Today I wanted to do a similar route, but with a little different spin. It would more closely resemble a shorter version of my original Archipelago route that I last rode in 2009.
I secured my hall pass and headed out at 7:00 AM with an 11:30 lunch date with friends setting a hard deadline for my return. I climbed up Miners Ridge Loop to the cutover and up to the summit of Black Mountain. It was neat climbing through and then up above the clouds, something I haven't done in a really long time.
From the summit I dropped down part of the west face and then rode down the Gliderport trail and across Carmel Valley Road. From there I rode through Black Mountain Community Park, up to the fun singletrack most are calling Knoll, and then down through the artichokes and along the Lusardi Loop.
I survived the two nasty fire road climbs on the west side of the Lusardi Loop and stopped for a second at the top of the second one to snap a pic.
From there I crossed San Dieguito Rd. and dropped into the section at the bottom of Artesian Rd. I climbed the relatively new singletrack that parallels Artesian and just before heading down the Crosby switchbacks met an interesting guy who had started his day out at the Santa Ysabel Preserve near Ramona. He was apparently a radonneuring expert whose final destination for the day was downtown San Diego.
Until talking to this guy I had been pretty proud of the big loop I had planned for myself, but his route put things in perspective for me in a hurry. After just a couple minutes of chatting we parted ways and I was off.
From there things were pretty familiar. San Dieguito River Park trails up to the Lake Hodges Dam, then past Hernandez Hideaway and along the singletrack on the northwest side of the lake. After the boat dock I took the low road to check out some of the recent fire damage at North Hodges in person for the first time. It was amazing how close it had come to some of the houses on the top of the ridge.
I had originally hoped to add about seven or eight miles to my route via the Mule Hill trail and Highland Valley trails on the east side of the lake, but my pace had been less than stellar and I bagged that section due to time constraints. I simply finished North Hodges, crossed the bike/pedestrian bridge to the South side, did some of the fun singletrack over there and then exited at the Poblado trailhead and rode the pavement the short rest of the way home.
It was a pretty fun day, and the longest ride I've done in a while at 31.4 miles. Before the ride I filled my hydration bladder with 100oz of Vitalyte and sucked down the last drop during the final pavement climb. For nutrition I had a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter just before starting, then a pack of Powerbar Cola energy blasts and a Trio bar on the trail. My only real stop was for about 5 minutes talking to Mr. Radonneur at the top of Crosby, though leg cramps did force me to take a couple of short stops along North Hodges.
I was babying my legs from South Hodges all the way home, and really wished I had been able to finish stronger. I did take three Hammer Endurolyte pills at North Hodges when I first started cramping, but by then I think the damage was done. Leg cramps have been my longtime nemesis and once again posed a problem today. I actually finished the ride feeling pretty good physically overall, not too wiped out or tired. From a pure endurance standpoint I could have ridden substantially farther, but the cramping issues would have prevented that even if I hadn't been on a deadline.
So I'm hoping to do this route and include the east Hodges stuff sometime soon. I'll keep experimenting with hydration, nutrition, and electrolyte tabs as I go, and hopefully will unlock the secret to conquering the cramping issue once and for all.