Mountain Bike Bill, The Dirt on the Dirt

Gutting It Out

Quote of the Day: “This would be so easy without the cramping”

 I was going to be climbing Nate Harrison Grade up to the top of Palomar Mountain for my weekend ride as I was to met with a lady who owns to chunk of property up on the mountain.  This is no small ride as it is an 11.1 mile climb with 4,700 feet of climbing.  Will heard me talking about it on Saturday afternoon and said he wanted to go.  He remembered this from a drive we had done in the truck a few times.   I stressed to him that this was a serious ride with an 11 mile climb.   In true young mind fashion that never ceases to amaze me he replies with “That means we get to go down the mountain for 11 miles…COOL!”.    I warned multiple of times about the size and effort required for this ride.  I also reminded him that I was not going to let him weasel out of hockey practice that night.   He was undaunted, so I woke him up bright and early Sunday morning and we headed out.  

Will at start

On the drive out, I talked to him about pacing yourself and how Nate Harrison Grade is a great teacher of pace and rythm climbing.   We were climbing by 7:30AM with a nice temp of only 60 degrees.  I knew it was going to be a roaster today, so the plan was to get up in elevation before the valley turned into a large scale brick oven.

Will early on

Will started out all charged up zipping ahead and talking some smack.   I snickered as I knew that would not last long.  Fifteen minutes later, the tables had turned and my boy was suddenly more interested in the “wisdom” I had to offer vice the “babble” I was spouting a little further back down the road.   So while acutely listening this time, I noticed he had grown enough as of late to warrant a few tweaks to the seatpost and saddle.   While I did not take a picture of it, his seatpost looks a lot like our dated height marks on the closet door back home.  Geez they grow quick. 

Stopping to smell the lupins

There were plenty of wildflowers in bloom along the climb and we took plenty of breaks along the way.  He was really finding “his” pace and a good rhythm.   The temps were climbing faster than we were and just about when I was going to declare it hot, we reached an elevation where things started cooling off.

I think I can, I think I can

At around the seven mile mark, Will started getting the first twinges of cramps in his quads.   We was not interested in turning around.  We did take breaks more often, and he was more open to the mocha flavored Clif shots, banannas, and electrolytes that he was turning down earlier.

Around the nine-mile mark the boy was suffering and the “This would be so easy without the cramping” statement came out, which I could only reply with (with a bit of laughter in my voice) “Yep, been there done that”.   At this point the thought of turning around did come up.   I told him we could turn around if he wanted to, but we were really close and getting to the top would be quite an accomplishment.   After a long break, he decided to keep climbing.   I was impressed. 

Near Top

Most of Nate Harrison Grade is a fairly smooth dirt road,  with the last mile or so at the top being pavement.   Just before reaching the pavement is the rockiest section of the whole road.  While normally it would be no big deal, when your fighting off cramps it can be a real pain.   He soldiered through it and once on the pavement he spun along nicely with the cramps mostly subsided.

We enjoyed ourselves at the top,  grubbing down on the remainder of our trail food.   I could tell that he was stoked to have pulled off the climb.  Will spent little time actually looking around and when I called him over to check out some particular sights he reminded me of our “mission” for the day, “Dad, I did not pedal up this mountain to see the view.  I came up here to ride down.  Lets Go!”   


So down we went.   Gleeful giggles were heard many times.   The Dad in me was scared a few times at his speed, but at the same time the mountain biker in me was going “HELL YEAH!

Down the hill

What took hours to climb took somewhere around 20 minutes or so to descend.  It was a stupidly hot 99 degrees at the bottom.   No big deal, when you have a 30+ mph breeze in your face.  After some Mexican food on the way home and a dip in the pool, he was ready to head out for hockey practice.   He did look a little flat on the rink, but I was pretty freaking impressed with how he gutted things out over the course of the day.   Oh yeah, he had no issues going to be bed early that night. 🙂


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