Day 3: Alpine to Descanso - Springtime on the Stagecoach 400 - CycleBlaze

March 29, 2021

Day 3: Alpine to Descanso

Descanso en Descanso

Yesterday was a serious reminder that this hobby is really tough and can genuinely be dangerous. I spent the night feeling nauseous and exhausted, but I was able to steadily sip on Gatorade and water to rehydrate and replenish lost electrolytes. In the morning, I went to town on the continental breakfast, and the hotel manager kindly encouraged me to take as many bananas and as much food along with me as I could. I happily obliged.

I trepidaciously left town before 10am, hoping to make it over the next 20 miles of climbing before the big  descent down Oriflamme. My nausea slowly dissipated over the first few miles, and I started feeling really great again. I put myself on a much stricter water and snack regiment so that I wouldn't bonk, and it seemed to be working. A cool breeze also helped keep me from getting too hot. All-in-all, things were off to a much better start.

The gorgeous valley before Viejas Grade
Heart 1 Comment 0

I made my way slowly up Viejas Grade, enjoying the view and the breeze. I was feeling good. Not great, but worlds better than yesterday. I set my sights on Agua Caliente, where I could camp for the night and stock up on water for the following stretch into the desert washes of Borrego.  

Slow and steady up the grade.
Heart 2 Comment 0

 After the climb, I enjoyed a punchy descent into Descanso, where I filled up on tacos at the Mexican joint. I also refilled my water, refusing to make the same mistake I had the day before. Between arriving at the hotel last night and stopping in Descanso, I had consumed nearly 10 liters of water. Clearly I had been wildly dehydrated. Now I was carrying 6 liters and still going through it fast. 

Tacos for days. They hit the spot!
Heart 1 Comment 0
I bought this collapsible water bladder before starting the trip, and am glad I did.
Heart 2 Comment 0

After eating my weight in carne asada, I powered on to the next truck trail. It was again getting quite toasty, so when I saw a waterfall down and to my left, I couldn't help but check it out and soak my shirt. 

Heart 1 Comment 0

Unfortunately, itwas after this point that trouble hit. I continued on my climb, slowly meandering upward. However, on one of the quick descents punctuating the trail, I downshifted  to prepare for the coming climb, and my derailleur shifted into my spokes. My wheel locked up and, while I didn't crash, I had clearly damaged my derailleur and quite seriously bent a spoke. I did my best to jockey it back into position, but my shifting was off and I couldn't really access my climbing gears without fear of it again getting stuck in the spokes. 

That's...that's not how a derailleur is supposed to look.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Trail-side diagnostics. Prognosis: not good.
Heart 0 Comment 0

It was here that I decided to throw in the towel. Typically on a longer bike trip far from home I would figure out a solution to keep moving forward. But between the heat exhaustion yesterday and now this mechanical issue, I simply did not feel like forging ahead. Sure, I could do some more mechanical trickery, like further bending my derailleur or converting to single speed, but with the most remote section of the ride coming up and my energy levels low,  I figured it best to call it quits here. I cautiously backtracked to cell service and called my family, who graciously picked me up. 

Defeated...but not dead.
Heart 2 Comment 0

While this was not how I envisioned this trip going, it was certainly a wake-up call for the race. This shit is hard, y'all, and sometimes it's easy to forget that. In the future I'd love to have a group with which to share the misery, but I have yet to find that community in Southern California. 

Today's ride: 18 miles (29 km)
Total: 127 miles (204 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 4
Comment on this entry Comment 4
Mike AylingG'day Jeremy

There is no shame in cutting a ride short due to health and or mechanical reasons.
Re dehydration as you found out you have to keep your fluids up.
Bananas are great because they contain potassium which is one of the salts that help with hydration.
Re your derailleur problem, I converted to Rohloff IGH some years ago.
Those things seem bomb proof. Scan down the Forums until you find the Rohloff thread and see the comments there.


Reply to this comment
1 year ago
Kathleen JonesSounds like a good call to me. You still had quite the adventure and learned some good things. On to the next one!
Reply to this comment
1 year ago
Jeremy NolanTo Mike AylingThank you for your kind words, Mike. What I would give to convert to a Rohloff! This trip was certainly a reminder for why it would be so nice to have one.
Reply to this comment
1 year ago
Karen CookHi Jeremy,

You are not the first to cut a ride short and you won't be the last (I think we have all done it)! You still did a great ride!

Have you checked out San Diego Bike Club for like minded riders? It looks like it would be more of a road club but it has SO many members there are plenty who mountain bike too. They have organized rides (such as the Borrego Springs weekend) that might interest you?

I rode with them for decades before moving to Northern California.

There is also "The Christmas Ride" which technically is not organized by that club but a lot of them ride it. It is a 6 day ride through Borrego Springs, etc. I rode it one year and wrote about it in my "A New Beginning" journal.

Also the guy I rode through Nevada with (Fred) on my "What I did on My Summer Vacation" tour is from San Diego Bike Club. My point is they have a big diversity of riders.

Anyway good job! I will look forward to reading your future journals.

Reply to this comment
1 year ago