I don’t know what has gotten into me lately. After a few years of semi-serious road bike riding, I have become somewhat addicted to hills (it can’t be the coffee, however, I am not sure about the water). What this has led to is a semi-serious love affair with Glendora Mountain Road (GMR). Take a recent “Encounter,” for example.
I actually arose pretty early (by my standards), and moseyed on-over to the intersection of Sierra Madre Boulevard and Glendora Mountain Road (GMR), focused on a solo day’s ride up the ribbon of switchbacks. Though riding solo, no worries, as I knew where the road went (a quick note on rising early that morning; Since I could not sleep the previous night, for some reason, I was truly not feeling my best as I began to assault the hill. However, grinding out a sustained climb has a way of activating the body’s natural rhythm, and I just kept pedaling and forgot how icky I had felt when I stated the climb). There were actually quite a few cyclists on the hill, and thankfully, not too much vehicle traffic. In addition to all of the roadies, there was some kind of shuttle taking fat tire riders (mountain bikes) up the hill, where they were let off just passed the road maintenance shack. It looked like they were taking the fire trails back down the hill. I also saw a few downhill skateboarders and one street luger (and I thought I was crazy when I raced motorcycles back in the day).
Up, up that ribbon of highway…
As I was grinding out yet another switchback, I came upon two people I recognized at a turnout. From there, the three of us dragged each other up the hill, sharing stories and jokes along the way. I was also quite impressed with one of the riders, named Manfred. For a newer rider, he simply does not quit. He just kept going and going up that hill. After our stroll to the top, and a quick pause for drinks and photos, the really fun part began – The decent. Nothing will put a smile on your face like bombing a really good stretch of downhill. I made full use of it. Once at the bottom, we parted ways, and I made for the sanctity of my own kitchen for a well-deserved post ride meal.
In all, three things got me up the hill that day. The Good Lord Himself, remembering Trek Factory Racing’s rider Jens Voigt’s famous words of “Shut up legs,” and a friend sharing his advice of counting to 100 repeatedly until the top of the hill is reached, so as to distract the mind while climbing. It works out pretty good, too. When the road heads upward, start counting until you get to 100 or the top of the hill, whichever comes first. If you are not there yet, start counting over again until you get to the top. I must have counted to 10,000 in total, that particular day.
To sum it all up, it was a good day to ride, a good day to climb, and the surprise company made for a very good time, indeed.
Glendora Mountain Road (GMR) is a two-lane, well paved, multi-switchback road in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California. It is about 8.5-miles to the top, with a published grade of 4 to 7%, with approximately 2200-feet of climbing. It is a hotbed of activity for motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists, skateboarders and street lugers. It has even been used in the Amgen Tour of California a few times.