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Like most days around here, the morning was chilly but the afternoon would be quite warm. I didn't want to bring any cold weather gear, so I dawdled a bit, waiting for the sun to assert itself. At about 9:30, I set out.
I've done this route several times, but it's been a while. It's one of my favorite rides, partly because it passes through one of the prettiest parks in the area and partly because the length and climbing are a good challenge for me.
I took the familiar route down the Los Gatos Creek Trail, this time having to walk my bike up the steep section because I spun out in the dust. I think that section becomes dustier and more difficult as the dry season wears on, and we're nearing the end of that cycle. I hope so, anyway, because I'm starting to loath that ramp, going up or down, but it's the only way through.
|Old Santa Cruz Highway|
After lunch I slowly set off, up Route 236 toward Big Basin. There's a bit of a hill in between Boulder Creek and the park, so when I enter the park I'm normally coasting down the hill. Coasting down a quiet road, on a warm day but in the cool shade of giant redwoods... this is basically why I ride the bike. I'm very lucky to be able to do this.
|North Escape Road|
North Escape Road is largely flat until it crosses a creek, at which point it's pretty steep. In fact, the most difficult kilometer of the ride was in this section, with an average grade of a little over 10%. The lush setting, including a road covered with a soft bed of pine needles, somehow makes that grade much more enjoyable than similar climbs on sun-drenched roads. In fact, North Escape Road ends back at Route 236, which then becomes one of those shadeless roads for a mile or so.
I followed Route 236 to its junction with Highway 9, which I climbed to Saratoga Gap. After a pleasantly fast descent into Saratoga, I took the normal route over Kennedy back home.