Archive for the ‘Ride reports’ Category

Santa Cruz ride awash in sunshine

March 18, 2016

Molino Creek just past the Smith Creek drainage.

Molino Creek just past the Smith Creek drainage.


I had never ridden to Santa Cruz on a Thursday, so I gave it a try, this being the nicest day of the week.

I was not disappointed with the weather. It was short-sleeve jersey all the way from Page Mill Road home. It even got warm riding through Scotts Valley.

It’s hard not to notice all the rain that has fallen in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Tributaries are gushing, swelling the big creeks, like Pescadero.

Across from Sam McDonald County Park on Pescadero Road, the remains of a tree that fell last week were being cleared from the house it fell into.

As I headed south on Cloverdale Road I was struck by the lack of any noise, including the wind. It stayed that way heading down the coast until Davenport. The new pavement helped reduce car-tire noise.

After Davenport the tailwind picked up to 10-15 mph, enough to make the ride go easier. I checked out West Cliff Drive, where all was quiet for a Thursday. Same for the Boardwalk.

On Mountain Charlie Road I saw only three vehicles, about average even for a Sunday. Things changed once I got to Los Gatos as the rush hour was well underway at 4:30 p.m. That’s the only drawback to riding long on a weekday.

Pescadero Creek a mile past Loma Mar. Lots of water.

Pescadero Creek a mile past Loma Mar. Lots of water.

More rain brings out the fenders

March 6, 2016

Muddy Llagas Creek flows into Chesbro Reservoir.

Muddy Llagas Creek flows into Chesbro Reservoir.


I figured I’d get wet today, so I dragged out the fender bike. It came in handy on Watsonville Road.

The rain is nice, and the local reservoirs have plenty of capacity for more.

Eureka Canyon Road and Highland Way endure the rainy season

February 28, 2016

Eureka Canyon Road near the summit. Could this be the most patched road in Santa Cruz County?

Eureka Canyon Road near the summit. Could this be the most patched road in Santa Cruz County?


If there’s one route in the Santa Cruz Mountains that consistently has issues in the winter it’s Highland Way/Eureka Canyon Road.

The narrow, bumpy road routinely experiences landslides, but this year, so far, no slides. (Eureka Canyon Road becomes Highland Way at the top of the climb, Ormsby Cutoff intersection.)

Back in 2000 a huge slide closed the road. We walked our bikes across, carefully. The county eventually fixed the road, but there was another big slide a few years later.

Cyclists who explore the Demonstration Forest on Highland Way drive these roads all the time.

Big Basin rainfall at 37 inches so far

February 26, 2016

From this vantage point on Hwy 236, Eagle Rock, 2,488 feet, stands tall.

From this vantage point on Hwy 236, Eagle Rock, 2,488 feet, stands tall.


While you’d think 37 inches is a lot of rain for Big Basin State Park so far, maybe. The rainy season isn’t over. The average is 48 inches. In 1993 they had 59 inches.

I’m seeing a lot more Sunday traffic on Hwy 236 than in the old days. Yes, times have changed.

How long will it be before the paved North Escape Road into Big Basin State Park becomes a trail? Eventually. It gets worse every year.

Far from the Madden crowd

February 7, 2016

Tailgate party on Mt. Hamilton summit, Super Bowl Sunday.

Tailgate party on Mt. Hamilton summit, Super Bowl Sunday.


I had the bright idea to ride up Mt. Hamilton on Super Bowl Sunday because, you know, everyone and their brother would be glued to their TV set eating ten pounds of Doritos, each.

Turns out there was an unannounced tailgate party at the Lick Observatory parking lot that nobody told me about, but it was all over the Innernet on one of those ride group postings we call Social Media.

As I churned my way up the 19-mile climb under clear skies and gentle breezes, I noticed a heck of a lot of riders flying by. So while I did avoid the Madden crowd, I ran smack dab into the madding crowd. They no doubt, in addition to blood doping, are mechanical doping. I felt like a dope as I had to rely on my own two aging legs, capable of generating about 60 watts, enough to power our feeble kitchen light bulb.

I had a long conversation with the owner of a new carbon-fiber Colnago. Of course, I had to tell him how I bought a new Colnago frame off Greg LeMond back in 1980. He won it in a race and already had a half-dozen new bikes, so he gave it to Palo Alto Bicycles for safe keeping. Paid $400.

Mostly when you’re riding up Mt. Hamilton people are in a big hurry, like they’re late for the train or something, and don’t want to slow down and have a conversation. It’s not that way with the slower riders, who seem more willing to exchange pleasantries beyond “on your left.”

With 3 million, 218 thousand millimeters to go before the summit, give or take a millimeter, I passed a young woman who was being so nice to everyone as they passed that they had to slow down and be nice back. She just bubbled with enthusiasm, the kind of chipper attitude that makes life a little more tolerable.

That kept me in a good mood until I reached the summit and saw a mob of cyclists. There must have been a thousand, maybe more. They stood around jawing about everything under the sun, some recounting their near-death encounters with cars.

I edged closer as one guy described being run over by a Chevy Suburban, which is only slightly smaller than a bus. The driver admitted he had been drinking and, amazingly, stopped to check to see what that object was caught under his wheels. Turns out he ran over the cyclist, who broke a bunch of bones and now has so much metal in him he sets off the airport metal detectors every time he flies.

After downing a Clif Bar product, I headed back down Mt. Hamilton and noticed that all the riders who blasted by me on the way up, also blasted by me on the way down. I even got passed by guys riding mountain bikes with those enormous tires that look like they belong on a monster truck.

I’m now in the market for one of those motors you stick in your seat tube and churns out 150 watts without anyone being the wiser.

Just don’t tell anyone.

Flooding on Guadalupe River recreation path

November 25, 2015

FYI, the mighty Guadalupe River has submerged parts of the Guadalupe River recreation path.

I saw it beneath the Hwy 237 overpass. While it might have been less than a foot deep, I wasn’t going to risk submerging my bottom bracket.

I can imagine other locations are also under water, such as at the Trimble Road overpass and Hwy 101.

San Tomas Aquino Creek trail is OK with the exception of a wet section beneath the Great America Parkway overpass.

Aptos Creek Road makes the grade

November 22, 2015

Aptos Creek Road after grading. Much smoother now.

Aptos Creek Road after grading. Much smoother now.


Today I celebrated a 20-year anniversary of dubious distinction: a head-on collision with a mountain biker bombing down Aptos Creek Fire Road in Forest of Nisene Marks state park.

It’s something I’ve written about, but it bears repeating. Bikes going fast are deadly weapons. We had a walker killed on Page Mill Road by a cyclist earlier this year. It happens.

I was lucky. I got my bell rung for about 10 minutes and rode home some 35 miles. I was even luckier because Jobst Brandt helped fix my tweaked wheel so I could ride. I was not wearing a helmet (wish I was).

The cyclist who hit me was not so lucky. He dislocated his shoulder and needed a ride out. He was wearing a helmet. He waited several hours for a ranger to arrive. The rider was nice enough to pay for my damaged parts. I hope he learned his lesson.

Today I saw one racer barreling downhill. Everyone else rode safely, including about 10 youth doing a commercial bike tour. A few mountain bikers have exceptional riding skills and can manage to avoid accidents, but most riders lack these skills. They’re yahoos and they’re the ones who crash because they ride beyond their abilities.

Here’s the good news: Aptos Creek Road, which connects Buzzard Lagoon Road and Aptos Creek Fire Road (green gate) was graded since I last rode there in May 2013.

It’s a dramatic improvement. I found a photo from 2013 that illustrates the rocky boulder field and one that may be the same location. It’s hard to tell because the grading made the road smooth, as smooth as I remember it from riding here in the early 1980s.

Dirt roads degrade over time, mostly from water erosion, and just a little from bike tires. So we should thank the government agency that went to the trouble to grade the road, whether state or county. It’s greatly appreciated.

Today’s ride was much like the one in 1995: A beautiful day with temperatures in the mid-70s and sunny skies. Only this time I didn’t get a headache.

Aptos Creek Road in May 2013, before grading.

Aptos Creek Road in May 2013, before grading.

Reynolds Road to nowhere

November 17, 2015

Nice views of San Francisco Bay from Reynolds Road.

Nice views of San Francisco Bay from Reynolds Road.


I’m sure anyone riding on Hicks Road and passing by Reynolds Road wonders where it goes.

I can tell you: it goes nowhere. That is to say, it goes uphill paved for a mile at a 10 percent grade, or more, before reaching a Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District sign. I'm sure you can imagine what it says: no traipsing.

The road turns private and goes beyond to ranch houses and the like, according to maps.

It's part of the Sierra Azul preserve, MROSD's largest. This section is called Rancho de Guadalupe. It makes one wonder why this road exists and why county tax dollars were used to pave it, if nobody uses it beyond a handful of ranches? Maybe it was because realtor interests anticipated growth here back in the day.

Based on what I've seen perusing topo maps, there are some roads that go to interesting places. One of these days they might even be open to the public.
Reynolds Road off Hicks Road. Open for a mile or so.

Hickory Oaks Trail brings out riders

November 14, 2015
Hickory Oaks Trail view looking northwest.

Hickory Oaks Trail view looking northwest.

I’ve been riding on the Hickory Oaks Trail and Long Ridge for about 30 years. Today was one of those days you’ll remember for the fine weather and clear skies, as long as you take a photo.

Highway 9 still has a stop light about three miles up from Saratoga, but it looks like work will be done soon.

Skyline Boulevard has new pavement near the CDF station, but it’s still rough farther north for a few miles. Will they wait until next spring to repave?

Who can forget the pumpkin tree?

October 29, 2015

Jobst Brandt and Mike Higgins pass by the pumpkin tree on Pescadero Road in 1984.

Jobst Brandt and Mike Higgins pass by the pumpkin tree on Pescadero Road in 1984.


I know I can’t. In the early 1980s the residents of a house on Pescadero Road hung pumpkins from their apple tree starting in late October.

We enjoyed passing by and admiring the tree every Halloween.

The owners of the house are long-since gone, along with the tree, but the memories remain.

Pumpkin tree location today.

Pumpkin tree location today.