I spent a few days in Palo Alto, and did two rides on Ritchey Breakaway. The first ride started in Saratoga – easy quick drive from San Jose airport. I wanted to do Marin Headlands but forgot that my flight was to San Jose airport, rather than SFO. No problem, plans changed to a different (and new for me) route that I picked out from my Bay Area cycling cards. I picked the 92-mile “Pacific Coast Ride” down to Santa Cruz. I started off Rt. 9 and Skyline Blvd near Saratoga.
Here’s the zoomed-out version of the map:
I put together Ritchey very quickly but then I fiddled a bit with the brakes and the shifting that wasn’t quite as perfect as I wanted it. Saw a google streets car driving by, so now there should be photographic evidence of me riding on Skyline. I descended down Alpine Rd./La Honda. Last time I did that descent back last October during government shutdown I missed the subtle right turn and ended up in Portola Woods National park, which (related to shutdown or not) was completely deserted. This is when I had one of the most dramatic mechanicals when riding on a dirt path in the woods in the middle of nowhere, some 30 miles from my hotel when my derailleur broke and I had to convert my Ritchey to single speed. The first and only time I had to do emergency single-speed conversion. Fun times! I rode down to the coast where I enjoyed a nice tailwind breeze – I saw a few people touring, they started in San Francisco and were going to ride all the way to LA along the coast. I told them I am going to be in San Diego by Friday and encouraged them to keep riding past LA – and they assumed I meant I was also riding to San Diego by bycicle – they were disappointed when I told them I am flying to San Diego! I reached Santa Cruz in no time at all – thanks to the tailwind. I had a brief lunch on the way – a coke, a coffee, a banana and a muffin. I haven’t eaten anything else since leaving San Diego at 6AM in the morning so I was hungry. The views were spectacular, beautiful day to be riding. Santa Cruz (my first time there) is a fun little town, with amazing coastal views, almost as nice as La Jolla. Soon I turned inland and the climbing began. I was going up Route 9 all the way to the car, which was straightforward in terms of directions (just stay on Route 9 all the way) but a bit more challenging in terms of terrain – all uphill and most of 6,300 ft of climbing would come from the last 25 miles or so. Also now I was going into the headwind, even though I was partially shielded by the trees in Santa Cruz mountains. It took me almost 2 hours to cover those final 25 miles. And there was a lot of traffic on Rt. 9 – overall not nearly as enjoyable as riding along the coast at 25+ mph while barely pedaling! It was still fun ride, finishing with 108 miles – possibly the longest ride I have ever done in Northern California.
The following day I had no time to ride due to some work related functions. But on Thursday, my flight wasn’t leavign till noon or so, and I snuck in a short ride around Portola Valley – I rode Arastradero to Page Mill Rd., which is gorgeous as always and then while doing Portola loop, I decided to randomly explore and “discovered” a little one-lane paved road called – what else – Alpine Road which climbed some 750 feet over about 2 miles or so, with the final 0.3 miles (Ciervos Road) averaging 16% grade. I sort of secretely hoped I would end up all the way at Skyline Blvd but instead the road just dead-ended which makes sense considering how narrow it was and complete lack of traffic (I think I saw maybe one car there the whole climb). Perfect for doing repeats.
So that was it for what I think is the Bay Area bike trip #8 for me over the past 2.5 years or so. Day 2: