Friday, November 28, 2014


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.

Schulties Road

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.

Elevation Profile
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.