Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Turkey Break Rides

We were down in Palo Alto for about 5 days over the Thanksgiving break. I was able sneak out for a couple of excellent Bay Area rides. I usually don't bring my mountain bike as it's still a bit of a drive to get up to Soquel Demo Forest. With my road bike I can take off from the in-laws house and within minutes be on some great mountain roads!

I always seem to end up riding Old La Honda or some variation. So this time I made a vow to try out some new routes. My first ride was up Montebello Road out of Cupertino. This climb is 5.3 miles, 1940 ft ascent, 6.9% average grade. I rode Foothill Blvd down from Palo Alto and once you get past Stevens Creek Reservoir, you hang a right and start to climb. It's always tricky deciding what to wear this time of year. I started off very comfortably with just a short sleeve base layer, arm warmers, and a long sleeve winter jersey. As I climbed up I could feel the temperature getting colder near the top. The lower part of the climb is quite steep with some great switchbacks. Then you come to a 1 mile section of nearly flat road, then more climbing awaits you towards the summit. The view back towards Silicon Valley is excellent. Some of the houses on this road have quite the view. Higher up there are a few nice mountain wineries: Pichetti Winery, Nauman Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, and Fellom Ranch Vineyards. There are quite a few other wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains, you can find a listing of all of them on the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association web site. Once at the top about 39 minutes later, I was quite cold. Luckily I had brought along my knee warmers. I put those on and started the descent. Even though the sun was still high in the sky, the backside of this mountain was all in the shade and it was very chilly even at 3PM. I had to blow warm air into my gloves a couple of times. Once I got to the bottom I set a quick pace (to get warmed up) back up Foothill Expressway to Palo Alto. It was a great 2 hour ride.

The next ride I did was Kings Mountain Road out in Woodside. This climb is 4.25 miles, 1540 ft ascent, and 6.8% average grade. Again starting in Palo Alto I was quickly in Woodside riding along Manzanita Ave. What a gorgeous tree lined road with multi million dollar mansions & ranches on either side. It felt like riding through a tunnel of trees! As I began the climb up this road I was soon surrounded by giant redwood trees an calm cool air. It was really serene as I was the only one on the road. I was only passed by one motor vehicle the entire way up and it was a moto out enjoying the twisty climb up to Skyline. Once at the top it was again noticeably much colder than when I had started. I had a bite to eat then headed down Skyline Blvd. I was a bit nervous to ride on this road as I know cars & motos like to speed up there. Luckily there was very little traffic and I pretty much had the place to myself. As I descended towards Highway 92, I soon saw the ocean off to my left. Wow, the ocean to my left and the valley to my right, way cool! After about 5 minutes I realized I was not dressed warm enough. This time I had on a long sleeve base layer and a long sleeve winter jersey, knee warmers, arm warmers and I was still cold. The storm was approaching and the wind coming off the ocean was bone chilling. Add in the 30-40mph I was travelling downhill and that's some serious wind chill. Then I had an idea. Ding ding ding (sound of small light bulb in my head). I've seen the pro cyclists do this at the top of a big climb. They grab pieces of newspaper from fans at the top and stuff them underneath their jersey. The idea is to create a wind barrier with the paper to keep your chest warm. See, watching TV is good for something! I soon saw a row of mailboxes and quickly pulled over. Luckily for me it was Sunday morning and there were plenty of un-opened newspapers laying around. I tore open one of the plastic bags and uh-hum, "borrowed" a section of someone's paper. I hope they were not planning on looking at the real estate section that morning.. ;-) Once I had the paper stuffed under my jersey, I was back on the descent. Ahh much better, I can survive now without freezing to the core. As I got closer to 92 the wind was getting stronger and was pushing me all over the place. It was difficult to keep the bike upright at times, and was a bit scary as there is really no shoulder on Skyline. So I'm riding the fine line of trying to stay as far right as possible, as well as keep the bike upright and not get tossed into the ditch by a gust of wind. Wheew, finally made it to the intersection of Skyline (35) & 92. Took a small breather here, then jetted down the short section of 92 to Canada Rd. This was the least fun part of the ride. There was lots of traffic coming back from Half Moon Bay, and not much shoulder to ride on. Luckily this is a short section and you can easily keep up with traffic. Canada road is a nice wide open road with very little traffic and gently rolling hills along side Crystal Springs Reservoir. As I got back into Palo Alto the rain just started to fall. I got sprinkled on for about 10 minutes but didn't get really wet at all. Yes! I beat the storm! This was a great 2 hour 45 minute ride. Sometime I want to head all the way over to Half Moon Bay, have lunch then climb back up Tunitas Creek Rd. Some other time, and hopefully with a friend or two.
blog comments powered by Disqus