My wife is very generous about coming to get me, reasoning that having the rescue option easily available means I can consider more ambitious rides. Nonetheless, it's disappointing and embarrassing to have to make the call.
Yesterday I wanted to salvage some ego, if I could. I wanted to climb that road, but if I tried the same ride it would likely have the same outcome. So what went wrong last week? I think the main problem was that I was facing the last climb after 60 miles of riding. I don't have that kind of stamina. So the big change today would be to cut out the whole first part of the ride by taking Bear Creek Road over the ridge, directly into Boulder Creek.
View Bear Creek Road and Saratoga Gap in a larger map
First, I had to get to Bear Creek Road. That meant the same ol' route to Los Gatos, down the Los Gatos Creek Trail, up the dam, then down the dirt trail next to Highway 17 to the overpass.
|Looking east from Bear Creek Road
Bear Creek Road is indeed steep, but at this early stage of the ride, it was manageable for me. I just went very slowly, standing up on the especially steep parts. There was very little traffic on the way up, but enough that I couldn't weave across the lane, much as I would have liked to.
The road grinds up to about 2000 feet, where it levels off and meets Summit. Then it climbs gradually to 2200, where it meets Skyline. I think part of my problem last week was that I didn't eat any quick energy food, although I did eat a real lunch, which should count for something. In any case, trying to do everything right this time, I sat at the top of the road and ate a Clif bar.
|Bear Creek Summit
Immediately north of Boulder Creek, Route 9 climbs gradually, gaining only about 300 feet in five or six miles. Suddenly, at about 800 feet of elevation and perhaps a mile short of the intersection with 236, it begins climbing at a very steady 5%. That's a pretty reasonable climb, but man, it just goes on forever. Finally at about 2500 feet it levels off a bit, and slowly climbs to about 2600 feet at Saratoga Gap, the summit.
|Looking South-Southwest from the Overlook
|Elevation profile for this ride.
See a note about data for details