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Thursday, April 9, 2009

My not so Recovery Ride Silverado Canyon

Thank you for stopping by...

I would like to give a shout out to Greg Sellers of Motor Tabs. I met a Motor Tabs rider named Mark on Jamboree. We chatted for a bit and then we climbed at our own pace. Thanks for the support Motor Tabs!

I missed the train in Oceanside yesterday which threw a wrench in my recovery ride plans. I did a 600km (373 mile 18,000 feet of climbing) brevet on Saturday see below. So I did a little discovering instead. I had read a thread on that discussed sustained climbs in Orange County. I'm fairly new to Orange County and was interested what people considered "sustained". One poster mentioned Silverado Canyon. I only knew of it as a 5.5 mile rolling stair step climb. But he mentioned that you could ride past a gate and continue another 3 miles on pavement. After the 3 miles of pavement it gives way to a hard packed dirt road.

This all sounded interesting to me and so I bagged making any other attempt at commuting and drove to Tustin. I parked adjacent to Tustin Market Place. I started my ride from Jamboree and Irvine Blvd. Here are the stats:

41 mile round trip with 3500 feet of climbing
3200 feet in the first 20 miles

Start Irvine Blvd Right Turn on Santiago Canyon 4.92 miles 515 feet of gain

(Lap 1) From Santiago Canyon to Left turn on Silverado Canyon 6.44 miles 550 feet of gain

(Lap 2)Silverado Canyon to "gate" 5.7 miles 835 feet of gain

(Lap 3) Gate to end of paved road 3.11 miles 1115 feet of gain

Hard pack .39 miles 180 feet of gain

The climb past the gate is steep and as you can see from the graph it gets progressively steeper. I rode a 53/39 and a 11/27 (homemade) and spent a lot of time 39x27 seated and 39x24 standing. Based on my effort level and gearing I'd say it's at least 8% grade. The climb is deceptive because the surrounding canyon goes up with you. But beware the water crossings. I fell on the first one (about 5 crossings). I was going less than 5 mph and I still fell. Putting my carbon soled shoe out to stop my fall was useless - know what I mean? The paved road isn't great, it has lots of ripples, but it's paved nonetheless.

Now for the adventure part--since this is GEORGE'S EPIC ADVENTURES. I didn't have lights!! I made my turn around at 7:45pm. It became prematurely dark because of the rain clouds hovering over the canyon. I thought I was alone it was dark and it was getting colder at over 3,000 ft elevation.

I'm on the dirt section only .3 of a mile and I'm looking for a satisfying "summit" but the road just kept climbing. Just then I see headlights. I flag the motorist down and his first words are "Damn you got more balls than I got!" He was a young guy too-- mid 20's. Aren't they supposed to be fearless? I'll just consider it my naivety. But I digress, I asked him how much further the road goes and he says "How far do you want to go? Hwy 15? Temecula?" I then decided it was time to turn around and follow the little bit of light I could get from the pick-up truck being in front of me. I eventually lost the truck as I had to dismount at the stream crossings. After losing the pick-up my speed slowed way down because I couldn't see a thing. I was really cold on the descent. I had a Hi-Vis shell but my hands and my feet, which were wet from the crossings, were really cold.

My greatest fear was getting attacked by a mountain lion. I don't know anything about their hunting habits and I felt defenseless. Knowledge is power they say and I felt powerless. I will be doing some research before going "out there" again. I want to continue up the dirt road and see where it goes. I think there is an opportunity for Rough Riding up there!

I made it back to the car sometime after 9pm.

Thanks for reading. Show some love, comment if you feel compelled.


  1. I wish you had pictures because it's hard to imagine this place. It definitely sounded like an adventure! Next time you go out there again, bring your camera...please :)

  2. what? dude, riding in the dark with the possibility of being eaten by a mountain lion with stream crossings thrown in for fun? hell, that's kid play for you, George! ;-)

  3. Ok so I created an account so that I can comment on how INSANE you are! Also I love that you FELT powerless that's IMPRESSIVE that you FELT on this ride! :) Love it!

    Either way I think you're nuts and your are an adventure nut!

  4. Thank you girls for reading my blog.

    Brandy went up there today on her road bike and scored some more Rough Riding points. She of course had to one-up me and went two miles on the dirt. She took pictures look for a blog posting from her.

    Mackenzie- I must've done something to get you to create ANOTHER email account ;). Thank you for getting onboard the epic train.

  5. Are you fools riding your road bikes up the dirt section? I thought about it when I went up there, but just turned around. I thought about going back on my CX bike. If it's doable on the road bike, I may check it out this Sat. Take Care...

  6. I'll take credit for being the more foolish one, since I went farther! Yes, that's my neener, neener to George. He stole my thunder by sneaking out there to climb Silverado and Maple Springs last night when HE KNEW I had planned to do it today...I had to one up him. That's how I roll. ;)

    Anyway...yes, took the Cervelo R3 (my beloved baby) up there and was nervous the whole time. It's do-able on the road bike but I was wishing for a few more gears. Ouch.

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  8. Great write-up George!

    You'll have to try the full loop that we did a couple weeks back (I posted the link to our route on BF). We went into Corona for lunch and then back through Skyline/ Blackstar. My buddy Frank took a bunch of pics... Look for them on RoughRider's blog (eventually). I'll make sure to give you a heads up if we schedule it again.

  9. George, good write up. At least we don't have too many mountain lions out here in Iowa for you to worry about on TI!

  10. Sounds like a perfect ride. A bit of exploring, a bit of unexpected hardship and discomfort, a little danger survived without injury, and a friendly interaction with passerby. It all makes for a great ride and a good story. Ride safe.

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