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A day in hell . . .

Tuan and I went for a ride yesterday with a couple of Tuan’s co-workers. We met up at 8 AM, here near the Nike missile site. It was already pretty warm, but not oppressively so. Rick and Ron were already there and ready to go. Ron is a bike patrol rider, off-duty today, but he still gets to park in the shade at the Nike site, so we stopped at his truck to get Rick lathered up with some sunscreen. And then we were off.

The plan for today was to head west and then south to check out a part of the Backbone trail. Most of the way was fire road, but still pretty scenic. Since it was already pretty warm we took it easy and stopped often.

As we approached ‘The Hub,’ we had the toughest climb of the day so far. There was one, smallish shaded area at the top where everybody managed to find as they arrived from the various connecting trails.

It was at the point that Rick started to talk about wanting to wait for us to come back, but we talked him into coming on. Tuan really wanted to see the much talked about single track section of the Backbone.

After a few rolling hills on the fire road we spotted the Will Rodgers section of the Backbone going up to the left. Ron still had something he wanted us to see before we tried the single track. Again Rick asked to be left and again he was talked into continuing.

So off we went again.

Again the road was just rolling. No big hills up or down, but it was exposed and it was getting hotter. I felt fine. In some places it felt like riding through an open oven, but there were enough breezes to make it tolerable foe me anyway.

Finally we reach the goal Ron had in mind for us. It was a ruin of what was probably a fire lookout. It sat on top of a hill with an amazing view of the LA basin. Off to the east we could see all the sets of high rises. First was Santa Monica, with the mid-Wilshire district, then Century City and finally downtown all lined up. There was the remains of the marine layer with a layer of dusty, brown smog on top of the marine layer. Off to the right was the receding marine layer still overing the beaches and ocean. While it was a little disappointing to not see the water under the marine layer, it was still fascinating seeing the marine layer from this perspective. We could also make out. The top of Catalina Island off the coast. It was absolutely stunning. I had never seen LA from this perspective before.

The top of the hill we were on was covered in the ruins. A rock foundation and stairs were all that was left of whatever had stood on this he’ll. We took a longish break to relax and recover. We ate a bit before heading back toward the Will Rogers trailhead.

By now it’s going right past hot to DAMN HOT. But oddly enough I am feeling not only good, but strong. It’s been awhile since I have felt strong on this long a mountain bike ride. I’m first to the trail head, but only because now Ron is keeping an eye on Rick.

After some discussion we decide to all take the single track because Ron tells us it’s actually a loop back to the road if we take a turn off about a mile or so down. This little section is SO with it! It was butter-smooth and much of it was shaded. Very sweet.

The worst part of this was the loopback portion which was at one time the Will Rogers trail that had eroded so much that it was now barely passable. At this point it was hike-a-bike back to the fire road. Once Ron and Rick made it to where Tuan and I were waiting in the shade, Rick laid down and we reluctant to go on. I was getting a little concerned because it was getting on toward noon and it was only getting hotter. But Rick ‘looked’ ok still. I didn’t get it.

Tuan and I went on to ‘The Hub’ and waited in the shrinking shady area for Rick and Ron to join us as we headed back. When they got there Rick was the first to go on so I thought he must be doing ok now. The next section was the tough climb coming out, meaning it was the best downhill going back. Weeee . . . !

The sad part about awesome downhills is that they inevitably turn to climbs as this certainly did and now it was way beyond hot. At this point I thought everyone was doing ok, getting tired and hot as we were all starting to run out of water, but ok. As the road turned up, I passed Rick and started slogging my way back up. I was still feeling pretty strong, but I didn’t push it aware of the heat and running out of water.

I was first up to the top of Temescal Canyon so I found the only, tiny bit of shade next to the sign and rolled in waiting for the others. I figured they were right behind me, but when 5 minutes turned to 20, I started to be a little surprised. Finally Tuan showed up with Ron and Rick shortly behind.

Tuan apparently had started to cramp up and the heat was now really getting to Rick. So we hung out in the shade a bit to let Rick recover.

But he wasn’t. He still looked ok to me, he didn’t really show his distress on his face, but now was talking of being nauseous and gagging a little. OK, now I am concerned because we are now talking heat exhaustion. I was really glad Ron was here because he had training and a radio if it got too bad.

After some discussion the decision was made that Tuan and I would head back to the cars and I would drive Rick’s truck up to the top of Reseda Ave. which should be an easy downhill ride for Rick and Ron.

And off we went. I still felt fine and pretty strong. Tuan did fine until we started climbing again and he was starting to cramp up. He stuck it out though. We mostly rode together with me a little ahead when I suddenly noticed that he was no longer right behind me. So I found a tiny bit of shade and waited for him.

When he caught back up I stayed with him the rest of the way as he clearly hurting and didn’t want to lose track of him. What was making things worse was now it was noon and the sun was straight above us making shade a tough thing to find.

With my encouragement and some digging deep on Tuan’s part we finally made the cars. Thankfully a had brought along a 32 once bottle of Gatorade that was, amazingly, still cool. Tuan sucked down about half of it and climbed into the AC to recover. I fired up Rick’s truck and we headed back to the freeway.

It took some time and me relearning manual shifting but we finally made it to Rick and Ron in the shade near water waiting on us. NOW I could see the effects of the heat on Rick’s face.

Weirdly I had a good time, even though Tuan and Rick clearly suffered. Ron was also in good shape, but he certainly is the most fit of all of us. In total, it almost 5. Hours out in the heat. I think I’ll pass in this much heat the next time, but I am very happy on how well I held up.

Nike Site to Backbone at Garmin Connect – Details.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Dwayne | September 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Mulholland Dr., Will Rogers State Park, some pretty cool locations.

  2. stan | October 18, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    What a ride. Glad I missed that one!

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