Bike Items for Sale - Here's a photo journal of bike parts that I'm trying to clear out of my workshop.
Shipping is $10 or (actual shipping charges + (optional) insurance charges + delivery confirmation fee), whichever is greater. I will try to find cheapest shipping option (e.g. USPS for US Domestic delivery) or will ship according to your carrier of preference.
Some of the parts are new, some are used. If you think my item pricing is off or you're buying multiple items, please make me an offer.
I am selling everything "as is". But, if you buy an item that is dead on arrival, damaged in shipment, or you believe you got a raw deal, please contact me as soon as possible so we can work out a solution. Given the time involved in selling these items I am not making a profit on this and am more interested in seeing components and parts I no longer use but that have remaining useful life to find a home with other bicycle enthusiasts, where they will be used instead of collecting dust in my workshop.
Contact me at the following . It will help if you include the links to photos of the items that interest you. All prices are in US Dollars.
Entire Blog - Display the entire Blog for all years. This is a large file!
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||7600 feet|
Henry Cowell Redwoods, December 26, 1993 - I rode to Henry Cowell Redwoods from home, rode on the Pipeline Road, and then returned home. This was a ride to scout out Sequoia Century routes for 1994.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||7070 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||13.9 mph|
|Max. Speed:||37.5 mph|
Mt. Hamilton Sunrise, December 5, 1993 - I awoke at 0145 to prepare for the moonlight ride up Mt. Hamilton and to enjoy the sunrise from the summit. Several people had expressed an interest in doing this ride with me, but I did not know how many would actually drag themselves out of bed and arrive at the Alum Rock Ave. and CA-130 at 0400 on a cold December morning.
I had arranged to get a ride from Paul Liu who would pick me up at home and drive me to the starting point at Alum Rock Ave. and Mt. Hamilton Road in San Jose, so I would have the option of returning home through Livermore and completing my December century. At precisely 0320, he arrived. We loaded both our bikes in the back of his car and were on the road at 0330.
When we arrived at the starting point, Jude Katsch’s truck was parked in the turnout, and with Jude was Jennifer Zheng. I expected neither of them to be here, but I was glad they could make it. While we put our bikes back together, a few more cyclists arrived: Gardner Cohen, Rich Feldman, and Thomas Maslen. Thomas had ridden up Mt. Hamilton about 18 hours earlier.
At 0420 we got underway. The air was cold and clear, but not too cold. As we climbed the first grade we enjoyed the view of the city lights to our right and of having the road to ourselves. Only a few cars passed us the entire way to the top. Gardner reported a close encounter with a wild pig at the “S” curve near the bottom of the hill.
After about 30 minutes it was clear that Jude and Jennifer had fallen behind. Since our goal was to arrive at the summit before sunrise around 0700 and since no one was being left alone, we decided not to wait up. As we looked back down the road, we saw two slowly-moving lights.
As we started up the second climb, we turned off our lights and rode in the moonlight. The moon was barely a waning gibbous, but it cast enough light to illuminate the roadway and the surrounding hills in an eerily beautiful white light.
At the top of the second climb, the temperature was 37F, but the brief descent to Smith Creek was considerably colder, cold enough to give an instant headache right between the eyes.
The final climb to the top of the mountain began in darkness, but halfway up, the sky began to lighten. A thin layer of high cirrus clouds illuminated by the rising sun had drifted overhead marking the dark blue sky with crimson accents. As we climbed higher the sky to the east began to take on a bright orange glow. After rounding the old observatory near the summit, we had a clear view east and could see the fiery brightness of the imminent sunrise. Not wanting to miss anything, Paul and I, who were riding together at the time, stopped and snapped a few pictures. This kind of scenery requires slide film, but my camera was loaded with print film. Oh well.
We continued quickly to the summit, arriving at 0639, and stationed ourselves at the railing on the southeast side of the observatory. It appeared that the sun would rise to the left of Mt. Isabel.
To the east we could see some of the high peaks of the Sierra including the peaks of the Ritter Range west of Mammoth Lakes. Most of the peaks were bare of snow.
Thomas arrived at 0645, and Gardner and Rich both arrived at 0655. Rich was hoping to see the peaks in the southern Sierra over which the sun would rise, but the Central Valley fog layer was too high, blocking our view. We positioned our cameras, and at 7:02:10 an orange sliver popped over the horizon. We snapped a group photo. Within a minute the sun was too bright to view directly.
When we arrived the temperature was 37F, but after sunrise, things warmed to 40F. Unfortunately, the observatory building doesn’t open until 0800, so we had no refuge from the cold. The next time we do a ride like this we’ll have to bring a camp stove and some hot cocoa.
Gardner decided he had had enough riding in the cold and would not continue around the big loop to Livermore. I was cold but was not as wet with sweat as he, and after I had eaten I felt much better. I was still wanting to ride the loop, but I was not keen on riding alone. I also had an urgent matter of “the second kind” to attend to before riding off into the wilderness. As we began to ride down we ran into Jude and Jennifer. I also noticed that the groundskeeper was officially opening the road to the parking lot at the top. “Perhaps he was about to open the observatory building,” I thought.
I tried one last time to persuade someone to accompany me on a further adventure, but I was unsuccessful. However, everyone seemed to encourage me to continue.
“Well, I’m not sure I should abandon my own ride before it’s over.”, I hesitated.
“We can end the official ride here.”, Paul offered.
“I think that’s about the lamest excuse I’ve heard for not continuing.”, Thomas said. “We want you to suffer.”
Pointing east on San Antonio Valley Road Gardner advised, “There should be a sign right there saying, ‘Abandon all hope ye who pass this way...’”
I decided to return up to the observatory and talk with Jude and Jennifer for a while before deciding which way to return home. Neither of them seemed to want to make a century out of the ride, and after finding the facilities open, I resolved to ride the big loop alone.
As I passed Copernicus Peak at 0835 I hesitated momentarily and then began the long, steep descent, riding carefully lest I encounter an icy patch of roadway. When I reached the bottom at the crossing of Isabel Creek my thermometer read 33F but it was probably colder. As I approached the bottom I noticed all the meadows were white. I thought someone had plowed them until I realized everything was covered with a thick layer of frost. The bridge over the creek was frosty, but I did not slip. It was so cold that I got another instant headache right between the eyes as I neared the bottom, and my legs felt like molasses as I started pedaling up the short hill on the other side. I remembered what Gardner had said earlier.
Further out toward San Antonio Valley the temperature warmed slightly. Shortly after I started heading north I stopped to peel a couple layers. I had up to this point been wearing all of my clothing except the green ski cap which wouldn’t fit under my helmet. The temperature was a toasty 37F. I’m glad I brought plastic bags for my feet, but even these were not enough to keep my feet from becoming numb with cold.
Just before the Junction, I paused to stare back at a small herd of cattle who were staring rudely at me; ears, eyes, horns, and snouts all pointed forward were studying me suspiciously.
I continued past The Junction which was open by now (1000) and stopped again to eat a snack at the top of Eylar Ridge. After I ate, I held my breath for a few seconds and remained motionless, enjoying the deafening silence and deep blue sky of the wilderness. I did not enjoy the occasional report of gunfire I could hear in the distance.
The trip down Arroyo Mocho was long and tedious. I started getting tired of the twisty road. I passed a couple cycle tourists, a very large steer with two forward-pointing sharp horns, like a Warner Brothers’ Looney Toons bull, loose on the road who, when I approached, trotted nervously down the road like a very large woman in high heels, and lower down, a couple fast cyclists out for a day ride. Altogether there was very little traffic.
I continued into Livermore and ate a 45-minute lunch at Togo’s shortly after noon. After lunch I was in the mood to ride without interruption in a straight line, so I rode Stanley Blvd. to Pleasanton and then Foothill Blvd. to Sunol. From Sunol I continued down into Niles Canyon, through Fremont and Newark, and stopped again briefly outside of the Nature Center.
Then I continued over the glass-covered Dumbarton Bridge and home via Willow and Middlefield Rds. Miraculously, I did not get any flats. I arrived home at 1502. Except for the 1:25 I was on the mountain and the 45-minute lunch, I stopped very little and kept a fairly constant pace.
When I got home, I ate a snack, cleaned up, took a 1.5-hour nap, and then went to the Western Wheelers Club potluck, where I did not see anyone else from the ride.
Was it worth getting up at 0200 to ride in near-freezing temperatures to view a clear and fiery sunrise from the top of one of the highest peaks in the Bay Area? Yes. The next ride I plan with a similar goal will have a diabolical twist.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3400 feet|
Kings Mountain Road, November 26, 1993 - This ride went up Kings Mountain Road, but I don't remember where it went afterward. I think it was a Western Wheelers ride, but I'm not sure of that either.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3770 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||12.3 mph|
|Max. Speed:||38.5 mph|
Night Ride, November 20, 1993 - As I pulled into the Gunn High School parking lot, a few bicyclists were hanging around waiting for the “Nighttime Adventure” ride I had planned. Present were Gardner Cohen, Mark Spiller, and Scott Seligman. We waited until about 1815 before setting out in case there were any latecomers.
Our route took us up Arastradero Road to Purissima, and then up Elena, Natoma and Black Mountain Road. While we climbed Black Mountain Road, Debbie Dunkley drove past and parked up near Altamont. Debbie had called me earlier asking about the ride, but she missed us at Gunn, and suspecting we had taken the same route as last month’s night ride, which she also missed, she followed us up the hill until she caught up with us.
At Altamont Road we turned right and continued up to Page Mill Road. At Page Mill Road we turned left and began the long climb up to Skyline. The air was cool, but the climb was not difficult. We had a good time comparing our lighting systems, but we were not able to spot any wildlife by the road, I suspect, because we were too noisy. Mark led the way up on his mountain bike.
When we reached the Montebello parking area, we turned off our lights and enjoyed riding in the light of a quarter-moon. We paused briefly at Page Mill and Skyline to debate whether or not to climb Borel Hill. We decided to pass on Borel Hill and continue instead to the vista point about 1.5 miles north on Skyline.
While we waited a motorist came by and stopped in the intersection.
“How do I get to Boulder Creek?” he asked.
“Continue south six-point-eight miles and turn right on highway nine.”, I replied.
Everyone snickered as I said “six-point-eight”, and as it turned out, I was not entirely sure of the distance to the nearest tenth of a mile anyway. I knew it was 6-point-something, and the “something” was a number with a rounded-looking numeral between five and nine. This ruled out “5” and “7”, and I didn’t think it was “9” otherwise I might have chosen not to play my silly game and just tell him it was 7 miles. That left “6” or “8”. I guessed it was “8”. It turns out it is 6.6 miles, so I was wrong anyway. Most numerically-challenged people assume you know what you’re talking about if you can quote figures to meaningless precision, much as Mr. Spock did on Star Trek. I figure numerically-aware people will manage rounding the number themselves, though they may think I’m a little odd.
At the bottom of the dip just before the vista point, I saw my first wildlife: A deer bounded across the roadway not more than 20 feet in front of me as I was zipping along at the bottom of the hill. I quickly remembered Jobst warning me of a deer crossing at the bottom of the “ski jump” hill on Los Trancos Road and of how such deer had “been the undoing of a few riders”.
At the vista point we stopped for a moment to enjoy the view and to take a few time-lapsed pictures. The temperature was about 52F—not warm, but not too cold either. Yet, those of us with warmer clothing put it on for the descent ahead.
When we reached CA-84 the temperature was precisely 42F. I hadn’t worn my clear glasses, and since my eyes were unshielded from the wind, my right contact lens had been blown out. Fortunately, it was still sticking to my eyelid, so after getting some saline solution from Gardner, I popped the lens back in and continued down toward Woodside.
The temperature was an even colder 40F at the bottom of the hill. Poor Mark was only in shorts and a long-sleeve shirt. Without much talking we rode quickly Portola Road to Sand Hill Road and then back toward Palo Alto. At Santa Cruz Ave. Gardner and Mark turned right and headed back toward Gunn. The rest of us, Scott, Debbie, and I, continued to Fresh Choice at the Stanford Shopping Center where we thawed out our bodies and feasted on food. We arrived just after 2100, but before they had locked the doors.
After dinner we rode through the Stanford campus, took the bike path through Bol Park. Scott turned off at Bol Park and headed home, while Debbie and I continued to Arastradero Road. We retraced our route up to Debbie’s car that she had parked up at Black Mountain Road and Altamont Road. Since I had eaten a very large meal, my belly ached and I belly-ached all the way up the hill. Eating raw vegetables followed by moderate to hard exercise does not a pleasant combination make.
After leaving Debbie, I continued up Altamont to Page Mill Road, but halfway between Black Mountain Road and Page Mill Road, I noticed my rear tire had gone soft. Darn! I pulled over and discovered a nasty sliver of glass had pierced the tread. My helmet-mount light came in handy while I worked to patch the tire. Several motorists drove by each probably wondering what I was up to under my small, bright cone of light. I’d hear a car approach, and as recognition occurred, I’d hear the car accelerate away.
Soon I had fixed the tire, and I continued home without further incident, arriving just after midnight. My main headlight beam had started to go noticeably dim.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||7300 feet|
John Nicholas Trail and Long Ridge, November, 1993 - Hildy Licht and I rode from her place out to Bohlman Road—she wanted to climb Bohlman. We then descended Montevina Road and climbed part way up Black Road, but Hildy didn't want to climb all the way over Castle Rock, so we "cheated" and took a short cut on the John Nicholas Trail to Sanborn Road. At CA9 Hildy rode home, but I climbed up to Skyline Blvd. and then explored Saratoga Gap, Long Ridge and Skyline Open Space Preserves.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||9890 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||12.3 mph|
|Max. Speed:||39.5 mph|
Chalk Mountain, November 7, 1993 - After a brief night of confusing dreams I awaken at 0245 and prepare for the day’s bike ride. After eating breakfast, and getting dressed, I take a short nap before riding off to Gunn High School where the ride is to start at 0600.
The morning air is cold, and only the faintest suggestion of sunrise casts the eastern sky a dark blue. I ride south on Middlefield, and since no one is about at this hour, I take Oregon Expressway to El Camino Real and then head south on El Camino to Gunn.
When I arrive I see a car in the parking lot. Surely no one is crazy enough to go on this ride with me at 0600 on a cold November morning! As I approach the parking lot, I see a bicycle and a figure in the car. I recognize neither the person nor the car.
“Are you Karen Davis?”, I ask the figure.
“Yes. And you must be Bill Bushnell.”, a female voice replies.
Karen had asked me about the ride via email earlier in the week saying that she might participate.
We wait for another ten minutes in the cold air in the unlikely event other intrepid souls might come to ride. No one else comes.
We start up Arastradero Road, stopping briefly for a potty break at the preserve parking lot. The sky is just beginning to get light. We continue to Alpine Road and then turn right and climb Alpine Road to Skyline. I have mustered the courage now to ride down the bypass at the lower gate on Alpine Road. I tend to be spooked by steep drop-offs that are within falling distance.
We continue up the dirt road in the cold air. At Gunn the temperature was 42F, but when we reach Skyline the air is a comfortable 65F. We peel a layer or two before beginning the bumpy descent down the west side of Alpine Road.
We continue on Camp Pomponio Road. We descend rapidly into frigid air. When I reach the gate at Bridge Trail, I’m freezing. A look at the thermometer shows the air temperature at 40F.
In several places on the way down, I disturb bevies of quail. These high-strung birds (California State Bird) lie low until one is nearly upon them. Then in an alarmed and sudden movement they take to the air, beating their small wings rapidly and noisily as they hoist their heavy bodies into the air.
We continue on the Bridge Trail, and after warning Karen not to let her wheels fall into the cracks between the lengthwise planks, we cross Pescadero Creek and ascend the steep hill on the other side. At Old Haul Road we turn right and continue rapidly toward its termination at Wurr Road.
Old Haul Road is as smooth as new pavement and relatively dust-free. It becomes a mud-bog in the wintertime. At Wurr Road we stop and take our first snack break.
After eating we continue on Wurr Road and then Pescadero Road to Butano Cutoff and Cloverdale Road. The weather is warm and inviting along Cloverdale Road, but when we head up the canyon into Butano State Park to top off our water bottles and to use the potty, the temperature drops 20F.
Three weeks ago I climbed the very steep and soft Olmo Trail with another group, but this week we plan to climb into Big Basin State Park via Gazos Creek Road. I have always ridden west on Gazos Creek Road, but I was surprised how beautiful this road is when riding east. When descending east down the steep canyon, one doesn’t have time to look about and appreciate the beauty of the dark forest.
Gazos Creek Road is paved up to Villa Cathay, just before the road begins its steep climb to Sandy Point Junction. We pass a group of several mountain bikers.
One of them exclaims to us, “I didn’t know you could ride a road bike here!”
The last time I rode Gazos Creek Road was last March after weeks of a wetter-than-normal year. Now the road is smooth and only a little bit dusty in spots. There’s no reason not to ride a road bike.
At Sandy Point we continue on Whitehouse Canyon Road. Whitehouse Canyon Road is as smooth as a runway right now, though I suspect it could be very bumpy later in the season after the rains have had a chance to deepen the water channels in the road surface.
We turn on Chalks Road and ascend the impressive-looking first hill.
Chalks Road is a true roller coaster. There’s hardly a level section. In contrast, Whitehouse Canyon Road seems level. Since the surface is relatively free of sand pits and deep ruts, I let myself fly down some of the descents, using the momentum to help get me up the next steep grade.
Halfway up the final grade to the summit I notice a distance sign.
Chalk Mountain is 0.5 miles, but something else is 6.0 miles away. The destination is covered with a brown metal plate, but I can barely discern a C underneath as I peek through the crack. It appears that the trail from Chalk Mountain to Cascade Ranch may soon be opening up. If I were alone, I might explore this interesting route to the coast.
At the summit we relax and eat lunch in the hot sun. The last time I was on Chalk Mountain was two days after Christmas last year as a storm was moving in off the ocean. Then the wind was blowing fiercely. Today there’s barely a puff of air.
We return to Sandy Point as we had come. At Sandy Point we head east on Gazos Creek Road. About a half-mile from Sandy Point we pass a group of three road bikers coming the other way. I don’t recognize them. One of them wears a Stanford team jersey, and another is a woman wearing a Pearl Izumi jersey. One of them rides a large frame trek road bike. They don’t strike me as the type who would allow themselves to take their road bikes on dirt roads, especially as their bikes and clothing look relatively clean. But, in a way it’s nice to see others venture onto dirt with their road bikes, and better yet if they didn’t drive their bikes on their cars to the start. Besides, I can’t think of a better time of year to ride Gazos Creek Road. We barely have time to say “Hello.” before we pass.
At Big Basin Park HQ, we stop at the store and eat a snack. The air is surprisingly warm.
After resting for about 20 minutes we continue on CA-236 toward Boulder Creek. After cresting the low pass at Little Basin Road, we enjoy the long, gradual downgrade into Boulder Creek.
Without stopping we continue on Bear Creek Road. Things go fine until we begin the long, steep climb up to Skyline Blvd. Bear Creek Road is a fun descent, but it’s a tough climb, especially late in the ride. I shift into the 27-inch gear and spin away. Karen says she just watched my wheel the whole way up. She later told me that she wished I hadn’t ticked of the distance to the top. The tough climb on Bear Creek Road ends about 1.5 miles from the actual junction with Skyline Blvd., but Karen didn’t know or remember this.
At Skyline Blvd., we both stop for a snack and a brief sit-down rest. About 15 minutes later we rise and continue the journey north on Skyline.
Just as we start riding, a lone woman on a bicycle turns the corner and begins climbing Skyline Blvd. just in front of us. Her speed is moderately slow, but as we’re both tired, and I don’t have the willpower to pass, I just hang back. She seems inexperienced as she is somewhat nervous with my following closely. As the road begins a short steep climb up to the Christmas Tree farms, she makes a faulty shift and apologizes nervously for slowing down.
“Don’t worry about it.”, I say. “Where are you heading? Are you going to Highway 9?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I think that’s where I’m going. How much climbing is there between here and Hwy 9?”, she answers.
“About a thousand feet.”, I answer. Her climbing speed is too slow for me to comfortably match, so I pass. I think of hanging back and asking her if she’s heading down to Los Gatos or Saratoga and if so suggesting that she continue to CA-9 and descend that way rather than the cumbersome route around Lexington and down the dirt path. But maybe she just parked her car at Summit Road and CA-17. She seemed mighty tentative, and she didn’t seem to know where she was, and the sun was getting lower in the sky. But not wanting to appear patronizing or too eager to help, I continue on with Karen.
We continue up to the first turn-out after Skyline crests near Castle Rock. We both eat, rest, and put on a layer of clothing for the cool, gradual descent to Saratoga Gap. Just as we are about to begin riding again, the woman we saw earlier rides by with another man.
“Oh well. I guess she’s not alone after all.”, I think.
But then I realize the man riding with her looks vaguely familiar. Very quickly I process the information—yellow, large-frame bike, no water bottles, tall rider with long legs and about the right age, cycling cap instead of helmet—and blurt out, “Jobst?”
The man turns quickly and stops. The woman turns around saying, “I think I’ll turn back now.”
“Yes? And you are...?” “Bill Bushnell.”, I answer.
I have run into Jobst Brandt only once before that I can remember, and he wasn’t on his bike at the time.
For the next twenty minutes we talk about various bike stuff. Where we’ve been, where we should have gone, the latest netnews exchanges, flat tires, spoke tension, tensiometers, glued-frame bikes, bike lights, unlit tunnels in the Alps, and other topics. When Jobst gets on his bike his loquacity factor must go up. It’s difficult to get a word in edgewise. Finally when there’s a break, I manage to introduce my riding partner, Karen.
The talk break is beneficial as it gives us renewed strength for the trip home. We begin riding downhill toward Saratoga Gap. Jobst points out that he will ride his current gear all the way home “since it’s all downhill from here.” It looks like a 52x12 or some other impossibly high gear. There are still some significant hills to climb, especially if he continues to Page Mill Road on Skyline. Along the way as we pass milepost 12.0 he points out that the crests of all the hills on Skyline occur at even mile-posts.
When we reach Saratoga Gap, Jobst continues without stopping through the intersection, much like another riding partner, Brent “Lose-no-momentum” Silver, used to. I remember that Karen wanted to descend CA-9 instead of Page Mill, so I stop and wait for her. When Jobst reaches the other side, I point downhill, and he waves goodbye. I would like to have seen how Jobst coped with the brief but significant upgrades in his high gear.
A minute later Karen arrives, and just as we begin to get back on our bikes, I discover that my rear tire is soft. Fortunately, Jobst has ridden on, so I don’t have to suffer the indignity of a lecture on how to fix a flat in 5 minutes—and in front of all the assembled mountain bikers, too! It is ironic as we had just been talking about getting flats. I find I get flats much more frequently when I ride with others and try to hold a conversation while riding. I guess I don’t watch the road as carefully as I ought.
Since I’m tired, and I’m not in a race, I work slowly. I discover the cause of my flat is David Casseres’s best friend, a short (10mm), thin wire that I find, painfully, after rubbing the inside of the casing in search of the culprit. I don’t think I would have seen this even if I had been watching.
Fifteen minutes later, with a new tube in the tire, we descend CA-9 and Redwood Gulch. By the time we reach I-280 it is dark, and we turn on our headlights. After a short ride up Foothill Expressway we reach Gunn High School. It is as many minutes after sunset as it was before sunrise when we began the ride.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||6700 feet|
South Butano Fire Trail, October, 1993 - Jim Haughey, Bryan Beck, and I met at Gunn High School for this ride out to Pescadero, taking Old La Honda Road and Pescadero Road. On our way we picked up Tony Rall at Skyline. When we got close to Butano State Park on Cloverdale Road, we turned left onto the unmarked South Butano Fire Trail and began a long gradual climb through fields at first, then redwoods, arriving a couple hours later at the top of China Grade Road. We returned to Gunn by way of CA9.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||5640 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||13.1 mph|
|Max. Speed:||41.0 mph|
Bolinas Ridge, October 9, 1993 - After waking at 0430 I go through my usual morning ritual before setting off on the day's adventure at about 0645, just before sunrise. I ride through Palo Alto north on Middlefield Road and then Willow Road out to the Dumbarton Bridge and across to Union City to catch a San Francisco-bound BART train.
I am glad to be on the saddle again after having taken a week off from long rides, so I ride fast through the cool, damp air, just in time to catch the crimson sunrise through the clouds over Mission Peak as I crest the Dumbarton Bridge. The ride up Paseo Padre to Union City BART passes uneventfully.
I plan to meet Richard Mlynarik at his home near Dolores Park in San Francisco, so I continue on BART to the 16th & Mission station. The neighborhood around the station has become tougher in the last several years. As I emerge from the subway I am met with cold probing glances from several people loitering nearby. Others shuffle quickly by with their heads down and eyes averted.
I continue up 16th Street and then to Richard's house. After relaxing for a while and discussing where we could ride, we head down Church Street past construction for a streetcar line, across Market Street and then left on Page. Our route follows Page -> Stanyan -> Geary -> Arguello -> Washington, through The Presidio -> Lincoln Blvd. and then across the Golden Gate Bridge.
As we cross the bridge, we see several large naval vessels all in a line approaching the Golden Gate. Many warship worshippers crowd the overlooks on the Marin Headlands.
We continue through Sausalito and north on the bike path alongside Richardson Bay. After crossing Blithedale Ave. we continue on the path until it becomes too muddy. We had hoped to find the entrance of the old bore through the hillside where the rail line used to go, but the end of the path is a swamp, and it's too early in the ride to get all muddy.
We find our way uphill to the Corte Madera Ridge Trail. We continue on Blithedale Ridge Road and then Indian Road and Eldridge Grade all the way to the summit parking lot of Mt. Tamalpais. Many of the climbs along the way are in excess of 20%, and most of them are either rocky or dusty. We are forced to shift to the two-foot gear more than once.
After eating lunch Richard decides to head back to San Francisco, but I choose to continue north. I head down Ridgecrest Road to Fairfax-Bolinas Road, and then I continue on Bolinas Ridge Road. This beautiful unpaved road lies on the ridge for over 11 miles. The first seven miles pass through a mixture of shrubs and redwoods, and the northernmost four miles roll over bare, grassy hills where a few of the descents are so fast and furious that I can feel the heat of the gloves on my palms from the vibration. Looking north I see Tomales Bay and the coastline continuing into the mists.
At Francis Drake Blvd, I turn right and return through Samuel Taylor Park and San Geronimo Valley. When I reach Fairfax the traffic is considerably heavier. I continue on the main road through San Anselmo, Ross, Kentfield, and Corte Madera rather than plod tediously on the side streets on the marked bike route.
By the time I reach the Sausalito end of the Mill Valley bike path, I am starving. The bonk is near. I seem to need more food when the weather is cool. I stop at the market near the Sausalito Cyclery for a “Veggie Burger” sandwich with the works. I resist the strong temptation to buy candy or chocolate chip cookies and thereby save myself the ignominy of a Frank Award.
After eating I continue through Sausalito and across the Golden Gate Bridge. I head east on Lincoln Blvd and then make a hairpin left and descend to Fort Point where I take the informal gravel bike/jogging path through The Presidio and onto Marina Blvd.
The sun has set, so I turn on my light. I continue through Fort Mason and Fisherman's Wharf and ride with the traffic down Embarcadero and eventually find myself at the Embarcadero BART station.
At Union City I get off BART and commence the final 17 miles of the ride. I stop once at the Bay Refuge Center in Newark to get water. Even though the center is closed, water can be got from the tap just to the right of the main entrance of the building. When I see that the Coke machine offers soft drinks for 65 cents, I succumb to the temptation. A warm heavy dampness hangs in the air as I sip the bubbly liquid and enjoy the view from the benches overlooking the bay.
The ride over the Dumbarton Bridge and home is uneventful and somewhat unpleasant as there is little I can do to shield my eyes from the glare of headlights passing in the other direction on the freeway to my right.
Furnace Creek 508, October, 1993 - A few photos from my crewing for Jude Katsch. My crew-mates were Dick Katsch (Jude's father) and Jennifer Zheng, Jude's fiance.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||8500 feet|
Carson Pass, September, 1993 - Jude Katsch, Jennifer Zheng, and I met at Jennifer's apartment in Sacramento. We carpooled to Sly Park and rode up Mormon Emigrant Trail to CA88. We continued on CA88 past Silver Lake, Kirkwood Meadows, and Caples Lake to Carson Pass. Then we returned the same way.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||1800 feet|
Newport Bay, September, 1993 - Following our riding of the Amtrak Century the prior day, Chris Hull and I took a relatively short ride over to Laguna Beach and around Newport Bay.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3170 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||16.7 mph|
|Max. Speed:||38.5 mph|
Amtrak Century, September 18, 1993 - I am staying with Chris at his townhouse in Irvine. After driving from the Bay Area on Friday and eating a carbo-loading dinner at Spaghetti Factory in Newport Beach, we get to bed early for tomorrow's big day.
The Amtrak Century is so named because cyclists ride from Irvine to San Diego and then return to Irvine on a special Amtrak train rented for the event. The cost of this century is not cheap: $45, but about half the cost goes toward the return train fare. I admit I have a love of trains, and half the fun of this event for me is the return trip on the train.
The next morning I awaken at the ridiculous hour of 0245, exactly one hour before my alarm is set to go off. After eating my usual large breakfast and making preparations, I set off in the dark with my home-modified light at 0530 and head for the Irvine Transportation Center, the start of today's ride. Chris will drive to the start as he fears he'll be very slow; he doesn't want to ride any further than he must. Near the University and I-405 overpass, Chris passes me.
We meet up again at the Transportation Center at 0600, and we find a crowd of bicyclists waiting to sign in and get their identifying arm bands. In the only snafu of the day it seems that the OCW (Orange County Wheelmen) do not have the registration packets ready. This delays us for almost an hour.
Worried that he won't make it to San Diego in time, Chris pushes to the front and explaining to the people he has displaced that he is slow, manages to be one of the first riders on the course. Twenty minutes later I start out.
Since the shortest route to San Diego is somewhat less than 100 miles, the ride begins by making a large loop to the north of Irvine. On Bake Street in El Toro, I catch up to Chris. We stop briefly to use the facilities at a gas station near the corner of Santa Margarita before beginning the long, rolling downhill into Mission Viejo.
For the remainder of the ride Chris drafts me unless the downgrade is significant, and then I draft Chris. We make good time down Santa Margarita, but our time would be better if the traffic lights were adjusted to bicycle speeds.
Neither Chris nor I like riding in crowds of right-shoulder-cowering bicyclists, and the traffic lights have the effect of bunching up all the cyclists. We find that by staying in the traffic lane at the stoplights, not only do right-turning motor vehicles have room to turn right, but we can get ahead of the bunch when the light turns green. Then, due to Chris's low surface area to mass ratio, we can attain considerable speed on the downhills that follow—faster than some of the tandems on the ride.
In San Juan Capistrano we stop at the first rest stop and munch on gooey sweet rolls, cinnamon rolls, and chocolate chip cookies—not very healthy, but we're doing the ride to have fun, not to set any records. We both earn Frank Awards.
The route continues through San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente before turning onto a bike path that leads past the San Onofre nuclear power plant and through San Onofre State Beach. Both Chris and I stop at one of the many facilities along the way for a break. I have done enough organized rides to know that potties at the official rest stops are usually overwhelmed by crowds.
At the south end of the beach we return to the bike path and continue south to the next rest stop on Pulgas Road. While we rest and munch on cookies, a military policeman comes up and announces to those of us within earshot that we must ride single file and within the bike lane through Camp Pendleton or we'll be turned back.
The ride through the Marine Corps camp is uneventful. Near the beginning, a group of cyclists passes another slower cyclist right in front of a dump truck. This brings a loud HONK from the truck.
After leaving Camp Pendleton we begin the unpleasant ride through crowded Oceanside. After crossing into Carlsbad we stop for lunch at Magee Park. Chris and I manage to eat, rest, and be on our way within a half-hour, a record for us.
We continue slowly along the beach, letting our lunches digest. Most of the cyclists on the ride are behind us still. The coast route from Carlsbad through Del Mar is mostly urban or suburban and passes without incident. South of Del Mar we experience our one "major" climb of the day, Torrey Pines Grade.
Torrey Pines Grade is not a difficult climb by Bay Area standards, but it seems that many of the cyclists on today's ride are not accustomed to riding up an unbroken 450-foot climb at 5% grade some 83 miles into a ride. Most everyone looks tired and slow. Last April when Chris and I rode to San Diego, we took the steeper Torrey Pines Park Road.
I wait for Chris at the rest stop at the top of the climb. At 1340 we leave the Torrey Pines rest stop and continue the final portion of the ride. The route takes us down a bike path that parallels the train tracks for a while and then puts us on Santa Fe Road. We continue swiftly, as if we have a train to catch, through Mission Bay and then onto Pacific Hwy.
The final few miles of the ride are not much fun as the pavement is not smooth and at one point we are required to cross two busy lanes of freeway-speed traffic. Still, this is the quickest route to downtown San Diego.
We arrive at the Santa Fe depot at 1445. After loading our bikes into one of the six semi's transporting bicycles back to Irvine, we enjoy some refreshments, look at the pictures taken of us riding through El Toro, and head over to the depot to change into street clothes for the 1600 train back to Irvine.
While we wait in the depot a loudspeaker barks, "A film crew is working in the station. Please do not be alarmed if you hear gunfire."
Our train is an unusual combination of the regular "Amfleet" cars with the addition of three LA Metrolink double-decker cars on the rear. We ride on the sunny side of the top level of the rearmost Metrolink car.
Returning on the train is fun because we can see where we rode earlier in the day, and we get a chance to talk with some of the other cyclists who were on the ride. The Metrolink cars are much quieter and smoother than the older CalTrain cars that run along the San Francisco Peninsula. These cars also have a surprisingly spacious lavatory.
We arrive in Irvine shortly before six o'clock, and after retrieving our bicycles from truck number three, Chris packs up his car and heads home while I change back into my biking clothes for the 7.3-mile ride to Chris's house. I arrive at Chris's just as the sun sets below the horizon overlooking Upper Newport Bay.
This wasn't a difficult century, yet the deadline of 1600 for the return train kept us moving. Though much of it passed through urban or suburban areas, this century was a blast, one of the most fun I've done in a long time, a definite must-do for next year.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||6450 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||17.3 mph|
|Max. Speed:||40.5 mph|
Ride to Santa Cruz, September 12, 1993 - At 0700 I met Jim Haughey, Laura Stern, and Mark Cufford for a ride to Santa Cruz and back.
We started from Gunn High School in Palo Alto, rode north on Foothill Expressway, and then took Sand Hill Road to Portola Road and then CA-84 to Skyline. After a brief snack stop in front of Alice’s Restaurant, we rode swiftly down CA-84 toward San Gregorio.
Laura, Jim, and I formed a slowly-rotating paceline while Mark rode behind. We each took long pulls, cruising at 19-25 mph, peaking over 30 mph on some of the slight downhills. The sky was foggy at this hour, but the usual headwinds blowing off the ocean were absent. We arrived at the San Gregorio General Store a few minutes before it opened at 0900, about 1:45 after we left Gunn High School.
After taking a 15-minute snack break we continued to CA-1 and then began the long trek south. With Laura and Mark leading most of the time and me taking a few long pulls, we reached Davenport at about 1045 and stopped at the Whale City Bakery for a snack on the outdoor deck.
At 1115, we continued to Santa Cruz. When we reached Western Drive at 1145, I knew we would arrive at the Saturn Cafe before it opened at noon, so we rode up Western Drive into the UCSC campus and descended the bike path through campus. We arrived at the Saturn Cafe at 1210.
Laura, a Furnace Creek 508 veteran and former RAAM participant, and her friend Mark are both fast riders. Jim and I found their pace a little fast for comfort, but we managed to keep up. In exchange for keeping a fast pace, I insisted on taking a nice, long, luxurious, lunch break, something Laura wasn’t accustomed to doing. Laura was amazed by how much food I ate and carried, and I was amazed at how little she ate and drank. Everyone’s different. Mark took a short nap, and while we relaxed after eating, Hildy Licht dropped by. Hildy was to have joined us for the ride, but she realized she’d be too slow, so she drove to her parents’ house in Bonny Doon and rode her bike down Empire Grade and through the UC campus to join us for lunch.
After lunch we continued through Santa Cruz to Soquel and began the long climb up Old San Jose Road. Near the top of the grade, we turned left off the main road and descended the steep and bumpy Redwood Lodge Road. Hah! Finally, I got ahead of the “dynamic duo”. Since I carry alot of weight on my bike I descend fast. We regrouped at Schultheis Road in the little community of Laurel before ascending to Old Santa Cruz Highway and Summit Road. Having never ridden these roads before, I found them beautiful alternates, albeit with more climbing and poorer pavement, to the busy section of Summit Road between CA-17 and the Summit Store. We passed only two cars on this section.
At Summit Road Laura and Mark decided to return to Menlo Park on Summit, Skyline, and Page Mill, while Jim and I decided to continue down Old Santa Cruz Highway and return home on the flat route. I suggested to Laura and Mark that they follow us a ways down Old Santa Cruz Hwy and then climb to the CA-17 overcrossing on Mountain Charlie Road rather than ride on Summit Road.
I have become better at descending Old Santa Cruz Hwy fast, but the roadway downhill from Aldercroft Heights Road is very bumpy and rutted, especially around the turns. On one turn I did not prepare properly, and I found myself on the wrong side of the yellow stripe. Not good. Old Santa Cruz Highway was given a new asphalt surface in 2002. Unfortunately, cracks aligned with the old concrete slabs are beginning to appear even in this new surface.
The trip down CA-17 was slower than usual probably due to a headwind blowing uphill from the valley. I reached only 40.5 mph, where two weeks earlier I had managed nearly 50 mph. Every time I descend CA-17 to Los Gatos I get harassed by motorists who think it’s illegal to ride a bike here. This time was no exception. A car full of teenagers passed by; one of them imitated a siren.
Jim and I continued through Los Gatos and Saratoga, stopping briefly at the Chevron station at the corner of Prospect and Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road for a potty break. At Foothill Expressway and Homestead Jim headed home, and I continued north on the expressway at a somewhat slower pace than earlier in the day.
I met one fast young woman from Cupertino who complained she always has guys “jump on her tail” (not literally, of course!) but not be able to keep up. I joked that they probably can’t stand the idea of a woman passing them. We parted at Foothill Expressway and Page Mill Road. I continued home down Stanford Avenue and through the side streets of Palo Alto.
Night Ride, September, 1993 - Paul Liu and I did a short ride up to Canada Road and CA92 and back on Hallmark/Crestview to test out our lighting systems.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3600 feet|
Hekaton Classic, September, 1993 - Paul Kern and I carpooled over to San Ramon to ride the Hekaton Classic. We rode the "moderate 100" route.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||7900 feet|
Forest of Nisene Marks, August, 1993 - Jim Haughey, John Bailey, and I started from Gunn High School, riding south to Los Gatos, then up through Redwood Estates and continued south on Summit Road and Highland Way. At Four Corners we turned right on Buzzard Lagoon Road and continued over Santa Rosalia Mountain and down the Aptos Creek Fire Road into Aptos. After lunch at Breadstix (now Zameen) in Aptos, at which Alex Miller joined us, we returned through Corralitos, taking Eureka Canyon Road, Ryder Road, and Buzzard Lagoon Road before heading back to Gunn High School much the way we had come that morning.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||6670 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||15.5 mph|
|Max. Speed:||41.5 mph|
Around the Santa Cruz Mountains, August 21, 1993 - At 0330 I drag myself out of bed to the frantic jingle of Rukeyser’s Wall Street Week being rebroadcast on the local public radio station KQED-fm. After going through my daily exercises, dressing, eating my usual very large breakfast, and performing other necessary tasks, I set off in the dark at 0523.
Today I get to test the first version of my Very Bright Headlight, which is an el-cheapo Cateye modified to accept a 10-watt bulb. With the 6V/8Ah lead-acid battery I carry, I should get just over 4 hours of light from it.
I head south on Middlefield Road through Palo Alto and Mountain View, and continue south on Central Expressway. I am surprised by the number of “work-nerds” either driving to work or parked in company parking lots along the way. (I suppose some would call me a “bike-nerd”!) When I turn right on De La Cruz Blvd. shortly after 0600, I shut off the headlight. The roads are quiet at this hour as I pass down Coleman, through downtown San Jose and onto Monterey Highway.
I stop briefly at a gas station and ask to use the restroom. The attendant tells me there is none. I ride on. A short while later I pass a nice, thick, ivy-covered fence in front of a GE building. Suddenly my bladder sends a STOP OR ELSE! signal to my brain, and I obediently pull inside the fence and water the ivy.
After less than a minute off the bike I continue south on Monterey Hwy. The traffic lights are annoying. It seems there’s just enough traffic on the cross-streets to keep the lights red, forcing me to slow down or stop at every light. Soon I pass beyond the developed parts of San Jose, through Coyote, and into the region between San Jose and Morgan Hill. The sun has just risen over the eastern hills, and the air, while still cool, begins to warm.
On a long, straight stretch of highway a few miles north of Morgan Hill I am unable to avoid a sharp something-or-other (probably a piece of glass), and with a Thunk-Fiss sound my rear tire goes flat. The timing isn’t bad. I need a short break, so I work slowly, savoring the change of activity.
Twenty minutes later, I am rolling south again. I reach Morgan Hill at about 0800. South of Morgan Hill I stop briefly to take a picture of two large hot-air balloons cruising over the valley before I stop again in Gilroy in front of the “Wrong Way” church (corner of Hecker Pass Road and Monterey Hwy) for a snack at 0841.
I plan to meet Jude Katsch and Jennifer Zheng at the Saturn Cafe in Santa Cruz at noon. I am ahead of schedule, so I decide not to ride over Hecker Pass according to the original plan, but to continue south to CA-129 thus truly riding around the south end of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
A street fair is just getting underway in the business district of Gilroy, so I walk my bike past all the booths for about 6 blocks before getting underway. When I reach US-101, I find that bicycles are prohibited for about 3/4 mile from Monterey Hwy to Mesa. This doesn’t make sense as the shoulder is wide and there are no exits in between. The Krebs map shows US-101 as bike legal over this stretch but only in the northbound direction, as I find out later after reading the fine print. Since it’s too early in the morning to be a bad boy I continue on Bolsa to Bloomfield and CA-25 before entering US-101 for the ride south to CA-129.
Riding on the freeway isn’t as scary as many bicyclists think. An advantage is that it’s very fast, especially if truck traffic is heavy. The faster freeway traffic creates a slight breeze in the direction of traffic travel, making it easy to cruise at 25 mph. The downside is that the shoulder can be dirty, and the ride can be noisy. By being attentive to road conditions one can avoid debris, and by wearing earplugs one can enjoy a quieter ride. Earplugs reduce the overall noise level, especially wind noise, and greatly reduce psychological fatigue on long rides. I am not convinced that wearing earplugs makes riding less safe under noisy conditions.
Soon I reach the CA-129 turnoff. I continue toward Watsonville along the Pajaro River. CA-129 in San Benito County has a nice, wide shoulder, but the road narrows after passing into Santa Cruz County. I am lucky there are not too many trucks on the road today, yet I receive one long, hard honk from a truck that has plenty of room to pass, but who’s driver seems intent on making a point. I don’t recommend this route for bicycles because several long stretches of narrow, shoulderless road make passing difficult.
At 10:00 I leave the canyon and pass through fields of strawberries and other goodies east of Watsonville. At about this time I receive another urgent signal. Would the farm hands mind if I used one of their portapotties? At 1015 I reach downtown Watsonville and take a short break at a gas station.
My original plan was to take Freedom Blvd. to Aptos and continue into Santa Cruz on Soquel Drive. But I am still ahead of schedule, so I take West Beach Road to San Andreas Road and then ride north, passing by Sunset Beach. At the corner of West Beach and San Andreas Road I’ve ridden 73.3 miles with 610 feet of climbing.
The ride so far has been sunny, but a shallow, dense layer of fog hangs to the west. As I ride north on San Andreas, I pass alternately from very dense fog to bright, cool sunshine. Shortly before I reach CA-1, I turn left on Bonita, right on Freedom Blvd., and left on Soquel Drive and begin the long tedious ride up “lollypop lane” (too many stopsigns, and always on downhills, it seems!).
In Santa Cruz I bear right on Water St., pass through downtown, and stop for a picture in front of Holy Cross Church whose steeple has recently been re-erected since the 1989 earthquake. A few minutes later I continue on Mission St. and reach the Saturn Cafe at 12:04. Distance: 92.3, Climbing: 1390 feet climbed.
As I lock my bike, Jude and Jennifer arrive. Jude is helping Jennifer buy one of the last 17” Trek 520’s at a bike shop in Santa Cruz. The two of them are planning a heroic tour of the Sierras over Labor Day weekend. But today they arrive by car. Too bad neither of them could ride today, as they would have enjoyed a ride like this, and I would have liked the company, especially for the ride up the coast.
We relax for over 2 hours while Jude and Jennifer dine and while I stuff my face.
“You sure like to take long lunches.”, Jude says.
“Yeah. If I don’t I get side-stitches soon after starting up again. I have to take time to let my food digest.”, I say.
“I’ve never had side stitches.”, Jude says.
At 1415 we leave. After saying goodbye to Jude and Jennifer, I begin the ride north on CA-1. Traffic out of Santa Cruz is heavy, but soon I pass Western Drive, the last traffic light, and traffic becomes lighter.
Unfortunately, I am riding north on the coast on a sunny day. This means I suffer terrible headwinds. Several other groups of cyclists pass the other way including a couple of recumbents. They all look happy to have the wind at their backs, while I curse and struggle at a measly 10-12 mph into the wind.
It is here that I reach the low point of the ride. Most of the long rides I have done this summer have been about 100-120 miles, and my body is telling me that it’s time to get off the saddle and rest. It is with some effort and knowing that I don’t have much of a choice that I find the fortitude to press on. The earplugs really help keep me relaxed in the busy traffic and noisy headwind.
I had thought I might be lucky today because when it’s foggy at the coast, the wind is much weaker and blows lightly from the west-southwest. If it’s clear the wind blows harder from the northwest. I know for sure if I had done this loop in the other direction, I’d have horrible, hot headwinds to battle in the Santa Clara Valley no matter what the fog conditions were like at the coast. Which is worse: hot, dry headwinds, or cool, damp headwinds?
As I pass Dimeo Lane I feel the beginnings of a side-stitch. I hate it when this happens, and it’s worse now that I have to pedal into the wind. Additionally, I begin to feel the urgent need to make a parabola. Unfortunately, only low shrubbery grows near the highway. My side-stitches become so intense and my need so urgent that I finally stop at the nearest bush that comes up to navel height and perform the task while passing motorists do double-takes as they cruise by.
As I pass Bonny Doon Road, I enter fog, and almost immediately the wind blows less fiercely. I continue passing alternately from fog to sunshine and from a light breath of foggy air to a stiff headwind.
I stop at Ano Nuevo State Park to eat and to top off my water supply before pressing on. I manage to keep moving past Gazos Creek Road, Pigeon Point, and Bean Hollow Beach until I get to Pescadero Beach when another call of nature refuses to go unanswered. I know one thing’s for sure: I won’t dehydrate today!
The ride from Pescadero Beach to San Gregorio Beach seems to take no time at all. I continue north up the long hill past San Gregorio without stopping. The descent to Tunitas Creek is fast and very foggy. Visibility is only about 50 feet in places. It’s a good thing I turned on my rear Vistalight. One good thing though: No more headwinds. If anything I now have a slight tailwind.
I continue past Tunitas Creek, but at Verde Road nature urgently calls again, and I stop to make another parabola. The ride into Half Moon Bay passes uneventfully. Just past CA-92, I pull off into a shopping center and stop at a Subway sandwich shop and order two foot-long veggies and cheese sandwiches. Distance so far: 141.1, climbing: 3500 feet, time: 1818.
At 1900 I decide to press on. My original plan saw me riding home over CA-92, but I’ve got energy and battery life for the headlamp to make today’s ride a true circumnavigation of the Santa Cruz Mountains. So I continue north on CA-1.
I stop briefly at Montara State Beach to take a picture of Devil’s Slide and again on a particularly narrow section of roadway to take a picture just as the orange orb of the sun falls below the horizon. The fog seems to have disappeared; the coast is clear.
Along Devil’s Slide the roadway is very narrow, but fortunately there is little traffic. As I descend the backside of the hill toward Pacifica, I take the lane as I need the maneuvering room. A guy in an old white Toyota seems to miscalculate my speed (~40 mph), and impatiently passes across a double yellow to pass. He takes a while to perform this maneuver, barely making it back onto the right side of the road in the face of oncoming traffic. He pops me the bird in his rearview mirror. I notice he’s got a mountain bike half hanging out the trunk. I am frustrated when I am treated rudely by impatient motorists who are obviously cyclists at some time in their lives. I reach the bottom of the hill just behind him; his dangerous pass doesn’t save him any time. What a jerk.
I continue north on CA-1 climbing over two or three small hills before reaching Sharp Park Road. Again the highway department has not seen fit to allow bicycles to ride the very short section of freeway south of Sharp Park Road. Since I can see the Sharp Park exit about 0.3 miles ahead, I would ride this despite the sign forbidding me if police cars weren’t swarming like wasps at the cross street before.
I turn left crossing 4 lanes of busy traffic and ride Francisco to the Sharp Park Road overcrossing. Again I manage to get in the way of motorists who are on time-critical missions.
The ride up Sharp Park Road is difficult, especially since I’m tired, yet I manage the climb in my middle ring (46:30). Halfway up Sharp Park Road, I turn on my headlight. Time: 2020
Soon I reach Skyline Blvd. I turn right and begin the long ride south and home. The temperature is much warmer than it was on the coast, so I stop to remove my long sleeve shirt and leg warmers.
Just before Skyline Blvd. merges with I-280, I turn right onto the bike path. The last time I was here it was illegal to ride a bike on I-280 from Skyline to Larkspur. I would prefer to ride the shoulder of the freeway rather than take a bike path, but since it is dark I figure it will be clear of pedestrians and skaters.
I stop at the Chevron station at Hillcrest Ave. to call home before continuing (legally) onto the shoulder of I-280 and riding south. I get off at Trousdale and continue south to CA-92. Then I continue on Canada Road Canada Road is peaceful; I enjoy the sight of a meteorite streaking across the sky over Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir.
I realize that I won’t get to 200 miles for the day unless I add some additional miles close to home. So, in my compulsive way, I detour through Woodside on Mountain Home Road to Portola Road. I note with some relief that the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Bicyclist Harassment Patrol has packed up for the day. No deputies lie in wait like fat old spiders, though of the 20 or 30 cars I see altogether in Woodside and Portola Valley, two of them are patrol cars.
Riding through the dark roads of Woodside and Portola Valley is fun at night. There is very little traffic, and almost all passing cars dim their high beams. A couple of cars flash their high beams at me. Maybe I’ve got the lamp aimed too high.
I continue to Alpine Road and then turn left. At Arastradero I turn right and continue to Purisima where I turn right. At Elena I turn right again and ride through Los Altos Hills to Foothill College and down the hill to Foothill Expressway. Then I turn left and continue north to Sand Hill Road and then right and head directly home.
When I get home it is 2355, my headlamp battery is almost fully discharged (5.72 volts under load), and I am very tired. On the ride I ate 7 sunflower nut-butter and jam sandwiches, 1/2-lb of fig bars, 1 cup of pasta w/sauce, large bowl of split-pea soup, one large salad, two foot-long Subway sandwiches, and two small soft drinks. I am still eating more food than usual.
My rear end isn’t accustomed to sitting in the saddle for so long. For about a day and a half after the ride I suffered a disconcerting numbness in a certain organ and several sore muscles. I probably could have ridden 170-175 miles without suffering too much, but the last 25 was difficult. This was my first double century, and even though I took a long time for this relatively flat ride, I take some satisfaction that I rode it without aero-bars and without drafting anyone.
Ride with Willie Stewart, August, 1993 - I don't recall where we rode, but it's clear that we passed this spot on our ride.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3300 feet|
Sonora Pass east, August 4, 1993 - On my way home from Mammoth Lakes I stopped at Sonora Junction and rode my bike up the east side of Sonora Pass and back.
Note: Some of the photos were originally taken on Ektachrome slide film and did not bear well the passage of time.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3500 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||4.4mph|
|Max. Speed:||22.5 mph|
White Mountain Peak, August 3, 1993 - I arrived at Mammoth Lakes on Friday July 30 to stay with a group of friends at a rented condo for the next five nights. After doing two hikes and one long bike ride at altitude, I felt I was ready for the White Mountain adventure.
I learned that there is a supported mountain bike ride up White Mountain Peak that starts in Laws, CA and rides up Silver Canyon. This ride happened happened on the previous weekend. Since I had never tried to ride the trail to the peak and since I had never brought myself to over 14,000 feet, I decided to drive as far as I could and ride the final miles to the summit. Maybe next year I’ll try riding up Silver Canyon.
There was also the danger of being caught in a thunderstorm while riding along the exposed ridge. The danger is not of getting wet, but of being struck by lightning. At 12,000 feet altitude and higher, nothing grows taller than about 8” except the giant marmots—not even the shrubbery. (The knights who used to say “Nih!” would not be happy here!)
The Sierras had been host to many large thunderstorms over the last few days. The morning would break clear and warm, but by 1400, the sky would be dark with booming and threatening clouds. I wanted to be off the peak by noon.
After a fitful sleep I awake at 0330. I had originally planned to leave at 0600, but since I can’t sleep any more, I get up, eat breakfast, and get ready to leave. When I pull out of the condo complex at 0500, I push the car out to the street before starting it so as not to wake the others in my party. My car can be noisy when all else is quiet.
The mostly downhill drive on US-395 to Bishop is beautiful as I am treated to a clear sunrise over the White Mountains. As I ascend the arroyo on CA-168 from Big Pine, I look back and see the top peaks of the high Sierra bathed in early morning sunlight with the setting moon in the background.
I reach the end of the paved road at the Schulman Bristlecone Pine Grove at about 7:45, but now I have to drive about 15 miles of very rough and washboarded dirt road to get to the White Mountain trailhead. This has got to be the worst road I’ve ever driven in my car.
Despite this, the terrain is beautiful. The dirt road ascends and descends several intermediate ridges at altitudes between 10,000 and 12,000 feet over white dolomite soil. It is a moonscape. Except for the Bristlecone pines, there are no trees.
At 0830 I finally start riding. The first two miles climb a moderately steep dirt road to the University of California Barcroft Laboratory at over 12,000 feet altitude, the last place of civilization before the peak. The road is reasonably smooth. It’s certainly in better condition than the washboard road I drove on.
At the end of the laboratory yard, the trail itself begins. This first ascent climbs the short hill behind the laboratory on steep switchbacks. The trail is very rough, alternating between large rocks (4-10” diameter) and dusty, sandy soil. I am forced to walk about half of it as my front wheel cannot maintain contact with the ground long enough to allow me to steer. I notice the aggressive tread pattern of MTB tires on the soil portions. I wonder if these are from the Laws ride two days earlier.
At the brow of the hill stands an old observatory building. Beyond I can see the peak itself, about 4 miles away. I descend the trail on the other side riding most of the way over large rocks and sand pits. At the shallow saddle point, the trail turns into one big sand pit. I manage to ride most of the way through, but the friction is high, and finally I stop and walk a brief distance.
From here, the trail climbs gradually up the ridge nearest the peak. I ride nearly all of this section. About 3 miles from the laboratory, the trail descends very steeply down what looks like an old streambed, but couldn’t possibly be, to the final saddle point before the peak. I cannot ride any of this; even walking the bike is difficult.
At the saddle point, I remount and ride up the first switchback to the peak. The turns are very steep and dusty. Traction is difficult, so I walk. But I manage to ride up most of the straight sections of trail until I pass beyond the last of the vegetation at about 13,500 feet. From here the trail is on broken shale and other metamorphic rock that gives way under the wheels, so I am forced to walk.
Some short sections can be ridden, but doing so is almost as tiring as walking. A couple hundred feet below the summit, snow covers the road. I manage to find a way around the lowest patch, but after the next switchback, the coverage thwarts my progress.
The snow is still deep and icy with 2-5’ cups. It’d be impossible to ride across this stuff. The actual ridge-line is clear of snow, but since it’s still about 150 feet of vertical to the summit, I decide to leave my bike parked next to the snow (on its kickstand!) and scramble up the scree on foot.
It would have been nice to get a picture of the bike at the summit, and I suppose I would have had the time to carry it up. But, I am worried about thunderstorms, and I don’t want to slip and twist an ankle or worse as help is far away, and I am alone.
After eating lunch and taking the obligatory panorama pictures around the peak, I scramble down the rocks to my bike, which is still standing. How out of place it looks!
The ride/walk down takes much less time. Because I want to avoid an injurious fall on the sharp rock, I descend conservatively, dismounting and walking when I feel the risk is too great. When I reach the part of the trail with soil, I ride, but the corners are too slippery and steep for comfort. I ride nearly all of the lower switchbacks; I even manage to ride through the sand pit at the saddle point. What fun!
However, the very steep and rocky upgrade to the nearby ridge is just as difficult to ascend as it was to descend. At the top of this ridge, I ride nearly all the way down and then back up to the hill with the old observatory, dismounting only when I am unable to pick a stable path through the rocks and sand.
On this stretch I get accustomed to descending more quickly over the bumpy terrain. I would not have thought it possible to attain fairly high speeds over this stuff (15-17 mph), but it is actually easier to ride at faster speeds. I think this is because when the bike is moving more quickly it has more momentum and cannot as easily be deflected off the trail by rocks or other obstacles. Even so, a strong hand is required to hold the handlebars straight. It is easier to pick a path in the center of the trail over the rocks than it is to ride in the ruts on either side. I am tempted to ride on the shoulder of the road, but I realize this would in effect widen the trail and damage the surrounding environment. While riding quickly, rocks are turned and some fly into the spokes. Another one flies into my right shin giving me an abrasion.
As I climb the final upgrade to the hill with the observatory, I come upon a lone hiker heading for the peak, the first person I’ve seen on the trail.
“Hello. Are you hiking up to the peak?”, I ask.
“Yeah.”, he says, with a distinct Brooklyn accent.
“Make sure you get enough water. It’s very dry. And watch out for thunderstorms. If you see one coming your way, don’t continue the climb.”, I warn.
“A guy at the laboratory just gave me some water, and I know all about thunderstorms. I’m carrying rain gear.”, he replies.
“O.K. Watch out for lightning. You’ll be the highest thing on the ridge.”, I say.
We talk a little more, and he asks me about my bike, which, he is amazed to learn, is fitted with slick tires, none too fat for this trail. After a few more minutes, I wish him well, and continue on.
At the observatory, I ride part way down the steep switchbacks to the laboratory, but about halfway down, I find I do not feel comfortable riding, so I walk. From the laboratory I ride quickly down the dirt road back to the car.
On the way while trying to stop and take a picture, I slip and nearly fall onto the road. With a hop of my left foot, I manage to stay astride the top tube, and when the front wheel slams into the embankment, the bike bucks forward as if to send me over the bars. But there isn’t quite enough force to flip the bike so I rise up and slam down onto the saddle nearly groining myself. I feel really stupid. This is the easiest section of road, too.
I arrive at the car just as the sky becomes threatening. The wind has picked up and big thunderheads are starting to form over Owens Valley and the Sierras beyond. I hope the hiker made it off the peak in time!
I don’t see how people ride up from Laws unless the supported ride has many water stops. The White Mountains are completely dry. There is no water available, so any water you have must be carried up. I took 103 oz. of water on my bike for the ride, and I drank nearly all of it by the time I returned to the car. I neither dehydrated nor did I feel any hint of altitude sickness. The only symptoms I noticed were a slight shortness of breath after a particularly hard exertion.
The drive down the dirt road from the trailhead is much worse than the drive up. The wind is from the north and blows at about the same speed as I drive. A ball of dust surrounds the car, and even with the windows shut, thick films of dust form over everything inside. Yuck! When I reach the Schulman Grove, I stop and clean the inside of the car. I skip taking the trail through the grove as a thunderstorm comes over just as I finish cleaning. Ka-Boom! What a beautiful place, in sight and sound.
Note: These photos were originally taken on Ektachrome slide film and did not bear well the passage of time.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||7200 feet|
June Lake - Conway Summit, August 1, 1993 - From the condo in Mammoth Lakes I rode north on US395 over Deadman Summit to June Lake Junction. I then rode CA158 through the town of June Lake and past all the other lakes and out again to US395. I then rode north into Lee Vining and continued up to Conway Summit. At this point I retraced my route and headed back through Lee Vining. I then had the bright idea of riding up the east side of Tioga Pass, but as I started the main part of the climb I suddenly felt tired, as if I had had enough riding for the day, so I turned around and headed back to Mammoth Lakes. Fortunately, there was no wind, but the climb up Deadman Summit was tough. I made it back with nothing left in the tank.
Note: These photos were originally taken on Ektachrome slide film and did not bear well the passage of time.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||9630 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||12.2 mph|
|Max. Speed:||45.0 mph|
Last Chance Road, July, 1993 - At 0545 I leave home and begin riding south on Middlefield Road. Two miles later, I stop at Paul Kern’s house, and the two of us continue to Gunn High School, where we wait until about 0620 in the unlikely event that anyone else on my bike ride mailing list shows up. No one does. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as the ride description sounded difficult this time. The ride was difficult.
We continue riding south on Foothill Expressway. The morning is foggy and cool, yet there are quite a few bicyclists on the road. We stop briefly at the Stevens Creek Reservoir picnic area just beyond Montebello Road and peel off a layer of clothing and use the facilities.
The first leg of our ride takes us to Big Basin Redwoods State Park via the shortest route. This means we ride up Stevens Canyon and Redwood Gulch. Several mountain bikers come zipping down the canyon and a car or two with bikes on the roof goes driving up.
Soon we find ourselves climbing Redwood Gulch, the first real climb of the day. Just past the first steep pitch we pass the old guy whom I always see along here picking up bottles and cans by the road. When we get to CA-9 we turn right and continue climbing to Skyline. Very little traffic passes as we climb at a comfortable pace.
At Skyline we stop briefly to put on another layer. Looking south and west we see fog and more fog. The temperature is 60F. On the descent to Waterman Gap, we mostly coast, passing each other as if attached by rubber bands. The descent is cold, and I am glad when we finally reach the gap and begin climbing on CA-236 toward Big Basin.
Paul has just bought himself a Camelbak, and I have installed a Blackburn “Bomber” cage on my bike. Because of all the water we can now drink, we both find ourselves stopping often to make parabolas. The Camelbak holds 70 oz., about 18 oz. more than my Bomber cage bottle, but Paul finds the water po
Paul is determined to get his body acclimated to Cytomax. I admire his ability to endure this digestive hardship. I take every opportunity to remain in front of and upwind of him as much as possible. We dub the foul mixture “Fartomax”.
On the descent into Big Basin, we leave the highway at the unmarked gate and descend to Opal Creek on the North Escape Road. The North Escape Road is paved but covered with leaves and mulch from decayed redwood needles. Since the day is still early, we have the beautiful road to ourselves.
At the park headquarters we make a brief stop to look at the map. After figuring out where we need to go, we start down CA-236. We pass a gated road entering a campground. A tenth of a mile later, I realize we have missed our turn, so we turn around.
The gated road is Hihn Hammond Road. It is paved all the way to the park sewage treatment plant. Hihn Hammond becomes dirt and veers right and uphill just before the paved road descends to the sewage center. We climb Hihn Hammond until we reach another fork. Hihn Hammond continues to the right, but an unnamed road descends steeply to the left. A small sign reads, “Not a through trail”. This must be Last Chance Road.
We turn left and ride down the steep trail. Soon the old road degenerates into a steep single-track trail, and then this trail decays into a rough trail alternating from large rocks to sand pits. Nearly simultaneously, we both cry out, “Oh, shit!”, as we make unscheduled dismounts. I manage to stay astride the top tube as I grab a large boulder on the right, but Paul, who is riding 20 feet ahead, does a bellyflop.
We continue walking our bikes for a short section before carefully remounting and riding down to the creek. Last Chance Road fords the East Fork of Waddell Creek downstream of the Big Basin sewage plant. A sign at the ford warns not to drink the water. The outflow does not reek, but I’m not thrilled with the idea of dipping either my shoes or my bike into the stream. Fortunately, there are suitably large rocks in the stream to allow us to cross without getting wet.
After crossing we continue on the sometimes rough trail. In several more places, it looks as if a stream has cut its way into the trail. Paul manages to ride the remainder, but since I’d rather suffer a bruised pride than bruised skin, I choose to walk several more sections. Before long the trail becomes smoother as it climbs steeply out of the little canyon. A quarter-mile later near a wooden fence, the trail makes a sharp turn to the left, broadens considerably, and becomes a road.
From here to its end at Swanton Road, Last Chance Road is a mostly level, dusty, washboard-surface road. It must be a mess in winter. Having pulled a muscle in his shoulder from the earlier fall, Paul is not happy about the ceaseless ruts, vowing never to return until he puts Rock Shox on his mountain bike.
Just before it begins its quick descent to Swanton Road, Last Chance Road becomes paved. The descent is not long, but the pavement is very bumpy. Even with my fat slicks, I can only just manage to keep my eyeballs in their sockets. Last Chance Road joins Swanton Road at the high point of the latter and is a private road, but it is apparently open for public travel via foot or bicycle. This is the kind of attitude I like. I guess they don’t get much bicycle traffic, so they don’t bother trying to close off all access.
At Swanton Road we turn left and ride down through the community of Swanton. On the climb out of the little valley, we make another parabola stop before joining CA-1 and riding south to Bonny Doon Road. We turn left and climb Bonny Doon Road. The fog having not yet lifted has turned into a light drizzle. This is probably good as the climb from the coast is steep and can be quite hot on a sunny day.
At Smith Grade Road we turn right. After riding the cool ups and downs of Smith Grade we turn right on Empire Grade Road and descend directly to the Saturn Cafe in Santa Cruz for a well-deserved lunch and rest.
After nearly a two-hour rest, we slowly and reluctantly ride up Bay Street and the UCSC campus bike path. After riding up and through the campus, we continue into the upper campus on Chinquapin Road. The road has been graded, but this has made the surface loose and dusty. We pass a group on horseback descending, and later we pass a family slowly riding bikes up the road.
About a quarter-mile before Chinquapin joins Empire Grade, we turn right on Marshall Road and head down to Upper Scenic Drive and then very steeply down to CA-9 and Felton. As we ride toward Felton on CA-9, another guy on a bicycle comes alongside to report that he was nearly attacked by “a madman” while riding through The Pogonip. I remember seeing people camped out or hiding in the shadows when I hiked once through The Pogonip and through the steep section of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park between the upper UC Campus and CA-9.
We turn right on Graham Hill Road and left on Zayante Road. Our return trip to Summit Road is via Zayante and Hutchinson.
On Lower Hutchinson a couple of furiously barking dogs come to greet us. Not wanting to attract attention, we pedal on hoping the obstreperous canines will find us uninteresting. We stop at the beginning of Lower Hutchinson, and just then we hear the clop-clop of horse hooves approaching. Not wanting to be caught on the road and forced to ride back down, we quickly head down Lower Hutchinson into the thick forest. For the first mile or so, Lower Hutchinson can’t make up its mind whether to go up or down, but eventually the single-lane road begins winding its way up the hillside.
Soon we come out of the forest, and after passing a ranch, we reach the end of the private section of road. Unfortunately, Upper Hutchinson ahead seems to ascend to the sky. After a couple long uphill pitches followed by short and steep downhills, Upper Hutchinson climbs very steeply (well over 10% grade) and without a break nearly all the way to Riva Ridge Road. The cool overcast weather has been a saviour as the climb would be very unpleasant in the hot sun.
At Summit Road we turn left and then veer right onto Bayview Road and begin the steep winding descent through Redwood Estates. After passing under CA-17, we turn left on Old Santa Cruz Highway and continue down to CA-17 just above the Alma Fire Station.
At the beginning of the month I rode CA-17 down to Alma Bridge Road and then descended the relatively safe dirt bike path. Today, the two of us continue past Alma Bridge Road and ride down the final grade into Los Gatos. I manage to spin my 50x12 up to 43 mph with the help of a brisk tailwind blowing down out of the hills. At this speed, I’m not going much slower than traffic, so I take the lane where the shoulder disappears. As we reach the left-hand exit into Los Gatos, a gap appears in the traffic-Helmet mirrors are wonderful-and we sweep quickly across both lanes and ride up the off-ramp into downtown Los Gatos. Whew! The people in their cars probably think we’re nuts, but I really didn’t feel it was that dangerous. I feel more at risk of a spill riding down the steep gravel path by the Lexington spillway.
We continue uneventfully on the flat route back through Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, and Los Altos to Palo Alto where we stop at Togo’s for an inexpensive late dinner.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||6610 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||12.6 mph|
|Max. Speed:||41.0 mph|
Backroads to the Coast, July, 1993 - Hildy Licht, Scott Wiley, Jim Haughey, John Hughes, Richard Mlynarik and I ride up east Alpine Road to Skyline and down the coast side to Camp Pomponio Road.
We turn left on Camp Pomponio Road and plunge very quickly toward the redwood forest below. The view of the Pescadero Creek watershed is wonderful, but the road demands 90% of our attention. There’s a wonderful whoop-de-do where the road splits just after we descend into the redwoods. I register my maximum speed here. We turn left on Bridge Trail and continue across Pescadero Creek. Poor Hildy takes a spill on the bridge and manages to cut open her knee on a nail sticking out of one of the planks.
We continue down the Old Haul Road. Hildy and Richard ride to Memorial Park where she calls her son for a ride home and to the hospital to get her knee stitched. The injuries aren’t life-threatening, yet continuing the ride would be neither pleasant nor prudent. When I called Hildy after the ride, she told me her knee required 11 stitches but the scrape on her elbow hurt more. I hope she recovers for our next club ride to Santa Cruz in August.
We continue down Wurr Road, and wait briefly at the Loma Mar Store for Richard who had ridden with Hildy to the phone at Memorial Park, before riding into Pescadero for lunch. Thanks, Richard.
After lunch we ride north on Stage Road to San Gregorio, where Richard returns up CA-84, and beyond to CA-1. Along the way we pass a San Mateo County Sheriff deputy watching something intently through his binoculars. When greeted with a “Hello.”, he acknowledges with a grim, unsmiling nod. What heinous crimes could possibly transpire in the idyllic fields in the rolling hills above San Gregorio?
We continue north to Verde Road and then to Purissima Creek Road. We turn right on Purissima Creek Road and continue up Purissima Canyon on the dirt road. We turn right again on the Borden Hatch Mill Trail and wind our way up the thickly-forested hillside. The Borden Hatch Mill Trail is beautiful. It is mostly rideable with only one short uphill pitch with a grade in excess of 25% that no one can ride. Yet, even Jim on his road bike with 23mm tires and 42x25 gearing manages most of the climb without shifting to his two-foot gear.
The Borden Hatch Mill Trail hooks up with the Grabtown Gulch Trail before arriving at Tunitas Creek Road where the latter crosses the ridge line. We continue up Tunitas Creek Road to Star Hill Road where we turn right on Star Hill and left on Swett Road about 1/3-mile later before stopping at the school for water.
At Skyline Scott decides to return down Kings Mountain Road, and the rest of us (John, Jim, and I) ride north on Skyline to Windy Hill and then down the Spring Ridge Trail (aka Windy Hill Trail). The Spring Ridge Trail is very bumpy in places, but the soil is hard packed most of the way, giving our relatively thin slicks good traction. John finally gets to put his front fork shock-absorbers to good use on this trail. Yet, descending the Spring Ridge Trail is not nearly as difficult as descending the steep, loose soil of Ward Road. But that’s another story.
At the bottom of the Spring Ridge Trail, John turns left to go home, and Jim and I shift into afterburners as we zip down Alpine Road to I-280. At the Sand Hill Road mess I turn down Sand Hill, Jim turns right on Junipero Serra Road, and we both head home.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||6110 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||10.9 mph|
|Max. Speed:||48.0 mph|
Ward Road, July 15, 1993 - I decide to take off work today and do an exploration ride. I tend to do these kinds of rides by myself at odd times of the day or week to avoid other people as the routes wander onto roads not normally open for public travel. Reader discretion is advised!
I leave home at 1100 and head south on Foothill Expressway and then continue up Stevens Canyon. After carefully negotiating the big slide past the end of the paved road (portage), and fording Stevens Creek (3 times), I begin the sometimes steep, and root-bound single-track up to Table Mountain where an old Christmas tree farm used to be. I dismount when fording the creek the last two times, at some of the hairpin turns and at particularly nasty sections of trail.
Charcoal Road doesn’t actually begin until you get to the top of Table Mountain. I manage the climb without stopping or dismounting, but by the time I get to the top I have side-stitches (from breakfast, I guess). It’s a difficult climb, but worse than the steepness are the occasional “sand pits”. One particularly nasty one has me learning to deal with sudden loss of traction in both wheels after coasting downhill. And then there’s another place on Table Mountain where the trail descends with a gradually increasing side-tilt into a huge glistening bush of poison oak.
After getting water at the fire station, I ride down Ward Road all the way to Pescadero Creek. What an adventure! Some sections are about as steep as the Indian Ridge Trail I rode down on Mt. Tam., yet at least on the upper part, the road is very loose dirt, so traction is difficult. On the way down I notice a pair of thin bicycle tire tracks perhaps from road bike slicks, and a few other knobby tracks.
Partway down Ward Road (after the gate at the entrance to Portola State Park), I continue on a fork (not on my 7.5-min USGS topo map) where the road has recently been graded. I end up in what looks like some sort of encampment. There are tables, and several outdoor sinks. A little further is a trailer, a fuel or water tank, and a couple other shacks. No one seems to be here, yet it seems too fresh to be abandoned. Not wanting to find myself running afoul of a “mountain man” or pot-grower, I beat a hasty retreat. It turns out that Ward Road bears right where all the “No Trespassing” signs are posted. It doesn’t really look like a road because it’s overgrown. I mistook it at first for a drainage siding, and when I found myself at the encampment, I thought I’d have to ride back up the horrible grade.
After the camp, Ward Road continues as a very faint dual-track, sometimes so overgrown it’s a single-track. About 1/4-mile down from the camp, I recognize the terrain. I had hiked up Ward Road with my dad about 8 years ago when we started in Portola State Park. Back then the road wasn’t so overgrown, and more of it passed through Santa Cruz Lumber land. Today the road is nearly all in park land—Long Ridge OSP near the top, Portola State Park in the middle, and Pescadero Creek County Park near the bottom. We had hoped to find the road that connects Ward Road to Slate Creek and the Old Page Mill, but that road is long overgrown. We actually did find the road alignment at the Slate Creek end; the cut in the hillside was clearly discernable, but even on foot, we were bushwhacking over our head. We never did hike/whack the entire length—too many spiders and ticks! I wonder if Ward Road is being allowed to “return to nature”. A foot trail has since been cut along this alignment connecting Ward Road to Slate Creek and the Old Page Mill site.
I continue down the rolling ridge, descending steeply at times. In several places the road comes out into the open, and the view of China Grade and the upper Pescadero Creek watershed is beautiful. Of course, I take a few pictures.
My topo map must be too old! At one hairpin a road in better condition continues straight. This road does not appear on the topo. I assume it eventually descends to Pescadero Creek closer to the sawmill. Perhaps I should explore it some day. I continue right on the less-traveled road that I know to be the correct way.
100 yards later, I find a water bottle on the ground! It’s a dirty, red Specialized bottle with a white cap, and it is full of water, too. I don’t want to give whoever administers/patrols this road the idea that bicycles frequent it, and I don’t like the idea of leaving the bottle, so I pick it up and carry it home. But I dump out the water first.
After what seems like more interminable descending, handled with “kid gloves” in my usual fashion, I finally reach Pescadero Creek. When I hiked this I remember the ford being somewhat difficult to cross due to the lack of suitable rocks in the stream. I think of riding through, but I see that the cement “cobbles” are coated with slippery algae, and that the stream bed on the far side looks sandy and muddy. Then I think how I’d feel if I had to ride home from here all soaking wet. Using my bike as a third support in the stream, I manage across without getting water in my shoes.
At Old Haul Road and Ward Road, it looks like Santa Cruz Lumber are putting in a highway! The Haul Road has recently been graded, and new signs are in place warning that the area is patrolled by Fire Security Patrol or some such. I’m not too worried as I’m heading down the Haul Road toward the park, so even if I were caught, they’d probably kick me in that direction anyway.
After continuing down Old Haul Road I turn right on the Towne Fire Trail. My official Pescadero Creek County Park Map is also old, as it clearly states that bicycles are legal on the Towne Trail, yet I pass three signs in three different places that expressly forbid bicycles from traveling it. It’s probably politics with the horse-people since the Towne Trail goes to/from the horse camp up on Haskins Hill. Nevertheless I decide to press ahead.
After descending and crossing Pescadero Creek on a footbridge, the Towne Trail begins a mostly vicious ascent up to the horse camp. My goal is to reach the Sierra Club hut where I can get water. The grade is so severe that at times, I simply cannot pedal the bicycle without it bucking up from under me. Sometimes I have to use the two-foot gear. It is while going up the Towne Trail that I pass the only other people I have seen since the bottom of Stevens Canyon (at the slide). If you don’t like Charcoal Road, you wouldn’t have been happy on this road.
When I get to the Sierra Club hut, I decide to risk taking the road through the Alpine Ranch rather than riding by the horse camp and the probability that I’d be caught on forbidden roads. I continue up to the local summit and then over the gate at the boundary. The sign says, “Do Not Enter, Private Lands”. The road on the other side of the gate is very primitive and about 50 yards from the gate is completely overgrown. Only from the placement of the taller shrubs can I tell where the alignment runs. The road passes what looks like a cottage that seems to be unoccupied before descending along a meadow. Down to the right are the main ranch buildings. Maybe they won’t look up and see me riding here! :-) A quarter-mile later the dual-rut road joins the main driveway. There’s a camper trailer beside the road.
A half-mile later I reach Alpine Road and the white iron gate with spears on top. The problem is I’m on the inside, and I want out. I lift my bike over the adjoining barbed-wire fence, and because I’m thin enough, I manage to squeeze myself between the bars taking care not to catch myself on the spears. Then I sit down for a while and pluck foxtails from my shoes and socks!
I continue up Alpine to Skyline and then north on Skyline to Thompson Road. I take Thompson Road to Alpine Road and then downhill to Joaquin. Then I ride up Joaquin and zip down Los Trancos Woods Road getting home by about 1830.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||4000 feet|
Kings Mountain Store, July, 1993 - I led a Western Wheelers ride that stopped for lunch at the Kings Mountain Store.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3500 feet|
Ride with Joel Cain, July, 1993 - Joel Cain was a summer intern where I worked and was into biking, so one day we went out for a ride.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||8810 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||13.5 mph|
|Max. Speed:||43.5 mph|
Santa Cruz, July 3, 1993 - Seven of us (Charlotte and Mike, Liz Benishin, Gardner Cohen, Jude Katsch, Jennifer Zheng, and I) start from Gunn High School at 0720. At the first informal regroup at Stevens Creek Reservoir, Charlotte and Mike quit the ride because Charlotte’s bottom bracket is failing. They both promise to ride on Sunday the entire route as printed on the map.
The rest of us continue up Redwood Gulch and CA-9 to Saratoga Gap. Liz Benishin arrives long before the rest of us, and at the top we meet up with Hildy Licht and Rich Feldman. After resting at the top for a while, Rich discovers that his rear tire is losing air. Since we are all leaving to head south on CA-9, he decides to pump it up and to replace the tube at the next regroup in Boulder Creek.
The descent to Boulder Creek on CA-9 is never too fast (except on one decreasing-radius hairpin turn) and is always fun, especially in the cool morning air. At the bottom of the downgrade (the first crossing of the San Lorenzo River), I catch up with Jennifer and Hildy and ride with them for a while. A few miles down the road, I absolutely have to stop and water the plants.
“That’s not fair!”, Hildy says as she rides by.
“Nonsense! You could do it, too.”, I say in response.
“But I get poison oak if I do that!”, Hildy retorts as she rides out of earshot.
When we get to Boulder Creek, we regroup at the Shell station at the corner of CA-236 and CA-9. After eating a snack, we continue down to the grocery store on the other side of the street and refill our bottles with “Wholly Water” before the difficult climb up Alba Road.
Liz, Jude, Jennifer, Gardner and Hildy ride on ahead while Rich replaces his tube and tanks up on Wholly Water.
The 2000-foot climb at an average 9% grade up Alba is difficult, but not as difficult as it was the last time I came this way. Last time, the temperature was in the 90’s F, but this time, the thermometer is in the low-70’s. We all make it to the top with times varying from 38 minutes to about 1 hour. I am not ashamed to admit that I climbed most of the way in my granny gear (28:22) and (28:26).
At this point Hildy decides to cut out the planned tour of Bonny Doon by stopping by her parents’ house near the top of Felton-Empire Grade. Rich decides to join her. They both plan to meet up with us at Smith Grade and Empire Grade about 50 minutes later.
We ride south on Empire Grade, turn right at Pine Flat Road and continue down to the Bonny Doon School (rest stop on this year’s Sequoia Century) for water. After getting water and spending too long eating and talking :-), we return a short way up Pine Flat to Bonny Doon Road and turn left. The upper part of Bonny Doon Road forms three sides of a rectangle. After a short climb, the road drops gradually and straight past vineyards and other fields. I register a maximum speed of 41 mph without pedaling, enough to get me over the short rise after the road bends south again. After taking care on the sharp 90-degree corners at the south end of the rectangle, we continue to the right.
Just before Bonny Doon Road plunges 1200 feet down to the coast (another fun descent), we turn left on Smith Grade Road. Smith Grade Road is one of those roads that no one seems to know about. Even Jobst Brandt told me last year he had never ridden it.
Smith Grade begins innocently enough, but soon it plunges steeply into a narrow, densely forested canyon. Some of the curves at the bottom are quite challenging when taken at speed. For better or worse, I find myself behind Liz, and while Liz climbs with the ease of a feather in the breeze, she descends cautiously. Passing would be rude and unsafe, so I enjoy the descent as best I can without breathing too hard down her neck
At the bottom of the downgrade, the road climbs for about 350 feet before beginning another gradual descent past apple orchards and forests. The final climb to Empire Grade is the steepest, but it’s fairly short. We are 5 minutes late at the rendezvous, due, no doubt, to our taking an extended water stop at the Bonny Doon School.
We turn right on Empire Grade and continue south into Santa Cruz. The road climbs gradually at first then levels off, passing through mixed forests and meadows. The shoulders are wide. We pass the top of Chinquapin Road, the access to the upper UCSC Campus. Taking Chinquapin is a fun way to descend into Santa Cruz. One can also drop into Felton via Marshall Road and Upper Scenic Drive. Perhaps future rides can explore these possibilities.
After passing the Waldorf School, Empire Grade begins a precipitous plunge into Cave Gulch. It is here that Rich and I achieve our maximum speeds of the day: 43.5 mph. Shortly after emerging from the redwoods into the meadow overlooking Monterey Bay, we turn left at the West Entrance of the UCSC Campus and climb a couple hundred feet up the hill to the Performing Arts Center. We continue through the parking lot and onto the bike path.
The UCSC bike path is another fun descent. We gather at the top of the path for a group picture before zipping down the hill. The bike path has been improved since I was a student here; the sharp curve at the bottom has been separated from opposite traffic, and the radius has been increased. Even so, because the path is narrow, handling the left-hand turn at speed is challenging. I manage 39.5 mph at the bottom of the turn.
We continue down Bay Street, turn left on King, and right on Laurent St. and head for the Saturn Cafe for a leisurely lunch. Liz orders a milkshake, but since we’re not at a fast-food pavilion, she doesn’t quite earn a Frank award.
After lunch we head east on Mission St., turn right at Walnut, and continue on Lincoln to Pacific Ave. After touring what’s left of the Pacific Garden Mall, which still has not been restored fully since the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, we cross the San Lorenzo River on Water Street, and turn left on Market Street. We continue on Market until it becomes North Branciforte Road.
We continue past the entrance to the “Mystery Spot” (only in Santa Cruz...) and turn left on Granite Creek Road. Granite Creek Road initially climbs lazily alongside Granite Creek that lies at the bottom of a redwood-forested canyon. I ride slowly as I am still digesting lunch. Soon the road begins a steeper grade, coming out into the sun about 1/4-mile before the top. We descend the northwest side of the hill quickly, cross over CA-17, and regroup at the nearby Chevron station in Scotts Valley.
After a few minutes pass, Hildy has not arrived.
“Has anyone seen Hildy?”, I ask.
“No.”, everyone says.
“I don’t understand. She was right behind us near the top of the hill. The last time I saw her was just before we left the trees on the other side.”, I say. “I think I’ll go back and see if she’s all right.”
So, I ride back over CA-17, up the hill and down past where I last saw Hildy. I see no sign of her or her bike. After asking a few people walking by the road if they saw a “lady in pink” ride by, they all say, “No.” When I arrive back where the others are waiting, Hildy still has not arrived.
We speculate on what might have happened. She might have turned around and returned to Santa Cruz and called for a ride home, though this seems unlikely as it would be very rude of her not to tell anyone she was doing this. She might have turned on a side street, though this, too, seems unlikely. In any event, I don’t have time to search all the byways of Scotts Valley. We call her home and leave a message on her answering machine that we had lost track of her and that if she or someone else such as her husband knew of her whereabouts, she or he should call Gardner’s cellular number and let us know. (Gardner carries his cellular phone on bike rides.)
Not feeling particularly good about losing a rider, we continue up Glenwood Highway to Mountain Charlie Road. When we get to the intersection, we find a copy of my route map stuck to the top of the street sign. So she had come this way after all! She must have passed by the gas station without seeing us and without our seeing her.
We start up Mountain Charlie Road. Mountain Charlie Road is a paved, one-lane road that winds its way up Mountain Charlie ridge, reaching Summit Road next to the CA-17/Summit Road intersection. The road, built originally as a toll road, climbs the ridge in stair-step fashion. Knowing that Hildy climbs slowly, I attempt to catch up to her. I ask a descending cyclist if he’s seen the “lady in pink”, and he tells me she’s just ahead. I manage the climb in 24 minutes without leaving my middle ring (46:30), but the effort is in vain. When I reach the top, Hildy is nowhere.
I return down Mtn. Charlie to Riva Ridge Road and wait for the others. Liz has arrived, and soon everyone else arrives. Rich’s tire is going flat again, and while he tries to pump it up, the valve breaks. After replacing the tube, we start up Riva Ridge Road. Bruce Hildenbrand recommended the nice little “wall” on this road as a dessert after climbing Mountain Charlie, so I thought I’d try the patience of the people riding with me and lead them this way. Riva Ridge Road climbs gradually and then drops steeply before climbing up a very steep wall. The grade must be close to 20%. I hear cursing and gnashing of gears as Jude and Gardner shift into their small chain rings. At Hutchinson Road we bear straight and continue to Summit Road.
Gardner has had enough uphill. After he tells me that Hildy’s husband called to report that she is in Los Gatos and is O.K., I am unable to convince him that the remaining climb to Bayview Road is trivial. He wants to find the most direct way down. We part company as he turns right on Summit Road and descends the north side of Mountain Charlie Road to Old Santa Cruz Highway.
We turn left and continue northwest on Summit Road for about 1/2-mile to Bayview Road at the top of Redwood Estates. We wait for Rich and then Jennifer when both of their chains fall off their rings.
We begin the steep, narrow descent through Redwood Estates. Not many people know there’s a route through Redwood Estates that follows a very narrow, steep, paved road, passes a small grocery store, a fire station where there’s water, and crosses under CA-17 before joining Old Santa Cruz Highway. Not sure of the exact route, I “follow my nose”.
At Old Santa Cruz Highway, we turn left and continue down to the end where it joins CA-17 just uphill of the Alma Fire Station. Our next adventure is to ride the shoulder of CA-17 for about 1.5 miles down to Lexington Reservoir and exit at Alma Bridge Road just before the highway makes its final descent to Los Gatos. This is much easier than it sounds as this section of CA-17 has no blind corners, and a wide debris-strewn shoulder exists for most of the distance.
We turn right on Alma Bridge Road and then left at the access road leading down alongside the spillway of Lexington Reservoir. Partway down the unpaved trail, Jude’s rear tire flats. This time it’s a pinch flat. Parts of the trail are very rocky, and Jude must not have had his rear tire pumped up enough.
When we reach Los Gatos, we take the flat route home through Saratoga, Cupertino and Los Altos, stopping a couple of times to let Jennifer and Rich phone friends and family to let them know they’ll be late. We arrive at Gunn HS just before sunset.
Despite the breakdowns, delays, and lost sheep, this was one of the best rides I’ve ridden this year. The weather cooperated this weekend giving us temperatures between 70 and 80F the entire day. I would like to thank everyone who came for making this ride one of my best.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||8100 feet|
Comstock Silver Century, June, 1993 - Chris Hull and I awoke early from our rooms at the Motel 6 and rode to the start of the Comstock Silver Century in Carson City, NV. The first segment of the ride took us to Virginia City and then down into south Reno for a quick break before the long slog up the Mt. Rose Highway to Mt. Rose summit for lunch, and then down into Incline Village, along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe, and then over Spooner Summit and back to Carson City. Like last year, this year we were running too late to make the out and back trip to Genoa.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3400 feet|
Monitor Pass East, June, 1993 - Chris Hull and I started from the parking lot at the Super 8 at Topaz Lake, NV and rode south on US-395 to CA89, and then rode to the summit of Monitor Pass, returning the same way.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||4590 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||15.5 mph|
|Max. Speed:||47.0 mph|
Uncle Bill's "Double" Century, June 19, 1993 - On Friday night’s news I watched fog blow through the Golden Gate as the reporter told of how the heat wave was over. “Great,” I thought. “It’ll be comfortable for our ride down the California Aqueduct, and, more importantly, we’ll have a nice, strong tailwind to help us on our way.” Wishful thinking it was.
Shortly after 0700 I leave home and ride quickly to Brent’s house in Sunnyvale. The ride passes without incident, and when I arrive, Brent and Jude are loading their bikes into Brent’s VW Camper. After we find a way to squeeze all our bikes on board, we drive off to Livermore.
Normally I don’t like to drive to the beginning of a ride. But to do this ride from Palo Alto would require riding a loop of about 180 miles—a bit more than is comfortable for me, especially with the heat we were about to suffer.
We arrive at the Livermore Public Library at 0900, and the temperature is already pushing 90F. Dick Fulton waits for us on the sidewalk. Dick has been a member of Western Wheelers for a long time, but he seldom rides on club rides. He prefers riding with a small group of friends on shorter, more frequent rides. This is the first time he has ridden with us. After exchanging pleasantries and reassembling our bikes, the four of us set off in search of a restroom and water.
After tanking up on water, we head east on East Road, then north on Mines Road, and then east on Patterson Pass Road. At Cross Road when I stop to take one of my infamous readings, the rest of the group continues ahead. As I start up again, another bicyclist comes up from behind.
“Is this the Western Wheelers ride?”, he asks.
“Yeah.”, I answer. “How did you know?”
“I saw the ride description in the newsletter. I thought of joining you today, but I don’t want to ride so far in the heat.”
“Where do you live?”, I ask.
“Tracy.”, he answers.
“I didn’t know Western Wheelers had members from so far out this way.”, I say.
“I recommend you take Coral Hollow Road. It’s alot more gradual.”, he says.
“Yeah, we went that way last year, so we’re trying Patterson Pass Road this year. How are you getting back to Tracy?”
“I’ll take Flynn to Carroll to Altamont Pass Road. Have a good ride!”, he says turning around.
“O.K. See you later.”, I say, wondering when the fellow manages to do a Western Wheelers ride since so few ride this far east.
The rest of our party is strung out on the increasingly steep climb up to Patterson Pass. I pass Brent and Jude, but Dick, who weighs 140 lbs, climbs quickly and I don’t catch up to him until after we reach the Pass. The west side of Patterson Pass Road is not that difficult, especially with the proper gearing.
We wait for everyone to reach the summit. Brent crests the top, and continues down the other side without stopping.
“I’ll see you guys at the bottom,” he says.
After the others start down the east side, I enjoy the view for a few moments and snap a picture of the many electric power generating windmills covering the mostly-brown hills in the area. Few blades are turning—a bad sign.
The eastern descent of Patterson Pass is a thrill. The first half-mile is very steep and straight. I manage to attain 47.0 mph with the help of a very weak tail-breeze. Further down the hill I use the brakes lightly before a few sharp turns, but otherwise, the road is straight and clean. Traffic is virtually non-existent on the wide, one-lane road.
I continue through the power line mess near Midway Road and catch the group at the Arco station Food Mart just before the I-580 overpass. After eating a snack, we continue over I-580 and then turn right onto the California Aqueduct Trail. The temperature is 97° F.
The California Aqueduct runs from the California Delta at the outflow of the Central Valley to the Los Angeles Basin. The Krebs Cycling maps show a paved bike path running along much of its length, and when I called the Department of Water Resources to inquire about riding my bike on it, I was told that bicycles can ride nearly the entire length on a paved road that parallels the aqueduct. I was also told that only in the direst emergency should I entertain the idea of drinking its water as it is pumped directly and unfiltered from the Delta. Perhaps one of the modern portable water filters would remove the giardia, bacteria, and chemical pesticide runoff from the water would make the water safe enough to drink.
Unfortunately, the Department of Water Resources or whoever administers this trail has turned an excellent idea into an inconvenient headache. At every crossing right-of-way, one has to negotiate a two-foot gate. This means that on average, every mile or so, bicyclists must dismount, lift their bikes over the gate, walk across the road, and lift their bikes over a similar gate on the other side of the road before continuing riding.
These gates are presumably designed to discourage motorcycles from passing. They are made from a single bar of steel bent to form the outline of the lower half of an “I”, perhaps to allow one to walk one’s bike through. This does not always work, however, as the horizontal members at “A” (See diagram below.) are often too low to allow the pedals and hubs of a standard bicycle to pass through.
ASCII graphic: ------------- -------------- | | | | | | ------ ------ <---A | | | | | | | |
Near several of the road crossings, people fish from the water. In light of what I was told regarding the water’s drinkability, I don’t think I’d want to eat any fish caught here.
The trail is paved, but the surface is very rough asphalt littered with rocks and mussel shells. Some of the shells look sharp enough to cut a bicycle tire, but no one flats. Since the asphalt is rough, speeds greater than 20 mph are uncomfortable if not difficult. I wouldn’t want to ride to Los Angeles on this!
By the time we reach Coral Hollow Road, we debate detouring to CA-33 and heading south on the straight road, but after seeing the surface improve to a smooth asphalt on the other side, we press ahead.
Unfortunately, several miles later, the surface reverts to the rough asphalt. At the CA-132 freeway, the Trail gets its own overpass over the freeway. A couple miles later where the Aqueduct crosses under I-5, the trail comes to a dead end! Note that the Krebs Cycling map erroneously shows the Aqueduct Trail crossing under I-5.
This is the last straw. (Remember the temperature is pushing 100° F.) After taking a picture of our predicament, we hoist our bikes over the obvious sag in the barbed-wire fence separating us from the I-5 and continue riding on the freeway. It seems that other cyclists have been here, too. I hope the Krebs map is correct in showing that it is legal to ride bikes on this section of I-5. No one expresses an overwhelming desire to go back and find a non-freeway route.
Riding on the shoulder of I-5 is literally a breeze compared to riding the Aqueduct Trail. The shoulder is at least 10 feet wide, so there’s plenty of room, and traffic doesn’t seem to pass as quickly as it does on CA-1 on the coast or on other straight, two-lane rural roads. Riding in a paceline is still somewhat difficult as the shoulder is littered with truck tire treads and occasional rocks. But the wind created by the passing trucks partially compensates for the natural tailwind that I had hoped for on this ride. We manage to cruise at speeds well over 20 mph without working too hard. Now, if only I had remembered to bring my earplugs, this part might actually have been relaxing.
(I have discovered a way of greatly reducing the stress of riding on crowded, noisy roads: Wear an earplug in the left ear. Leave the right ear unplugged so you can still hear traffic. An earplug does not reduce the small chance of being struck from behind, but it does reduce the stress associated with riding in noisy traffic, and it will probably make you less nervous. Try it.)
(I now wear earplugs in both ears when I ride on busy roads. The effect is to lower the overall volume level of wind and traffic noise, but one can still hear the sounds one needs to hear to ride safely. It’s no different from driving a car with the windows rolled up.)
Aside from a few trucks and motorists honking either insults or encouragement—I’m not sure which—most traffic passes politely. I definitely feel safer riding I-5 than I do riding on Skyline Blvd. near home.
A couple miles from the Aqueduct crossing, we reach a highway rest stop. People at the rest stop hardly bat an eyelash as we pull in on our bikes. A sign directs autos in one direction and trucks in another. There is no sign for bicycles, so we follow the “Autos” sign. This does feel funny, though. I wouldn’t expect anyone to ride his or her bike on I-5.
After eating a snack and resting a bit, we return to the freeway for the quick trip to the Westley Triangle, a collection of gas stations, mini-marts, motels, and junk-food havens. We pull into the Foster’s Freeze and cool off in the air-conditioned diner. Surprisingly, no one earns a Frank award this time. We all drink either water or soft drinks.
Upon stepping outside I check the temperature: 99° F. We return to I-5 for the 6-mile jaunt to the next exit at Del Puerto Canyon Road. We cruise along at speeds in excess of 25 mph this time. In very little time, we reach the exit and leave the freeway.
I check the thermometer again: 100° F. This is insane. Why are we here? Have you figured out yet why I call this ride the “double” century?
From I-5 we head west into the mountains. The rest of the ride I rode and wrote about one year ago, so I won’t describe the road here. It looks much the same as it did last year. The grass is greener this year, but the temperature is about 20° F hotter, too.
In several places we pass people trying to make the best of the heat by picnicking beside and dunking themselves into the algae-coated Del Puerto Creek. Yuck!
Suddenly I feel my rear tire go flat, or so I think. It turns out the asphalt of the road is so hot that our rear tires actually sink into it as we ride!
During the long and gradual climb up to Frank Raines Park, Dick and I manage the same pace. Dick rides a very nice-looking bike built on a recently repainted red Ron Cooper frame that he bought from Jobst Brandt back in the ‘70s for $150. The frame had originally belonged to Jobst’s nephew, Marc.
We stop at Frank Raines Park to rest, eat, and refill our bottles with COOL water. It’s really disheartening to be on a hot ride and have nothing to drink but hot water. It almost makes me ill to sip hot water on a hot day. I guess having no water is worse, so I shouldn’t complain.
We continue up to Beauregard Summit. The last mile-and-a-half is a very steep 800-foot climb. Fortunately, a small cloud passes over just as we begin the climb and stays with us until we near the top.
Aside from being unpleasant, the heat has potentially serious side-effects: it is difficult to eat solid food. Except for one small bottle of Cytomax, I don’t rely on energy drinks for Calories. I force myself to eat at rests, even though I don’t have much of an appetite. I feel no worse after eating than before, but if I don’t eat, I know I’ll be in trouble.
In addition to eating, I take a half salt tablet every two hours or so. I know there is some controversy surrounding the use of salt tablets. All I know is that I was saved more than once by taking a salt tablet when I was terribly dehydrated. I take buffered salt tablets that contain a combination of sodium chloride and potassium chloride. Neither Brent nor Dick will touch the stuff fearing a repeat of the vomiting they both experienced long ago when they last tried salt tablets. Jude takes a couple half-tablets throughout the ride. Neither of us experiences any digestive trouble. I intend to experiment with more complete inexpensive electrolyte replacement solutions in the near future.
One can take too many salt tablets. This happened once in the Sierras when I was paranoid about dehydration. I foolishly took two salt tablets within an hour when I thought I might be getting dehydrated. I was fine for the rest of the day, but that night I was awakened many times to drink huge amounts of water and to do other things to copious amounts of liquid.
Another irritating side-effect of the heat is I feel I am aerobically limited. Breathing really deep hurts like a mild asthma attack. Because of this, I find myself pedaling up the hills in a higher gear, using my leg muscles in an unaccustomed fashion. I wake a couple times the following night with severe leg cramps.
We regroup at the summit. A stiff refreshing breeze blows from the west, but upon checking my thermometer I discover that the temperature is still 95° F!
From the summit to The Junction is only a few miles. At the Junction Cafe we relax inside, sip soft drinks and munch pretzels.
Brent asks the bartender, “So, did you get many bicyclists coming through here today?”
“Yeah. Only a few fools came through today,” he says with a smile.
We leave the cafe and begin the journey back up Mines Road to Livermore. The temperature is 97° F.
The two upgrades to Eylar Ridge are hot. The air hangs still as inside an oven, and the setting sun heats the hot-iron red soil in the embankment along the road, which in turn reradiates the heat cooking us on both sides.
At the top of Eylar Ridge, we take a group picture and begin the long winding journey down Arroyo Mocho to Livermore. A few miles from the top we come upon a small herd of cattle in the middle of the road. The bicycles must startle the beasts as they actually start a fast trot down the road. The largest cow with huge udder and girth trots ahead like a very large woman wearing a tight, calf-length skirt and tiny, high-heeled shoes. Clop-clop-clop-clop-clop. The scene is hilarious.
Further down the road we stop once to take another group picture in front of the statue of “Snotty” on his bicycle, so named because he has a river of green snot running out of his right nostril and flowing over his leering grin. Who’s sense of humor we are enjoying here?
The remaining ride back to the Livermore Public Library passes without incident. At the end the temperature still hovers around 90° F. After resting for a few minutes, we all head straight for Togo’s and each eat a large meal.
I don’t think I’ll plan a ride as hot as this for a while, but in a way I’m glad I did it. Riding long distances in this kind of heat requires careful attention to hydration and Calorie intake. I felt this ride was harder than the Sequoia Century Worker’s Ride (200k course) the week before. If nothing else, we all gained from the experience and from knowing we can do it.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||11200 feet|
Sequoia Workers Ride, June, 1993 - I rode the worker's ride for the Sequoia Century with Jude Katsch and Scott Seligman. Our route took us to Big Basin, Bonny Doon, then north along the coast through Davenport, Pescadero, San Gregorio, and then back up Tunitas Creek Road before sending us south on Skyline to Page Mill Road before heading down the hill.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||5190 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||11.9 mph|
|Max. Speed:||34.5 mph|
Mt. Tamalpais, June 5, 1993 - I awaken early to the sound of rain hitting the roof. I get up anyway, hoping that the weather will clear by the time I leave. I don’t mind a little drizzle or light rain while on the ride, but I’m not anxious to leave the warm, dry cocoon of indoors when it’s raining outside with little hope for clearing.
At 0700, I head over to the Cultural Center, which is the official start of the club ride. Of course no one is there. I guess all the Western Weenies are tucked in bed. The sun has come out. I think it’ll be a great day. (In fact I didn’t get rained on all day.)
The plan is to ride over to Union City BART, take BART to San Francisco, and then ride over to the San Francisco Bay Model Museum and meet Mark Chandler at 1030 for a ride up Mt. Tamalpais via the Old Railroad Grade. The trip to Sausalito should take about 3 hours more or less. I have allowed an extra half-hour in my time estimates in case I miss a train or get a flat.
With that in mind, I return home to get my long gloves in case I get caught in a cold rain. By the time I finally set off for good, it is 0732.
Since I’ve used up my time margin, I take the quick and sometimes ugly way down University Ave. out to Bayfront Expressway. The ride over the Dumbarton Bridge and up Paseo Padre and Decoto to the Union City BART passes quickly and without incident. A few minutes after I arrive on the platform, a train arrives.
While on BART, I see a very large rain cloud heading down the Peninsula. The wind is blowing stiffly from the west-northwest, so I don’t think it’ll get me.
After exiting at the Embarcadero Station, I race a cable car up California Street to Taylor at the top of Nob Hill. Since it’s still early, traffic is light. The tourists all look at me as if I’m nuts riding my bike here. I turn right and head down and then steeply up and steeply down again to Filbert Street. On Taylor Street a taxi-cab with a woman passenger passes. The woman turns and stares as I struggle up the steep hill. She looks like her head is sewn on backward as she stares until the taxi crests at the next block and disappears down the other side. I turn left on Filbert and climb to Leavenworth, but the very steep next block to the top of Russian Hill is one-way in the other direction.
After snapping a picture of the “wall”, I take a look around for police cars and other traffic and begin the ride up. There is only one lane going down, and cars are parked perpendicular on the other side, leaving plenty of space for a bicycle or the woman doing her morning exercises walking up and down the block. A photographer is poised at the top taking a picture down the hill.
I get maybe 10 feet up the hill and my front wheel lifts off the ground. I try standing and throwing my weight as far forward as I can, but it’s no use. After a brief struggle, the bike bucks me off the rear. I have to walk; the hill is too steep for me to ride. I suppose it doesn’t help that my bike is very rear-heavy. This helps somewhat on steep downhills, but is a pain on uphills. It’s nearly impossible for me to ride up grades steeper than about 25%.
Even walking this one is hard work. Once I reach the top, though, it’s mostly downhill until I get to the Golden Gate Bridge.
I continue to Lyon Street, and then enter the Presidio and take Lincoln Blvd. to the south end of the bridge. Shortly after I notice a “Bicycles Be Advised” sign, I pass a military police car with flashing lights citing a hapless bicyclist, who, I suppose, just blew off the stop sign I’m approaching.
Once on the bridge I continue quickly across and down to Sausalito. The tourist town is still quiet as I head through and arrive at the Bay Model Museum five minutes ahead of schedule. Mark is warming up in the parking lot, and Richard Mlynarik has also appeared. Richard frequently shows up unannounced on my rides, which is O.K. with me, though I wonder if he’s ever shown up for the few rides I’ve had to cancel this year.
After eating a bite and using the nearby restroom, the three of us set off toward Mill Valley. We decide to take the cycle path all the way to East Blithedale. Mt. Tamalpais is enshrouded by clouds. It looks like it might be wet up there.
At East Blithedale we turn left and continue through Mill Valley. The road becomes West Blithedale and soon we’re climbing gradually along a stream lined with moss-covered redwoods. Near the end of West Blithedale, we pass around a gate and begin the gradual climb up Old Railroad Grade.
We ride slowly stopping several times to take pictures of waterfalls and of San Francisco and the Bay beyond. Since Richard and I both ride Bridgestone bikes (RB-1 & RB-T), we try to get them in the pictures. Maybe if we send Grant Petersen pictures of our riding Bridgestone road bikes on the fire roads, he’ll give us free bikes. (!) Mark rides a beautiful custom LandShark frame with drop bars and 700c wheels. Built especially to handle wide tires, his frame is used as a testbed for the variety of bike accessories he reviews for his newsletter, Crosswords.
At one point while Mark and I are talking about the latest bike gizmos and bicycling personalities, a small woman on a titanium-frame mountain bike passes by. Richard sprints to catch up to her. They both get a good laugh as he later apologizes to the woman and admits that the “little boy” in him got the better of him.
As we reach the West Point Inn, a few spits come out of the clouds above. At the Inn, we stop for a few minutes while I eat a snack and while Richard refills his bottle. It’s not far from here to Ridgecrest Road and the picnic area below the east summit of the mountain.
On the way up the remaining section of Old Railroad Grade, we are passed by a few cars. Where did they come from? Richard says he’s never seen cars on Old Railroad Grade before. Maybe they’re servicing the Inn.
Shortly after we reach Ridgecrest we ride the short distance to the end of the road and then relax on the tables overlooking the south side of the mountain. The view is magnificent. The air is clean and moist. To the south large rain clouds can be seen.
After resting for a half-hour or so, Mark heads back down Old Railroad Grade as he has other obligations today. I, too, would like to get home at a reasonable hour because I have to get up early the next morning. But Richard talks me into exploring some of the roads on the north side of the mountain. He originally wants to ride Ridgecrest to Fairfax-Bolinas Road and then return either through Fairfax or up one of the fire trails through the park, but since I had ridden Fairfax-Bolinas Road before, we decide to explore some roads neither of us had ridden. I figure I can take CalTrain home afterward and save some time.
Richard and I head down Ridgecrest to the Rock Springs Fire Trail. We turn right and begin a couple fairly steep uphill pitches. The soil is a little muddy in places, but we manage to maintain traction. On the other side of the ridge, we begin a long, rolling descent through a mixed deciduous and redwood forest glistening wet from the recent rains. The trail reminds me of Gazos Creek Road in the Santa Cruz Mountains. At one point we come out on a beautiful meadow, Potrero Meadow. The Trail hugs the boundary between the meadow and the forest. Here Richard offers to snap a picture of me as I ride down the trail.
The trail continues steeply at times. At the Rocky Ridge Fire Trail, we continue on the Lagunitas Fire Trail down some very steep pitches. As we round a bend we come out on a glorious 150-degree view looking west to northeast of Mt. Tamalpais. To the west we see Bon Tempe Lake, and slightly to the east, partially hidden from view, we see Lake Lagunitas. Luckily (for me), Richard’s front tire chooses to flat so we can enjoy the view.
While Richard repairs his tire, several mountain bikers come huffing and puffing up the hill.
“Boy, this road must be pretty hard on those wheels!”, one of them says.
“Oh, it’s just a stupid piece of glass I probably picked up on the paved road above.”, Richard replies.
“Well, I’ll bet it’s hard work riding your road bike on these roads.”, the mountain biker continues.
“No. People were riding road bikes here long before mountain bikes were invented. It’s really not that hard. And, unless you drive your bike on your car to the trails, it makes more sense to ride a road bike.”, Richard replies politely.
I’m afraid we’ve committed the sacrilege of riding our road bikes on trails that are considered the birthplace of the mountain bike. For the rest of our visit on Mt. Tamalpais fire roads we are the recipients of lectures, disapproving looks, incredulous looks, blank stares, even concern for our safety and sanity. Naked men riding unicycles might get as much attention such is the indignity we visit upon these hallowed trails.
We continue down some very steep pitches to Lake Lagunitas. We turn left at first. Just as I feel an urgent need to mix chemicals, a toilet comes into view. As we continue toward the dam, a mountain biker comes by.
“Did you guys come down the Lagunitas Trail?”, he asks.
“Yes,” Richard replies.
“It must be hard work on those road bikes,” he adds.
“No. It’s really not very hard,” Richard replies with a hint of annoyance.
“Do you know where this trail goes?”, I ask, trying to change the subject.
“It just goes over to a parking lot around the corner. Where’re you guys headed?”, the mountain biker asks.
“We’re planning to take the fire roads around the mountain to Mill Valley,” Richard answers.
“Well, I sure wouldn’t want to ride my road bike on them,” the mountain biker shoots back as he rides the forbidden single track up to the platform near the dam.
We turn around and continue east around the lake riding off a couple of sharp dropoffs at the ends of the footbridges. At the east end of the lake we turn right on the Lakeview Fire Trail.
After a few short, steep uphills, the Lakeview Trail, and later the Eldridge Grade Fire Trail, winds its way gradually up the eastern flank of the mountain. Richard descends and sprints up short steep hills faster than I, but this time I manage to stay ahead of him. I am also wearing a long-sleeve shirt, and I know that if I slow down or stop, I’ll have to take it off because I am getting very warm.
At the Indian Trail, we pause for a few minutes and speak with an older fellow about biking on Mt. Tam. Both he and the woman he is with are riding older bikes with balloon tires.
We continue down the Indian Trail. The Indian Trail descends steeply in places, but very soon we reach the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Trail and the Blithedale Ridge Trail. Another group of mountain bikers are stopped at the intersection. They warn us that the Blithedale Ridge Trail is pretty rough, but we press on anyway.
The Blithedale Ridge Trail descends very steeply on sandstone and gravel. I stop three times, once because I get myself on the wrong side of drainage rut that would lead me off the embankment, once to retrieve my pump (I don’t lose any water bottles this time!), and once because I don’t generate enough momentum to pull me over a short, >20% grade “wall”.
Despite the hard work, I find it fun and challenging. I don’t quite have Richard’s confidence or speed in descending on dirt yet. I suppose it’s more a mental rather than a physical block. I’m not anxious to learn from hard mistakes! Also, I don’t feel in control when my vision is occasionally blurred by the violence of the descent. With more practice I expect I’ll feel more comfortable.
I admit that given equal experience on a road bike and on a mountain bike, I’d probably find it easier to ride rough roads on a mountain bike. But, I’ve only got one bike (aside from my commuting clunker), and since 95% of the riding I do is on pavement I can’t justify spending an amount of money equal to or greater than what I spent on my road bike for the remaining 5% I ride off-pavement. I frequently mix my rides so that they contain both paved and unpaved portions as long as the roads go someplace interesting—I’m not interested in BMX-style mountain biking. Riding a road bike on the trails for 5 miles seems easier than riding knobbies on pavement for 95.
Further down the Blithedale Ridge Trail, we turn off on a trail whose name neither of us remembers and return to Old Railroad Grade and West Blithedale.
At the gate at the bottom a group of mountain bikers prepare for an assault on the mountain. The exchange is by now familiar.
“Did you come all the way down on those bikes?”, a tall shirtless guy with bulging stomach muscles asks.
“Yeah. It’s really not that difficult. We actually came around the backside of the mountain on trails more challenging than the Old Railroad Grade.”, Richard answers.
“Well, if you guys can do this on road bikes, we should be able to handle it, right?”, the guy says.
Others in the group laugh nervously.
We continue down into Mill Valley and stop for a while in front of the City Hall to eat a snack. Afterward, we continue down Miller to the bike path and then through Sausalito and up the hill to the Golden Gate Bridge. A fierce headwind blows as we approach the bridge, and I can see now why we’re supposed to walk our bikes around the towers. We still ride but very carefully.
Once in San Francisco, I follow Richard back to his place. We ride through the Presidio to Arguello, then to Anza, Stanyan, Page, and Fillmore. We stop at a teeny tiny but interesting bike shop just off Haight street called the Planetary Gear. We continue across Market Street and turn left on 17th and continue to Dolores where we turn right and head up the hill to Richard’s place on Liberty.
After visiting with his wife, Elizabeth, for all too short a time, we head down the hill again to 17th street and then east to Indiana and the 22nd Street Caltrain Station to catch the 1835 southbound train. Richard commutes to and from Palo Alto every day and tells me that this is the first time he’s arrived more than one minute before or after the train leaves 22nd Street.
What an ugly station! It’s nothing more than a pit between two tunnels capped by the I-280 aerial freeway. I worry that weekend bikers will have filled the quota of four bikes per train. If I’m denied entry, I’ll have to ride to the nearest BART station, take BART to Union City, and ride across the bay and through East Palo Alto after sunset and without a light. I don’t really feel like riding down Bayshore Blvd. and then down El Camino, though that would probably be quicker. I’ve done it before, and it’s an unpleasant ride.
The train pulls in, and the conductor frowns as he sees the two of us with bikes. When he steps out of the vestibule, he asks immediately to see my bike pass which I show him.
“Alot of people have been saying they have passes when they don’t, so we have to check everyone now,” the conductor says.
“I’m not getting on,” Richard says.
“O.K. Hurry up and get on then,” the conductor says to me as I fumble to put my pass away.
I hoist my heavy bike awkwardly up the steep, narrow steps, struggling for a moment before I manage to get it completely in the vestibule.
“It gets easier with practice,” Richard says as the doors close behind me.
I wheel my bike carefully down the narrow corridor to an empty seat on the lower level at the rear of the train. There is one other bicyclist to the rear. It sure is easier to take your bike on BART.
I decide to save myself 50 cents and buy a ticket to Menlo Park instead of California Avenue, and from Menlo Park, I take the quick route home via Alma, Willow, and Middlefield.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||6300 feet|
Three Sierra Passes, May, 1993 - I started from Stanford Sierra Camp and met Gardner Cohen in Hope Valley. The two of us then rode up Carson Pass and back to Meyers over Luther Pass. Then I rode up to Echo Summit and back.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||4200 feet|
Ride Around Lake Tahoe, May, 1993 - Starting from Stanford Sierra Camp on Fallen Leaf Lake I rode clockwise around Lake Tahoe. Half-way around I meet up with Willie Stewart, who was doing the same ride.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||12080 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||12.8 mph|
|Max. Speed:||43.0 mph|
Uncle Bill's Very Difficult Ride, May 22, 1993 - At 0430 the alarm sounds, and I drag myself slowly out of bed. After eating my usual large breakfast and relaxing a bit to allow the food to digest, I head slowly toward Gunn High School, the official start of the day’s punishment.
When I arrive ultra-marathon cyclist John Hughes is waiting. A few minutes later Sterling Watson arrives. We wait until about 0715 because I was expecting others. Just as we are about to leave, Josh Zucker arrives on his single. I had only previously ridden with Josh when he captained the tandem he and Carolyn Fairman ride. I notice that I am the only one with a triple chainring, though John has a reasonably low gear of 38 inches using a 39x28.
We start slowly down Foothill Expressway. The first 10 miles or so of riding is really the only riding we’ll do that is neither up nor down. We stop at the picnic area just past Montebello Road to top off our water bottles and to take a quick stretch. Then we begin our first climb: Montebello Road.
Montebello climbs steeply at first (10-17%), but levels off about a third of the way up before resuming a steady but more gradual climb. Still the grade is about 8%. Hildy Licht told me she would maybe meet us on Montebello Road, so I keep my eyes open. (I learned later that she started up about five or ten minutes after us, and she never caught up.)
We stop briefly at the gate to enjoy the morning air before walking around and continuing up the road. At the microwave relay station, the pavement ends and our first dirt adventure begins. I was afraid there might be muddy spots, but I soon discover that the soil is dry and dusty. The road has been graded recently. I don’t understand why road bikers ride up Montebello Road and turn back at the gate. The best part of the road is the part over Black Mountain, and it’s really not a difficult ride on a road bike—even on the northern side of the mountain where broken pavement and occasional ruts and gravel patches offer the opportunity to practice bike handling skills.
We stop again at the top of Black Mountain and take a group picture with a very full Crystal Springs Reservoir, San Francisco, and Mt. Tamalpais in the background. The time is 0902.
After negotiating the road hazards on the northern side of Black Mountain, we arrive at Page Mill Road. A sensitive induction coil has been installed, so the gate at Page Mill Road now opens automatically when bicycles arrive. We turn left and continue to Skyline Blvd. and then down Alpine Road to Portola State Park.
The upper part of Alpine Road is a quilt work of uneven asphalt and makes for a very bumpy descent. I take the corners cautiously. We continue straight on Portola State Park Road and drop quickly into the redwood forest of Portola State Park. I register my maximum speed while dropping down the chute, a broad, sweeping curve at a considerable downgrade that straightens and narrows into quilted asphalt again before reaching a sharp corner at the bottom.
John and Sterling have arrived at the park headquarters just moments before. After a few minutes I worry that Josh might have taken a wrong turn halfway down or worse. Just as I wonder if we should return up the same way, Josh comes rushing into the parking lot.
“What took you so long?”, I ask.
“I lost my VistaLite on the way down.”, Josh says. “I stopped to see if I could find it, but I could only find this.” He displays the red lens covering.
After eating some food and resting a bit, we continue through the park on the service road that connects to Old Haul Road. I warn everyone to be careful on the wooden bridge over Pescadero Creek if it’s damp. I once almost took a nasty spill into the water while riding across the bridge when it was damp and slippery. On the hill just before Old Haul Road, I demonstrate the utility of a triple chainring on the very steep road connecting Old Haul Road to Portola State Park. Everyone else shifts to the “two-foot” gear.
We turn right on Old Haul and continue right on Bridge Trail, crossing Pescadero Creek again, taking care not to let the gaps between the bridge planks swallow our narrow tires. Surprisingly, even Old Haul Road is bone dry.
Bridge Trail dead-ends at Camp Pomponio Road. We turn right and begin the long climb back to Skyline. It would be easy to miss Bridge Trail if one were riding down Camp Pomponio Road.
Camp Pomponio Road, a single-lane paved road, climbs gradually at first through a dark redwood forest, but when it leaves the redwoods it begins a relentless climb through oaks and meadows that still have some wildflowers. Sterling streaks to the front followed by “standin’ John”. Josh and I, the sitters, bring up the rear. Just before Alpine Road, Camp Pomponio Road climbs very steeply at a grade reaching 19%. Sterling with his 42x24 low gear tacks back and forth across the road. Gee, that looks fun.
At Alpine Road, we continue without stopping. At the one short downgrade on the upper section of Alpine, we pass another group of bicyclists zipping down the hill.
“You know,” I say to Josh, “I think that guy in the middle was Bruce Hildenbrand.”
“Yeah,” Josh says. “We always seem to run into him out here.”
We continue pedaling up the hill. At the summit we pass a group of mountain bikers preparing to enter the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. We continue down to Skyline Blvd. Sterling waits, but John has ridden on ahead.
After eating a small snack we turn right on Skyline and begin the much easier climb to Saratoga Gap. Just before we reach the Saratoga Gap Fire Station, we meet up with John who has started riding back toward Alpine Road to find us.
At the fire station, we refill our bottles. Josh and I eat. Sterling and John head down into Saratoga in search of lunch.
“We’ll sit somewhere conspicuous and keep an eye out for you.”, John says.
While we rest two joggers come by for water. They’ve apparently jogged up Montebello Road then to Skyline and then up to the fire station. They’re heading back to Saratoga now.
A few minutes later another group of mountain bikers, this time a Western Wheelers group, arrives. I recognize Gary Davis and a few others.
If you ever want to know who’s on the road, just come up and sit for a while in front of the drinking fountain at the Saratoga Gap fire station. It’s the only water in the area, and anyone passing through under human power will likely stop here.
After about a 20-minute rest, Josh and I head to CA-9 and then down into Saratoga. I ride slowly down Big Basin Way looking for John and Sterling.
Suddenly, a loud voice yells out, “Bill, over here!”
It was John. As I approach the table where they’re eating a couple at a nearby table cower over their food.
“John, you have a very loud voice; you must have startled your neighbors,” I say, pointing toward the other table.
“Yeah, you should’ve seen ‘em when John yelled out,” Sterling says.
A minute later, Josh rolls in. Our timing is good as Sterling and John have just finished eating.
Sterling will ride with us to the base of Bohlman Road, but will bail out afterward. He claims he has obligations at home this afternoon. In the voice of David Spade’s Hollywood Minute, “Yeah, right.”
John is rearing to go, and Josh, after wavering a bit, has decided to press on with us.
Bohlman Road starts innocently enough, but soon the true nature of this beast becomes apparent: A continuous grade of at least 10%, often more, and occasionally 20% for about 2000 feet of climbing. At the first steep turn Josh decides to bail out.
“Aw come on, Josh.”, John says.
“It levels off around the next turn.”, I add encouragingly.
Maybe it’s just as well that Josh decided not to continue because the leveling off doesn’t last very long.
The last time I climbed this wall I took Bohlman Road all the way to the top. This time I plan to take the detour up On Orbit Lane. If Bohlman isn’t steep enough, On Orbit should be.
About 2 miles from the bottom, On Orbit goes left while Bohlman continues right. We take the left route. In two long (1/3 to 1/2-mile each), very steep pitches (18-23.5%) in the hot sun, we climb On Orbit Lane. John is about 20 yards ahead standing all the while. I manage to keep pace with him in my lowest gear (25 inches) at 3.5-4 mph. The magnificent view of the south bay is partly obscured by the sweat running in curtains off my forehead.
Finally the grade lessens and then the road tops out before a brief downhill to rejoin Bohlman Road.
Once back on Bohlman, the climbing seems easy, but the grade is still well over 10%. A half-mile later we reach the copse of redwoods marking the end of the grueling climb. From here to the end of the pavement about 1 mile later, Bohlman climbs in stair step fashion.
At the end of the pavement, we stop. I eat while John applies sunscreen. John, who is training for the PAC Tour, doesn’t like to stop long, and he seems to have mastered the art of “elimination on the go”. We make an unspoken agreement: John will stop with me, and I’ll take only as long as necessary to eat, drink, or mix chemicals.
At the top of Bohlman Road it is possible to continue on a dirt road that leads to the top of Montevina Road which in turn leads down to CA-17 across from Alma Bridge Road and Lexington Reservoir. But which dirt road?
There is only one that is not marked with some sort of “keep out” placard, and that is the one we take. It leads downhill to the right. Before long we reach a gate with an “obstacle course” walkaround. We are now inside the Monte Sereno Open Space Preserve. A half-mile later we reach a fork. The right fork continues to Montevina Road. The left fork apparently goes down to Los Gatos. I’ll have to try that sometime. We turn right and continue steeply down the gravel road to the gate at the top of Montevina Road. The pavement at the top is very steep, but further down, the grade becomes a fairly constant 9-10%.
At CA-17, we turn right and ride for 1/8-mile on the dirty shoulder before beginning the last grueling climb of the day: Black Road. So far today, all the major climbs have been with very little auto traffic. This is, I think, because all of the climbs so far have been on roads that are not through for autos. Unfortunately, Black Road is a through road, although it’s not too busy.
The bottom part of Black Road is quite steep, but after a little over a mile it levels off in front of Lakeside School. If it weren’t for the drinking fountains at Lakeside School, we’d be in trouble! After waterlogging myself in Saratoga, I still managed to drink two large bottles (56 oz.) on the climb up Bohlman and the lower part of Black Road.
The middle part of Black Road climbs moderately, but after Gist Road, the grade steepens and after the trail to McKenzie Reservoir it steepens even more. Like a drained NiCd battery, I have passed the “knee”. I am now quite tired, and this last climb is really beginning to drain me. I’ve eaten enough and drunk enough, but I don’t have leg power to climb comfortably. Still I grind on.
At Skyline we turn right and continue up north to Skylonda, stopping once to eat and drink at the Saratoga Gap Fire Station. The descent down CA-84 is handled with care as we are both a little shaky from fatigue.
At the bottom we turn right on Portola. John heads directly home since he lives in Portola Valley. I finish by riding “The Loop” (or the Parade Route, as some are fond of calling it) to Alpine Road and then to Arastradero Road and back to Gunn High School.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||8490 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||14.5 mph|
|Max. Speed:||37.5 mph|
Mt. Hamilton Loop Counter-Clockwise, May 15, 1993 - Because I was sick on the day of this year’s Mt. Hamilton Challenge last month, I decided not to ride the Davis Double Century this year but instead ride my own Mt. Hamilton Loop on the same day as the Davis Double, an unsupported “consolation ride” for myself and whoever might wish to join me. Coincidentally today’s ride happens exactly one year after my “Mt. Hamilton loop in reverse” ride that I wrote up last year.
At the dark and quiet hour of 0330, I awaken. I got to sleep at about 2230 last night, so I slept for at least 5 hours. After dragging myself out of bed, I surprise myself by swallowing and keeping down a large breakfast of oatmeal, dry cereal, banana, and bagels.
Brent is planning to meet me somewhere along the way or at the top of the mountain. I call him and tell him I’ll be meeting up with a few other riders in San Jose, so I’ll probably be running a little later than planned.
After packing all the food I’m going to eat today (6 sunflower nut butter and jelly sandwiches, 8 medium-sized chocolate chip cookies, and 3 Cliff Bars), water (76 oz.), and camera (Yashica T4) with tripod (REI Ultrapod), I set off. There’s just enough light in the sky to make a headlight unnecessary. I ride south on Middlefield Road. The streets are deserted at this hour, and I commit my first crime: I run the red light at Oregon Expressway. I continue to San Antonio Road, turn right and then left on El Camino Real. Riding over the overpass, I notice that the sunrise will be partly obscured by high clouds.
I’d never ride any significant distance on El Camino Real during the day, but at this early hour, there is little traffic. I ride slowly as I have a long way to go before I get home. By the time I pass the University of Santa Clara, my average speed is in the high teens.
Riding on Santa Clara Street through downtown San Jose is frustrating even at 0700 as the lights are not synchronized. Soon I reach Gardner’s condominium, and after passing through the security gate, I find a small group of cyclists preparing to ride:
Gardner, Rich, and Bryan, a friend of Gardner.
As we talk, the garage door of a neighboring unit opens. An unshaven, red-faced, tired-looking man walks out in our direction.
“You know, you guys are making alot of noise, and there’re alot of people trying to sleep behind those windows. Some of us like to sleep with our windows open, and I have to get up at 0400 every day, and I like to sleep in on the weekend, and I think it’s pretty, damn, FUCKIN’ rude for you to be making noise right now!”, he says in a quiet but tense voice, jabbing his finger toward the ground to emphasize the expletive.
“We’re sorry. We’ll be quiet and good.”, we say like chastened children.
What seemed like normal levels of noise to us must have seemed loud to someone sleeping with windows open.
After receiving our foul-mouthed scolding, we set off up Alum Rock Avenue. At Mt. Hamilton Road Bryan and I stop and peel off our cold weather clothing while Rich and Gardner continue on ahead.
As we climb above the valley haze, we see that the sky is somewhat overcast. This is good because it will keep things cool on the backside of the mountain.
Bryan and I don’t catch up to Rich and Gardner until we arrive at Grant Ranch County Park at the bottom of the first downgrade on the way to the summit.
While we top off our water bottles at the trickle-flow water fountain across from the entrance booth, we put on our cold-weather wear as the air has become very cool.
On the second upgrade we pass a couple of bicyclists, and on the third, final, and longest pitch to the summit, Rich points to the section of road where someone had sprinkled carpet tacks on the day of the organized ride this year. Apparently, hundreds of bicyclists got flats. This time tacks are nowhere to be seen.
Near the summit, we pass through long clouds of black flies. They cling to everything like something out of a grade-B horror film. Two days later, I can offer proof that some of the flies were mosquitos.
When we arrive at Lick Observatory, Brent is there talking with another cyclist about the Markleeville Death Ride. We all eat a morning snack and discuss various bicycling-related topics. Rich earns the Frank Award for eating some Easter Treat candies: obnoxious little blobs of white sugar-goop mixture formed and thickened into the shapes of dear, little sitting doves with painted eyes, all lined up in a box, ready to be eaten. At least they’re not soaked in neon-pink dye like some “Holiday Mallow” candies I received for Christmas several years ago. Who makes this crap? Rich starts by eating the head off the first one...
Since Rich, Gardner, and Bryan have plans other than bike riding for the afternoon, they turn around and head back to Gardner’s place. Brent and I continue to Copernicus Peak and then down to Isabel Creek.
The descent seems shorter than the corresponding ascent felt last year. At Isabel Creek, several large turkey vultures feed on a road-kill cafe favorite: Swirl of Squirrel. I continue across the bridge without stopping and catch up to Brent on the short climb on the other side.
I notice that Isabel Creek is green with algae and froth. Where does this effluent come from?
When we reach San Antonio Valley, I am disappointed to find only a few meager patches of wildflowers. Most of the flowers have died. The grass is a mixture of green and brown; things are drying out
At Old Mike’s Junction Cafe, Brent and I are surprised to find a large group of Valley Spokesmen lounging on the tables out in front. They had ridden up from Livermore and would be riding back shortly. We go in. I order a 7-Up. What a clash of cultures: bright, lycra-clad bicyclists, a leather-bound motorcyclist, and grubby salt-of-the-earth jeans and cowboy-shirted ranchers playing pool.
Outside another group of bicyclists arrives. I’ve never seen so many bicyclists at The Junction before; there must be 20 or 30 altogether.
“Where have you guys come from?”, I ask one of the riders.
“We started in Livermore, rode over Coral Hollow Road, down highway 33, and then up Del Puerto Canyon Road.”, he replies.
“What time did you start?”, I ask.
“We left my place at about 8:45 A.M.”, he answers.
“That’s pretty fast. Did you get the tailwind on 33?”, I ask.
“Yeah. There was a pretty good tailwind. You don’t want to ride this loop the other way.”, he replies.
“I’ll be leading a ride over much the same route in June except I’m planning to take the California Aqueduct Trail instead of 33. Can you move along pretty fast on the Aqueduct Trail?”, I ask.
“It used to be better when there weren’t so many gates, but people still take it, and it’s nice ‘cause you don’t have any traffic.”, he answers.
Meanwhile Brent decides to move on toward Livermore. “You’ll catch up to me soon enough.”, he says.
I move my bike out into the small parking lot and strap the camera to the horn of my saddle for a timed photo of myself and the cafe besieged by lycra.
Then I’m off. As I pass the San Antonio Valley volunteer fire station, I notice a hose attached to a faucet inside the courtyard. This is nice to know in case the cafe is closed as there’s no other source of water in the area. Since Brent has maybe a 10-minute start, I decide not to confirm whether or not the faucet runs.
I catch up to Brent on the last upgrade before the long gradual drop to Livermore. I pass him and wait at the top of Eylar Ridge, and with the camera strapped to the saddle I get us both in the picture as he rides over the summit.
The ride down Arroyo Mocho on Mines Road to Livermore seems to go on forever. The descent starts steeply, but it soon becomes a very gradual downgrade. Unfortunately, the downgrade doesn’t quite make up for the headwind that blows up the canyon.
Brent continues riding after the picture; it takes me quite a while to catch up to him. Sometimes I swear he rides faster when he gets ahead and then slows down when I catch up.
About 7 miles from Eylar Summit, a fast-moving cyclist catches up to us. He pulls alongside and we chat for a while. His name is Mars, and he’s with the group that rode down the Central Valley. He rarely rides with others, but he’s going with a group today to socialize. Mars must be a very strong rider because after about 15 minutes he bolts ahead and out of sight like a race horse out of the gate.
As we near the bottom of Mines Road, the rest of the Central Valley group dribbles by in several pacelines. Brent and I grab on to the end of one of the lines for a couple of miles until we reach Tesla Road. This is the only time we draft anyone on the entire ride.
At Tesla Road we turn left and head for the Livermore Public Library where we eat lunch on the shady lawn. After refilling our bottles we set off again. We have decided to return home via Calaveras Road rather than take Niles Canyon Road to the Dumbarton Bridge. We will follow the Mt. Hamilton Challenge route most of the way until we get to Milpitas.
We ride through downtown Livermore, head south on Holmes Street and past the end of town, turn right on Vineyard Road. Fortunately, there is only a slight breeze from the front. In Pleasanton we top off our bottles at the public fountain in the center of the old town.
Our route takes us south on Pleasanton-Sunol Road to Calaveras Road. As we pass by the tree nurseries, we both begin to feel the miles. I start to feel sleepy, and my bottom begins to feel numb. I’ve been pretty good to myself today: I’ve eaten enough, and I’ve been drinking large quantities of water, so much so that I’ve had to stop frequently and relieve myself of the excess. But this is better than collapsing from dehydration, which has happened to me more than once in the last year. Brent has switched to “constant power mode” where his body wants neither to stop and start nor to race along at 22 mph.
At the bottom of the long grade to the top of Calaveras Dam, I stop to adjust my right cleat and to eat a couple cookies. Brent continues.
I catch up to Brent past the first summit on one of the uphills.
Later a cyclist on a mountain bike with slick tires passes quickly by. I notice, though, that once he gets a couple hundred yards ahead, he doesn’t increase the distance. I’m maintaining a constant pace, and at one of the hairpins, the cyclist in front looks back furtively and then pedals harder to “get away”. Is there a “mountain bikers’ inferiority complex” when mountain bikers ride with road bike riders? I don’t consider myself in one group or the other, though I suppose I have more in common with road bike riders.
We stop at Ed Levin Park. I eat a sandwich and refill one of my bottles. Brent eats a snack. Brent has to be home by six o’clock, so we don’t stop for long. The bumpy ride down Calaveras Road is interrupted by a “Road Closed” sign and a detour on Old Calaveras Road. I didn’t expect any more climbing, but fortunately, the hill isn’t long. The bottom of Old Calaveras Road is very steep and bumpy, and the stop sign at Evans Road is a brake cable snapper.
We turn left on Evans and right on Calaveras Blvd. and continue downhill into Milpitas. Calaveras Blvd. between I-680 and I-880 is a horrible route for bicycles. Everyone drives through here. At a break in the traffic, we manage to squeeze into the left lane and turn left onto Milpitas Blvd.
At San Tomas Expressway, we turn right and head for Central Expressway. I stop at the Shell station at Old Oakland Road to get some water and to eat a bite. Brent continues ahead. I don’t catch up to Brent until just before Central Expressway and Wolfe Road, Brent’s point of divergence.
I’m on my own now, and I realize I have neither time, food, nor energy to ride 200 miles, but I could manage 150. If I go straight home I’ll get to the low-140’s. So I do something compulsive: I decide to arrive home like an airplane landing in the direction opposite current travel. Yeah, I’m tired, and I admit my imagination is running wild. I head south on Mathilda Ave., turn right on Homestead Road, and then right again on Foothill Expressway. I ride north at a moderate pace of 16 to 18 mph. Oddly, I neither pass nor am I passed by other cyclists.
I continue on Junipero Serra Blvd. behind Stanford University to Sand Hill Road. I toy with the idea of finishing the ride with The Loop. I’d have just enough daylight, but no. I’ve ridden more today than ever before. I’ll save a longer ride for some future time, giving me a slightly easier goal to achieve next time, whenever that is. After spinning down Sand Hill, Arboretum and Embarcadero, I arrive home, tired and numb but pleased I had finished in good shape.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3300 feet|
Kings Mountain Store, May, 1993 - This was an ordinary ride with the Western Wheelers to the Kings Mountain Store and back.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||7900 feet|
Grizzly Peak Century, May, 1993 - Jude Katsch, Carolyn Fairman, Josh Zucker and his friends from UC Berkeley, met me at Mirimonte High School in Moraga where we then rode the Grizzly Peak Century.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||4700 feet|
Primavera Century, April, 1993 - Jude Katsch and I rode from Palo Alto over the Dumbarton Bridge to Newark, meeting Josh Zucker and Carolyn Fairman on the way. We rode the century, then we rode back to Palo Alto over the Dumbarton Bridge.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||5040 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||13.8 mph|
|Max. Speed:||38.0 mph|
Orange County, April 11, 1993 - For my second ride in Orange County, Chris and I decide to ride mainly in the hills. There is really only one loop one can ride through the hills in Orange County, and this is Santiago Canyon Road. We plan to ride Santiago Canyon Road from Jamboree on the north and continue east and south to Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano, and eventually Dana Point before returning north along Pacific Coast Highway.
We begin by riding north on Harvard. The air is cool and hazy, but the sun is warm.
Irvine seems to have been built community by community rather than house by house. I don’t recall seeing any free-standing houses in all of Irvine, though I’m sure there must be some. Townhouses and condominia predominate. Many of these planned communities protect themselves behind walls from the outside world. Guards watching from behind tinted glass control access at the entrance, and legal street side parking is scarce, though the pavement is suffiently broad to allow perpendicular parking in both directions. Chris claims this is done to keep out “undesirables” and to maintain a clean neighborhood.
As I look northeast from the Harvard/I-405 overpass, I see brightly colored peach stucco and identically-shaped Spanish tile roofs extending for several miles. Has the population grown so quickly in this area that those of means are willing to sacrifice their individuality and submit to living in sterile cookie-cutter communities?
At Walnut Blvd., we turn left and then right on Tustin Ranch Road. At Jamboree we turn left and continue up and down a couple long, gradual hills before reaching Santiago Canyon Road.
Santiago Canyon Road rolls through the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, reaching a maximum altitude of only about 1300 feet near Modjeska Grade.
As we begin the long climb up to the fire station, several groups of bicyclists come pedaling down the hill. One group is large, and a line of cars follows closely. Suddenly, the lead car in the line decides to pass, and with a sustained “I’ll teach those bicyclists a lesson!” blast on the horn roars past.
At Silverado Canyon Road we turn left and ride up Silverado Canyon. Shortly after the turn we ride past a sandstone cave next to the road.
A young voice suddenly says, “Hello.”
Chris and I are momentarily startled until we realize it’s just some kid playing in the cave next to the road.
Silverado Canyon Road climbs gradually through a mixed rural and residential neighborhood. Beyond civilization, the road roughens and continues all the way to the top of Santiago Peak, some 5600 feet above sea level. This seems to be the only major climb in all of Orange County.
Six miles from Santiago Canyon Road, Silverado Canyon Road is blocked by a gate. Motor vehicles are not allowed past, but bicycles and hikers are. Beyond the gate, the road is in poor condition, probably due to the heavy rains this year. The asphalt road makes many rough fords of Silverado Creek and other tributary streams before turning to dirt and gravel just after a particularly nasty washout.
Just past the first and most difficult ford, we eat a snack and Chris dries out his shoes after getting them wet in the creek. While we rest a 4wd vehicle and two motorbikes come down the road.
The second motorbike stalls while crossing the ford.
Since this is our first chance to get away from motor traffic, I’d like to continue further, but Chris decides not to risk harm to his new wheels, so I ride on alone. I was secretly hoping we’d be able to ride to the top of Santiago Peak, but after continuing further I knew I’d probably not want to ride past the end of the asphalt.
Mud and large rocks cover the road in places making riding on 25mm slicks (Continental SuperSport Ultras) challenging. Some of the fords can be ridden, but some must be walked. Perhaps soon the Forest Service can regrade the road and make it conveniently ridable all the way to the summit. This is a must-do ride as soon as the road is fixed up.
Upon reaching the bad washout, I decide not to continue further. I talk with a couple of hikers who tell me the asphalt ends just around the corner out of sight. Besides, Chris is waiting back at the first ford, and he won’t be happy if I have too much fun exploring.
I return down the hill. When I catch up with Chris, we both carefully cross the ford and return down Silverado Canyon Road. Chris descends fast, and near the top, he finds himself stuck behind a slow-moving yellow Chrysler 600 convertible with a family out for an Easter ramble. Chris motions for them to pull over and let him by, but the two young girls in the back seat are more interested in giggling, waving and watching us keep up.
In frustration Chris yells out, “My grandmother drives faster than you!”
This brings roars of laughter from everyone in the car. The man in the driver’s seat raises his hands and shakes his head, the girls laugh, and the woman in the passenger seat leans her head back and shrieks with laughter.
Soon, the road levels off, and the convertible accelerates out of range. After stopping at the fire station to refill our bottles, we continue back to Santiago Canyon Road. We turn left and ride three miles to Modjeska Canyon Road and turn left.
Modjeska Canyon Road passes by a few ranches and a small residential community before ending near the wildlife sanctuary. Chris and I stop and eat a snack. After looking over the map and discussing our route, we return toward Santiago Canyon but at Modjeska Grade, we turn left and begin a steep climb. The distance isn’t long, but the grade averages a severe 10%. At the top the road continues down the other side even steeper than before. At Santiago Canyon Road again we turn left and continue downhill to Live Oak Canyon Road.
Cook’s Corner sits at the corner of the two roads and seems to be one of the local motorcycle hangouts, much like Skylonda in the Bay Area. Many noisy bikes come and go. After taking a picture of the busy cafe and the bikers and their paraphernalia outside, we begin riding up Live Oak Canyon Road.
The climb up Live Oak Canyon is moderately steep, and the traffic is moderately heavy, but soon we reach the top and begin a long descent. The road descends beneath a thick canopy of oak trees. Too bad we can’t enjoy it much as the auto traffic behind us insists on tailgating even though we’re moving 30-35mph and the speed limit is 25. In a vulgar expression of impatience, one driver sits on her horn and passes unsafely near a corner. Other drivers pass, some of them looking in their mirrors giving us a “Shame on you!” expression or shaking their heads as if we had committed a heinous crime.
I find it curious that drivers out for a leisurely Easter Sunday excursion on the backroads suddenly turn into total jerks when they find themselves behind a slower-moving vehicle. If the goal of the trip is to enjoy the scenery, why get worked up over losing 30-60 seconds over the next mile or so? Quicker, more direct routes are available for the terminally impatient.
At Trabuco Oaks Road we stop at Emory’s General Store. Chris buys a Coke and a bag of chocolate cookies; I eat a sandwich. After filling our water bottles from the connection under the right-side deck, we resume our ride and make the final climb up Plano Trabuco and return to civilization.
At Santa Margarita we turn right and begin the long gradual descent to the coast. A mile later we turn left on Empressa and descend to Antonio. At Antonio we turn right and begin a long descent on a broad four-lane highway into a strong headwind. This continues for several miles before Antonio ends at Oso. We turn right, cross Arroyo Trabuco, and climb to Felipe where we turn left. Felipe takes us to Marguerite Parkway, but while riding through a construction zone, of which there are many in southern Orange County, I manage to flat. This time I find a nasty shard of metal sticking straight out of my rear tire. After patching the tube we resume the ride and descend to Avery Parkway and stop at the Shell station just past the I-5 undercrossing.
Chris enters the mini-mart and buys a Coke and some more goodies; I eat another sandwich. In case you’re wondering, yes, Chris has won the Frank Award again today.
From the Shell station, we continue south on Camino Capistrano, and after stopping to take a picture of the San Juan Capistrano Mission, we continue to Dana Point. We pass along the harbor, and at the end we ascend the vicious little hill called Cove Road that we descended on Friday.
At the top we turn right on Green Lantern, right on Santa Clara Ave., left on Blue Lantern, and finally left on Pacific Coast Highway. This time we’re heading north, and since the wind is blowing from the southeast, we enjoy a very slight tailwind.
As we approach Laguna Beach, the road is jammed with traffic. Long lines of cars wait behind each traffic light. In a dangerous move, Chris and I slowly pass cars in the rightmost lane on the right. This is especially dangerous as there are parked cars to the right. In places the clearance is only a few inches on either side. I will add that I usually don’t do this, but we are both tired, and the alternatives of waiting behind the foul tailpipes of idling autos or of riding on the crowded sidewalk seem less appealing.
When we reach the Main Beach, we cross the highway and take a people-watching break. Unlike our ride to San Diego when we were here mid-morning on a weekday, today the beach is crowded with throngs of characters. Chris goes in search of the unknown frozen yogurt shop while I eat my last sandwich and snap a couple of pictures and watch the people go by.
On our ride north out of Laguna Beach, we must take the entire right lane. As I approach one red light, I slow down to anticipate the green. Suddenly, a car behind me HONKS long and loud. In a brief rage, I point angrily at the light and yell, “The light is RED!” I look back and see a land-yacht full of laughing kids.
Once out of Laguna Beach, the highway becomes more pleasant, though traffic is still thick. We soon reach MacArthur Blvd., turn right and head back to Chris’s house in Irvine.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3030 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||15.2 mph|
|Max. Speed:||43.0 mph|
Irvine to San Diego, April 9, 1993 - I am staying with Chris at his new townhouse in Irvine over the weekend. On my first day, we have decided to ride to San Diego. Chris’s friend, Jon, has agreed to drive us back to Irvine afterward. But he wants to do as much driving as possible in daylight, so we set an arrival time of sometime between 0500 and 0530.
The early springtime air in Orange County feels more like mid-summer air up north in the Bay Area. The hills are green, and creeks still flow from the heavy rains earlier in the season.
We start off down University riding at a moderate pace toward the coast. A couple of bicyclists pass us. One of them wears a Specialized Sub-6 helmet, which I still think looks more like a headless goose than head protection.
“Hi. Where’re you riding?”, I ask one of them.
“We’re just going down to the water and back. Where are you guys going?”, he asks.
“We’re off to San Diego.”, I reply enthusiastically.
“That’s great. You’ll get a couple of rollers and then it’s pretty flat the rest of the way. You should have tailwinds most of the time, too.”, the other biker adds before riding out of earshot.
Upon reaching the coast we start riding south on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). There were no tailwinds, and we never got any tailwinds on this ride until our brief journey inland to Mira Mesa.
Southern Californians like their cars, and they like to drive. Most of the boulevards in southern Orange County are four, six, sometimes eight-lanes wide, and with speed limits a brisk 50 mph, drivers are encouraged to accelerate quickly. Traffic is heavy along the coast, and the road conditions vary from fair to poor. Once south of Newport Beach, the surface improves, and an adequate, though debris-strewn, shoulder appears.
In Laguna Beach, the highway insists on carrying four lanes of traffic even though the shoulder is now non-existent. Even at the relatively early hour, traffic is heavy enough to be irritating. To make matters worse, the road surface, a mixture of asphalt and broken concrete, is full of large cracks and potholes.
We make our first rest stop at Jahraus Park, the main drag, in Laguna Beach. Only a few people are out and about, but the fog licking the roofs of the surrounding houses perched on the hills and cliffs to either side make for a picturesque setting.
After eating a snack and adjusting the indexing on Chris’s derailleur we continue. (Chris recently switched his rear derailleur and cogs from SunTour to Shimano Hyperglide. He hasn’t yet switched from his SunTour shifters, but we managed to get them to index O.K. with some adjustment.)
The highway continues south of Laguna Beach on much the same surface as before. But after passing Crown Valley Parkway, the highway broadens and becomes less confining. At Green Lantern, we turn right and ride down the very steep Cove Road to the Dana Point Harbor. At the bottom of the hill, we eat, rest, and use the facilities.
We continue on Harbor Drive, and after rejoining PCH we turn off on Coast Hwy. Visibility is only about 1/4-mile as fog clings low to the ground.
At Palisade Drive, the Coast Hwy is closed and fenced off. A sign tells us that all forms of transportation along the closed section are prohibited. A police car waits near the fence. Just as we arrive, he roars off on some errand. We joke that after having seen us look disappointingly at the sign, maybe he’s going to rush around and catch us all coming out the other side.
We decide to take the risk. Some other bicyclists follow us around the fence and onto the closed roadway. We’re finally away from traffic noise. I can see why the road is closed. The cliffs above to our left look like they’re about to crumble down. In places we can hear rockfall.
Shortly before arriving at Camino Capistrano, we come upon a huge rock and mudslide covering the roadway. More signs warn us away. We lift our bikes over the guardrail on the right and walk along the railroad tracks in violation of yet more signs and warnings of penalties and consequences. After about 1/4-mile, we reach a path that crosses the tracks and cross back onto legal turf.
We are now in San Clemente, and rather than take the quick and direct El Camino Real, we decide to detour on the well-marked but circuitous Bikecentennial route on the side streets.
Once back on Ave Presidente, we continue south past the two great teats of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant and into San Onofre State Beach. Here we take another rest,and refill our bottles. From here to the south end of USMC Camp Pendelton some 20 miles later, there is no convenient opportunity for water or other supplies.
I feel a mixture of humor and sadness upon seeing a sign warning motorists on I-5 that people may be running across the roadway. Similar to signs warning motorists of animals crossing the road, this sign has a Gary Larson-esque look to it. I look in vain for a sign depicting elephants driving cars. It is here that illegal aliens from Mexico cross the roadway in an attempt to find work in Los Angeles and places north. On our drive back up I-5 later in the evening, I saw one immigrant thumbing for a ride along the dark roadway.
Soon we reach the end of the beach. The bike path continues on an old overgrown roadway. After crossing under I-5 through a dark, narrow tunnel, the bike path continues down what looks like one half of an old four-lane highway. This must have been the old Coast Highway before I-5 was built.
After a couple of miles we reach the entrance to Camp Pendelton. The guard waves us through. When the Camp is closed to through traffic, bicyclists must ride on I-5, though I don’t imagine it would be much fun.
After an uneventful ride through the marine base, we finally we arrive at the south entrance and after crossing under I-5, we stop at the nearby Chevron station for a long-awaited rest break. We refill our bottles, and Chris awards himself a Frank award for buying and swiftly washing down a large Hershey’s chocolate bar with a can of Coke.
We continue south on Hill Street through Oceanside. This is no fun. The roadway is four lanes of narrow traffic. Parked cars stand on either side, their doors ready to swing open in front of unwary bicyclists. The road is again a mixture of broken concrete and asphalt. As soon as we leave Oceanside and enter Carlsbad, the roadway improves. Again we stop at a nearby mall where Chris buys a frozen yogurt with a thick dollop of chocolate syrup on top. Meanwhile, I eat a sunflower nut-butter and jelly sandwich.
We continue south on Carlsbad Blvd. (SD-S21) past beaches covered by throngs of sunbathers, surfers, and other beach-goers.
In Leucadia, we manage to keep pace with a North San Diego County bus. First we pass the bus stopped at a stop, then it roars past and stops at the next stop. Again we pass the bus. This continues five or six more times until the bus manages to go two stops without stopping and finally outdistances us.
When we get to Solana Beach, we stop at Nisus Software where we meet Victor. The three of us cross over to the local frozen yogurt emporium where again Chris enjoys the smooth creamy taste. By this time, I’m tempted to join him, but since I do not perform well after I’ve eaten dairy products, I eat my last sandwich instead.
After saying goodbye to Victor, we continue south through Del Mar. At Torrey Pines Park Preserve, we take the steep Torrey Pines Park Road up past the visitor’s center and rejoin North Torrey Pines Road at the top. Our plan to end the coastal portion of the ride on the beach in La Jolla is cut short by my flatting in front of the Muir College tennis courts at UC San Diego. The flat is a snakebite due to my running over a rock while allowing myself to be distracted.
I patch my flat, and we reluctantly make a U-turn at La Jolla Shores Drive to begin the ride to Mira Mesa. While riding down Genesee, I reach my maximum speed, and Chris reaches 45mph. It’s rush hour, and most of the drivers think we’re nuts when we move over into the left lane to turn onto the freeway. For the next 3/4-mile we take I-5 to Sorrento Valley Road, the next exit. Shortly before the I-805 underpass Chris flats, and we struggle with Chris’s brand new tires on his new Campy Ypsilon rims.
The ride up Mira Mesa Blvd. is uneventful. We manage to move quickly, but the token bike lane is narrow and full of debris. Since there’s no other way to get around this part of San Diego, everyone drives, leaving the air thick with fumes. Finally we reach Jon’s house. After Chris takes a quick shower, we head off to Soup Plantation for a Calorie-replenishing feast.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||7200 feet|
Gazos Creek Road, April, 1993 - Rich Feldman, Brent Silver, Jude Katsch, and I rode over Saratoga Gap and down into Big Basin Redwoods State Park before heading west on Gazos Creek Road. It was perhaps a bit early in the season to go this way, but we got through the mud and puddles without getting too dirty.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||6520 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||13.9 mph|
|Max. Speed:||44.0 mph|
Stevens Canyon & Soda Springs Road, April 9, 1993 - Since I had worked last Saturday, I took today off to do a weekday bike ride. I didn’t really know where to go, but I thought I’d start out easy by riding south on Foothill Expressway since I had had a cold earlier in the week. I had fat slicks on the bike and a vague plan of riding up Stevens Canyon and then up Charcoal Road maybe to explore Ward Road and Long Ridge.
As I ride up Stevens Canyon, there are few cars on the road. An advantage of riding in the hills on the weekdays is that there is much less traffic.
Beyond Redwood Gulch, Stevens Canyon Road crosses the creek several times before arriving at a gate. A makeshift sign on the gate says that the canyon trail is temporarily closed. Despite this I press on. A short distance later, the road actually fords the creek. With all the recent rains, Stevens Creek is flowing swiftly. Fortunately, the ford is wide, and the water is only about eight or nine inches deep. I scamper through the flood keeping my feet dry by placing the pedals at nine o'clock and three o'clock and powering only through eight o'clock to ten o'clock (or two to four o'clock, depending on your perspective).
Shortly after the ford the pavement ends and I continue for another half-mile on dirt until the trail ends at an impassable mudslide. Signs say, “Area Temporarily Closed”. I consider possible ways around the slide, but they all look rather messy and difficult. Even without a bike, I’d probably get covered with mud trying to scramble around the steep, muddy slope. I turn back, and while riding through the ford, I almost slip on what looks like a patch of algae clinging to the pavement under the water.
I consider other routes: Redwood Gulch to Skyline? No. I’ll be riding up there on Sunday. Maybe I’ll try riding a portion of a difficult century ride I’m planning to ride in May.
I ride down Stevens Canyon and turn right on Mt. Eden Road. Then I take Mt. Eden to Pierce to CA-85 to Saratoga. I stop near the traffic light and eat lunch. I decide to ride up CA-9 and ride Sanborn Road as far as I can. From my topo map, I seem to remember a route that leads from the end of Sanborn Road and climbs to the top of Mt. Pleasant (top of Bohlman Road).
Sanborn Road is not very long, but it is quite steep between CA-9 and Sanborn-Skyline County Park. Once past the park the road levels off and after some ups and downs arrives at a dead end. A couple of hikers have just come from one of the several dirt roads that branch out in all directions.
“Excuse me. Do you know if one can get from here to the top of Bohlman Road?”, I ask one of the hikers.
“Yeah. I’ve done it before, but I couldn’t tell you. There are lots of turns you have to make. It’s easy to get lost, and it’s hard enough on foot, but it’s nearly impossible on a bike. Everything’s overgrown and the trails are all muddy.”, the man replies.
All the roads are posted with “Keep Out” signs. Some may argue that it’s bad to trespass, but I feel that if I’m going to ride through private land, I should at least know where I’m going and not get lost! Without a proper map, I decide to save the ride for another day.
On the way down Sanborn Road, I stop at the county park and discover that biking is allowed on none of the trails, not even on the trail that seems to connect to Black Road. Of course, hikers and horses are allowed.
Descending Sanborn Road from the park to CA-9 is a blast. It doesn’t take long, but the road is steep and straight enough to allow speeds in the 40’s. The stop sign at the bottom approaches quickly at the end before I jam on the brakes.
From here I ride down CA-9 into Saratoga and continue to Los Gatos and then up the Los Gatos Creek Trail to Alma Bridge Road. The last time I rode up the dam I almost fainted at the top because I stopped quickly after the extreme effort. This time the gate at the top is open, so I ride through without stopping.
In a sight not seen in a long time, water flows down the spillway as Lexington Reservoir is completely full. I stop and take a picture near where I took a picture last August when the reservoir was nearly empty.
The final climb of the day is an up and down climb of Soda Springs Road. About halfway between Lexington Dam and Aldercroft Heights, Soda Springs Road begins its long, arduous climb up into the Sierra Azul to the summit of Mt. Thayer. Unfortunately, the road never actually reaches the summit, but it does climb over 2300 feet at a nearly constant 8.2% grade. This is a tough climb, and on a hot day it could be miserable. Somehow I had expected the climb to be maybe 1400 feet, so I am not prepared for it. I climbed most of the way in a 34 inch gear.
Two thirds of the way up, two large Rottweilers come bounding and barking down to the road. I guess they don’t see many bicyclists riding up here. (I have noticed that I get harassed by rabidly territorial canines most frequently on remote roads that are infrequently traveled by bicyclists.) I continue without interrupting my pace. Once I settle into a steady climbing pace, I hate being interrupted! The dogs run along on either side of me barking furiously, their tails sticking straight up. As I fear they may nip at my heels, I downshift and spin a little faster. After about 100 yards, the dogs give up, satisfied that they have driven off the strange beast.
When I reach the end of the road, I stop and eat. While resting I notice that the temperature is much cooler here than it was down at the bottom. A few minutes later, I hear barks in the distance. Oh, great! More territorial dogs. Sometimes I wonder if these dogs merely reflect the personalities of their owners. I realize with dismay that I am upwind of the barking. The barks come closer until I see the snapping head and pricking ears of a large dog peering down at me from the top of the embankment. The animal continues to make a nuisance of itself, but to my relief it comes no closer.
It’s too bad one cannot easily continue to the top of Mt. Thayer and beyond to Mt. Umunhum. I’ve heard a variety of stories about the fiercely territorial people who live up there and how they’re determined to keep the public away despite the fact that the Air Force has long since abandoned its base atop Mt. Umunhum. What are these people are afraid of? I look forward to the day when a public right-of-way is established connecting Soda Springs and Loma Almaden Rds.
Descending Soda Springs Road is a good neck exercise—i.e. keeping your head up for the 20 minutes or so it takes to descend. The road is lightly coated with gravel, so the descent must be handled with care. When I get to the bottom I realize I have neither time nor energy to continue up through Redwood Estates to Summit Road and then back to Palo Alto.
I ride down through Los Gatos and then swiftly to Saratoga. In Saratoga, I break one of my unwritten rules: No repeating a road or section of road in the same direction on the same day. I ride up CA-9 to Pierce and then take Mt. Eden to Stevens Canyon Road and continue north on Foothill Expressway. After stopping briefly at work, I continue home.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||6570 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||13.5 mph|
|Max. Speed:||45.0 mph|
Morgan Territory and Mt. Diablo, March 21, 1993 - As I arrive at the Palo Alto Cultural Center at precisely 0730 I see that Brent, Rich, and Jude, are waiting.
While we wait to see if anyone else shows up, Brent looks me earnestly in the eye saying, “You know this is going to be a long day for me. I hope we’re planning to take BART home.”
“Well, I’d sort of like to see how we feel when we get back to Walnut Creek.” I answer, knowing full well that I’d probably be pooped after riding around and up Mt. Diablo. I can understand how Brent feels, though, since he has ridden from Sunnyvale and will be riding back to Sunnyvale after I’ve finished the ride at the end of the day.
After waiting ten minutes we start off. Since the hour is early, I decide to lead the ride up Newell Road and then to University Avenue and out to the Bayfront Expressway. We ride at a moderate pace between 16 and 20 mph—no sense in pushing it now since we have a big day ahead. The air is cool and damp, and the sky is overcast gray.
When we arrive at Union City BART, we find we have just missed the northbound train, so we have to wait another 20 minutes for the next one. Somehow it seems a bit anti-climactic to sit on BART for an hour while only 16 miles into a 100-mile ride. Just when we’ve warmed up, we have to sit and rest. Maybe next time we’ll take BART only on the homeward-bound leg of the trip.
After exiting in Pleasant Hill, we make our way to Ygnacio Valley Road and then up over the Lime Kiln Hills to Clayton. From Clayton we take Marsh Creek Road southeast as far as Morgan Territory Road. While descending from the minor summit, a driver of a white RX-7 insists on trying to pass us. Honk! Honk! There’s no room to pass, and since we’re moving at about 35 mph, I see no need to encourage the impatient driver to pass. Besides, we’d be turning off soon anyway.
After turning off onto Morgan Territory Road, the ride becomes much more peaceful. The surrounding land reminds me of San Antonio Valley behind Mt. Hamilton, and further up the hill, Morgan Territory Road is like the narrow part of Calaveras Road.
Brent has ridden on ahead while Rich thinks aloud about the possible inaccuracies of the ride index formula.
At Morgan Territory Preserve, we stop to eat lunch and to refill our water bottles. After a disastrous performance in Solvang two weeks ago, I am taking great care not to get dehydrated today. Perhaps I’m too careful as I find I have to relieve myself nearly as often as I come upon a public toilet.
The southern descent of Morgan Territory Road is mostly beautiful, fun, and challenging. Near the top the one-lane road passes several houses; some are modest-looking low-roofed abodes that tastefully blend into the surrounding terrain, but others with their ostentatious whitewashed front side columns and front porch chandelier stand like festering pimples on the tops of the smooth hills.
On a clear winter day, one can see the snow-capped Sierra Nevada on the other side of the San Joaquin Valley. About halfway down, the road rises over a short hump and then drops straight and steeply into a canyon. I achieve my maximum speed here, but the challenge continues at the bottom with several quick turns on very bumpy pavement. I remember the first time I descended this hill on my old bike and how the furious shaking from the rough road blurred my vision at the bottom of the hill.
At Manning Road we regroup, and Brent snaps a picture of the three of us struggling into a headwind. From here to the tract mansions of Blackhawk we use the headwind as an opportunity to practice paceline skills. At Camino Tassajara and Blackhawk Road, we stop for a food break. Jude and I eat food we packed along, Brent ventures into the nearby Food Mart, but Rich gets the “Frank Award” for passing under the Golden Arches and coming out with a sandwich and fries.
After resting we continue up Blackhawk Road and then begin the long climb up South Gate Road into Mt. Diablo State Park. Fortunately, the air is cool, but the sun beats warmly against the south-facing hillside. We regroup at the park entrance and continue to The Junction. The Junction marks the halfway point of the ascent to the summit, which from here is some 1700 feet and 4.5 miles away.
We each climb at our own pace. I reach the summit first, and about 8 minutes later, Jude reaches the top followed by Brent and Rich about 2 minutes after Jude. To challenge myself I manage to do the entire climb without shifting into a gear lower than 41 gear-inches. I almost regret this decision as I struggle up the very steep hill at the top followed by a line of cars.
At the top we ask someone to take a picture of the four of us standing in front of the summit plaque. Brent, Jude, and I climb up to the observation deck while Rich watches the bikes. The view is not as good as I had hoped: the air is damp with humidity, though to the east I can just make out a thin strip of bright white near the horizon marking the snow line of the Sierras.
Traffic, poorly-banked turns, broken pavement, and road debris prevent a speedy descent from the summit. After regrouping once again at The Junction we continue down North Gate Road. For the next 3 miles, the road surface is smooth, and between alternating hairpin turns speeds faster than 30 mph are comfortable.
After regrouping at Oak Grove Avenue, we continue through suburbia toward the Walnut Creek BART station. When we reach Ygnacio Valley Road and Main Street, Jude and I both decide we’d rather ride home carefully in the dark with full stomachs than race in twilight with empty stomachs, so we head downtown looking for a quick snack. We find a Subway sandwich shop nearby, and after we each eat a foot of sandwich, we return to the BART station, our hunger sated.
Unfortunately, we have just missed a westbound train, so we have to wait another 20 minutes. The trip back to Union City seems to pass quickly as the conversation moves from lighting systems for our bikes to the pros and cons of taking vitamin supplements.
When we exit in Union City, it is dark. We decide to take the most direct route to the Dumbarton Bridge. Since Jude and Rich have the brightest lights, Jude leads followed by me and Brent and Rich.
Riding the frontage road to the eastern approach of the Bridge in the dark is a strange experience. Gusty northwest winds buffet us from the right, forcing us into a staggered line for maximum wind protection. Rich’s light casts grotesque bars of light on the roadway creating an illusion that we’re not really moving but that we’re all held captive on some diabolic treadmill.
We return to Palo Alto via Willow Road. On the west side of US-101, Jude and I stop at a gas station before my bladder bursts; I really did overdo the hydration on this ride. Brent and Rich still have another 15 miles to ride, so they continue on. Jude and I return to the Cultural Center via side streets.
Solvang Century, March 6, 1993 - I carpooled with Paul Kern, Jude Katsch, and Bill Weber down to Solvang to ride the Solvang Century. I had had enough by the time I reached the lunch stop in Santa Maria, so I took the SAG truck back to Solvang. That was an adventure in itself.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||5600 feet|
La Honda, February 28, 1993 - This was a Western Wheelers group ride to La Honda and back where I met for the first time Josh Zucker and Carolyn Fairman.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||1600 feet|
Blackhawk, February 27, 1993 - Chris Hull, Jude Katsch, and I rode over the Dumbarton Bridge, took BART to Walnut Creek, and rode home, stopping in Blackhawk for lunch. At the end we were racing the sun, and actually ended up riding the last few miles in the dark. I wasn't dressed for it.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||1100 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||16.4 mph|
|Max. Speed:||27.5 mph|
Gilroy, February 21, 1993 - Jude Katsch and I started from my house in Palo Alto at 0835 in a light drizzle. The sky was heavy with clouds; maybe it would rain all day. We headed south on Central Expressway, but by the time we reached Wolfe Road where Brent was waiting, the drizzle had stopped.
The three of us continued south past the San Jose Airport and made our first extended stop at the Market Street circle in downtown San Jose. We ate snacks and then watched balls run the course of the contraption in the window of the Hi-Tech Museum.
Continuing south on Monterey Hwy we encountered stiff headwinds. Fortunately, the skies cleared somewhat, and the mixture of sun and clouds played beautifully against the backdrop of bright green fields and orchards accented with yellow wildflowers. We managed only 16 to 17 mph, but the ride was made somewhat easier for me because I took shelter behind Jude while he tirelessly led.
We took our second extended stop in Morgan Hill at the first Shell station at the north end of town. After continuing we turned right on Watsonville Road. Just then a cloud passed over and sprinkled us for a few minutes. It was hardly a soaking; it would have been welcome on a hot day. Again, the fields on either side of the road were beautiful. When we got to CA-152 we turned left and enjoyed our first true tailwind of the day. We managed to cruise into Gilroy at about 25 mph.
We stopped for an hour lunch at a Togo’s where the service was very slow. Afterward we continued east to Monterey Hwy and turned left. Saint Mary’s Church on the corner has a road sign at the exit driveway of the church parking lot. The sign is located in such a way that it could be interpreted as labeling the driveway or the sanctuary. It reads, “Wrong Way”.
Riding north on Monterey Hwy we were helped by a quartering wind, but by the time we were on Hale Road heading north out of Morgan Hill, the wind blew steadily from the side.
Our goal of the day was to complete 100 miles, and in order to do this, we decided to return through downtown San Jose via Santa Teresa Blvd, Blossom Hill Road and Almaden Expressway. The traffic was a pain, but riding on the Expressway was fun because we had the wind at our backs again.
Our timing into downtown San Jose was coincident with the arrival of President Clinton at the Fairmont Hotel. When we arrived we stopped to eat our last snack, but by the time we wanted to leave, the police had closed off the roads and wouldn’t let us pass. So, when we tried to ride around the circle the wrong way, we nearly ran afoul of the President’s motorcade as it came barreling through. I managed to get a glimpse of the back of Mr. Clinton’s head as his limo rushed past. After the President had been whisked into the Fairmont, we managed to slip past the hotel (despite the protest of one motorcycle cop, who, I might add, was making an illegal U-turn on a one-way street) and north to Santa Clara Street and thence to Palo Alto, arriving home just after sunset.
We made our goal: 100.7 miles with 1100 feet of climbing. A flat century, but with a good 2000 feet of headwinds, I’d guess.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3300 feet|
Morgan Territory, February 6, 1993 - I rode alone over to Union City BART, took BART to Pleasant Hill, and then rode the Morgan Territory Loop as far as Manning Road, then I rode into Livermore and rode home through Pleasanton, Sunol, Niles, Fremont, and the Dumbarton Bridge.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||56000 feet|
Half Moon Bay, January 31, 1993 - Paul Kern and I decided to go riding on Superbowl Sunday, when the roads would be relatively clear of traffic. We rode out to Half Moon Bay for lunch and returned up Tunitas Creek Road. Weather was warm and clear, and traffic light.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||1020 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||17.7 mph|
|Max. Speed:||26.0 mph|
Two Bay Loops, January 16, 1993 - This route is mostly flat. What I call the “loop around the South (San Francisco) Bay” is a good long-distance route near home that offers an opportunity to practice a variety of bicycling skills including riding in a paceline and riding at a reasonably fast and constant cruising speed on flat land, something we haven’t been doing too much lately.
Brent, Jude, and I start out from the Palo Alto Cultural Center at about 0815. The day is cold and damp. Rain is forecast for the evening, but it looks like we’ll be able to ride at least one of the loops before things get wet.
Our route takes us through Palo Alto and south on Central Expressway. We manage a good pace of 18 to 20 mph between traffic lights, but as we warm up, our speed increases. I lead, Brent follows, but Jude prefers to hang back out of our wind shadow; he wants to practice spinning in a lower gear, which for Jude means a cadence in the mid-80s. He also wants to complete the ride without the aid of drafting!
We stop briefly for the first time at a gas station near US-101 and San Tomas Expressway. A few minutes after we resume, Jude gets a flat. To make the delay less tedious, Brent offers us some still-steaming hot home-baked raisin bread that he had packed along.
Once back on the road, we continue to Milpitas Blvd. and then head north. The road is wide, but there are too many traffic lights through Milpitas! By the time we get to Fremont, the road has changed names to Warm Springs Road, and then to Osgood. On Osgood the busy two-lane road alternates between narrow and broad. It seems that the city didn’t want to spend the money to build the road consistently wide.
We continue when the road changes to Driscoll, and after turning left on Paseo Padre, we stop at Fremont’s Central Park for a more extended break, being careful not to sit upon the abundant piles of bird guano.
After a moderately long 20-minute break, we continue to Stevenson Road, then Mission Blvd, and then Alvarado-Niles Road. Alvarado-Niles Road passes through what must be the old downtown of Niles. Some of the old-style shops still stand along the road. Several miles later after riding through more recently built-up areas of Union City, we reach the old downtown of Union City shortly before turning left on Union City Blvd.
I’m beginning to feel tired now, but we still manage a swift pace south to Paseo Padre and then to the San Francisco Bay Refuge Nature Center. We decide not to ride up to the building.
“Jude, do you mind leading for a while?”, I ask.
“No problem.”, Jude replies.
We continue down the frontage road along the eastern approach to the Dumbarton Bridge. Following behind Jude makes pedaling a piece of cake, except that I can’t see anything in front except Jude’s back. I’m not as accustomed to following as I am to leading, so this is something I’ll have to get used to.
The sidewalk on the Dumbarton Bridge is a dreadful mess, especially the west side of the bridge. Rocks, sand, broken glass, nails, metal shards, plastic shards, and other debris have been washed off the roadway by the recent rains and into the bike/pedestrian lane. Miraculously, none of us flats. Once on the west side of the bridge we make our way swiftly to Willow Road and then to downtown Palo Alto where we stop at the Togo’s sandwich shop for lunch.
As we eat, heavy-looking clouds begin to pass overhead. Rain is forecast after dark, but these clouds look thick. As long as we can see the Santa Cruz Mountains, I figure we’ll stay dry.
Since we’ve ridden over 50 miles on the counter-clockwise loop, we can shorten the clockwise loop. After taking more than 45 minutes for lunch, we ride slowly out of downtown Palo Alto. I have decided that we’ll return across the Dumbarton Bridge via Marsh Road. We ride north on Middlefield to Marsh and then to the Bayfront Expressway. Perhaps mistakenly, we decide to brave the traffic lane rather than cross the highway to the bike path. There is no shoulder on the four-lane road, and traffic passes closely at 55 mph. When we reach Willow Road, we use the bike path and continue back across the Bridge. Again each of us passes, tires intact, through the debris on the bridge sidewalk.
This time we stop at the Nature Center for a short break and a group picture. The clouds look thick, but the mountains stand etched in the sky across the bay. No rain comes from these clouds.
As we leave the Nature Center we continue on Thornton through Newark to Fremont Blvd, and then we zigzag to Peralta and continue to the Fremont BART station. Why stop at the Fremont BART station? Because I need to know the distance and climbing from Fremont BART to Warm Springs Road and Auto Mall Parkway for my cycling map.
After a short break we continue on Civic Center Drive to Stevenson and Paseo Padre, and then we turn right on Driscoll and head south to Milpitas. By my calculations, if we arrive at Montague Expressway with our mileage over 82.3, we will be over 100 miles by the time we reach the Cultural Center in Palo Alto, and we won’t have to add gratuitous loops at the end of the ride to get our odometers to pass the 100 mark.
As we ride south I can feel a slight headwind that makes it difficult to maintain a 20 mph pace, yet when we stop at traffic lights, the air feels still and heavy.
When we reach Montague Expressway, our mileage is about 84. We turn right and continue to the Shell Station at the corner of Old Oakland Road, where we make our last stop of the ride.
We continue by taking Trimble Road to Central Expressway. This cuts a few tenths of a mile off of the Montague to Central Expressway route. The ride up Central Expressway is uneventful. We can still see the mountains, so it looks like we’ll make it home without getting wet.
Brent is about 11 miles ahead of us since he rode from Sunnyvale to Palo Alto before the ride, and it looks as if his energy is flagging. He’s not quite able to keep up the 20+ mph pace even while following. Jude and I wait up for him at Wolfe Road where he’ll be leaving the ride and heading home.
After saying goodbye to Brent, Jude and I continue quickly up Central Expressway to Middlefield and then to Palo Alto.
“Do you mind if we stop at Haltek?”, I ask Jude as we pass Linda Vista Street in Mountain View. “I need to get a replacement LED for my VistaLight.”
“Well, I’d rather not today. I’m getting hungry, and I don’t want to start digesting my stomach.”, Jude answers.
We continue north to Palo Alto without incident and end the ride at over 100 miles.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||3900 feet|
Rainy Day on Skyline, January 10, 1993 - We did a short ride up Page Mill Road, then north to Kings Mountain Road, then down to Woodside, where we took refuge inside the bakery for lunch while it rained outside. After lunch we rode home.
|Bike Ridden:||Bridgestone RB-T|
|Cumulative climbing:||6130 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||12.2 mph|
|Max. Speed:||33.0 mph|
Montevina and Bohlman, January 3, 1993 - Because of rain the previous week, I changed the originally-planned route going up dirt Alpine Road and mucking around in the open space preserves near Skyline and Page Mill Road. Challenged to come up with a paved ride that offered as much adventure as the dirt roads in the Page Mill Rd/Skyline area, I chose the following.
Rich Feldman, Paul Kern, Jude Katsch, Brent Silver, and I meet at the Palo Alto Cultural Center at 0915. We start by winding our way through Palo Alto and then by stopping at the Mollie Stone’s Market on California Avenue to pick up some food for the long, cold ride ahead. We continue up California Avenue, taking the short steep path at Peter Coutts Hill and then proceed to climb Page Mill Road.
At Skyline Blvd we turn left and continue pedaling south on Skyline toward Saratoga Gap. We are buzzed once by an impatient motorist driving an old dirty-brown Volvo station wagon. We stop at the Fire Station to eat lunch and to refill our water bottles. None of us has drunk much water, but this is the last water stop until we reach Saratoga later in the day. During lunch Paul accuses me of waging “psychological warfare” by appearing not to work hard while climbing, and the rest of the group nods and grumbles in agreement. For the record, I was working very hard. I try not to waste energy by standing, bobbing, or throwing the bike around. While we eat, we feel colder and colder. Just how cold is it? My thermometer reads 37F, and it is high noon!
After lunch Rich decides he will head home, so he cuts out down SR-9 and rides home to Los Altos. The rest of us continue. Perhaps to get back at me for riding ahead before the fire station, Brent, Jude and Paul continue ahead while I finish my snack and refill my bottles at the fountain. I make the mistake of spilling water on my hands and then not drying them thoroughly because halfway to Castle Rock State Park, my fingers are in extreme pain from the cold, and my gloves are not thick enough to keep them warm. I stop and blow hot breath on each hand for about 5 minutes until the pain ceases and the circulation returns.
I meet up with the group just past the high point on Skyline Blvd. where they’ve stopped at the boulders overlooking the San Lorenzo River watershed. The air is clear as we enjoy the view of the mountains, Monterey Bay, and the Santa Lucia Mountains beyond. After another few minutes we bundle up again and continue down Skyline, being careful to avoid patches of black ice and frost. We continue past Black Road and bear left at Gist Road.
Gist Road connects the middle of Black Road to a point on Skyline Blvd. between Black Road and Bear Creek Road. Gist Road consists entirely of short to moderate length steep switchbacks. About halfway down Gist Road, we rouse a large fearsome-looking black dog. Poor Jude, who is carefully descending last, gets chased.
At Black Road we turn right and continue down to the intersection with CA-17 near Lexington Reservoir. Since we plan to ascend Montevina Road, we decide to walk our bikes in the generous shoulder along the left side of the roadway rather than risk life and limb by crossing the busy highway twice for the 0.2-mile journey to the intersection of Montevina Road and CA-17.
Montevina Road is flat for about 150 yards and is then flat no longer as it climbs an average 9% grade with a very steep stinger for the last 200 yards before the gate leading into the El Sereno Open Space Preserve. Twice along Montevina Road we activate dog alarms. With amazing predictability, they rush out to the street growling, barking, and baring their teeth. We stop once and get off our bikes. Immediately, the dogs retreat with ears flipped back and tails wagging.
Paul and I reach the gate first. Fifteen minutes later Brent and Jude come into view. Jude suffered leg cramps on the ascent, so he had been riding slowly. After another few minutes we start up the steep dirt road. Later as I descend the little hump at the upper gate, my front wheel sinks into deep gravel, and I almost take a dive.
Soon we’re at Bohlman Road and we begin the descent. Near the top yet another legion of canines run out to the road to “greet” us. Paul rides swiftly down ahead of us while I stop twice beyond the territory of the dogs with Brent and Jude to enjoy the clear view of San Jose and the east bay hills. For variety, I bear right at On Orbit Lane and continue down until On Orbit rejoins Bohlman Road. Brent and Jude have just passed ahead, so I continue down after them. Bohlman Road is very steep, and there are wet patches on the surface. Not wanting to hit ice at breakneck speed, I descend slowly.
When we reach Saratoga, we head for the International Coffee Exchange. Brent decides to head home, and Jude, too, decides not to stay. His legs are still hurting. I venture inside to find Paul sipping coffee and munching goodies looking very comfortable and relaxed. It’s been a while since I breathed warm air. I decide to order a small hot chocolate (~5 oz.) and a chocolate-covered biscuit. I pay a ridiculous $2.24 for the snack, but it’s worth it to sit indoors today.
After about 15 minutes, Paul and I reluctantly leave the warm coffee house. We continue back to Palo Alto along a winding route taking us through south Cupertino and a neighborhood of tract mansions and then north on Foothill Blvd. and Foothill Expressway.
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