Santa Cruz coastal ride and Portola Valley Ride Report by Oleg (June 2014)

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:

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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. image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image Day 2: image image image image image image image image image

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