Sunday, February 26, 2012

Big Basin, Counter-clockwise

A few weeks ago I rode my bike through Big Basin Redwoods State Park. It was very pretty, so I decided to do it again. To give the ride some minimal novelty, I decided to ride the opposite direction.

View Big Basin, Counter-clockwise in a larger map

I left the house just after 9 AM, and headed over Shannon to Los Gatos and then to Saratoga. Despite the perfect weather, I was seeing relatively few riders until a huge group ride passed by on Los Gatos Boulevard, going the other direction. In Saratoga there was another large group of riders, this one on motorcycles, hanging out at the coffee shop. Must be a good day for group rides, of all sorts.

I ambled up Route 9, feeling pretty good about my condition despite being passed by several other riders (and of course I passed no one). Route 9 always has a lot of traffic, but it seemed especially busy today.

At Saratoga Gap there was another gathering of motorcyclists, or quite likely the same gathering I saw in Saratoga, group rides being a particularly movable feast. I must say that the gear worn by motorcyclists is, on average, no less ludicrous than that worn by bicyclists. And that's saying something.

I was considering buying some food from the hot dog vendor, but he wasn't there today. So I just continued down the west side of Route 9. As it turns out, I've never descended this road on a bike. It's a great ride, straight and smooth enough to comfortably carry a lot of speed.

Big Basin Redwoods
As soon as you reach the intersection with 236 you start heading back up, through one of the prettiest areas around. Route 9 is lovely, but 236 has virtually no traffic as it winds through woods. It's quite possibly the prettiest road I know. Near the intersection with China Grade a half a dozen pheasants crossed the road just in front of me.

A hollow tree in
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
The park itself was busy, with lots of cars in the lot and at least one more big group, this one composed of hikers. They were crossing the road like pheasants.

I rode toward Boulder Creek with increasing traffic. I had a truly great hamburger at Foster's Freeze, then headed down Route 9 toward Felton, where I started up Zayante Road. There were lots of Sheriff's cars out, with lights flashing and one deputy carrying around an assault rifle. I moved along. (Update: it looks like they were apprehending a fugitive. I rode through perhaps 20 minutes later).

Zayante has some terribly steep pitches, and I was happy to be able to endure them so late in the ride. I slowly made my way to Summit, and then very quickly descended Bear Creek Road to Los Gatos. I took Kennedy across the hill and home.

Elevation profile. See a note about data for details.

In total it was over 72 miles, with some 6400 feet of climbing. I was out over 8 hours again, with 7 hours moving. That's one of my longer rides, both in distance and time, which I suspect is partly due to improving condition but mostly due to lengthening daylight.

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