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PINARELLO x PELOTON: Torrey Pines to Double Peak

Words and Images by James Startt

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For our last ride in Southern California with Pinarello, we decide to head inland. And for anyone who understands SoCal geography, inland generally means heading uphill. “Let’s hit Double Peak today,” says Sonja, one of the two local riders showing us around the area. “It’s a classic North County ride for people around San Diego. But it’s brutal!”

One look at the map tells us the summit of Double Peak Park sits at 1,646 feet (502 meters) above sea level. And as we meet up on the beach in front of Torrey Pines, it’s clear that today’s ride will be all about climbing. “It will be a great way to test out the Dyodo e-bikes as well,” adds Sonja.

“But we are going to take a few detours to get off the main roads and mix it up a bit,” says Blaize, our other local rider. “You will see. It’s really amazing how much variety there is in what is essentially a 40-mile ride.”

Starting by the ocean, we first ride north along the coastline to Solana Beach. But as soon as we turn inland, the road starts to climb. At first, making our way toward Harmony Grove, the long, sweeping climbs allow us time to ease into the ride. But the mood changes drastically after passing through Harmony Grove, where the road narrows and soon turns into gravel.

“We love to take the Questhaven fire road,” Blaize says. “It’s a lovely gravel stretch that gets you away from everything. It really spices up the ride.”

“There are a lot of gravel sections like that around here,” Sonja adds. “And when you know the roads you can really hop between them for some fun rides. But you have to pay attention. They are plenty technical, plenty challenging.”

As the two hit the gravel for the first time, they have a great opportunity to really test out the Pinarello’s electric-assist modes, negotiating the constantly changing terrain. “Oh that was fun,” Sonja says after exiting the gravel stretch. “The Dyodo is great on gravel. The terrain here is constantly changing from rocky to sandy to steep, so you’ve got to understand how much power you get from the different assist modes and use it accordingly. But once you get it down, you can really take advantage of it and make it work for you.”

Back on paved roads, the two cruise up the sinuous Questhaven Road through lush woods and past white picket fences. But the duo has little time to look around, as the gradient quickly increases. Punching up 10-percent grades, Blaize and Sonja have even more opportunity to test out the added power offered by their e-bikes.

Turning right on San Elijo Road, the two get their first glimpse of Double Peak. And soon enough they’re on Double Peak Drive in a final push toward the summit. At first glance, the wide, well-paved road has little in common with the historic Belgian bergs and muurs made famous by the Tour of Flanders. But the rude 20-percent pitches certainly do. “It’s really a classic climb around here,” Sonja says. “But it is brutal. It can give you nightmares!”

Conversation clearly comes to a halt as the two push their way up the steepest pitches. But they ride smoothly. “I’ve done this climb many, many times,” Blaize says on reaching the top. “That is the first time I did it with a little extra power, and climbing up Double Peak with the power-assist is a completely different experience. Without the motor you are just in your lowest gear, grinding up. You are just trying to stay upright. But when you can kick the motor into high gear I can ride up it three or four gears higher in my drivetrain and be going much faster with the same effort! I am still working plenty hard but I am not in survival mode.”

“Double Peak is just so hard,” Sonja adds. “But today it was actually enjoyable.”

Hitting the park entrance, the two have fun riding up a gravel path in the final meters to the lookout point on the summit and slip into tourist mode, looking through the viewing telescope. With the day’s clear skies the views are simply stunning. Looking northeast they can see all the way to the snow-capped San Gorgonio Mountain, the highest peak in Southern California at 11,503 feet (3,506 meters) elevation, while looking west they can see down toward Carlsbad on the Pacific Coast. “It’s just a classic climb for us. And once you get up here you get these amazing views,” says Sonja. “It’s really hard to beat!”