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I arrived at the Palo Alto VA at about 6 and by coincidence, parked 2 cars down from my riding friend Deb! I went and checked in, talked to Deb for a few, then her friend Tracy arrived and they headed out while I waited for Kristin and her friend Jan to arrive. The Western Wheelers had coffee and bagels with spreads, so I helped myself to those, and before too long, Kristing and Jan arrived and after introductions we rolled out at around 7:00.
It was cold, in the low-50s, when we headed out. I was wearing a jersey, arm warmers, vest, and windbreaker, which felt just about right. We went north on Arastradero, Alpine, Portola, Whiskey Hill, and Canada Rd, all of which I know like the back of my hand, as I train there frequently. We rode pretty fast along Canada. Jan is a super strong (super-strong, adj: anyone who is faster than me :-) rider and easily left us in the dust when he poured on the gas. After a brief jog on Hwy 92, we continued north on Skyline. The clouds hung low over the Santa Cruz mountains - it wasn't going to be very warm at the coast! We passed an AIDS ride rest stop (the first day of the AIDS ride is also June 2, which is why I didn't ride the Sequoia last year) that was getting set up at Crystal Springs. Jan decided to ride on ahead - we wouldn't see him for a good long while. Kristin and I continued climbing Skyline, crossed Hwy 280, and went north through Burlingame. A couple turns later, and a climb up a rather steep, but very short, wall, and we pulled into rest stop #1 at Cuernavaca Park (25mi). This was possibly the narrowest rest stop ever :) They had bagels, muffins, bread, hot chocolate, and lots of other good food. I had ½ a PB&J, a bit of bagel, and a huge muffin, used the facilities, then Kristin and I rolled on out.
The route continued north along side streets, then the San Andreas Bike Path. This path was rather crowded with pedestrians and other cyclists, so the going was a tad slow. Before too long, we re-joined Skyline and headed to the coast on Sharp Park. It was a fast, fun descent to Pacifica and Hwy 1. The 15mi ride south on Hwy 1 was just goregous, especially along Devil's Slide (which regularly wipes out the road), with the mountains looming to our left, and the Pacific crashing on our right. A little ways north of Half Moon Bay, I joined a nice fast-moving paceline. We motored all the way to Half Moon Bay at around 26mph - wheee! :) We soon rode into Half Moon Bay and rest stop #2 (48mi). This rest stop was very well-stocked, and I munched and took pictures while I waited for Kristin to arrive. Before long, she did, and we were soon on our way.
After going through downtown Half Moon Bay we turned on Higgins-Purissima Rd. I'd never been on this before, and have I ever been missing out! This is a gorgeous little road, very light traffic (it doesn't really go anywhere) and excellent scenery. Its a good climb too :) We caught Deb & Tracy on the climb up Purissima Creek Rd. and rode together to the top where my front tire flatted (I've been getting an awful lot of flats this season!). Kristin waited with me while I changed the tire (a rather large piece of glass was embedded in the tire), then we descended Purissima Creek to Verde Rd. then Lobitos Creek Rd. Lobitos Creek is another road I knew about, but had never ridden, and it, too, is really, really lovely! After a little while, we turned onto Tunitas Creek (familiar territory for me) and continued climbing. Tunitas is a lovely, long climb through the redwoods, and Kristin & I took it easy and enjoyed the scenery. About 90 minutes later, we were nearly at the top and turned on Starr Hill Rd. en route to the Swett Rd. wall. There was a very friendly dog at the bottom of Swett, and I stopped to pet it and let Kristin catch up. The wall is quite steep, but also quite short, and in short order we were at the Kings Mountain School rest stop (69mi). Deb & Tracy were here, as was Jan. I ate a sandwich, yummy fat-free potato salad, and some tasty orzo. Deb seemed to know almost everyone, and introduced me to Mike, owner of Chain Reaction Bicycles (a great bike shop!). There was an AIDS ride rider at this stop who somehow got on our route. The poor guy went waaaaay off the AIDS ride course and got a heck of a lot more climbing than he was supposed to! Kristin was sleepy, so her and Jan decided to just go down King's Mtn. Rd. and call it a day.
I set out south on Skyline by myself, keeping a pretty fast pace, as I wanted to catch Deb & Tracy. It was foggy and gorgeous on Skyline, with mist dripping from the tree branches. I quickly started the descent of Hwy 84 West, and whaddya know - there were Deb & Tracy. We continued west on 84 for a ways, then saw a sign saying that if it was after 2:00, we should turn on Pescadero Rd. and not go all the way to San Gregorio. It was 2:20, and I didn't really want to cut the ride short, but Deb & Tracy did, so I joined them. Just as well, it would turn out, because the minute I started climbing Pescadero, my left knee started really hurting! Arrgh! From Pescadero Rd. we headed east on Alpine Rd. I'd never been on this portion of Alpine, and it was just lovely! The fog was still upon us as I painfully made my way upwards. There was a water stop at Portola Park Rd., and I stopped to take some ibuprofen. Alpine continued climbing for what seemed like an eternity - the knee pain wasn't helping, that's for sure! We broke through the fog, and enjoyed some of the only sunny cycling of the ride. Finally, we got to Skyline, and descended Page Mill Rd. This is a super-fun fast, technical descent! The route sheet said to turn on Altamont, but that was only to make the ride an even 200k, and since we weren't going to be doing 200k anyways, we opted to just continue down Page Mill to Arastradero. A few Palo Alto backroads later, and we pulled into the VA Hospital and the ride finish. I had some more orzo and potato salad, we hung around for a few, then I headed home.
I probably would have had the time to do the whole 200km route, but with my knee hurting the way it was, I doubt I'd have been able to finish, so I'm glad we cut it short! With "only" 102mi and 9200' of climbing, it was still a difficult ride! The support was first-rate, and the weather, though cool mostly, was nice.
|Total Time:||9h 30m|
|On-bike Time:||7h 43m|
|Total Climbing:||~9200 ft|
08 February, 2011 MST
Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul