Centuries & such:
2001 Giro di San Mateo Ride Report (Sunday, July 1 in San Mateo, CA.)
My new friend Catherine from the Grand Tour arrived at my place around 5:15am (she drove out from Sacramento - uggh!), and we headed out to San Mateo. I'd registered online twice, but they never received it, so I had to do the day of event registration. My riding buddy Lorri and her friend Mike were there when we arrived, so we checked in and hit the road at around 6:30.
It was nice weather when we headed out, not too cold, but I had my armwarmers and knee warmers on to keep my joints happy. The route headed north on Alameda de las Pulgas to Crystal Springs Road, then south on Skyline to Canada Rd. Canada Rd. was lovely, as always. It was cool seeing Catherine's take on the area, as she hadn't done hardly any riding on the Peninsula, so it was all new to her. There was a rest stop at Edgewood Rd., but we didn't stay there long at all (and they had no bathrooms there - harrumph).
From there we went into Woodside and down Sand Hill Rd. then up Alpine Rd. to the second rest stop at the Portola Valley Fire Station. We snacked and stretched and hung around for a while, then headed out to the first large climb up Old La Honda Rd. I'm quite familiar with this climb, having done it dozens and dozens of times. I just did an easy spin up the climb, wanting to save my legs for the climb up Tunitas Creek, which can be fairly painful. In short order, we were at the top of Old La Honda. The route directed us to go north on Skyline, then down La Honda Rd., but I decided to go down Old La Honda to La Honda, as the descent on the west side of Old La Honda, while twisty and bumpy, is very beautiful. Lorri and Mike followed the route, while Catherine and I took our detour. It was really pretty on west Old La Honda, with very little fog, and we had a clear view all the way out to the ocean. After a quick stop to admire the view, we continued down to La Honda Rd. and went westward towards San Gregorio. As usual, there was a fairly stiff headwind on La Honda Rd. as we neared the ocean. The third rest stop was across from the San Gregorio store. This is a cool little store that has absolutely everything (food, bar, clothing, dishes, candles, silly hats, books, you name it!). Lorri and Mike pulled in shortly after we did (our detour actually cut a few miles from the course).
After a stretch and some snacking, we headed out up Stage Rd. to Hwy 1. Stage is a nice little climb, and very low traffic. It was a really gorgeous descent on Hwy 1 to Tunitas Creek. I don't think I've ever seen it so fog-free, so we got a stunning vista of the cliffs - neato! We turned off on Tunitas Creek Rd. and enjoyed the several miles of easy rolling hills before it really turns upward. This was actually the easiest time I've ever had climbing Tunitas Creek, on doubt due to all of the riding I've been doing lately. It was still quite noticable, however! Partly to make up for miles lost to our shortcut down Old La Honda, and partly because its a fun detour, Catherine and I left Tunitas near the top and climbed Starr Hill and Swett Rd. There'a VERY steep (but mercifully short) climb on Swett that got our heart rates nicely up, then it was a gentle climb up to Skyline, where we went north to rejoin the ride route on King's Mtn. Rd.
I really like descending King's Mountain (though many don't, as its quite twisty and has a lot of sharp, blind corners), so I blazed down it. An errant pothole whacked my wheel out of true, so I pulled off at Huddart Park to re-true it and let Catherine catch up. Turned out that yet again, two spokes had unscrewed. I spent a little while trying to get the tension even in the spokes, and get the wheel so it wasn't rubbing my chainstays. Once I'd gotten the wheel true enough, we continued downward back into Woodside, then meandered over to Portola Rd. and back to the Portola Valley Fire Station. On Portola Rd. we ran into Lee and Pat from the SunSpots team, and we wound up seeing them here and there for the rest of the ride. I didn't think it was terribly imaginative having us ride the same stretch of Portola Rd. both directions, but oh well. My foot was starting to bother me, so I took a few ibuprofen and wound up giving some of them to Catherine, Lee, and Lorri as well.
After the rest stop, we continued doubling back on Alpine Rd. to Arastradero Rd, another nice road that I'm very familiar with. Its short, but it has very nice rolling hills, and in the direction we were going, its mostly downhill. We started up Page Mill Rd., and it shortly got fairly steep. Thankfully we weren't climbing all the way up Page Mill, and turned off on Altamont Rd. for a bit more climbing then a nice descent to Foothill College. Altamond Rd. was the only road on the route that I've never ridden on. There was a rest stop in the parking lot, but we bypassed it, as nobody needed anything. I later learned they had salted potatoes there - rats! Catherine and I still hadn't made up our lost distance, so I suggested we deviate from the route again to climb Quinnhill. Catherine, not knowing any better, agreed :) Quinnhill is a very short, but very, very steep climb in Los Altos. It averages an 18% grade for the steep portion. After much grunting and gasping, we were at the top. We went down the other side and climbed up Summerhill Rd. to rejoin the route at El Monte. Catherine said if she was feeling a little bit crazier, she'd have suggested doing Quinnhill again. Good thing she wasn't, as I'd really have been hurting if we climbed it again!
We turned onto Foothill and headed north to the end of the ride. A paceline shortly formed behind me, and I pulled us along for a while until I saw Lorri and Mike on the side of the road and pulled over to see what was up. Turned out Lorri had a flat, so we hung around until she'd changed it, then we were back on our way. The rest of the route was pretty unimaginative, as it went back the same way we'd started up Sand Hill, Whiskey Hill, Canada Rd. and Crystal Springs. Catherine and I stopped for a while at the rest stop on Canada Rd. at Edgewood Rd. but Lorri and Mike never showed up. We also had a brief stop at Pulgas Water Temple, a really pretty temple that was constructed over the confluence of several large water aqueducts. After hanging there for a few, we continued back to the finish.
They had lots of food at the finish, which was very nice. Sausages, salad, pesto, spaghetti, bean salad, etc. All good stuff! As Catherine and I sat down to eat, Lorri and Mike showed up. It turns out Lorri had 2 more flats after the one we stopped for! Yuk! I saw a woman I'd seen on the Grizzly Peak and the Davis Double and her husband. We all sat around and ate and chatted for a while, then headed home.
This was a really beautiful route, even though I knew every road very well, and I would have changed the routing to avoid some of the doubling back on the same roads. The weather was great (if a tad warm on the east side of the coast range), the scenery lovely, and the company excellent! Sorry to say the support was a a bit on the thin side. There were no mechanics anywhere at the rest stops, nor was there ice available for sore knees (which Lorri would have certainly appreciated). I saw only one or two SAG vehicles the entire time (and none of them that I knew of had any spare tubes or a floor pump!), and it would have been nice to have more real food than PB&Js at the rest stop (the had other snacky stuff, but only PB&Js for substantial food). Overall, though, I had a wonderful time!