Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rough Riding South-Eastern San Diego County: Descanso - Boulder Creek - Lake Cuayamaca

Below is the route sheet, and a video, from a really excellent 42 mile loop we rode on November 21, 2008 out in south-eastern San Diego County. The 13 miles of dirt road on this loop is rideable on a road bike with 28mm tyres, IMHO, but we rode, and recommend, tyres wider than that for this route.

This was my second Rough Riding adventure on my 1984 Holdsworth Special, a British sport-tourer which was my first ever sponsored bike. Originally, back in 1984, I set it up with all Campy Super Record and tubular wheels. This was my first pro-level racing bike and I rode it during my San Francisco to Los Angeles world record on April 17-18, 1984, when I was 17. A year later I became sponsored by American custom frame builder Ron Stout and so the Holdsworth became my back-up bike. After racing RAAM in 1987 I pretty much quit riding the Holdsworth. I think it's been sitting around for literally 20 years with no parts on it. Recently I put it together as a Rough Stuff bike with most of the parts, and wheels, from my Bridgestone RB-1. Thus it's mostly Suntour parts with Phil Wood hubs and bottom bracket, and 700x by 32mm Vittoria Cross XN Pro tyres and 38/28 low gear. This bike is an absolute dream for Rough Riding! (I'll do a full post just about this bike at a later date.)

Whatever bike you ride, this is simply a really nice ride to do. The dirt road section through Boulder Creek is superb, with wide, dramatic vistas, absolutely epic, long climbs, vast quantities of silence, and a true back-country feel. As with some of the other rides we've reported about here, if you pay attention, you'll spot some other dirt roads in the area; we plan to go back and investigate those, too. (Many are noted on the route sheet below.)

Here is the route sheet. Bring a San Diego County map for reference. Plan on about 4.5 to 5.5 hours, total time. Be sure to bring plenty of water and food as you will find no supplies, and essentially no people, on this route until you get to Lake Cuyamaca!

0.0 Start at the Park & Ride lot along the I-8 at State Route 79. This is in south-eastern San Diego County, between Alpine and Pine Valley.
0.0 Go north on SR 79.
1.1 Left on Riversie Drive.
2.0 Left on Viejas Grade (at Perkins Store)
2.05 Immediate Right on Oak Grove Drive
3.3 Right on Boulder Creek (but first check out the llamas on the left, just before the turn; they might be a hundred yards up).
7.1 Pass Sheritton Valley Road (I want to investigate this road. Looks interesting.)
7.35 Pass Dubois Truck Trail on left (Need to also research this dirt road).
8.4 Pavement ends!
14.1 You reach the bottom of the canyon. Careful for water running across the road.
14.5 Pass Ranchita Margarita: watch for ostriches.
15.0 Thuis is the very bottom of Boulder Creek Canyon, during a 1/3 mile of pavement.
16.3 Pass two truck trails on the left at a hairpin. (Need to research them, too!)
20.0 Tiny church and a cemetary on the right, within the Inaja Reservation.
20.4 Mile Marker 17.
21.7 Pavement resumes: Right (uphill) on Engineers Road at Pine Hills Fire Station.
25.7 Summit.
27.2 Right on SR 79: Go around Lake Cuyamaca.
27.9 Lake Cuyamaca Store on left; Food and drinks for sale. Bathroom down and around in back.
30.3 Pass the Paso Picacho State Park on right; begin descent.
35.8 Pass East Mesa Fire Road on left (Must research this dirt road!)
36.6 Pass Oakzanita Springs / 1000 Trails on left. Bathroom and store.
39.3 Pass Viejas Blvd on right (or you can go right on it and get to the same place via the Perkins Store); fruit stand.
39.5 Right to continue on SR 79 (Sto
p Sign, T-Int.).
40.9 Pass Riverside Drive (our outbound route earlier).
42.0 Finish back the Park & Ride

Congrats! Send us your comments, ride data, photos, etc!

Selected Photos (Click any to see it much larger):

Above: with the llamas - the original all-weather, all-terrain rough riders - at mile 3.3

Above: Just part of the climb before you drop down into Boulder Creek Canyon. Can you spot the Rough Rider in that shot?

Above: Dropping down into Boulder Creek Canyon

Above: Chris at mile 14.1, literally in Boulder Creek

Above: Yes, we're going to ride up that road in the distance. In fact, you can see our road quite often in the distance in these photos!

Above: At mile 21.7. His: 1984 Holdsworth Special with 700x by 32mm Vittoria Cross XN Pro tyres and 38/28 low gear. Hers: 1974 Williams with 650B by 35mm Panaracer Col de la Vie tyres and 34/32 low gear.

Below: Here's a Quicktime video slideshow of the whole ride, but don't waste your time on this little, itty-bitty version! Instead, click here for the full-size Quicktime slideshow with large images which we have hosted on our website. There are 76 images, plus a soundtrack (turn up speakers), so it should be pretty fun and interesting. Let us know what you think by posting a comment below! Thanks for your support and interest!

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