Thursday, May 5, 2011

Manker to the Notch, and over the top...

A recent post over at the nearby blog, Bicycle Friends, about getting a GMR / Baldy Road / Baldy Notch ride (all those road miles on knobby tires did not appeal to my senses) but it did get me thinking about my own favorite wide-tired ride up there - Manker Flat, over the Notch, down to Stockton Flat, and back. So, I took a break from some paperwork today and set out for the high country. Calling it a perfect day up there, might sound trite (as most days amongst the peaks seem to the perfect), and the only way to have made it better would be to have ridden with a group. I have not been up there since prior to the winter snows shutting it down, so I was not sure what to expect, especially on the north side of Baldy. Thus, I was not really planning on going any past the Notch. As it was, that was probably for the best because I climbed like a dog, and was not going to reach to top in any record time. 

San Antonio Falls looking refreshing as ever

Desert View

mandatory shot from the lodge at the Notch. Baldy is in the background,
partially hidden by the ridge in the foreground

That said, when I reached Desert View and saw that the road down to Stockton Flat was perfectly clear, I did ride down a few hundred yards, before deciding I did not want to climb any more this day, and turned around. I will save the second half of this one for another day, maybe get a group together, that always makes those long climbs pass quicker. Anyway, back to today; the route was typical, a lot of loose stuff, and far too many patches of soft dirt where recent grading had taken place - hopefully the weekend foot soldiers and riders will have it sorted out soon. A nice light breeze kept the air cool as it whispered through the pines, birds were chirping, brooks were babbling their way down the slopes of Baldy; it all made my panting from the effort seem offensive in some way. The squealing of my front brakes coming back down the mountain was downright sacrilegious, and will have to be dealt with soon as I will not tolerate rogue sounds emanating from my bike.

other than a lone hiker enjoying the panorama of Desert View,
Baldy Notch seemed to be abandoned, so I settled for photos of my own legs...

 the front wheel on the 29er...

and the bear bell on my camelbak

There was a lot of work taking place along Baldy Road in preparation for the two upcoming biggie events, the L'Etape du California, and stage 7 of the Tour of California. The section of pavement washed away by the winter storms is repaved and smooooooth, a crew and fleet of trucks were busy repainting lane stripes through Baldy Village and all the way up to the bottom of the ski lifts, while another crew was busy changing all the light bulbs (or at least replacing the burnt out ones) in the tunnels, and brush has been cleared from the road shoulders in many places where it had been encroaching, and/or to provide extra parking, because you know a lot of people will drive up to watch, especially during the Tour.

 there is still some snow; banks of it on the upslopes along the road down
to Stockton Flat, north side of Mt. Baldy

not the weekend, so they were motionless in the breeze

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