Archive for the ‘Weekly photo’ Category

When the Merckx Wind Blows

May 5, 2013

Gazos Creek Road just before the narrows where creek and road are one.

Gazos Creek Road just before the narrows where creek and road are one.


They say Eddy Merckx could ride like the wind. With a 30 mph wind at my back on Cloverdale Road — going NORTH — I felt like Eddy. Imagine 34 mph on the flat.

Last night’s strong winds left tons of debris on Hwy 9 this morning, one more obstacle for the running relay teams doing their annual event from Calistoga to Santa Cruz.

And if things weren’t interesting enough, a fire in Stevens Canyon drew a dozen fire vehicles and a helicopter. I’m guessing it was a house fire.

When I hit Saratoga Gap the temperature registered 51 and it looked like rain on the Coast. I continued on Hwy 236 into Big Basin State Park and then Gazos Creek Road. I hadn’t ridden its full length since 2010.

I didn’t see much in the way of wind-blown branches, although a tree fell across the road. I suppose it was wind-related. Once again I forgot to bring my portable chainsaw.

Gazos Creek Road is in fabulous shape. No mud, no rock ballast. I haven’t seen it this good in a decade. The gate at the bottom where pavement begins is closed.

After blasting north on Cloverdale (remember storms typically blow from the south) I headed up Pescadero Road and then Alpine Road.

One of my fondest memories of riding with Jobst Brandt came in his later years when he and I rode alone up Alpine many a time. As we approached a wooded section he called the Tulgey Wood, about a mile from the summit, he fondly recited a poem called Jabberwocky, written by Lewis Carroll. It goes like this:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

A tree falls on Gazos Creek Road. Happily, I missed it falling.

A tree falls on Gazos Creek Road. Happily, I missed it falling.

Return to Stevens Canyon

March 29, 2013

A tree down on Canyon Trail. I forgot my saw.

A tree down on Canyon Trail. I forgot my saw.


Looking for a more mellow ride today under sunny skies and summer-like temperatures, I headed up Hwy 9 and then north on Skyline.

I checked out the trail entrance across from Horseshoe Lake (MB06), but I could tell that goes into a ravine and I was in no mood for climbing back out. It’s also closed for seasonal mud.

So I rode on Page Mill Road and decided to try the entrance across from Alpine Road (MB04). I stayed along the upper ridge, which was nice enough single-track and not steep. It took me over to the parking lot for Monte Bello and Stevens Canyon, which MROSD calls Canyon Trail.

The 0.3-mile single-track down to Stevens Canyon Road is gnarly enough for a mountain bike. I stopped to admire the sag pond, a unique geological feature of the San Andreas Fault. It’s hard to believe that one of the most dangerous fault lines resides right here.

As I made my way on the 4.3-mile road, it brought back some memories of past rides back in the day when we rode sew-ups on the rocky stuff. Despite the tires, we had few problems. I also remembered the two nasty steep climbs prior to the big descent that always take you by surprise.

Given all the bike traffic this road sees, it’s in fine shape. I enjoyed the wide, flat sections and gentle descents, of which there are quite a few. About two miles down I came across a dead oak tree on the trail. It looked like it had fallen recently. You just don’t want to be under it when it happens. That’s a more likely occurrence than meeting a mountain lion.

I did see a giant wild turkey though. It looked to be twice the size of all the wild turkeys I had ever seen.

When I got to the last single-track where the road disappears I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to ride. The single-track enters an opening where Stevens Creek runs through a flat, sandy spot. When I reached the creek I was reminded of Keith’s Folly. This time there was plenty of water flowing and I could see how it might present an obstacle on a road bike as the tires sink into the soft bottom.

It’s good to see this ride can still be done, and on a nice spring day it had just the right mellow.

Stevens Creek, the scene of Keith's Folly, with plenty of water.

Stevens Creek, the scene of Keith’s Folly, with plenty of water.

Pacific Coast Ride – What Else?

March 24, 2013

Nice day on Gazos Creek Road. Once upon a time I rode here when it was dirt.

Nice day on Gazos Creek Road. Once upon a time I rode here when it was dirt.


With weather like today, my plan naturally turned to a Pacific Coast ride to Santa Cruz. Clear skies and mild temperatures added to the usual tailwind common this time of year.

What more could you ask for? As I took Cloverdale Road along comes Lindsay Crawford a retired airline pilot and ex-racer from the 1960s-70s. Lindsay must have enough frequent flier miles to fund his trips to Europe for another 50 years. He likes to do L’Etape du Tour in France — part race, part tour following routes of the Tour de France. Hard-core would be the best way to describe it.

No sooner does Lindsay pass by when along comes a Team Radio Shack triathlete, probably a professional judging by his fitness. He asked me about routes home from Santa Cruz. He liked the idea of hammering up Hwy 9, as opposed to his past rides up Zayante Road.

I drafted for about a mile before he rode away, leaving me to a more civilized pace of 20 mph with the tailwind, and a 44 mph downhill.

Well, so far the most expensive coffee I’ve had is $2.25, at Arro’s restaurant in Davenport. They have a nice selection.

Santa Cruz surfers looked to be enjoying the decent waves and a competition. The nearby seals basking on a rock outcropping barked their approval.

Santa Cruz Lighthouse serves as a surfer museum.

Santa Cruz Lighthouse serves as a surfer museum.Click here for larger size.

Loma Prieta Beckons

March 3, 2013
Loma Prieta, left, looking north.

Loma Prieta looking north.

Loma Prieta mountain at one time commanded as much attention as Mt. Hamilton, until Lick Observatory and road were built. It was an object of curiosity for the first motor cars that ventured into the Santa Cruz Mountains.

My route took me up Old Santa Cruz Hwy to Summit Road and south, where I stopped for coffee at the oh-so-nice Summit Store. To fully appreciate the gentrified store you need to have been to the old one, pre-Loma Prieta Earthquake. It was, shall we say, rustic. Today you can choose from six different coffees, not to mention lattes.

According to the tradition of all Jobst Rides heading south to Loma Prieta, I should have stayed on Summit Road to Mt. Bache. However, I decided to go up Loma Prieta Road where it joins Summit Road, a short distance from Summit Store. I had ridden down it once. As it turns out, it’s a nice climb, better than Mt. Bache, in my opinion. There’s about a half-mile of dirt before joining Summit Road.

Under cloudy skies, but fairly warm temps, I continued south on Summit Road past scattered off-grid houses clinging to the ridge line that extends all the way to Mt. Madonna County Park. Four or five motorcycles passed me, as well as about a half-dozen cars. It’s a great road for testing a car’s shocks and suspension.

I stopped mid-way to look back and admire Loma Prieta, festooned with cell and other communication towers. I sped down the paved section of Summit Road to Mt. Madonna Road and turned left for more steep dirt descending. The loop was completed on the gently rolling Uvas Road and McKean Road.

Lower Loma Prieta Road is unusual among area roads in that it's mostly straight.

Lower Loma Prieta Road is unusual among area roads in that it’s mostly straight.

May Use Full Lane – But Don’t

February 24, 2013

New bike sign doesn't sit well with one driver in the Santa Cruz Mountains on San Jose-Soquel Road.

New bike sign doesn’t sit well with one driver in the Santa Cruz Mountains on San Jose-Soquel Road.


On the Santa Cruz ride I enjoyed one of my favorite descents — San Jose-Soquel Road. It’s not too steep and not too twisty so you can go at a fast pace, up to about 40 mph.

It was here that I saw for the first time the “May Use Full Lane” signs I referred to in a previous post. Someone isn’t too keen on the signs and made his feelings known. Red paint would have stood out better.

Please don’t take the sign to mean “cyclists should use full lane.” It says may use full lane. I always keep to the right unless there’s something unusual on the side of the road forcing me to take the lane. Where these signs will be most useful is on busy roads where it may not be safe for a car to pass a bike going at high speed. I noticed the sign is also posted on flat sections or even short climbs, which to me seems odd.

While riding on El Rancho Drive who do I see but Bob Anderson, former publisher of Runner’s World magazine (where I worked), out running and going the opposite direction. We waved and went on our way. It’s a small world.

Rest home for carnival booty. Seen on San Jose-Soquel Road. Always wondered what happened to Santa Cruz Board Walk prizes.

Rest home for carnival booty. Seen on San Jose-Soquel Road. Always wondered what happened to Santa Cruz Boardwalk prizes.

Valentine’s Day Fun on Bryant Street

February 16, 2013

A Valentine's Day surprise for cyclists on Bryant Street's Ellen Fletcher bicycle boulevard in Palo Alto.

A Valentine’s Day surprise for cyclists on Bryant Street’s Ellen Fletcher bicycle boulevard in Palo Alto.


Someone who lives on Bryant Street (Ellen Fletcher bicycle boulevard) in downtown Palo Alto really likes Valentine’s Day. I missed out on the real fun that must have happened on Thursday. Next time.

The heart-shaped cards refer to Stanford’s victory in the Rose Bowl.

I stopped by to visit Jobst Brandt on a sun-drenched day, something that typically happens at least once every February.

If only it were true. Jobst Riders prepare to head out on a Sunday ride.

If only it were true. Jobst Riders prepare to head out on a Sunday ride.

Super Bowl Ride Derailed

February 3, 2013
Laurel Tunnel, South Pacific Coast Railroad, is more visible after trees were cut.

Laurel Tunnel, South Pacific Coast Railroad, is more visible after trees were cut.

Today’s ride under gloomy skies and high humidity started cold and warmed up, a bit. It’s amazing how humidity contributes to feeling cold. 48 degrees isn’t usually bad, but today was an exception.

On my tour of broken roads I took Morrell short-cut between Summit Road and San Jose-Soquel Road. It has a couple of sags where the road is sliding away. The road hasn’t been paved in eons and it’s one giant pothole.

Redwood Lodge Road had a washout, which has been repaired. I recall riding down here one day and having to walk over a giant slide with Jobst Brandt and riders, not far beyond where the recent washout occurred.

Laurel train tunnel is now easily visible from Laurel Road/Schulthies Road. Someone cut down some trees blocking the view. You can imagine the train going through, whistle blowing, engine belching smoke.

Ancient bridges reveal roads of yore

January 20, 2013

This bridge shows the location of Uvas Road from the early days when cars were new.

This bridge shows the location of Uvas Road from the early days when cars were new.


On the climb south up Uvas Road past Oak Glen Avenue look to your right and you’ll see an ancient bridge over Cañada Garcia Creek. On a 1917 topographic map the road followed the creek. Sometime after that — I’m guessing the 1930s — the road was realigned to follow its present course straight up the hill.

I’ve noticed early roads followed creeks, for a lot of reasons. It was easier on the horses and they had water to drink.

Once cars came on the scene, roads straightened out and hills were no longer as much of an issue. In return, creek-flooding worries evaporated.

After a couple of frigid weekends (for the South Bay that’s low temps in the 30s), the day warmed up nicely, although it was still cold early on.

Oak Glen Avenue gives cyclists something to enjoy in the South Bay. Click on image for large size.

Oak Glen Avenue gives cyclists something to enjoy in the South Bay. Click on image for large size.

Meet Me Under the Kissing Tree

December 31, 2012

A rider approaches the Mt. Hamilton summit on Dec. 31, 2012. Happy New Year.

A rider approaches the Mt. Hamilton summit on Dec. 31, 2012. Happy New Year.


If you’re the sort of person who follows tradition and you’re looking for a kiss under the mistletoe, make your way to Mt. Hamilton where there’s an abundance of the parasite.

You’ll receive one, two, three kisses, all the smooching you could ever ask for under some trees.

There is some debate about whether or not mistletoe is good for the forest. NPR radio delves into the esoteric subject.

I think it depends on who you ask. The host may not think so, but the neighbors could see things differently — birds, insects, etc. It’s kind of like putting up your in-laws for an extended stay.

But I digress. Mt. Hamilton today had plenty of sunshine, but the temperature hovered around 38 degrees all day long. I decided to ride today rather than January 1, a tradition for some.

It will be a mad dash to the top for 10,000 chain links celebrating the occasion.

Mistletoe takes up residence in an oak tree on Mt. Hamilton. Unwanted guest or beneficial resident?

Mistletoe takes up residence in an oak tree on Mt. Hamilton. Unwanted guest or beneficial resident?

Mud, More Mud, and Steam

December 24, 2012
Pescadero Road near Hwy 84 puts out steam following heavy rain.

Pescadero Road near Hwy 84 puts out steam following heavy rain.

My apologies for not posting a Sunday ride photo. I’m not a duck.

Today the sun came out after 48 hours of Nature balling its eyes out. We were left with saturated hillsides and muddy roads. A mudslide closed Alpine Road west, but county road crews quickly cleared it. Cyclists rode by as they worked, but it would have been a long ride back the way I came, which was the only option other than continuing up Alpine Road.

No mushrooms once again. This time I think it’s from too much rain.


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