Today I took advantage of the long holiday -- and some perfect weather -- to take a long ride for a sausage sandwich.
Lately it seems like I never have time on the weekend for a long ride, so I've been getting what cycling time I can by riding home from work. That's pretty good exercise, but since it's in the cold and dark, it's not exactly ideal cycling. So on these long weekends I try to fit in a nice ride during which I can actually see the sights.
Today I decided to work off some of the Thanksgiving meal by riding down to Corralitos for a nice lunch. I got started just before 9, dressing warmly against the morning chill. Los Gatos was very quiet as I passed through, and the Los Gatos Creek Trail was virtually empty. I'm happy to report that I made it up that dusty ramp near the end despite much sliding, largely because the trail was empty.
|The Laurel train tunnel, from the road.|
I climbed up Old Santa Cruz Highway to Summit, then dropped down into the Laurel on the way to Soquel. I've never caught a glimpse of the Laurel side of the Wright's Station train tunnel, so this time I kept track of where I was relative to the opening, at least according to the maps. I definitely couldn't see anything from the road. I continued down to Laurel, got the best glimpse I've ever had of the opening of the next tunnel in line, and then started up steep Redwood Lodge Road.
I descended into Soquel in good order, then took McGregor toward Aptos. After a quick stop at Seacliff State Beach, where I finally stripped off my jacket, I headed back into the hills.
|Seacliff State Beach, looking west.|
|... and looking east.|
|Trout Gulch Road|
The plan was to take Valencia to Day Valley Road, but at the turnoff I decided that continuing on Trout Gulch Road to Valencia School Road seemed like a bright idea. Valencia School Road turned out to be a tiny road with mighty steep ramps. It was in this section that my legs started to remind me that, while I ride 25-30 miles most weekdays, the ride so far today was already longer and had more climbing. After more steep ramps on Hames, I finally sat down for lunch at the Corralitos store. I ate outside in perfect weather.
|Valencia School Road|
Having achieved the goal of the ride, it was time to head home. I went up Eureka Canyon Road, ignoring signs that the road was closed a few miles ahead. There wasn't much traffic, but at one point near the top a giant dumptruck came down the other direction, occupying about 110% of the one-lane road. I pulled over and waved.
As it turned out the road was not closed, but obviously they're doing some construction on it, so I guess it's closed during the week on non-holidays. I'm not sure what they're doing, but one focus was re-doing some of the work done after the most recent wash-out.
At the intersection with Ormsby Cutoff I had a flat. Maybe a pinch, but it had only one slit, along a seam. Maybe a defect? I continued on, gingerly avoiding the many potholes to avoid another pinch.
|The dirt trail that is Loma Prieta Avenue, from a little further up.|
At Mount Bache Road I thought it would be clever to ride up to catch the dirt part of Loma Prieta Avenue, a pretty little ribbon of road that I missed on a recent ride. This involved a trip up Mount Bache Road, which starts out quite reasonable but gets steeper as it goes along, and then some steep climbing on the dirt road, considering its surface. Ultimately I found that the road is much more enjoyable in the other direction, since the slower climbing speed offers more chances to see the amazing views. As a decent, the poor surface demands all of your attention.
Not much else to report on the trip back through Los Gatos and home. I managed to get in before darkness fell, and I was definitely feeling the miles by the time I got there.
Today's ride was just over 80 miles, with over 7100 feet of climbing. The most difficult kilometer was on the climb up Redwood Lodge Road, with a 9% average grade. It was great to see the ocean again, great to spend a day on the bike, and likely the last chance I'll have for this kind of ride until Christmas.