Saturday, April 30, 2011

Epic Ride Saturdays - Laguna Canyon

Laguna Canyon
About 1.22 million years ago, Laguna Canyon began to form when the San Diego Creek started cutting through the rising San Joaquin Hills.  The Canyon runs roughly north/south for 8 miles, is a wide and shallow valley on the north end, and a deep and narrow gorge on the south end.  CA Route 133 runs straight through, and is a really popular road for cyclists.  You'll also see a lot of mountain bikes - access to the Laguna Coast Wilderness (and thus a large trail system), is found about half way through the canyon.

As usual, OC Velo met at Worthy Park in Huntington Beach and then headed south on Pacific Coast Highway picking up a bunch of additional riders.  We took PCH all the way down to Laguna, which is about a 17 mile trip through Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar and Newport Coast/Crystal Cove State Park.

The ride through Newport Coast is always great.  It's about a 4 mile stretch were the Pacific is directly  to the right and the coastal mountains are directly to the left.  The road undulates through this stretch.  But none of the climbs are particularly steep, so with a good group you can fly through this section.

The Cottages @ Crystal Cove
One of the cool points of interest along this stretch of PCH are the Crystal Cove Cottages.  Originally built in the 1920's, the 48 cottages where initially private residences.  At some point, they where all abandoned and fell into disrepair.  But eventually, they were restored and in 2006 opened up as rentals to overnight guests.  I've been down on the beach, but have never stayed in the cottages.  Apparently, a rental is pretty tricky to get - they are all booked at least a year in advance and reservations only open up once a month.  Typically, each month's allotment can sell out within hours.  One of these days Mary, Ian and I will spend a few nights there.  In the meantime, I recommend them to anyone who is looking for a slightly left-of-center California beach vacation with access to great riding, open water swimming and trail running literally just off the porch.

OC Velo
We regrouped in Laguna Beach and then turned left into the Canyon.  From the south, the first 5 miles are either false flats or gentle climbs.  But at mile 6, you are faced with a more significant climb.  It's nothing crazy, but there is no doubt in your legs that you are climbing.  The climb is about 2 miles long.  For about a mile and a half, I had been leading the group and feeling pretty good about it.  But once we hit the climb, a couple of guys pulled out of the line and shot by me.  One of them turned to me as he passed and said "Nice pull" without a hint of irony in his voice.  No good deed goes unpunished.

I took off after them, but I was never able to bridge the gap.  Instead, I hooked up with a solo rider about halfway up the climb and we traded pulls to the top.  The top is where the wind hit.

We are having pretty strong Santa Ana winds this weekend.  Santa Ana's blow from the north-east, and since they come in off the desert, they are hot.  Today they where strong.  Once I hit height of land, the wind hit me like a blast furnace from out of nowhere from about my 2 o'clock.  And they where so strong that I nearly went down.  It was probably more of a case of not expecting them, but even after I recovered and adjusted they still made for an interesting descent out of the canyon.  I met the guys who passed me at the bottom of the hill, and then we all waited for everyone else.  To a rider, everyone had a hairy "oh-my-gosh-the-wind-nearly-knocked-me-on-my-ass" story.

The rest of the ride was pretty routine, save for when the two guys who punched my ticket on the climb took off down the multi-use path in the Back Bay.  But this time I didn't let them go - I jumped on the wheel of the second guy and we tore along at about 26 MPH.  Then it was coffee at the HB Pier and the last 8 miles home.

Final Ride Stats

Distance:  55 Miles
Moving Time:  2:56
Average Speed: 18.8 MPH
Top Speed: 43.0 MPH
Climbing:  1,130 Feet


Petraruns said...

That's quite a ride - quite a workout! Looks gorgeous and those cottages seem amazing.

KovasP said...

So cool you've hooked into this group - your epic rides are making me envious!

Jennifer said...

"Nice pull" what a great thing to hear!

Shawn said...

Man, you have a knack for the narrative. I read a ton and usually "see" what I post!

Aimee said...

That sounds like another great ride! It must be fun to have a group to go on these rides with!

Unknown said...

You live in paradise dude! I had an epic 70 something miler on flat country roads. It included 40mph winds and being chased by no less than a dozen bug ass dogs? Why does every redneck home owner feel they need to keep an unchained Rot or Pit Bull in there front yards? Anyways, I just imagine your rides as I was suffering through this shit.

A Prelude To... said...

Top speed 43mph! I'm sure you've gone faster...but for me...that's 'bout as fast as I go...on a really good and most safe day...
and I still poop my pants :D

Shannon (IronTexasMommy) said...

Ditto what Julie said! 43mph! Call the ambulance now. I would have had a heart attack before I ate it. That's crazy fast! Great ride! Way to go!

JessiePants said...

Does sound like an epic ride, but awesome.
The cottages sound lovely!

Emz said...

super nice.

next time . . . .

should run it.

just a thought.

Chris K said...

The beginning of this post sounds like the beginning of a James Michener novel. Ever read his book called Hawaii? A top 10 for me.

The ride sounds awesome. What a weekend weather wise, eh? Simply could not have been better.

Keep up the good work.


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