So it was that on Christmas Eve, given a nice long weekend and a one-day respite from the rain, I climbed back on my bike.
View Redwood Gulch in a larger map
Despite two months of Brownian dispersion, I managed to find all my clothes and gear and water bottles and whatnot. I decided that the recent rain, especially the very heavy rain of the day before, precluded the Los Gatos Creek Trail, so if I wanted to head into the Santa Cruz Mountains (and I did), I needed to head toward Saratoga. Recently a neighbor told me about his favorite cycling route, which took him out that way. I was familiar with the whole thing except Redwood Gulch, which I've never ridden. Today would be that day.
|Stevens Canyon Road, next to Stevens Creek|
On the Saratoga/Los Gatos Road I got a flat in my rear tire. No obvious cause, but there was a hole in the tire. I think water on the road makes flats more common, possibly by lubricating an object that would otherwise have stuck in the rubber. No problem; I always have an extra tube, so the replacement was easy.
I passed through Saratoga and started up the lower part of Congress Springs Road, enjoying the sunshine and the relatively light traffic. I took Pierce, feeling pretty good while climbing up to the Mountain Winery entrance. After descending to Mt. Eden Road I remembered that there's a steep little hill in the middle of that road, but I managed to get up there with little drama. Still, this ride had some pretty steep sections, considering my weak legs.
At Stevens Canyon Road I took the left turn, following the heavy Stevens Creek and enjoying its roaring. Stevens Canyon Road climbs very gently to meet Redwood Gulch at about 800 feet. I took the left on Redwood Gulch, and began a very slow climb up a very steep road.
|Redwood Gulch Road|
I pumped up the tire and headed up. The road wasn't quite as steep at this point, and in any case I wasn't putting much weight on the front tire. It lasted pretty well. I stopped to put air in a couple more times (nothing to do with my heart rate on the steep hill, I'm sure). I topped the tire off again when I reached Highway 9 at 1550 feet of elevation, then descended into Saratoga. At this point the tire seemed to be holding up pretty well, so I decided I could make it home, only pumping air into it every 10 minutes or so.