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The Tour De Julian is outstanding cycling event held each November in the beautiful East County mountains of San Diego that attracts over 200 cyclists.  The event hosts a road ride on Saturday and a mountain bike ride on Sunday.  In years past, we have only done the road bike ride, which ascends the stunning duo of Engineers Road and Mt. Laguna's Sunrise HWY from the North.  While the event is technically a fun ride, the organizer of the event offers awards for the "King of the Mountain" in each generic racing category (Men, Women, Juniors, Masters, etc.), turning this fun ride into a competitive race to the top of Mt. Laguna.

On November 6th, 2010, Hannah, Moriah and I did this appealing ride once again.  The ride has 55 miles and 5,500 feet of climbing, with virtually all the climbing happening in 23 miles, between mile 9 and mile 32, which is where you climb Engineers Rd and Sunrise HWY, and where the race for the KOM is won or lost.

This year's ride began under sunny skies with a temperature of 49 degrees.  From the whistle, it was a hammer fest.  The girls were determined to beat all the other women and juniors to the top of Mt. Laguna.  We quickly got into the lead pack of super-stud males, but the elastic snapped on the first long 10% roller headed toward Julian.  Once in Julian proper, the next eight miles were essentially a super fun, fast, and dangerous descent down to the bottom of Boulder Creek Rd., where the girls worked their way back up to 11th place over-all with some excellent descending.

The real climbing began at mile nine with the awesome 7 mile long Boulder Creek/Engineers Rd. climb, which is a sustained climb through gorgeous scenery that gets steeper as you get higher, culminating with a three minute section of 11%-13% right at the top.

As we began the climb, Hannah and Moriah were in 11th place over-all, and were still the first juniors and women on the road.  As we ripped our way up the 7 mile climb, a few strong male cyclists passed us, but no women.  We kept looking over our shoulders waiting for some Cat 2 or Cat 3 Women to hunt us down, which finally happened toward the top of this 30 minute climb, right as we were heading into that final 3 minute crux.

When Hannah saw the lady closing, her competitive drive took over, and Hannah went deep into anaerobic land.  I stayed with her (barely!) and we opened up a pretty good gap on the women, but unfortunately we also dropped Moriah in the process, who had now been caught and passed by the women.  As Hannah and I were approaching the top, I looked back to see that the woman now had about a 15 yard gap on Moriah.  They were both heading into the final 30 seconds of the climb, which is the steepest part.  I loudly yelled back with encouragement to Moriah, "Come on Mo-Mo, Dig, Dig, Dig!"  Moriah squinted with determination, added two gears, came out of the saddle and aggressively attacked.  She closed the gap within seconds and flew right by the women.  She kept digging until she was back with us, giving the three of us a good gap as we crested the top of Engineers Rd.

That inspirational attack on the hardest part of the climb was all we needed to stay pumped up, and after crossing the couple miles of flat on HWY 79, we tackled the 15 mile climb up Sunrise HWY with confidence and speed.  The girls ended up arriving at the top of Mt. Laguna in 15th place over-all, taking 1st in KOM for both Juniors and Women by over 5 minutes.  They were stoked.  We took it fairly easy on the trip back to Julian and enjoyed the glorious day. It was a perfect day of cycling.  See the cool photos here.

Richard Swan
Strive Racing