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Ride Around The Bear tips(7 posts)

Ride Around The Bear tipsCHRoadie
Jun 6, 2003 7:17 AM
I'm doing OCW's Ride Around The Bear tomorrow and I'm looking for any helpful hints from folks that have already done it. For instance, are 2 water bottles sufficient to get between rest stops, or should I bring my camelbak? Are there any seriously killer stretches that a first timer should be warned about? I've done the climb to Onyx Summit, but never from the backside of the mountain, always from the Mill Creek Ranger Station. What's the road like on the other side?

re: Ride Around The Bear tipsDMoore
Jun 6, 2003 9:21 AM
I live at the foot of the hill in Redlands, have done the ride several times.

Pre-ride tip: if you're in the area, preregister this afternoon. Sure beats dealing with the hassles in the morning.

The stretch from Highland to Running Springs on Highway 330 is very narrow and windy. I take a camelbak with me just for that stretch of road. With just bottles, I find myself waiting to drink until I get to a straight stretch, or a wider stretch, and I end up not drinking enough. With the camelbak you can drink whenever you want to without worry.
(Yes, I can ride a straight line and drink at the same time -- but the road is NARROW!)

If you've done Onyx Summit, you've done the hardest climb on the ride. Coming down from Onyx is about 9 miles of steady downhill, followed by a climb of about 1 mile just past Barton Flats. That climb, especially after the long downhill, is the hardest climb of the entire ride. I usually change my cogs from 11-23 to 12-25, just for this one mile.

The ride up 330 to Running Springs is steeper than Hiway 38 to Onyx, but not as steep as that one section of 38 when you're coming back down. You know the stretch of 38 just past the Forest Falls fork in the road? It's about 7%, and a lot of 330 is about that steep. Once you get to Running Springs and Hiway 18, the climbing gets easier. For me, the worst part of the ride is from Big Bear City to Onyx Summit. It's a climb of almost 2000'. Not very steep, but long and unrelenting. By now it's getting warm (or hot) and there's no shade. If I stop very long for lunch in Big Bear my legs get really unhappy on that long climb.

So - my tips. Take a sports drink (I use Cytomax) and DRINK! On the way up to Big Bear, drink every time the thought enters your mind. If you see someone else do it, you drink too. If you see water, drink. Drink, drink! I'll start with two bottles of cytomax, probably drink 5 or 6 more during the ride, plus the camelbak with water. I don't eat much solid food on the ride: 4 or 5 GU packages, some banana slices, a handful of fig newtons.

Make your rest stops as short as possible. I keep water in my camelbak, cytomax in the bottles. There's enough water in the camelbak to get me to Big Bear, and I don't use it thereafter. But I carry premeasured baggies of cytomax in my bag and fill my bottles at every rest stop. Grab a few fig newtons or banana slice and get back on the bike. Long stops will kill you, because your legs tighten up and life becomes endless misery.

And enjoy the ride from the last rest stop at Angelus Oaks back down to Redlands. It's 20 miles of uninterrupted downhill.
Jun 6, 2003 10:11 AM
Thanks so much for the tips! That's exactly what I was looking for.
Dmoore has good points.......BIG RING
Jun 6, 2003 11:27 AM
especially about drinking. I only had to make one bathroom stop the entire day last year and that was right before the first climb up 330. I intend to improve my time this year by drimking and eating more. I had 7 bottles over the course of 6:27. I went throuh my first botle of Accelerade by the first rest stop, roughly 25 miles into the race I believe, counting the 10 mile flat start. should of had more fluids by then. This year I will mold 3 power bars cut into 1/3rd's over my top tube. Just peel and eat.

One other word to the wise, and Dmoore touches on it. The hardest climb is after the downhill from Onyx Summit. Then it is a lot of flats and rollies. True downhill to a sharp right turn follows, but, it isn't the twenty to forty miles people talk about. Here is where it sucked last year. Even though it was about a 1-2% down slope, the wind was blowing right in your face all the way into Redlands. Additionally, there are raised pavement lines the entire way that make your kidneys feel like they are being punched
Road conditions on 38DMoore
Jun 6, 2003 1:03 PM
First - a clarification to my previous post. I referred to 330 as narrow and "windy." I meant that to mean "winding road," not "blowing wind." The "blowing wind" comes later.

You're talking about the "canyon" stretch below the Forest Falls fork on 38. That section is bad, with tar strips. There is a wide shoulder, but the actual traffic lane is smoother than the shoulder. I tend to ride it just to the left of the line. Plus, the last couple of miles to the ranger station have recently been worked on and "Loose Gravel" signs are everywhere. STAY AWAY FROM THE SHOULDERS there, because the gravel is deep enough to cause trouble. And it's steeper than you realize, about 3-4% from the Forest Falls turnoff to the ranger station. It just doesn't seem that steep, because the headwind is trying to blow you backwards, back up the hill.

Once you're past the ranger station, the last 8 miles or so to Redlands, through Mentone, have been repaved and the road is baby-bottom smooth.

Another suggestion - on the long downhill from Onyx Summit to Barton Flats, keep pedalling. Although you'll probably be spun out, keep the legs moving anyway. If you just coast for the entire 8 or 9 miles, your legs will NOT want to start pedalling hard to get up the 1 mile grade, and that's where the cramps will hit.

I'm sorry I'm missing the ride this year - I have a road race in Temecula tomorrow morning. That will be 50 miles of intense pain -- harder, but shorter than Big Bear. I'd like to try to beat my PR of 6:10 (riding time).

Tomorrow's REAL pain is the Everest Challenge in Bishop. 26000+ feet of climbing in two days. Consider the Ride Around the Bear as a casual training cruise in comparison to that!
Thanks DMoore, good intel.........BIG RING
Jun 6, 2003 1:33 PM
Everest Challenge.........damn, I thought the Bear was tough. Good luck and I will try to improve on your Bear time. My goal is under 6:00.

Come to think of it, the most physically painful part of the Bear last year was the 8-9 mile downhill after Onyx, coasting or pedalling easily. You are right, KEEP PEDALING. My traps, low back and balls of feet were having problems. That time spent cruising in the drops hurt. The climb actually took the pain away in my upper body because I was pulling on the bars. I did a lot of upright rows in preparation this year.

Thanks again for the tips. Good to have local knowledge.
re: Ride Around The Bear tipsYe Olde Balde One
Jun 9, 2003 6:14 AM
After riding it on Saturday:

Drink lots.
Don't be scared of Bear Mtn. Climb it as fast as you feel, not as fast as your head tells you to.
Have fun on the downhills - I was spinning a 53 x 11t!
Talk to people, they'll tell you what's coming up.
Carry a cell phone, and call the girlfriend when your suffering for a pick me up (verbal!).

Most importantly;
Ride it again in 2004 - the experience of this year will pay off.

Seriously, this is a great ride, I'll be back!