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Old 09-27-13, 01:33 AM
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San Diego ride

Hi all,
I'm headed to San Diego for the weekend and would like to do a Saturday ride (9/28) in the mountains. I'm looking for 60+ miles with 5K+ of climbing. I'm staying near Balboa Park. Does anyone have any suggestions on a route or a ride I could join?

I'm currently looking at a couple on Strava:
https://app.strava.com/activities/31560713
https://app.strava.com/activities/14941901

Any help is appreciated!
Jason
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Old 09-27-13, 02:36 AM
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Your first route is one of the most popular East County loops (and probably the most popular west of Pine Valley). The only issue is that the area between Balboa Park and Spring Valley is somewhat sketchy. (Not quite Compton, more like Van Nuys.) The second route does not quite get into the mountains, it's suburbs most of the way.
I would suggest to drive out to Rancho San Diego, park there and ride to Pine Valley and back using the first loop, that would be around 70 miles round trip.
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Old 09-27-13, 04:22 AM
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if you have time for only one ride, this is my recommendation. 90% scenic with max elevation just above 6,000 ft.
the drawback is that the starting point is approx a 45 minute drive north on the 8 fwy from the balboa park area.
there is a good size parking lot nw corner of the 8 fwy/hwy 79 intersection
only 3 stop signs-no stop lights on the ride. better direction (imho) is to ride counter-clockwise to get 80% of the climbing out
of the way early and to take advantage of lesser auto traffic.

https://app.strava.com/activities/29161361

if you want to lengthen the ride a little, you can incorporate kitchen creek rd (about 5 miles closed to auto traffic) but it's pretty desolate.
it would add approx 10 miles and 1,000 ft elevation gained.

https://app.strava.com/activities/57601039

or you can head north at the hwy 79/s1 (sunrise hwy) intersection and head to/from
julian for excellent pie and an additional 12 miles w/approx 500 ft gained.


the palomar/mesa grande area is great too but a farther drive from balboa park.

the great western divide ride in one of the strava links you posted is about as good as it gets south of the 8 fwy but the
better stuff is north of the 8. lyons valley rd is the most scenic in that area.

from the balboa park area, it's the better part of a 2 hr slog riding to any decent foothill/mtn scenery.
living next to balboa park, i've found that w/o driving to a spot closer to the foothills/mtns, you will
need to ride a century or close to it to get a decent mountain experience.

if you're not totally wedded to the idea of a mountain ride, you could do a lot worse than riding up the coast highway to carlsbad village or
the oceanside pier area and back. quintessential san diego county/southern california ride.

Last edited by diphthong; 09-27-13 at 04:37 AM.
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Old 09-27-13, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by hamster
Your first route is one of the most popular East County loops (and probably the most popular west of Pine Valley). The only issue is that the area between Balboa Park and Spring Valley is somewhat sketchy. (Not quite Compton, more like Van Nuys.) The second route does not quite get into the mountains, it's suburbs most of the way.
I would suggest to drive out to Rancho San Diego, park there and ride to Pine Valley and back using the first loop, that would be around 70 miles round trip.
Thanks hamster - great info. If I do this route, I will make the drive to the start. However, I couldn't fine Pine Valley - where is it? Also, any water stops on this route?
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Old 09-27-13, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by ooga-booga
if you have time for only one ride, this is my recommendation. 90% scenic with max elevation just above 6,000 ft.
the drawback is that the starting point is approx a 45 minute drive north on the 8 fwy from the balboa park area.
there is a good size parking lot nw corner of the 8 fwy/hwy 79 intersection
only 3 stop signs-no stop lights on the ride. better direction (imho) is to ride counter-clockwise to get 80% of the climbing out
of the way early and to take advantage of lesser auto traffic.

https://app.strava.com/activities/29161361

if you want to lengthen the ride a little, you can incorporate kitchen creek rd (about 5 miles closed to auto traffic) but it's pretty desolate.
it would add approx 10 miles and 1,000 ft elevation gained.

https://app.strava.com/activities/57601039

or you can head north at the hwy 79/s1 (sunrise hwy) intersection and head to/from
julian for excellent pie and an additional 12 miles w/approx 500 ft gained.


the palomar/mesa grande area is great too but a farther drive from balboa park.

the great western divide ride in one of the strava links you posted is about as good as it gets south of the 8 fwy but the
better stuff is north of the 8. lyons valley rd is the most scenic in that area.

from the balboa park area, it's the better part of a 2 hr slog riding to any decent foothill/mtn scenery.
living next to balboa park, i've found that w/o driving to a spot closer to the foothills/mtns, you will
need to ride a century or close to it to get a decent mountain experience.

if you're not totally wedded to the idea of a mountain ride, you could do a lot worse than riding up the coast highway to carlsbad village or
the oceanside pier area and back. quintessential san diego county/southern california ride.
Thanks Ooga Booga. Great info. I have already ridden the coast rides in that area, which is why I wanted to do the mountains. However, I am there thru Friday, so I may go out and do a shorter coast ride or two.

The 45 min drive isn't appealing since I'm driving from LA to San Diego but I love the idea of a scenic route, so it is tempting. I'll have to see how I feel in the AM. A couple questions about the route (I would include kitchen creek rd) - are there any water stops? You mention riding in the counter clockwise direction, does that mean the kitchen creek route as well?
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Old 09-27-13, 11:08 AM
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Pine Valley is 30-40 miles east of SD on I 8. If you drive there don't park in the post office lot; park in the back of the big lot in back of the coffee shop next door.
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Old 09-27-13, 12:53 PM
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Thanks GP!
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Old 09-27-13, 01:00 PM
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There are three water stops on that loop: convenience stores in Pine Valley, Lake Cuyamaca and near the top of Mount Laguna. The one on top of Mount Laguna is open 9 to 5, not positive about Lake Cuyamaca, Pine Valley has a gas station and I think it's 24/7.
There only things on the Kitchen Creek loop are a campground a couple of miles up Kitchen Creek Road and a freeway rest area off I-8. Not sure if either has water but the rest area should have a vending machine.
Kitchen Creek is usually taken counter-clockwise. The big loop can be taken either way. Just try not to lose your head. If you take the big loop CCW, there's a long flat/downgrade from Laguna to Cuyamaca that suddenly turns into a technical descent. We had a fatality there a couple of months ago (a pretty well known San Diegan).

Last edited by hamster; 09-27-13 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 09-27-13, 02:20 PM
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to the op-the laguna/cuyamaca "triangle" ride i recommend has the food/water stops hamster describes and has long stretches of zero services so you need
self-sufficient and be comfy with that. pine valley is only about 7 miles into the ride but if it's hot or i don't think i had/have enuff to snack on, i will definitely stop
there since it is approx 20 mostly uphill & desolate miles to the mt. laguna store if you take kitchen creek rd.


from mt. laguna store to lake cuyamaca (next services) is another long 20 miles but it is mostly downhill. once you reach the west shore of lake cuyamaca, you only have a relatively easy mile-long ascent to the paso picacho campground area before a nearly 10 mile (mostly) descent (2 hairpins at the beginning of the descent clearly marked at 15mph-watch out!) to the hwy 79/hwy 80 junction. there is a small market just north of that junction on the right. by that time, you are about 3 miles from your start.

riding this for the first time, i would recommend a third water bottle.

kitchen creek is best done as an ascent. there is a 5 mile section closed to cars (gates at each end). the pavement is better than it used to be but i wouldn't
want to descend it on the closed section unless i really had to. the steepest part is on the open part about 1.5 miles after turning off hwy 80 and heading under the 8 fwy. once you reach pine trees on the ascent, you are about 1.5 miles from joining up with sunrise hwy (s1) and after the right turn uphill, about 3-4 miles from the mt. laguna store.



the first strava link you posted showing the great western divide ride is similar in that self-sufficiency is key. there are no services once past the harbinson canyon/dehesa rd/sycuan casino area (unless you divert to alpine) until you hit the jamul area which is approx 20 miles. there is a little store on lyons valley rd about a mile west of the skyline truck trail/honey springs rd/lyons valley rd intersection but i have never found it reliable enough to be open on a consistent basis so i don't rely on it. the descent just past the store on lyons
valley is a wild one and take care not to end up in a cactus patch roadside.

the second link has plenty of services along the way but is not a terribly exciting ride.

if you end up doing a shorter coastal ride and haven't done so already, i recommend the ride up to cabrillo national monument. it's a 25 mile rt from the balboa park area.

Last edited by diphthong; 09-27-13 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 09-27-13, 10:11 PM
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thanks everyone for the input. Since the traffic was HELL coming from LA, I am planning on the shorter drive to do this ride tomorrow AM: https://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/298383743

I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks again!!
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Old 09-28-13, 08:21 PM
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It was great ride today. I started in Rancho San Diego (awesome suggestion) and followed the route to Pine Valley. Also, taking the third water bottle was a great suggestion. And indeed it was very windy on the way back but far more scenic on Lyons. But that 16% part was uncalled for, but I got through it I ended up with 70 miles and 6100 feet.

Thanks again for all the input. You made my ride!
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Old 10-04-13, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by hansolo3
It was great ride today. I started in Rancho San Diego (awesome suggestion) and followed the route to Pine Valley. Also, taking the third water bottle was a great suggestion. And indeed it was very windy on the way back but far more scenic on Lyons. But that 16% part was uncalled for, but I got through it I ended up with 70 miles and 6100 feet.

Thanks again for all the input. You made my ride!

yah, lyons valley rd is pretty lonely but scenic. best 10 mile stretch of road in that area. glad you made it through that wtf?! area at the base of the big lyons valley ascent/descent. it is much dreaded.
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