Sunday, February 19, 2012


Inspired largely by Ray Hosler's Photo of the Week from a few weeks ago, I decided to revisit a ride from nearly a year ago, visiting Corralitos on the way up Eureka Canyon Road. As it turns out, this exposed a little selective amnesia on my part.

View Corralitos in a larger map

The ride started in the normal way: I got out at about 9:30, and headed into Los Gatos via Kennedy Road. I was feeling especially sluggish, to the extent that I was wondering whether my rear tire had enough pressure. It was fine; the engine was lacking. I headed down the Los Gatos Creek Trail and up the two preposterously steep bits at the end to the Lexington Reservoir. Then it was around the reservoir on Alma Bridge Road, and up the Old Santa Cruz Highway to Summit.

It was nearing lunchtime as I approached the Summit Store, but I rode on past because I had a sausage sandwich in Corralitos in mind instead. I zipped down the Soquel-San Jose Road into Capitola, then took Park Ave to my obligatory view of the ocean.

New Brighton State Beach, from Park Ave
From here I took a route new to me. First I took McGregor Drive, which parallels Route 1, over to State Park Drive, and then continued east on Center Avenue. This runs through a quirky little area that includes the Mad Molecule Science Store, which looked like fun. This leads under Route 1 and then meets up with Soquel Drive. A few hundred feet later I took a left on Trout Gulch Road, and after a short run through a little retail area I took a right on Valencia Road, which heads into familiar rural terrain.

Valencia runs through a pretty, wooded area along Valencia Creek. There are lots of roads back there, and no cell phone coverage. It turns out that my brief glance at the map a little earlier didn't stick in the mind, and as a result I took a brief trip up Cox Road before I found my bearings and my target, Day Valley Road.

Day Valley Road meets up with Freedom Boulevard just short of the intersection with Hames, which after two steep ramps led to Corralitos, and lunch. At 2 PM it seemed a little late for lunch, yet the meat market was busy, both inside the store and out at the picnic tables. I enjoyed my sandwich at the foot of a tree.

Corralitos Creek
Man, that was a lot of sandwich. When I started north on Eureka Canyon Road, it was pretty heavy in the belly. No matter, though, I trudged up the hill through lush woods. As usual there was almost no one else on this part of the road, so I enjoyed the peaceful ride. Eureka Canyon Road climbs through shady woods next to Corralitos Creek, until it finally emerges into the sunlight near the intersection Ormsby Trail, where it turns into Highland Way.

Highland Way goes by an entrance to the Soquel Demonstration Forest popular with mountain bikers, which was quite busy on Saturday. As I passed SUV after SUV, all I could think was that all these guys were going to pass me on this tiny road a little later on.

I stopped at the Summit Store to replenish my water bottles, then headed back down Old Santa Cruz Highway. I retraced my steps, except I headed around the west side of the reservoir on Highway 17, then crossed back home on Shannon rather than Kennedy.

Elevation profile
I got in just before Sunset, having been out a little over 8 hours (7 hours moving). It looks like it's just about 77 miles, with almost 5600 feet of climbing. And that, it turns out, was my little bit of amnesia. I thought I had done this ride before, but since I've never done anything like a 77 mile ride in this direction before, I must have conflated last year's two attempts. That's a good long ride for me, and a great day out.

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