(Feb 17, 2022 – written by Dave)
Today had all of us worried. First there was another high wind warning and best we could tell from the forecast, a headwind was in the cards. Second, while a short ride, there was a lot of climbing. One of our riding compadres had done heaps of research about the ride (charts, spreadsheets, power analysis, etc) and everyone was nervous about the last five miles of the climb into Julian. We even asked the guides for an early mark on brekkie so that we would “have a chance” of reaching Julian before dark.
Well, we needn’t have worried. The winds were brisk but they were more of less behind us all day. And the gradients on the climb were never so steep as to cause much of a concern. It was such a good day that all three of our teammates that ride eBikes had at least 1 or 2 bars left on their batteries when we reached town. (They start each morning by checking on each other to ensure that everyone has charged up to 5 bars overnight – even though we don’t have batteries on our bikes, we always report 5 bars at the start every morning, and yes, the eBikers ask us.)
We had a team brekkie in Borrego Springs and then shuttled back to the hotel for the start. Nancy and I are so used to living without a car (15 years in Australia anyway) that driving somewhere for brekkie (or any meal) seems so odd. No one, other than us, on the trip gives a second thought. It was nice today that we only had to load people in the car for brekkie – back at the hotel we could leave the bikes in the hotel rooms. We started the ride around 8:20 – pretty good for our motley crew.
There was an 8k climb right from the hotel and it was cool but it felt so nice to be out early and we warmed up quickly. For the record at brekkie Nancy had one pancake, while I had the short stack, 2 pancakes (dinner-plate size). Some of us were happy for being more restrained as the climbing started.
At the top of the first climb, there is a 2k downhill. We rode this section yesterday in the opposite direction. Had yesterday’s winds been blowing the downhill would have been a struggle. It wasn’t too bad – we crossed our fingers. At the junction with Highway 78 we turned right. Yesterday riding this direction was into a full-on, screamer headwind. We turned the corner and hoped. No one dared say anything for screwing things up but we actually had a tailwind. After about 5k someone said, “hey, this is pretty great” and the silence was broken. Everyone smiled freely the rest of the tailwind-aided ride to Julian.
Jason was our sag guide today. He tried hard to get sags set-up for us to stop and re-fuel. It never really worked out as everyone was just too fast. He made a gallant effort and even managed sliced melon at one stop but mostly we just rode past him and thank him for being there. Even the last 5 miles, well, they were a breeze. So much for worry, the day turned out to be fantastic. We arrived in Julian too early for the hotel at about 11:30. Jason worked his magic again and got us rooms (way early), then he and Jerry set-up a nice lunch in the carpark.
After lunch and a coffee the whole gang went on a walking tour of town. There is not much to Julian but what there is was worth the look. We even had a sticky beak at a realtor boards to see what it would cost to live here. The town has a nice vibe. There are only 1,500 people living here but there are at least two breweries and multiple pie shops/bakeries. On our tour, we managed to somehow stumble into one of the breweries for a sample of the local ales. As I may have mentioned previously, our REI guides have done a great job taking care of us on this trip.
For dinner we headed for the Julian Grill. They happen to have a beer garden and are rumoured to have pies for desert. I’m not sure what’s on the menu but all the fringe items should be more than enough to keep us happy.
Tomorrow is the last day of riding. We have about 60k to ride and heaps of downhill. There is something like 600 feet of up and 3,000 feet of down. The only worry is that it is supposed to be 32F/0C here in Julian overnight. We may need to have a late start. No worries – there is snow on the ground here so maybe we can have a snowball fight before we head out.