If you like to test your fitness, and have fun doing it, this.is a great route to do that , because the roads are well paved, the scenery is spectacular, and the traffic is bare (except for the first 10 miles because there's a village there). It's the same route as the Heartbreak Hundred ride (the one operated by PlanetUltra on May 24th 2008). There's a lot of climbing (8,500 feet), but also a lot of straight flat roads in between the hills. Even a crummy rider like me finished this ride today, May 17th. And how crummy am I? Well, I was 7th from LAST place among the 427 finishers at the May 3rd Breathless Agony two weeks ago.
May 17th, Frazier Park: The day started interestingly. No one knew him, this guy who parked his pickup truck next to us in the empty parking lot. He had nice expensive bike in the back of his truck. He seemed fit and ready for a long ride. "Where's the registration table for the Heartbreak Ride? " he asked. He thought we were riding the Heartbreak Hundred. "But that's NEXT week", we told him. "You're a week too early." His expression was a mixture of confusion and dejection. He told us he had driven from Simi Valley. So, to salvage his day, we invited him to join us. His name was Nick. He was a nice guy, a friendly sort.
So we were 6 riders in total: Francis Ignacio, Pete Primavera, William Aligue, Allan Messara, myself..., and our new friend Nick. At the very last moment Ricky Herrerra volunteered to SAG for us (thankfully), otherwise we would run out of water in this heat. He would drive my CRV. Allan and William graciously chipped in for gas. Nick donated his 3 gallons of water to add to our 3 gallons (we consumed all of it, by the way). Francis had brought sandwiches and gatorade. Ricky had a big cooler of ice and water. I brought groceries (sodas, V8, crackers, gatorade, M&Ms, bananas, etc.) We had everything. So off we went, with Ricky following us in the SAG car. It was like an expedition. Sounds like fun? It was a blast.
Right away, the first 20 miles is a gentle climb into the forest of Mount Pinos. (Better to have most of the climbing done in the beginning, than in the end.) No cactus or desert plants in these hills. Only pine forests. The air is cool. Elevation: 6,000 feet. You might spot some coyotes. They are afraid of humans, but not cyclists. (Just joking, they're afraid of us too.)
(I "borrowed" these photos from westcoastroads.com)
The 5/31/08 TDF will have a water-refill table at mile 12, and a fully-stocked reststop at Mile 20.
The next 25-mile stretch has lots of rollers at the beginning, but then it's mostly downhill into the other side of Mount Pinos. On the way down into the valley, you will notice the pine forest has thinned out, but the view is still spectacular.
The vegetation is dry, a reminder that California could not have become an agricultural powerhouse on native weather alone: Water had to be diverted from Nevada and Colorado using man-made aqueducts.
At Mile # 41 you hang a LEFT on Hwy 166 , then after 4.5 miles hang another LEFT onto Hwy 33. It's Mile # 46. You have conquered half the distance and 5,500 feet of climbing (roughly equivalent to going up GMR twice). Somehow you are still fresh. It's not yet noon.
Hwy 33 is long and dry
You're now covered 2/3d's the distance. What follows is Heartbreak. The peak is 10 miles away. It starts gently, then becomes difficult near the peak. This is where Pete, William, and Nick had their "competition" going. The young guy won, but the old stalwarts were not far behind.
Mile # 77 is the peak. Then it's 5 miles of rollers, then finally, RELIEF at Mile # 82. After that you are "basically" home free, downhilling.
So, to recap: You just need to haul your sorry little ass to Mile # 77 (top of Heartbreak), then drag it across some rollers to Mile # 82. After that it's all downhill except for a 4-mile gentle climb at Mile 88.