LoToJa Training Ride #2 – Creek to Peak

There is only one place on earth I’ve ever seen what I saw today, and I’ve seen it multiple times in the same exact spot.  I wish I’d had a GoPro.  Through the twisty single track down Holy Jim, I was flying.  The brush is tall and in some spots creates a jungle canopy in our arid mountains.

Someone else was flying too, a little Blue Jay.

He swooped in from my left and flew just in front of me for a good 20 seconds.  His beautiful blue body luminescent against the greens and shadows.  The wings, like my legs… a few quick flaps, a brief glide, more flaps.  When the canopy opened he shot out… earth is awesome.

Today’s training ride  was more about time in the saddle.  It wasn’t a road ride, it was MTB.  I think it’s important to keep it playful and fun vs a death march every Saturday.  Also, we don’t have any big paved climbs around here and this would allow me to “ramp up” the vertical.

Pete and I rolled from my place at 6 and headed inland from the sands of Doheny.  Chris Hill and the rest of the Creek to Peak crew left Salt Creek at the same time, and we met up in San Juan.  The idea is to leave the beach and ride to the top of Saddleback, 5687′, and back.

78.7 miles… 6:51 rolling time… 7,021′ elevation gain.  More data here: STRAVA

Other than testing my legs and back on a sustained climb, I also wanted to test out real pickle juice.

The main climb, Harding Truck Trail to the peak of Saddleback, is about 14 miles and 4000′ of elevation gain.  That’s about 285’/mile, 5.5% average pitch… some parts are closer to 15%.

The question was, do I have decent climbing legs?  It’s a little hard to tell for a few reasons:  one, I haven’t ridden my MTB much this year so my body isn’t firing perfectly on that bike; two, I was loaded down with 3 bottles and a lot of food which is more than usual; three, it took 2 hours to get to the base vs driving to the start and riding home was in the back of mind.  Bottom line:   I felt fine, like I could keep going.

About that pickle juice… can I tell you how tasty it was all heated up by my body and the shining sun?  Could it dissolve my throat?!!  I chased it with GQ6.  Side note:  the pickle juice was in a plastic flask.  It was a little tricky twisting the top off while grinding up Harding TT.  Bottom line:  this was definitely a day where cramps could happen, it was hot on the climb… we all had salt stains on our kits… and I felt not a hint of cramps, zero.

We stopped at mile 50, about 5 hours in, at the Trabuco General store… it was a chance to gather everybody up and eat Mexican popsicles, chips, donuts, sodeepop.

This brings an end to a nice little build cycle:  4 hours 25 min two weeks ago, 5 hours 11 min last Saturday, and 6 hours 51 minutes today.  I’ll get pretty big ride in on the 4th, then recover the rest of the week with a shorter ride next Saturday…

… gotta taper for the unOFFICIAL Tuesday Morning World Championships on 7/11


Had to jam all this in the back pockets: pickle juice flask, 3 baggies of GQ6 – 2 in the 3rd water bottle, 5 Honey Stingers.

Nate joined us from Dana Point

Pete… do you agree? (We’re about a mile from the summit at this point)

Yep, we live in the desert

Lives were saved today.

This should have been enough… but I went back for a coconut popsicle.