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Seasonality in San Diego

Old 07-03-20, 07:15 PM
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Seasonality in San Diego

Hi Everyone -

I am new to cycling in San Diego. I am looking for some scenic country rides that I can do, but I gather that things like the Great Western Loop are off-limits as too hot in the summer unless you get up nice and early? Is it basically beach cycling this time of year? What are the ideal months for the inland rides like Palomar and Great Western?
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Old 07-04-20, 03:28 AM
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best times for gwl and palomar are any time of year. have ridden both in every month of the year with careful weather following.

you can ride great western loop/great western divide any time of year by either going (early) early or later. area rarely sees snow. wind is more problematic.
involves the occasional weather app focus on descanso, alpine, jamul and campo (always bleeping windy af)) and averaging them all together.

palomar somewhat the same. palomar is the wettest spot in the county, nearby santa ysabel can get hotter/colder than semi-close areas.
adjacent ranchita to the east is supposed the windiest area in sd county. if riding up palomar, i'll weather app julian, palomar mtn, santa ysabel
warner springs and ranchita and average them all together as well. wind can be an issue here-shocking. palomar seems to be most open late
march-early nov.

my absolute fave rides in socal are the mountain/desert (or vice versa) rides that generally seem to be best last week of feb-first two weeks of april
and last two weeks of october-first two weeks of november. you're dealing with 3k-5k elevation loss/gain both ways and so many climate zones of diversity.
involves bringing/shedding extra layer(s) and knowing where your support lies.

fave scenic "country" ride in the entire county (or must-do ride) is the laguna/cuyamaca triangle ride. just under 50 miles and 5k of climbing.
start at the descanso/8 fwy parking lot, ride towards pine valley, ascend si/sunrise hwy and continue all the way to the junction to ca hwy 79.
hang a left and (mostly) descend the 20 miles back to the start. you knock out a vast majority of the climbing earlyish.

with a little planning and proper timing, pretty much all san diego county rides are reasonably doable 70-75% of the year.

san diego, and socal in general, are (in)famous to transplants/visitors for having exactly zero seasonality. whatever.
you can keep your nihilistic temperature variables, your wintertime chills, summer humidity and your 2.5 weeks of leaves changing colors.
we ain't cheap and we know our worth. enjoy your faux manse elsewhere.
there's a reason why california is the most populous state and 90%+ of it has to do with people from differing climes saying "to hell with that."

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Old 07-04-20, 03:40 AM
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otay lakes rd is nice. del dios hwy is sweet. harmony grove is bucolic. lilac rd/rice cyn/couser cyn is awesome.
the de luz area on the northern border of san diego county/southern border riverside county is scenic and challenging.
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Old 07-04-20, 11:40 AM
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Thanks ooga-bookga! This is really helpful. I love all the ride suggestions, and I especially appreciate the tips about which weather stations you check out. That's a huge help.

I am much more likely to ride these routes later in the day than early, but I worry about traffic and visibility. Are there any I should be especially worried about?

p.s. you don't have to tell me about San Diego weather. After growing up here but having to live in New England for many years, I am not impressed by "the seasons." One season is good enough for me!

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Old 07-04-20, 11:58 AM
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[QUOTE=ooga-booga;21568314]best times for gwl and palomar are any time of year. have ridden both in every month of the year with careful weather following.

my absolute fave rides in socal are the mountain/desert (or vice versa) rides that generally seem to be best last week of feb-first two weeks of april
and last two weeks of october-first two weeks of november. you're dealing with 3k-5k elevation loss/gain both ways and so many climate zones of diversity.
involves bringing/shedding extra layer(s) and knowing where your support lies.

Sounds amazing! Do these rides have names that I can find them by?

On Lilac Rd and the two canyons, do you do out and back or do you recommend a loop of some sort? Looks like options for looping are limited.
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Old 07-04-20, 01:06 PM
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the rides donít have names that iím award of.
the descanso, mount laguna, julian, santa ysabel, palomar, ranchita, borrego springs
stretch in san diego county-imo-is arguably the best in all of socal. about 50 miles long and 10 miles wide with it centered on california hwy 79. area is ripe for big century rides or nice 40 milers. some of the places iíll park the car and set out from include: ca hwy 76 about two miles west of itsís junction w/hwy 79 (some larger turnouts), the large gravel lot just north of the julian pie co. in santa ysabel, by the old jail in dtown julian, the big turnout just south of lake cuyamaca along hwy 79, the park in pine valley and the parking lot on the nw corner of the hwy 79/8 freeway intersection. from any of these gateway starting points, the backcountry beckons and your legs are the limiting factor. not all that much is flat so youíll either be ascending or descending. some gems like wynola/farmers rd, boulder creek rd, sunrise hwy, mesa grande rd pine creek rd and kitchen creek rd await. the big climbs/descents of banner grade, montezuma grade, kitchen creek, sunrise hwy and palomar (south and east grade) are all there. support/stores in borrego springs, ranchita (altho i never rely on it being open) santa ysabel, wynola, top of palomar grades, mt. laguna, descanso, julian, guatay and pine valley. support ranges from 3 miles apart to about 20 miles between potential stores so be sure to keep the water bottles topped off.
weekdays are best. if you must do weekends, best to be done before 11am. highway 79 carries about 80% more traffic than sunrise hwy so if iím heading north in that area, iíd generally rather climb sunrise hwy vs hwy 79. if iím descending in that area, the reverse is true.
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Old 07-04-20, 01:14 PM
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Thanks for this fantastic information. I can't wait for late October!
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Old 07-04-20, 01:15 PM
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lilac, couser cyn and rice cyn are all worthy. lilac splits into west lilac and lilac. lilac ends/starts on its north junction w/hwy 76 with approx a mile of dirt and a pretty stiff grade. mix in any of those roads with gopher canyon rd, deer springs rd, old hwy 395 and rainbow canyon and youíve got the makings of a 30+ mile ride. the traffic is pretty heavy with minimal shoulders on hwy 76 east of the 15 fwy so i try to minimize riding on it. the quick, 75 yard bunny hop from couser cyn to rice cyn as they meet with the 76 is okay tho.
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Old 07-04-20, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by btppberk View Post
Thanks for this fantastic information. I can't wait for late October!
you can ride most of it now (except borrego springs). area will generally range from 75-low 90ís from now till early october. i will usually skip it tho once it gets above 80. the uv rays in the mtns (and much of the area is above 3k feet) are more intense and make it feel a few degrees warmer than the thermometer.
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Old 07-20-20, 11:46 AM
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For the next few days temps for inland San Diego are expected to be 10 degrees F lower than average for this time of year.
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Old 07-20-20, 10:12 PM
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I know. But my bike will be in the shop for much of it! The ocean routes are nice, but a little boring. I miss Nor Cal!
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Old 07-24-20, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by btppberk View Post
I know. But my bike will be in the shop for much of it! The ocean routes are nice, but a little boring. I miss Nor Cal!
Why is your bike in the shop?
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Old 07-24-20, 07:03 PM
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It's got some weird problem where the back brake keeps moving out of alignment when I ride. Unfortunately, the shop hasn't been able to figure it out. I was able, however, to get out for a ride in the nice weather and did the Swami's look for the first time.
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Old 07-24-20, 09:33 PM
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What size bike do you ride?
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Old 07-25-20, 10:29 PM
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56
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Old 07-26-20, 06:42 PM
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I guess I can't loan you my 62cm, can I? :-)
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Old 08-06-20, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
weekdays are best. if you must do weekends, best to be done before 11am. highway 79 carries about 80% more traffic than sunrise hwy so if iím heading north in that area, iíd generally rather climb sunrise hwy vs hwy 79. if iím descending in that area, the reverse is true.
What about late afternoons/early evening, Ooga-Booga? I think I might finally get a chance to try one of the East County routes tomorrow or Friday.
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Old 08-06-20, 12:11 AM
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julian and mt. laguna areas are cooler but super windy. gnarly crosswinds west > east. santa ysabel and palomar mtn areas cooler and a little less breezy. personally aiming for a little mesa grande/palomar ride thursday.
mornings better. afternoons tough sledding and the windiest time of day. julian/descanso/cuyamaca/laguna areas not recommended tomorrow/friday for your first ride up there. sunrise hwy is gonna be a blowfest between
the ca hwy 79/s1 (sunrise hwy) junction south to the laguna campground/al bahr camp/giant observation deck.

great western divide/"skyline wilderness" in the triangle between jamul, alpine and descanso a little less windy but low 80's temp-wise. possibly closer and may be a better bet.
plenty of challenges and relatively simple to retreat if you're not feeling it/conditions not to your suiting. take two full bottles. you're gonna sweat but there is support on the edges.
i personally never count on the lyons valley store approx a mile west (on lyons valley rd) of lyons valley/honey springs/skyline dr intersection being open. don't ask me why.

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Old 08-06-20, 12:33 AM
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Damn, I was looking forward to trying one. About when does it get too windy? Maybe I can make early afternoon.

Do you recommend all of Mesa Grande? Is 76 safe back to Rincon?

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Old 08-06-20, 12:55 AM
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try one but i would currently aim for the palomar/santa ysabel/mesa grande area vs julian/laguna/cuyamaca.

it was pretty hot up there. now it's cooler but windy (especially later in the day), it's getting warm up there again.

entire mesa grande stretch is nice on the weekdays. chill. north to south is preferred but north end has a steep
bleep mile-long climb at the start. south to north is generally uphill and rolling. either direction is good tho as mesa grande
is one of the sweeter backcountry roads in sd county. best in the spring with the greenery but always nice, regardless of the season.

ca hwy 76 is pretty dicey from the 15 fwy all the way to the turnoff for the east grade of palomar mtn. where the sightlines improve and the road straightens out.
the less time you spend cycling on the 76 between the 15 and the east grade turnoff, the better. the 76 east of the east grade palomar turnoff is fine.
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Old 08-06-20, 01:05 AM
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Thanks again, ooga-booga, I really appreciate all your help!
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Old 08-06-20, 01:12 AM
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the main thing is to get your posterior out there. gotta pick your spots when driving to a riding start. may or may not work
but always have a backup plan/location in mind in your first choice is too windy, wet, fire situation, road repaving/closure, etc.
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Old 08-06-20, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
the main thing is to get your posterior out there. gotta pick your spots when driving to a riding start. may or may not work
but always have a backup plan/location in mind in your first choice is too windy, wet, fire situation, road repaving/closure, etc.
Work kept me later than I liked, but at least got to do Mesa Grande from Santa Ysabal out and back. It is a gorgeous road--besides the dead rattlers and the enormous living spider (a tarantula?). And around 6 pm the weather and light was perfect. I see you were nearby a few hours earlier.

Thanks for the warning about the wind; I never even thought to check it.

Do I need to be worried about rattlers when riding? I flew by the first one downhill; it almost gave me a heart attack until I looped back and saw it was dead.
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Old 08-06-20, 11:00 PM
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yah, mesa grande is a chill road for sure. woulda done the harder, northern climb and back down today if i had more energy but i didn't and was happy with my ride as it was.

wind was perfect today north of santa ysabel to palomar. from julian south to campo, it was a bit much today.

rattlesnakes cannot strike/bite you unless they are curled up. in socal, they will generally hibernate from late november to late february. this time of year, they will be out early and late.
i'd be more worried about them if i were riding gravel/mtb bike. riding road, unless you're riding on the very rightmost edge of the road, i wouldn't worry about them. roads heat up pretty quick
during the warmer months and the area right next to the paved road will likely be too inhospitable for rattlesnakes from 9:30am-6pm. back in the day when i hiked vs cycling for exercise,
i can't tell you how many times i walked directly over a rattlesnake warming itself on the trail in the morning. looks just like a stick.

and yah, it was a tarantula. they keep early and late hours as well. fyi...the local variety can jump three feet to subdue prey. for humans tho, they're relatively harmless.
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Old 08-06-20, 11:22 PM
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looks like the next 5 days or so along the 79 corridor are doable if you can be bothered to wake up early. temps and winds are both lowish before noontime
from descanso to palomar mtn. if you decide to ride on sat or sun and start from descanso/8 fwy, i would recommend heading north towards julian via the
s1/sunrise highway through the laguna mtns vs cuyamaca rancho state park. the cuyamaca stretch carries 4x the traffic. do the cuyamaca stretch on the 79
heading from north to south as it's nearly all downhill and a blast with good pavement. here is my fave 50 mile ride in sd county...prefer it counterclockwise
to knock out almost all the climbing in the first two hours (plus traffic considerations) and the remainder is mostly flat or downhill. three stop signs in 50 miles.

https://www.strava.com/routes/2726688525688151788

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