83.8 miles, 6:45 moving time, 8,478 ft elevation, 30 Strava trophies.
Day 1. The ride started at Starbucks in Sierra Madre. (I started early at Encanto and rode backwards to meet the Club. I was trying to end a bit early and make a family appointment. That didn’t work out, see Ski Lifts craziness.) There was a great turnout for the start of the ride. I met the Club a few minutes south of Sierra Madre. We picked up a bunch more at Encanto. Overcast and cloudy at the start.
We rode up the San Gabriel River Trail Bike Path to the end and merged onto the Hwy 29 Azusa Canyon. By the San Gabriel Dam, there was a group of birders with huge lens. I stopped and asked what there were looking at; they said it was a BALD EAGLE on the tree. We rode up to East Fork and made a stop at the Cafe. Sun was out bright and shiny. Then, we climbed up the back side of GMR (Glendora Mountain Rode). Glorious.
We rode across the ridge, which is rollers, mostly up, over the Mt. Baldy Village. We filled our bottles at the Lodge and then started the hideous climb to the ski lifts. The first 2 miles are mild 6-8%. Then the switchbacks started. From here it was 10-16%. Crazy steep for miles. The group had spread out and we had dark moments all by ourselves.
Gregg had the quote of the day, “The ride to the lifts seemed unnecessary, but it was ridiculous.”
Near the top, I had to keep stopping about every hundred feet. I was going so slow that my Garmin was auto-pausing. I eventually tipped over and had to walk. I made it to the Ski Lift Sign and called it a day. The descent was crazy scary. Super steep hairpin turns with cars and motorcycles in opposing traffic. We descended back to the Lodge for lunch break. I split a grilled cheese with Anton, and drank several glasses of Coke. Perfect.
The ride back along the ridge was beautiful. Then we went down the front side of GMR and rolled back to Encanto.