Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day climb up Glendora Ridge Road

Yes .... proof that the ToC 2012 has been this way !
Twelve months ago, Farmer Tony and I rode up Baldy Rd from Claremont.
 It was hot .... very hot. We went all the way up to the finish of the 2011 Mt Baldy ToC stage at the ski lifts.

From Baldy village we road the 10 steep switchbacks, averaging 8%, then, where the road straightens out, battled up a final section of 15%, before we got to experience the rough surface of the last five switchbacks.

So, of course, I was glued to the TV coverage of this years stage, armed with our ride from the year before. But this time I really wanted to experience the long climb up Glendora Ridge Rd. The long climb that starts in Glendora and climbs all the way to Baldy Village.

Once again I had a buddy to share the experience with. Shawn, the vet specialist, from nearby Victorville, who I first met at the Santa Barbara Century in Nov 2011 and rode with again in Feb 2012 at the Palm Springs Century.

Link for the 2012 stage profile and here for the 2012 stage report.
2012 Tour of California Stage 7,  126km. Ontario to Mt Baldy
Unlike the ToC, we started at Claremont riding to the start of the Glendora Ridge Rd at Glendora via Baseline Rd. I was surprised to see so many other cyclists out and about on Baseline, normally on my rides here I see very few. But this was a national holiday and I was thinking that soon we would leave them all behind .....

Not true, all the way up the Ridge Rd we had plenty of company. As this is not the best way to access the area, there were not many cars. Not so for motorcyclists. There is a huge number in Southern California and they just love the twisty curves of the mountains .... even if most of them have Harleys !
22 miles to Baldy Village, that's 35 kms.

Road starts out nice and wide and smooth.

Hmm, climbing already.

"Thanks for bringing over the 10 speed Dura Ace,
but it's not making climbing any easier !"

How's the view from up here on Ridge, eh ?
No clouds, not even a breathe of wind. Wow !

Where's Baldy ?

Remember this road maintenance compound from the SBS coverage ? ..... I do.
Chris Horner, last years winner was still out on a breakaway right here, trying to crack the peloton. Long way to go, though.

KOM .... right here, at the start of the ridge, just before the turn off onto Glendora Mountain Rd where they turned right, after climbing out of Baldy Village the first time.


At the turn off, looking back the way they they went down to the start of Glendora Ridge Rd.

At the Junction, looking back down the way we just climbed up the Ridge.

From the junction on, towards Baldy Village, the road narrows and loses the centre line.
Still, it is a good road, nice enough surface. Few bloody cars. The motorbikers love these sweeping curves, high up on the Ridge, with spectacular views.

Baldy over my shoulder, near the top of the climb. I can't think of a better ride in California than this one.
No wonder this stage of the ToC is called the "Queen's stage"
Closer than Alpe d'Huez, warmer, easier to get to and they speak english (sort of ....).

"That's where I live .... way over the back there, just near the San Andreas fault line"

Dropping down into Baldy Village. The tour came up this way first ....
Faded names still on the road, right here. I can see how the riders would love catching sight of theirs, especially on steep sections like this bit ......
At the bottom you can see the junction with Baldy Rd, the way up from Ontario.

Here's the junction. On the commentary Paul Sherwen was amazed at how fast they took this left hander. It's 10% coming down, so easy to get upto a high speed, it looked like they didn't even brake. Today the road is not closed and Baldy Rd is very busy with cars on this Monday holiday, so it is hard on the brakes.
And here in the USA stop signs, mean STOP.
No time today to go on up from Baldy Village to the ski lift. It wasn't tough doing this climb, nor the section that Farmer Tony and I did twelve months ago. But putting the whole lot together and riding the complete stage must be a killer. That last section with 15% for 3-400m, before turning onto the last five tight, rough, switchbacks, with tired legs, becomes brutal. Last year Andy Schleck faded not far out of Baldy Village.

OK, I know .... I've gotta go ride Alpe d'Huez and other Tour de France climbs soon. It will make watching the TV coverage even more special ...... just like it has for me watching this years ToC.

Today, Shawn and don't have the time to finish ride to the finish, so we refresh our bottles, turn right and zip down Baldy Rd back to our cars in Claremont. Boy, did we have a great day. Even with rotten weather, Glendora Ridge Rd would still be far and away the best climb in California.


  1. Wow - this is so impressive - what a ride. I am never doing it though - I am not that fond of hills !

  2. G'day Barry

    Nice to see you getting up close and personal with the Mt Baldy area again.Certainly made me envious reading your story and thinking back to our trip there last year.Had a great Wang tour over the weekend.Steve and Helen came up also.Check my blog for how we went.

  3. You're making me jealous. I'm here trying to sort out a new computer, pissing down with rain (all day) and you're there riding, beautiful weather and looking a treat.
    Looking forward to catching up next weekend.
    The Captain

  4. Great post. Excellent photos and well written text. Makes me want to ride this beast.