Thursday, June 28, 2012

San Diego's Steep Streets on Bicycle: Cabrillo Tide Pool Hill

There was a time in my youth when I lived in Temecula Valley an hour or so drive north of here and found it 'fun' to pedal my mountain bike up the mountains surrounding it before turning around for a good hair-raising twisty descent (if you get really aero, you can zoom past cars on your way down the S-curving stretch of Rancho California from Santa Rosa Mtn, for example)... before turning around for second serving. I'm not a youth anymore, though, and, except for one particular hill that I am having a feud with (a blog post on that coming up in a bit), had been avoiding the many little (but abrupt) hills of San Diego since taking up cycling again a few months ago... That was until I decided to go for a morning group ride up to Cabrillo Monument (and down to the tide pool) a week ago.

Cabrillo National Monument with Coronado Island & Coronado Bridge in background. (Jun 2012)
It was great! Everyone was very friendly... and fit. They went up Canon St to Catalina Blvd at so crisp a clip that I was dropped like a lump of slow-moving slug halfway up the thing. They all waited for me at the top of the climb (which sort of made me feel worse. I'd rather not slow other people down with my lack of fitness), and one even rode with me all the way to Cabrillo Park. It was still early in the morning then, and so we didn't have to pay entry fee to get through the gate. Everybody took the 'optional' ride down the hill to the Tide Pool. I took a deep breathe and went with them (I had cycled up the Tide Pool Hill once before on a mountain bike, and it was not a pleasant ride!).

Cabrillo Tide Pool in the misty morning hours. (Jun 2012)
The morning marine layer was in, so the view was more mystical than spectacular. I stopped on the ledge of the tide pool and took out my camera to stalk the lone white egret fishing on the shore, figuring to hang around for a while while my super fit fellows did what super fit fellows do, repeatedly sprinting up and coasting back down that icky long 7% grader for fun, when one of the fellows good-naturedly asked me how many repeats I planned on doing. RepeatS! I looked up at the climb up to the top of the peninsula in horror and said; 'Me? Going up that thing more than once just for the fun of it? Are you quite mad???'
Yes, yes, I know I need to shed a few pounds to keep from getting smoked up the hills by folks who dance on their pedals when the road gets vertical!
And so I did... repeat. Hahaha... Well, it wasn't all that funny when I was still huffing and puffing up the spine of Pt. Loma. It also didn't help that I kept getting smoked every few minutes by cyclists who didn't seem to notice that the road was not as horizontal as decent roads ought to be! At the start from the bend near the new light house the climb is gentle enough, but about a quarter of the way up - just when you start to get a decent view of the coast to your left - it kicks up a percent grade or two... and there is no respite whatsoever to be had until the leveling out at the very top as the road merges onto the park's entrance road. I had to pause twice from sheer fatigue more from the length of it than the steepness.
Up the Tide Pool Hill during park hours.
I should like to blame my repeat climbs (featuring 4 rest stops a piece rather than two) on peer pressure... but I really don't know if that would be justified. I've been repeating up a few nasty hills riding on my own in town ever since. It's a sort of madness that I thought I had grown out of since my Temecula days going east across the San Jacinto Mtn, south through Rainbow into the hills north of Escondido and Fallbrooks, or west up the Santa Rosa Mtn or to twisty Ortega Hwy almost every weekend. I've been up to Cabrillo twice since last week, and repeating the Tide Pool hill a few times (the last two times without stopping, so I no longer have a feud with this slope). Hills rejuvinate you once you get on top of them on your own power!


Anonymous said...

I've nothing against hills but prefer to walk up them than all this strenuous stuff. I'm full of admiration for anyone who can push themselves in this way ( even though I think they are barking mad! )

Smorg said...

Hiya Eyes: It is a sort of madness indeed! I don't know how admirable it really is, tho... I mean, there's good reward in it. Going up is full of discomfort, but it is shorter lived than walking up, and then you get to coast down. ;o)

Thinking about it.. there's gotta be some decent hills in your neck of the woods, ay? Or maybe up in the Scottish Highland... When I do get to Europe I'll rent a bike or something and have a go! :oD

Anonymous said...

Good for you! Now you need to ride up Soledad.


Smorg said...

Hallo Jimbean: Hahaha... are you really quite mad??? ;D

I actually went scouting about it today. Got up the flattest route (Soledad Mtn to La Jolla Scenic Dr), I think.. then coasted down the notorious Via Capri. That road is nasty! I'm not climbing that thing until I've grown some more mountain goat-iness first... Urrggghhh!