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Old 04-23-12, 01:28 PM   #1
eyeheartny
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Training for Palomar: Where in San Diego should I ride?

I live in Encinitas and would like to ride Palomar sometime before too long. I've heard it's a pretty epic climb and want to make sure I'm in the best possible condition before I attempt it.

Are there rides in the coastal San Diego area that simulate the grade of Palomar? I don't mind doing laps on some good climbs to practice.

I thought about riding in San Marcos, up by the Double Peak area...but I don't know. I would appreciate advice, tips, and suggestions on good training rides as well as any other pre-Palomar thoughts you might have.
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Old 04-23-12, 01:53 PM   #2
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Not really coastal but the hill from San Marcos to San Ejilo hills will put a burn, 10% going west and 5-7% going east. Exit off Twin Oaks n 78m might want to warm up a few miles before you hit this, no need for double peaks to the park up there. So picture that for 90-120min of climbing and that will be what waits for you on South Grade.
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Old 04-23-12, 02:13 PM   #3
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A couple of months ago I also thought that I would like to ride Palomar, so I drove there and did it. This was after several years of minimal aerobic exercise, and my total bicycle mileage in the preceding year was probably under 100 miles.

I had to stop every ten minutes and I was moving at a crawling pace by the end, but I made it to the top, in what must have been one of the slowest-ever ascents of Palomar, 2:51 counting from the taco shop.

Two weeks later I went there again and improved the result to 2:20. I've been meaning to go there again and try to get the time under 2 hours. I read that well conditioned cyclists do it in 1:30 and some of the fastest ones can get to the top in 1:00 or less.

My point is, if I could get to the top on the first try, anyone can. It's hard, but it's not so long that you'd fall off the bike exhausted halfway up. It is not as steep as Double Peak. It would be more comparable to Twin Oaks Valley Road, San Elijo Road east of the town center, or the steep part of the Torrey Pines hill. Think Twin Oaks 7 times back to back.
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Old 04-23-12, 02:16 PM   #4
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Another vote for Twin Oaks Parkway. No pavement on Palomar is as steep as Double-Peak Road, so if you get to the point where you can do 6 or 8 hill repeats up to Double-Peak road, you should be able to coast up Palomar without even pedaling.
Or you can just go ride Palomar. It's just a mountain and therefore nothing to be afraid of. (Well, except for the sport-motorcycle traffic on weekends, but just stay FRAP and don't make the A&S-Forum mistake of proving that you have as much right to the road as the motorists do and you'll probably have a memorable [in a good way] morning.)
Seriously, you can do it. And it's fun.
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Old 04-23-12, 02:20 PM   #5
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oh and don't try to ride up there when we have a decent santa ana, you won't make it outta of the valley w/o using allot of energy. Once you get to SG, the mt will block most of the wind, but it will suck until then. If you leave harrah's at 7am, you should beat most the motorcyclist to the top. They start to show up after 9am.
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Old 04-23-12, 02:34 PM   #6
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If you leave harrah's at 7am, you should beat most the motorcyclist to the top. They start to show up after 9am.
I'd be more worried about air temperature. If you leave harrah's at 7, it will probably still be freezing cold at the top. And the descent will be even colder. Bring warm clothes that you can put on above 4000 ft, even if the valley is cooking.
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Old 04-23-12, 03:08 PM   #7
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I must respectfully disagree with my friend Eugene. I've been up there several times when it's freezing cold without warning, but also several times when it was murderously hot up there without warning; so hot that nuns were swearing openly in the street.
Palomar's a mountain, yes but a mountain in a coastal desert. It's only a few miles from the wind funnel of Ranchita, which is where all of Saharizona's sweltering climate comes flooding through when it comes to spend the weekend here.
Dress for anything, and don't be at all embarrassed about turning around if it's too hot or cold.
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Old 04-23-12, 03:54 PM   #8
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I'm supposed to ride Palomar on May 11th with my friend for his 60th birthday and I have been using Lake Wohlford Rd as a gauge. Seems the grade is similar and I have heard Palomar is a little more forgiving because of the switchbacks, but maybe that's more of a psychological effect.

eugenek - It's encouraging to hear that you rode it with so little training. Never considered Twin Oaks Parkway so I'll probably give that a shot before May.
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Old 04-23-12, 04:06 PM   #9
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I'd be more worried about air temperature. If you leave harrah's at 7, it will probably still be freezing cold at the top. And the descent will be even colder. Bring warm clothes that you can put on above 4000 ft, even if the valley is cooking.
You'll be cold for less than 20 minutes. Even in a light snow you'll be sweating when you get to the top. I usually bring arm & knee warmers and a vest for the descent. If it's real cold I bring a folded Express Mail envelope and put it under my jersey. I've had to stop a few times to stop shivering but I hate to lug a huge jacket on the climb.
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Old 04-23-12, 04:53 PM   #10
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I'm supposed to ride Palomar on May 11th with my friend for his 60th birthday and I have been using Lake Wohlford Rd as a gauge. Seems the grade is similar and I have heard Palomar is a little more forgiving because of the switchbacks, but maybe that's more of a psychological effect.
I'd say that, foot for foot, Lake Wohlford is harder than either Palomar or Twin Oaks. Grades are similar, but it's more stressful: narrow shoulder, cars zooming by on your left, and a rock face on your right. Last time I tried it, I counted about 50 cars passing me on the way up. I'm not sure where they are all going, possibly to the casino, there isn't much else up there.

On Palomar, the shoulder is wider, and there is less traffic. Compare: http://g.co/maps/zgvpf http://g.co/maps/2ktr3

Last edited by eugenek; 04-23-12 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 04-23-12, 04:58 PM   #11
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bring full finger gloves if you know its cold on top. Nothing like decending 5000ft with numb hands and can't feel the brake levers anymore. I know this from experience... Like GP said, if you wear all your warmers and jacket from the start, you will be stripping within 20-30mins on a normal day. You'll find your jacket in your pocket more then on your back. It becomes just extra weight/ space that can be used for fuel. SG decent is only about 15mins long and another 10-15 back to harrahs.
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Old 04-23-12, 06:00 PM   #12
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I'm not sure where they are all going, possibly to the casino, there isn't much else up there.
The Lake Wohlford Cafe!

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/es...acf6058ee.html
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Old 04-23-12, 08:56 PM   #13
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On Palomar, the shoulder is wider, and there is less traffic. Compare: http://g.co/maps/zgvpf http://g.co/maps/2ktr3
That photo is deceiving. Only about 3 tenths of a mile on South Grade has a shoulder that nice. Seriously though, it's really not that hard. The best time to go is during the week to avoid the motorcycles. There may be less car traffic, but on a weekend with nice weather, there's plenty of people riding motorcycles in such a manner as to say "Look at me, I never learned to drive and I really do want to die so terribly much!". I remember my first time. I said I'd take it easy and just settle into my normal rhythm. Sure I enjoyed it, and I was the first to the top, but it left me wanting more and wondering what the big deal is.
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Old 04-23-12, 09:00 PM   #14
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I rode it in December (beautiful weather but very cold) in 2hr 5 min and plan on riding again in November or sooner to compare. I thought I was doing pretty good but the people I rode with were all cat riders and flew up there pretty fast!
http://app.strava.com/rides/2960055
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Old 04-24-12, 07:05 PM   #15
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I'd say that, foot for foot, Lake Wohlford is harder than either Palomar or Twin Oaks. Grades are similar, but it's more stressful: narrow shoulder, cars zooming by on your left, and a rock face on your right. Last time I tried it, I counted about 50 cars passing me on the way up. I'm not sure where they are all going, possibly to the casino, there isn't much else up there.

On Palomar, the shoulder is wider, and there is less traffic. Compare: http://g.co/maps/zgvpf http://g.co/maps/2ktr3
Thanks for the comparison. I agree that Lake Wohlford road can be pretty sketchy. I try to ride it on weekdays after rush hour.

I know the shoulder isn't as wide all the way up as those pictures represent but I know at least there is something that resembles a shoulder heading up Palomar. There's parts of Wohlford where the wall of the hill seems to meld into the road. Lol
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Old 04-24-12, 10:49 PM   #16
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Thanks for all the great info, folks. I'm appreciative and fired up to make it, however slowly!
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Old 04-25-12, 10:02 PM   #17
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All right! Almost froze to death on the observatory road, and had a very interesting experience descending through 100-foot visibility fog, but I got the time under two hours. 1:55:05 http://app.strava.com/rides/7378638#138221459
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