Wednesday, October 5, 2011

San Diego roundtrip: Julian, Engineers Road, Palomar Mountain (2-15-10)

San Diego roundtrip I-94, Julian, Engineers Road, Palomar Mountain 2-15-10

How's this for a lazy holiday ride? I received a call from fellow Rocket III rider George on Presidents day morning. The sun was shining and it was 77 degrees.

We met at San Diego's Fun Bike Center where a few folks stopped by to admire our bikes and ask how they, too, could be so cool. George has a black 2005 Classic, I have a blue 2009 Touring. I’ll do the math: that’s 4588 cc’s…

We departed on the 52 to the 125 south en route to the I-94, entering the I-94 east at Campo Road in La Mesa. The I-94 is a really nice route and was the perfect starting point for the day’s ride.

We turned onto Lyons Valley Road at Indian Springs, stopping briefly at Diamond Jacks RV Ranch and Store. Continuing north through the Cleveland Forest our road became Japatul/Lyons Valley Road for a while before becoming Japatul Road (if you're not a local, it's an Indian word pronounced Hop-uh-tool). We went under the I-8 where the road became Highway 79. Where the road splits to Old Highway 80, we remained on the 79 and headed to the Cuyamaca area.

As we circled around Lake Cuyamaca, George pointed up into the hills to the left. I thought: “Up there? There’s nothing up in those hills.” I was wrong, as we soon turned onto Engineers Road. George correctly called this a “get to know your bike” road. Suffice it to say there are some changes in elevation and a few tight curves. Wow.

Engineers Road dead ended into Boulder Creek Road, then we turned north onto Blue Jay Drive. The entire area is picturesque and one can expect to dodge small animals and ride through shallow water flowing across small dips (never deeper than 2-3”). Turning left on Pine Hills Road took us north to Julian Road and the 78/79. After a pit stop for beef jerky, a cold drink and gas top-offs, we headed west a couple of blocks to the 79 north located conveniently at Dudley’s Bakery (popular with bike enthusiasts for pie and motorcycle camaraderie). We hung a left on Mesa Grande Road and the peg-grinding began. Sparks were flying as we traveled through the tight turns “at speed.”

At the 76/Pala Road, we turned left and rode past Lake Henshaw. Have I mentioned that it’s really pretty out here? Well, it is. County Highway 7 (S-7) turned into East Grade Road and that led us to Palomar Mountain. Mother’s Kitchen at about 5000’ is a nice place to stop and enjoy a cup of coffee (there was snow on the ground). We didn’t have any coffee, however, as George was ready to race down S-6, also known as South Grade Road, also known as Palomar Mountain Road. And race we did. Virtually no traffic in either direction allowed us to push it a little bit. My big Tourer couldn’t keep up with George’s Classic. I heard scrapes and saw sparks as he put his bike though the paces. That went so well that we turned right back around and did it again. I think going up the hill was even better. The bike got squirrely when I hit some slick spots going into a couple of the corners “a little fast” but nothing too exciting. The adrenaline was pumping to be sure…

We took a short break at the top before heading down the South Grade Road again. You’d think by the third time I would have had the turns down pat but I was still surprised to hear the satisfying sound of floorboards scraping as I turned into the tight curves.

Heading toward home on the S-6, we passed Harrah’s Rincon Casino on our way to the I-15 at Escondido. The traffic on I-15 south was heavy but moving and we made time heading down the slab.

George peeled off near Mira Mesa; I continued south to La Mesa with a smile tough to conceal. THAT was a day of riding!

I rolled into my driveway 6 hours and 200 miles later wondering how many other great undiscovered rides (by me, anyhow) are still out there? Thanks to the twisties, my pegs were considerably more scraped. I was a bit tired but happy with a great ride.

OK, where to next?

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