Sunday, June 13, 2010

She Climbs Like an Angel!

Today I joined a social ride with a local group.  I needed an easy ride since yesterday I did a somewhat more ambitious ride in the San Gabriel Mountains, above Los Angeles, with a friend.  We cycled up Glendora Mountain Road (the cogniscenti shorten it to GMR) about 2500', to the saddle where Glendora Ridge Road continues along the ridge to Mt Baldy canyon, the next canyon to the east.  It's a great out-and-back ride of 50 miles and 5000' of climbing.  The return is very satisfying.  You hardly have to touch your brakes on the return, and the swooping descent lets you imagine, if only for awhile, that life is as easy and thrilling as this downhill ride.

But this day (yesterday, Saturday) we had something else in mind.  We rode north from the saddle, down to the other end of GMR, where it T's into East Fork Rd (east fork of the San Gabriel River), then rode downstream to Hwy 39, then up Hwy 39 to the top at Hwy 2 (Angeles Crest Hwy).  Descending GMR brought us down to about 2000' elevation, when we started climbing again.  The top of Hwy 39 is about 6600', so we had plenty of climbing ahead of us. 

It's a wonderful ride, one reason being that the road is closed to motorized vehicles beginning at about 3000' elevation.  The road is blocked because there's considerable road damage that has gone unrepaired.  There are several places where part of  the road has fallen away, and one where the asphalt is gone completely.  On this short portion of the road, have to ride (or walk) on hardpack dirt.  It was cold and foggy at the bottom, but we eventually climbed out of the fog at about 5000'.  Above this point, we looked down onto the LA basin and the vast sea of clouds covering the valley below.  It was a grand day, and by the end I had 88 miles and almost 10,000' of climbing.

After this rather ambitious Saturday, I wanted an easier Sunday, so this morning I did a more social ride with a local group.  At the start there were about 10 of us.  After a short while there were just 4 of us riding together at the front.  One was a youngish female with a very slight build, with very narrow hips; not short; probably 5'5" or so.  But she can't have weighed more than about 105 pounds, perhaps not more than 100.  With her very slim stature, she was a great climber. 

After an easy glide down Laguna Canyon Road, we turned north along Pacific Coast Hwy (PCH, to the locals), which has a series of rollers as you head northward.  As we rode up one of these rollers, she and I rode ahead of the other two riders who had more weight to carry up the hills.  I mentioned to her that the others must just hate her (in a good way, as in "envy" her), as they saw her rolling past them on the climbs.  Of course, I said this to encourage her, and compliment her wonderful climbing ability.  They overtook us on the ensuing descent, then on the climb up the next PCH roller, as we approached them from behind, I said quietly to her,  "OK, now roll past them ... this is your time to shine."  After I said this, and as she did roll past them, I thought to myself that I might have added: "... and make it look easy!" 

But I needn't have added that last part, because making it look easy came naturally to her.  She cycled past them without the least hint of any strain or that she had to exert herself at all.  Her posture was the same as when she was riding easily on the flats, in our paseline.  And as I watched her glide past the others, it occurred to me that I was the one (not those other riders) that looked at her with envy, amazed at how easy she made the climbing look!


  1. Funny you should write about someone climbing like an angel over the same weekend I did!

  2. Hey Dan, I picked up my old copy of Bike for Life, and damn, if you aren't featured on page 24!

  3. Dan, what happened to you is wrong on so many levels. I'm inconsolable. I can hardly believe it. I'm so sorry.