Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday Montebello III

Every other Wednesday C. comes to clean our house. For this small fact I have a universe of gratitude.

When I was working, it was no problem being out of the house and out of her way. The problem then was "straightening up", a euphemism for trying to tame and control all manner of flotsam and jetsam lying around. We ran around like chickens on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Now it's a problem being out of the house. The whole cleaning process takes about 4 hours, start to finish. The answer was to make a Wednesday ride, a ride up the nearest hill which also happens to be a hard climb. Today's ride is technically number 3, since rides 1 and 2 pre-date Route 66, a journey.

Montebello Road climbs for about 7.5 miles to the highest point on the ridge around here, Black Mountain. The highest point is around 2800 feet. With the last mile or so unpaved, a popular option for the time-crunched cyclist is the out-and-back. Up Montebello to the gate, then turn around and descend back the way you came. Incredible views and a fast descent. This, by the way, was the route of Wednesday Montebello I (on the Seven).

For the more rural experience, adventurous cyclists continue on Montebello Road past the gate. The surface is maintained but pavement gets sketchier until it becomes completely dirt. For the effort of climbing off pavement, the reward is 360-degree ridgetop views. Other perks include completely different weather than down in the valley, and usually a wildlife encounter.

From the summit there are a couple of options for dirt descents. The regular one is Montebello Road, which actually connects with Page Mill near the top. Plenty thrilling, since the surface is loose. The one I had my eye on today is Bella Vista, which turns into a beautiful sinew of singletrack, following the contour of the hills to the very top of Page Mill, via Canyon Trail. Never done that solo before.

Wednesday Montebello II was the rural route, descending Montebello to Page Mill (on the Waterford).

Today I wanted a longer ride and if the National Weather Service was to be believed, it might just be the day for it.
Would last night's weather front really clear out in time for an afternoon ride?

While prepping in the driveway, C. rolled up and we talked for about a half hour. It's amazing...she has cleaned our house for 15 years and we never see each other. It was really good to touch base.

On the other hand, it was a late start. And the initial chill as I roll down our street says it might be colder than the forecast, too. Hmmm.

The climb takes care of the cold problem. It's one of the fringe benefits of generating enough watts to turn the pedals!

Montebello is steepest near the bottom. Those first 1-3/4 miles have an average grade of 9%, with steeper (12%) pitches. Even the pitches are comfortable for my back today, thanks to the triple. With each ride, it's feeling better and better.

It sure is a beautiful day in the valley and I can't resist a few snapshots. Montebello is all about the views. And though the climbing is going well, up near Ridge Winery the photos reveal what kind of weather might be waiting:

I wiggle around the gate and start up the unpaved section. It's probably about 40 degrees up here, 20 degrees cooler than down below.

We are in the clouds and it's blowing hard. Time to be realistic, people. It's probably not a day to take a challenging dirt detour and extend the ride along the ridge. It's a day to head back down the hill.

That right there is the summit, with the radio towers slowing down the blowing mist!

Raising the Waterford's seat an extra half-inch really made a difference. The orange bike descends like a champ, into the warmth.


  1. After reading this, I felt compelled to climb Montebello myself. We completely misjudged the time, so we didn't get to the gate before Page Mill until after full dark. You're not kidding about the temperature difference! It's a great ride, though.

  2. You were inspired!! That makes me SO happy.... Today was Wednesday Montebello V (now I have to write the post)!