Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Soda Springs and Weaver Road

Another four-day weekend, and the last bike ride of 2012. Yesterday I enjoyed a ride up Soda Springs Road.

View Soda Springs and Weaver in a larger map

If there's a bright side to being out of shape, it's that I have the chance to revisit a bunch of rides that were inconveniently close when my range was longer. When I was heading to Santa Cruz, I couldn't spend time and energy exploring the Summit Road area, or on one-way climbs like Soda Springs Road. But now those rides are back in the picture.

After last week's flats, I got a couple of patch kits, new tires and a fresh supply of tubes. But I hadn't done anything with them, so there was some light maintenance to do before today's ride. I fixed the holy tube, but decided to leave the same tires on, partly because they still seemed pretty healthy, and partly because I was too lazy.

A vineyard along Soda Springs Road
All that's just to explain why I didn't get out until 11. Once on the road I headed to Los Gatos, hoping that a couple of rainless days would have dried out the trail. As it turns out, the trail was in great shape. There were puddles, but the steep ramp was in great shape, offering excellent traction. I wound my way around the reservoir, and started up Soda Springs Road.

I had underestimated the cold. It was fine as I was headed up, but I knew from experience that descending Soda Springs Road is especially cold. At least it wasn't raining.

Like last week, my heart rate was out of control, but I kept an eye on it, and managed to climb the whole way up without distress. I couldn't remember the elevation at the top -- was it 2400 feet? I seemed to remember that, after the intersection with Weaver Road, it was another 500 feet of relatively steep climbing, so maybe I would hit that intersection around 1900 or 2000 feet.

Soda Springs Road
The top of Soda Springs
My memory's not so good, apparently. Weaver road is at just about 2400 feet, and the top is close to 3100 feet. That last bit was unexpected. I was really pushing it, keeping the heart rate about 10 bpm higher than I normally would, and was really eager to see the "500 feet" sign. Finally it came, and I celebrated with a Clif bar.

The last time I came up here, long ago, the gate happened to be open. I was wondering what I would do if that happened again. The interesting road is dirt, and I was on my road bike, so I probably would have turned around here anyway.

Also on that last trip, I stopped and talked to a resident who mentioned that you could see San Francisco from up here. On the way down I visited Weaver Road, and on this crisp and clear day you could indeed see all the way up the bay.

Looking up the bay from Weaver Road.
San Franciso and Mount Diablo were clearly visible at the time,
but barely discernible in this photo.
Weaver Road
Weaver Road offers very pretty views, from San Francisco on the one side to the Pacific on the other. It's another one-way trip, since it dead-ends at a house after it rounds the ridge. When I first rode here, the maps mischievously suggested that you could get to the Aldercroft Heights area from here, but now they're more realistic.

I descended back down to the reservoir, at one point passing by two trucks that were trying to get past each other on this one-lane road. One of them was pulling a trailer; the other was backing up, looking for some shoulder room.

At one point I was thinking about riding up Aldercroft Heights, in particular looking for a trail that's supposed to link that road to the Old Santa Cruz Highway, via Call of the Wild Road. But with my late start and slow riding, it was getting a little late in the day. So I contented myself with circling the reservoir, then heading home the way I came.

Elevation profile
It was another relatively short day at 38 miles, but with about 4800 feet of climbing, somehow. The most difficult kilometer was in the middle of Soda Springs Road, where it averaged 9.2%. It was nice to see these views again, but ultimately I'm hoping to extend my range beyond them.