Monday, March 19, 2012

Mount Madonna and Corralitos

This week the rain finally arrived, all at once. And the cold. When I woke up on Sunday, I could see snow on Mount Hamilton, as one would expect, but also a dusting on El Sombroso, which is only 3000 feet tall. But the rain was only intermittent, so it was time for a ride.

View Mount Madonna and Corralitos in a larger map

What with the wet and the cold and wanting to fast-forward through the season-opening Formula One race, I didn't get out of the house until 10. Not particularly eager to ride on a muddy Los Gatos Creek Trail, I decided to head toward Santa Cruz over Mount Madonna. I went south on McKean and Uvas, then headed up Redwood Retreat Road to Mount Madonna Road. And then up.

A waterfall on Mount Madonna Road
I've ridden down Mount Madonna Road before, but not up. It's a very steep road, with lots of pitches of 10% or more. The first mile or so is paved, but then it becomes an uneven dirt road up to the top. The road is rutted, but even after a week's rain it was only muddy in a few spots. A little mud plus a 12% pitch makes for some slippery riding, though. My little analysis program made the climb as a whole about 2.7 miles, at a grade of 8.7%.

Eventually I got to the top of the hill and rode around in circles for a while, cleaning off my brakes. Then it was down the other side of Mount Madonna Road. That too is steep, and with the wet roads and wet brakes, it was a nervous descent.

I took Hazell Dell through the woods and into Corralitos, where I ate lunch. It was just barely warm enough to eat outside comfortably. At this point I was thinking of riding west, through Santa Cruz, then back on Mountain Charlie Road or something. In retrospect, I don't know what I was thinking; that would have been far too long. And even if I could have done it, I didn't have the time. I came to my senses and headed up Eureka Canyon instead.

It's been a dry winter, so it was gratifying to see all the running water after this week of rain. A less pleasant result of the rain and recent wind was a series of downed trees. I saw one tree blocking the road near Corralitos, another hanging on an electrical line across Highland near the forest entrance, and a third on Highland near the Summit Store. There was a crew working on clearing that last one, and it looked like they had recently cut through a few chunks further down the road. Tough day for trees.

It hadn't rained on me much, but on Highland I was pelted by tiny hail pellets. I returned home in the usual way, down Old Santa Cruz Highway and the Los Gatos Creek Trail (wet, but not muddy). I took Kennedy across the hill home.
Elevation profile. See a note about data for details.
It was very nearly 73 miles, which is a long way for me. If I hadn't cut it short (so to speak) it would definitely have been a stretch. I think it was about 5300 feet of climbing. It was a busy weekend, and between that and the rain I was lucky to have such a nice day out.

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