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First time to Crystal Lake today!

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First time to Crystal Lake today!

Old 04-17-11, 09:22 PM
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First time to Crystal Lake today!

I have been wanting to ride to Crystal Lake for quite a while now, but I either never had time or my friends wanted to ride somewhere else. But today I convinced one of them to ride to Crystal Lake with me even though my legs were sore from a 15 mile hike to Mt. Wilson the previous day.

We got out a little late. My parents drove us to the east fork parking lot since that's where most people start their rides. We both thought that it would be a super easy ride since it was only about 13 miles. We had brought no food since we thought we would be back in a couple of hours. Both of us almost never ride on hilly terrain and we had no idea how difficult it would be. But we started riding and it turned out to be very difficult for both of us(harder for me since I am kinda overweight).

The first couple of miles were easy, but slowly we were getting more and more tired. By half way we were both drained and wanted to turn back, but we just ate a pack of gel and pushed on. As we climbed higher and higher the scenery kept getting more amazing. Looking down on the road we had climbed we realized how high up we were.

By the time we got to the entrance of the recreation area our legs were out of juice. We got some hamburgers and gatorade and hungrily ate it all. Then came the part we both were looking forward to:the descent. I went down slowly since I am not great at controlling my bike at high speeds, but my friend was going all out. That is until he took a corner too fast(he is still using stock brake pads) and went into the other lane while a truck was coming from the other side. Fortunately he quickly got into the shoulder and avoided a collision.

The rest of the ride was really nice, until we got past east fork(we were going to go to the bottom of the road where my mom could pick us up). After east fork the winds picked up and riding was horrible. The traffic also picked up and cars were passing us and we were getting blown around by the wind. But we got to the bottom safely.

Overall I really liked the ride. A really good practice for climbing(for me) ad the downhill is really fun and gets the adrenaline pumping. Definitely my favorite ride I have done and I plan to do it many time in the coming months.

In June we are planning a 4 day camping/cycling trip to Big Bear and we need some climbing practice before we attempt that. This will probably be our main practice ride.

Also I wanted to know what kind of average speed you guys get while going up that road. Ours was very low and I am wondering what I should set me goal at.
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Old 04-18-11, 02:37 AM
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Congratulations! I am definitely impressed - 39 up to Crystal Lake without much hill climbing experience deserves some praise. I think you can see why 39 has become one of my absolute favorite climbs. The scenery just gets better and better the higher you go up. Also, next time, you absolutely must continue on up past the closure on 39 itself to Angeles Crest. That upper section of road is pretty epic with respect to scenery (yeah, 'epic' is overused, but, in my opinion, that section of 39 qualifies).

I was also up there today, although later in the day. The snack shop was out of burgers (sad), but that chili cheese dog + fries really really hit the spot after suffering through some rather warm temperatures lower down. I'm just glad to see the shop doing well (looked like they had a steady stream of customers).

Glad to hear your friend didn't run into the truck on the descent. Hopefully he learned a good lesson. I have come to love the descents, but I have found that both general descending experience and familiarity with the descent in question are of utmost importance. I've also found that the adrenaline and excitement of a sweet descent can sometimes easily lead to pushing it a bit too much. Don't mean to lecture here too much, but I also think it is important to note, as I've taken a few turns a little too fast myself. Also, some of the curves on the upper section of 39 just seem more uncomfortable than expected - maybe they are tighter than expected, maybe inconsistent turn radii, maybe a lack of banking.. I haven't decided. What I do know is that a few of those curves still don't feel very smooth to me, and I've descended 39 a fair number of times. That said, most of the descent is great, and I generally average 30+ from the Crystal Lake turnoff to the previous closure gate (3300ft elevation) and 35+ from there to East Fork with max speeds around 45-46.

As for average speed climbing - I got pretty out of shape over the winter (new job, barely any riding, eating too much, etc), but I've been getting back some of my fitness. I am currently doing in the 7-8 mph range climbing 39 (a bit slower when warmer), but I'd like to bump that up to 8+.

And yeah, that lower section of 39 (below East Fork), I am just not a huge fan of. Much more traffic, higher speeds, narrow shoulders, etc. It isn't horrible, but it is why I park at West Fork and ride from there.

And yeah, nice day today (despite some rather warm temps lower down):

Also, FYI, Crystal Lake Snack Bar Menu:

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Old 04-18-11, 08:46 AM
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Nice, congrats on the ride.

I drove up there with the wife this weekend to scope out GMR/39 area. We'd never been up that way so we really enjoyed the drive and I really enjoyed seeing all the areas to ride.
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Old 04-18-11, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by fishymamba
Also I wanted to know what kind of average speed you guys get while going up that road. Ours was very low and I am wondering what I should set me goal at.
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Old 04-18-11, 12:02 PM
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Yeah, gotta watch that descent. Back when the road was closed, you could sortof get away with taking risks. But now with the road open, we need to reign it in a little. I'm hoping to get up there this Saturday if I can find an all-day babysitter for our 3 year old.
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