Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gilroy Hot Springs

Yesterday's ride was a little different for me, in that it was mostly flat. I recently read a description of a ride up Gilroy Hot Springs Road, then around Cañada Road back to town. Then I read a little about the hot springs themselves, and decided to see for myself. For me that meant a long ride to get there and back, but that's increasingly the case when I try to visit something new.

View Gilroy Hot Springs in a larger map

I started off at 9 AM sharp on a day whose forecast was a sunny 72° F. For the first time in a while, I was wearing shorts. Spring is here, I guess.

Uvas Reservoir, looking north from the dam
I went to Gilroy via the very pretty Uvas Road, which was busy with bicycles. At the end of the road I took a right on Watsonville Road, then a left on Day Road to pass by vineyards and farms on the way toward Gilroy.
A farm along Day Road
The farms near Watsonville Road seem haphazard and bucolic. As you get closer to Gilroy they become more organized, more efficient, more industrial.

My plan was to stop in Gilroy to eat some lunch. I got there a little early, near 11, and not quite hungry. More to the point, there was nowhere to eat, because it turns out I wasn't quite in Gilroy, I was a little north of it. So I headed south on a road paralleling 101 (on maps the road seems to be called "No Name" road) until I came to one of those huge shopping areas -- big orange buildings with national brands. This one appeared to be about two-thirds empty, but there was a functioning McDonald's at the southern end, and I got lunch. Then it was back north to my previously-scheduled ride.

End of the line
Roop Road takes you up into the hills toward Gilroy Hot Springs. It turns out that an early owner of the hot springs was named Roop, so I suppose that was his road. It climbs up to about 1000 feet, fairly steeply, but then turns into Gilroy Hot Springs Road and just rolls after that point. This road is lined with Coast Live Oak, and runs along Coyote Creek.

Shortly after the Hunting Hollow entrance to Henry Coe State Park, the road is gated, on the far side of a bridge. Now, this is the sort of restriction I might be willing to ignore, but not this time. While the area is closed, there are tours offered every Saturday at 10, and by the presence of cars along the road up here, the tour must still be there. So if I hopped the fence I stood a 100% chance of being caught. That's OK; I knew about that before I started, so I just turned around.

I backtracked to Cañada Road and headed south. I paused on the road to let a group of perhaps a dozen pheasants cross. In this valley the grass was remarkably green, whereas most other areas seem to still be brown. I wonder why that is?

Fields along Cañada Road
The road just rolls along this valley until it reaches an intersection with Jamieson Road, at which point Cañada heads southwest into the hills, climbing a little. As you ride through here, you can see views of the valley and of Pacheco Peak, off to the southeast.

California Poppies on Cañada Road
Eventually the road heads down and meets 152. Here's what I should have done: I should have headed to Morgan Hill east of 101, maybe along farm roads, to the Coyote Creek trail and into San Jose. Instead, I decided that I wanted to see what "Old Gilroy" looked like, so I went west on 152. As it turns out, Old Gilroy looks like nothing memorable.

I took Monterey north, in the interest of seeing whatever Gilroy's main drag had to offer. It was certainly more interesting than the shopping malls. But the town grew more sparse as I continued north, and the wind grew stronger. Eventually I was slogging north on an ugly road and against the wind, regretting my choices.

I passed through Morgan Hill, then shifted over to Santa Teresa Boulevard and continued north through fields and mushroom plants. Finally I reached suburbia, now sheltered from the wind, and headed home.
Elevation profile. See a note about data for details.
Yesterday's ride was a little over 85 miles, with only 2400 feet of climbing. In some ways it was a 60 mile commute to an enjoyable 25 mile ride through the hills, but I enjoyed the ride there quite a bit, and in the end the ride back wasn't so bad. And I saw a lot of new places, which definitely makes it worth the effort.

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