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Old 12-02-08, 10:38 AM   #1
dstrong 
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My Montebello Sunday, 12/2 (w/pics)

[EDIT] - Ride date was Sunday, 11/30, not 12/2 which was the post date! [\EDIT]

This may have been my last Bay Area ride before heading back home to Austin...but it was a goody!

My brother and I rode a loop starting at El Monte/Foothill. We went south on Foothill, under 280 and up Stevens Canyon to Montebello. We climbed to the gate then proceeded on the dirt portion to Page Mill. Down Page Mill to Moody, through Foothill College to El Monte and home.

A couple observations:
  • The first two (?) miles of Montebello is a bear. Steeper than the rest of the climb.
  • The dirt portion between the gate and Page Mill is longer and more rugged than I expected.

The first portion of the "unpaved" section is a poorly maintained asphalt road. Eventually, the asphalt disappears and it's just a dirt road. The biggest climb is about 2/3 of the way to Page Mill. It's pretty short and steep but not difficult. Unfortunately, I hit a rock near the top and flatted my rear tire. There was damage to the sidewall, so I put a patch on the inside of the tire and also booted the area with a clif bar wrapper. At 70 psi the sidewall was showing a little bulge, so I stopped pumping there and rode the rest of the way at low pressure, trying to avoid bumps that would cause a pinch flat.

Our intention was to ride to Skyline once we hit Page Mill but given my compromised tire, we headed down. Each turn gave me more confidence in my tire and my speed slowly increased but I still descended in a cautious manner.

Here are a few pics:


My brother and me at the top of "paved" Montebello (me on the left)


Me riding a portion of "unpaved" Montebello


Flat!


Me fixing my flat (with my BF jersey poking through my vest)

Our return may be delayed a week, in which case, weather pending, I'm hoping to talk my brother into climbing Mt. Hamilton this weekend.

Oh...I started my stopwatch at the bottom of Montebello. Our time to the gate was a smokin' (as in 'what were you smokin'?) 1 hour and 5 minutes. We were passed by several riders but managed to pass a couple on their MTBs.
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Old 12-02-08, 11:44 AM   #2
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Nice ride report. I like the second picture a lot and I think it really captures the unpaved section of Montebello well. Glad you were able to get your tire fixed and that it held up the rest of the ride. Page Mill is not a road I'd like to descend without having full confidence in my tires!
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Old 12-02-08, 11:53 AM   #3
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Sot that's what that unpaved portion look like! I gotta get my commute/cross bike built soon so I can head up there. Looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 12-02-08, 02:12 PM   #4
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Nice report. Makes me want to do Montebello real soon.

BTW, how's the cycling scene in Austin compared to Bay Area.
There seems to be just as vibrant cycling scene there too.
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Old 12-02-08, 04:27 PM   #5
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The scene is quite vibrant...just not as big from a population perspective. Fewer riders, fewer clubs and fewer events. Still...if you're looking for group rides, there's no shortage. I primarily ride solo since I have limited riding time available, so I generally pass on the group rides.

The best thing about the Bay Area is the variety of terrain that's available to all levels of riders. You can ride shallow hills and flats all day, and then when you're ready for a challenge, you head for the hills and you're immediately faced with great, long climb opportunities. Austin, at least where I live (10 mins west of downtown), provides challenges the second I leave the driveway. I never thought I lived on a hill until I started riding from the house more and realized there's no way to get back home without a short steep climb somewhere close to the house. I always walk in the back gate huffin' and puffin'. I would never take a beginning cyclist on a ride from my place unless it was just around the block. Many of the popular loops also involve a lot of "Highway" riding. Think Foothill Expressway with a 60 MPH speed limit and a shoulder that's about twice as wide. Some of the exits are off-ramps, so those can be quite exciting.

The thing I love here is the opportunity to climb for 30, 60, 90 minutes straight. Most of the "long" climbs in Austin are 10, 20 and 30 minutes with a lot of rolling terrain (think Canada road between Farm Hill and 92...except more turny). It's great for interval work.

Oh yeah...then there's the weather. When we first got here in the beginning of September, my first few rides were during your "heat wave", when temps were in the mid to upper 80's. My brother couldn't believe I went out for rides. Most rides in Austin, from May through September, start at 75 degrees at 7am and reach 90+ degrees by the time you finish up in the late morning. I've ridden in 100+ heat but these days, generally pass if it's that hot. It's crucial to drink often and replenish your bottles once they're drained. Then just as those days end, it's quickly into the 40's at night with temps in the mid-50's during the days. I generally don't ride below 50 degrees...too many warm days.

And then there's the scenery...holy cow. Austin's prettier than most places in TX but it just doesn't compare. The view from the dirt part of Montebello, looking west, the other day was magnificent. The ride out on the coast, Tunitas Creek, Hwy 1, was spectacular. I was born and raised here for the first 35 years of my life...and I was reminded of how beautiful it was and how lucky people are to live here.
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Old 12-02-08, 06:54 PM   #6
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Thanks for the description of Austin. Anytime my wife and I talk about moving somewhere less expensive to live in, she insists on Austin. Of course, that was before this recent economic slowdown.
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Old 12-02-08, 09:25 PM   #7
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I remember you guys from Sunday at the top of Montebello. You must have ridden up in front of the three of us on the weekly Ron's Recovery Ride. Didn't realize you were bike forumers!
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Old 12-02-08, 09:36 PM   #8
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I was too far back to recall seeing them.
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