Friday, May 18, 2012

Montevina and Skyline

Today I rode up Highway 9 to Saratoga Gap, but took the long way to get there. Specifically, I climbed up Montevina Road.

View Montevina in a larger map

I started off about 9:20, and took Kennedy over to Los Gatos. After climbing up to the dam, I took the dirt path between the highway and the reservoir to the Bear Creek Overpass, then backtracked on the frontage road toward Montevina. Actually the frontage road is Montevina, but you get the idea.

The Lexington Reservoir and Highway 17,
from Montevina
I've never climbed Montevina before. I came down it once, after having climbed through El Sereno. But Montevina doesn't really go anywhere, so there's not much reason to use the road to get to somewhere else. That meant that it was one of the few major climbs around here that I haven't tried.

Montevina runs through a neighborhood near the bottom, then becomes shaded and pretty as it climbs up the eastern face of the hill. Eventually it winds around to the southern side of the ridge and becomes more exposed. Today the weather was perfect, so the exposure wasn't a problem.

Near the top the grade increases, until the last few hundred meters (of the paved road) are 15% or more. With the grade and the gravelly pavement, it's hard to keep from slipping.

The end of the paved part of Montevina Road
The gate sits at 2300 feet, but after that the road continues, unpaved. It climbs another couple of hundred feet. The Stanford cycling page has Montevina as a 3.5 mile climb with an average grade of 9.5%, but my program calculated 3.9 miles at 9.2%, so I presume the Stanford stats don't include the dirt section.

The dirt road meets up with Bohlman, which drops steeply into Saratoga. I've never climbed Bohlman, which is reputedly one of the steepest, most difficult climbs around. Not really my cup of tea. Actually, even descending Bohlman is nerve wracking, especially on the lower section where the pavement is rough.

Up to this point I was thinking that I'd probably just head back home, but I was feeling good so I headed up Highway 9. It was basically a perfect day, and I really enjoyed the climb. Once at the top I was thinking of just turning around, but again the weather was perfect, so I headed southeast on Skyline instead.

The climb up to Castle Rock was great, and then it's basically a long descent past Black Road and Gist, most of the way to Bear Creek Road. At that point I was following the path of the Tour of California, heading southeast on Summit until it crossed Highway 17. I took Mountain Charlie Road to Old Santa Cruz Highway, then retraced my steps home.

Elevation profile
This ride was 54 miles, with 6300 feet of climbing. The most difficult kilometer was the last paved kilometer of Montevina, with an average grade of over 11%.

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