But sometimes, things don't work out as planned. The group always starts the rides together. However, when we got to the split point, hardly anyone wanted to go "B". And to be honest, I had changed my mind too. Because the "A" ride was headed through Santiago Canyon.
Santiago Canyon runs through the western foothills of The Santa Ana mountains in west central Orange County. The road is extremely popular with "bikers" of all types - both motorcyclists and cyclists. We entered the canyon from the north end in Tustin, where the road decisively starts climbing and stays that way for 4 miles and a 1400 foot elevation gain.
Once we reached the crest, the canyon itself is another 10 miles of rolling road, which adds another 1100 feet to the climbing tally. I, of course, managed to flat about a 1/4 mile into this section. So while switching out tubes I fell about 10 minutes behind the rest of the group. And though it would have been nice to ride with some people, riding the canyon alone didn't exactly suck. It's beautiful in there.
I spent the time working my way through the canyon thinking about my relationship with climbing. I'm a slow climber - and this probably comes down to 80% ability and 20% to the beta blocker I take. And climbing hurts - a lot. But I DO like it, really. If I put my head into a place where rhythm comes first and speed is secondary, it's a really enjoyable experience.
By this point, we had about 25 miles left in the ride. And since we were essentially headed back to the beach, logic dictates that the trip back would be mostly downhill, right? Wrong. there was one more climb ahead.
By the time we regrouped again, I was pretty spent. The speedsters took off towards home and a smaller group of us (including TRI714 and Nan from T-Mat Pro) enjoyed a moderate ride back through Irvine and Newport Beach. There was the usual coffee stop at the pier and then home.
The final stats for the day: Just under 75 miles and just under 2600 feet of climbing. Funny, it felt like we climbed more than that....