Sunday, February 5, 2012

Montebello and Skyline

I've been on a pretty regular schedule of riding every Saturday, but was out of town last weekend and unable to ride. So this weekend I was glad to get back on the bike, and decided to ride up Montebello Road. I've done that once before, but last time was in July on the hottest day of the year, so I was hoping to enjoy this ride a little more.

View Montebello and Skyline in a larger map

I got out a little after 9 AM, and took Kennedy over to Los Gatos, and then the Los Gatos-Saratoga road into Saratoga. I took Congress Springs up to Pierce, then Mt. Eden toward the Stevens Creek Reservoir. Mt. Eden has a short (half mile) but steep (9%) climb, with little ramps of 12% or more. Wakes up the legs, to say the least.

Like all the local reservoirs, the water level at Stevens Creek is very low. That's partly just the time of year, but it's been a very dry winter, so the reservoirs aren't refilling. Last year we had good rains, so the reservoirs were full. Hard to imagine what it'll look like a year from now.

Stevens Creek Reservoir in July 2011
Same area, February 2012
The bottom part of Montebello is pretty steep, with lots of short stretches of 10% or more. These are a lot easier to take in 60 F weather than they were at 95 F. At the Montebello School, the road becomes single-lane and flattens out for a while. But then it resumes its climb up to the vineyards at the top of the road, at about 2600 feet. The climb as a whole is about 5.5 miles and 7%.

At that 2600 foot level the road turns to dirt and enters the Montebello Open Space Preserve. It climbs up to the antenna farm on top of Black Mountain, culminating with one last steep, rocky ramp.

Montebello Trail, near Black Mountain, looking northwest
After that the trail drops to Page Mill Road. I wasn't really sure how I wanted to get back home, but I figured that I'd rather ride through the hills rather than the flats, so I took a left toward Skyline. At Skyline I took a left, heading generally south.

When I got to Saratoga Gap I rested a bit, thinking about where to go next. I could have headed south toward Boulder Creek, but in retrospect that would have increased the length and climb of the ride beyond my abilities. I could have headed down to Saratoga, but I wasn't really ready to head home just yet. So I continued on Skyline.

I had the same thought process as I passed Black and Bear Creek roads. That section of Skyline/Summit is much more enjoyable to ride in any case, so I continued down to Old Santa Cruz Highway, then on home.

Elevation profile
When I got home, I was wiped out. The ride didn't seem all that difficult, so I thought it was due to my week off. As it turns out, I may have been underestimating the ride; it turned out to be over 5700 feet of climbing over 64 miles, which isn't peanuts. So maybe my form doesn't disappear in a week after all.

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