It is always a little disappointing to have to spend time my first day in town picking up the bike. But, can't be helped. I don't usually arrive until after normal closing hours, as was the case in Claremont. Anyway, I borrowed my daughters Honda CVX and drove over to Coates Cyclery. As I have said earlier, they could not have been more helpful. They not only provided the equipment but also invited me to join the shop ride 8am Sunday morning and gave me maps of the local bike trails.
I knew from reading the Clarement Senior Bicycle Group (CSBG) Meetup weekly calendar that their next ride, Thursday 8am, would start at Mt Baldi road. I knew about Mt Baldi and its road from watching the Amgen Tour of California. It goes up very steeply. I figured I might as well get a taste of what I was in for. I drove the bike home. My daughters house is contiguous with the Claremont Colleges campus. And I rode off to see what Baldi was like.
Google maps says I rode about 3.3 miles and gained 500ft. I road up to Claremont Wilderness park and poked around. It was easy to see where Mt. Baldi Road turned off from North Mills Ave. So, I started up it. It got steep quickly! I made it to a sign that said Fergus Falls, Google maps says I went about 2 miles but I think it was more like 1/2 mile. And they say I made another 500 feet in elevation. Anyway, I shifted down and down and then tried to shift down again and found I was out of gears! The end. I got off the bike, walked a little to look at the Fergus Falls side road and rode home. A couple hours later I repeated the process. Rode up to Mt Baldi road, turned onto it, busted my ass and had to shop SHORT of where I had stopped a couple hours ago but at least still in sight of the Fergus Falls sign. This was not a good sign!
Thursday morning I was up before 7am. Ate my Blue Berries and Fiber One cereal. On the road. I got to the Mt. Baldi turnoff by 7:30. These pictures are from the next Thursday but you can still get the idea:
A little after 8am, 5 riders showed up. Andy took off and I did not see him for a long time. Three of the riders were on Mountain Bikes and turned off as we climbed. I settled onto Kathy's wheel. I could tell that her lowest gear was the same as mine so all I had to do was match her peddle for peddle. She probably slowed down a lot to hold onto me but I made it. She kept encouraging me that it was only a little further and indeed I made it past Fergus Falls, things flattened out a little. Finally we turned off and started to descend on what I thought was called upton road, though I can't find it on the map now. Anyway, we descended at a breakneck speed for what felt like miles. Kathy warned me about the road furniture (metal nipples). Finally, she had to leave me and go to work. She told me that the rest of the group would meet for breakfast at Victoria Garden Mall and I thought she said the name of the restaurant was the Pantry.
Along with having Kathy to pace and encourage me, I think I was also helped by resting at the parking lot from 7:30 to 8, waiting for the CSBG riders. The other two times I had pretty much ridden up the long Mills Road haul and then started right up Baldi.
So, now I was on my own to find Victoria Garden Mall. Kathy gave me some guidance about what roads to use to get there but I had already killed too many brain cells to really process the data. I did take out my phone and write down Victoria Garden and Pantry. I of course used my phone's google maps. Struggled with things like road name changes from Baseline to 16th street.
I picked up another road bike rider, appropriately named Angel. He was motoring along and it turned out he was on his way to Victoria Garden. He had never heard of Pantry but he did know a bakery where he often saw bikers gathered. He directed me to it. It was a "Dr. Livingston I presume" moment. There at a couple of outside tables were 30 senior citizens dressed in bike kit. I probably said the obvious and asked if they were the Claremont group and of course they were.
Soon after I arrived, they prepared to depart. I got with the fast group. They refer to themselves as the power group on the Meetup calendar. There was a tandem bike and a couple of others who I found I was able to hold onto. They did a lot of long steady hills but I was able to hang on. People dropped off as we got to their neighborhoods and the last man I was with suggested he lived further on and I should turn off here if I lived in Claremont. I think I got home about 11am, almost 3 hours in the saddle!