, turns out we were about a 1/2 mile away from the road we were looking for when we turned around at the big snow field.
I can't wait to go back and complete the route and really charge down Palomar.
For sure I'll bring my preciouspet with the Trail Forks App... and of course the KOM Jacket which once again proved the perfect tool for keep me warm on the downhills and tucking neatly away on the climbs.
Use promo code KOMLAYER to get the arm warmers free.
Use promo code KOMAdventure
PS... watch the neat trick I teach in the video, you'll see it when you click on one of the jackets... you'll thank me later for this one.
7 hrs sleep