Sunday, April 20, 2014

Aztec Ridge

Last Sunday, being short of time, I rode my bike around some neighborhood roads that were new to me. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I think I rediscovered what I like so much about cycling.

View Aztec Ridge in a larger map

We were planning a family thing in the afternoon, so I only had until about noon for a ride. It was going to have to be short. Meanwhile, there are a bunch of nearby roads that I've long been intending to explore. In particular, every evening on my commute across Kennedy Road I pass by Teresita Way. On the map, it looks like you can get to Teresita via Cypress Way, so I decided to try that out.

To add a little spice, I decided to ride up Harwood, over the hill to Santa Rosa Drive, which I've also never seen. I had ridden up and over Harwood once before, on a mountain bike, but on that occasion I took the Rocky Ridge trail down to Shannon.

Hardwood is quite steep near it's top, but it's not very long -- all told, I recorded a one mile climb of about 8.5%, but that included part of Santa Rosa Drive. At the top of Harwood there's a short gated section, with a walkway. I'm not clear on the legal status of that section of road, but no one yelled at me while I was on it. Santa Rosa Drive is a series of steep little ramps winding among fabulous homes, ending with a dive down to Shannon.
The view from Cypress

At the end of Shannon I went down the road to pick up Loma Alta Avenue, on my way to Cypress. I've been on this stretch of road before, but turned down Phillips Avenue toward home. This time I continued up Cypress, which turned into a lovely, shaded, isolated little road. I had intended to take Blackberry Hill Road over to Teresita, but in the event I missed the turn; it looked more like a driveway. Cypress just climbed and climbed, to my continuing surprise, reaching Aztec Ridge at an elevation of 1,400 feet. It was also quite steep -- the most difficult kilometer of the ride was in this section, at 13%.

A one-lane road in the hills
The map says that Aztec Ridge links up with Teresita via Blackberry Hill. It doesn't; there's a gate. So after consulting the map again, it was down Cypress to the missed intersection, and over to Teresita. In the middle of that stretch, there's a little one-lane private road, possibly Mireval Road, that's awfully pretty.

After the steep drop down Teresita, I followed my normal route home over the remainder of Kennedy.

Virtually all of the riding I've been doing lately has been commuting, and far too much of that has been repeating routes, exactly. When you do that, you tend to mentally note the time for each ride, and an enjoyable ride becomes some sort of training exercise. That's no fun. This ride reminded me of how great cycling can be, even on short rides near home, when you are exploring new places and seeing new things.

This ride was just 15.7 miles of concentrated fun, with 2200 feet of climbing. Cypress turned out to be the big climb of the day, very nearly 2 miles at 9.5%, including that last kilometer at 13%. And there was still time to have lots of fun with the family in the afternoon.

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