I’m sure there have been many iterations and updates, but I took in this “new” Nichols Ride this past Sunday for a number of reasons.
The main draw was Paul and I bringing along Sasha and Vic for their first rides as how could they not have ever done this ride.
Part of doing this ride was getting a good kick in the rear as the grind to climb one million feet for the year has taken a toll on my motivation to ride hard.
The reason why I call this the “new” Nichols Ride is because of the ongoing debate about “Crash Corner” which is near the top of Nichols by La Castana Dr.
Quite simply, this portion is normally wet with the buildup over the years making it a slick section to navigate.
While there is no great solution to handling this moisture as even when the homeowners above don’t water that condensation forms, finding an alternative route has it’s share of opinions.
Ryan Hallman brought up a solution about turning up La Cuesta about a half mile before crash corner which I didn’t think was a better solution (and not only because I hate that climb more too).
Most of the climb you’ll never compete with traffic, but it spits you out at the parking lot at Runyon Canyon which has a competing subset of drivers trying to find a place to put their cars.
On my way down Nichols that morning, crash corner was actually dry thanks to the high winds, but when I spoke with Phil Gaimon at the bottom, he said the fast group goes up La Cuesta.
My plan was to play that intersection by ear hoping that the people I was riding with would follow me left, but the felt more unlikely the closer I got.
After the first mile, I was behind a Pro rider from Rally who was obviously new and needed help navigating the early turns on the course.
I lost her wheel (as did a few in front of me) as we neared La Cuesta and while she stayed on Nichols, the rest of the group stayed right.
Before this junction, I dialed it back a bit waiting for the next group to catch up to sit behind someone rather than go into the red catching up.
Sasha was part of that group and hitting La Cuesta I didn’t gain or lose too much as Paul surged ahead of me.
La Cuesta it is…
As I suspected like after climbing the Wall on the previous version, the next few beats provided recovery after the climb and even more so as we were offered a descent.
Predictably, the group reformed and picked up a couple others as we hit Laurel Canyon fortunate enough to have a brief red before more jumped on.
I was near the front and even did a half-assed pull remaining cautious as things could break apart fast.
By the Nancy Pohl Hoover Overlook, things started to get saucy and three riders pulled ahead separating quickly.
The biggest loop being thrown at us was the heavy winds that changed directions as many times as Mulholland does along the way.
While the three riders formed an efficient mini-echelon, the rest of us fought our way back on the northern straightway that’s one of the most crucial parts of the Nichols Ride, but played a more vital role with the winds slicing the groups up today.
You could see the havoc the wind caused
Positioned towards the back, both Paul and Sasha were part of the carnage as I paired with fellow Gr818er Mark to find wheels as we approached Coldwater Canyon.
The descent before the traffic signals is a great place to catch up and with some luck of the lights, we made up some ground.
Two successive climbs immediately followed and the key is to stay somewhere within contact as you can make up a few seconds at the top if you’re not too far behind.
One rider was just outside that range and dropped with another missing a beat on the S curves bringing our group to three.
Ward (in the La Grange kit) was a difficult rider to read as he spent a great deal of the climbs out of the saddle not fading as quickly as you’d predict.
My hope into the final sprint was that he might empty the tank early, but he was able to keep it up enough to fend off a late surge on my part.
Once again, the Nichols Ride encapsulated the fun and unpredictability each week offers.
Next time, a little less wind though.