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My friend Kristin arrived at my place at around 5:30, and we pulled into Cabrillo College, the ride start, at just after 6:30 (a detour on Hwy 880 added a little while). While driving south on Hwy 1 towards the college, we were treated to one of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever seen - shame my camera was in the back of my car! We checked in without issues, hit the heads, and rolled at 7"15'ish.
We rode a short, confusing (but very well-marked) loop to catch some ocean vistas, then headed south on MacGregor. The sunrise, while not quite as wonderful as it was when I was driving in, was still very lovely, and I had to concentrate on watching the road rather than the sunrise. A zig and zag or 3 later, and we continued on Bonita Rd. This was a very nice, and narrow, road that wound its way long a forested hillside. We turned onto San Andreas Rd., and after a foggy, peaceful stretch, pulled into rest stop #1 at Sunset Beach (15.4mi). This rest stop had hot coffee (always welcome!), and chai (which I'd never seen on a ride before), a ton of pastries, some fruit, and Gorp, which I availaed myself of. Kristin and I soon headed back out after stretching and relieving ourselves.
We continued on San Andreas Rd. trending south'ish, through pretty farmlands. After some more zigging and zagging (which was the same route as the 2001 CA AIDS ride), I arrived at Hwy. 1. I'd lost Kristin a ways back, and decided to wait for her. And wait ... and wait ... after a few minutes I figured something must have happened, as I wasn't riding all that much faster, and after a few more minutes, I called her cellphone. She was actually within sight when I rang her, and it turned out she indeed had to stop to change a flat (she rides tubulars). We cruised south on Hwy 1, enjoying the nice scenery and passing the very ugly (but sort of interesting) power plant at Moss Landing, then turning off on Molera Rd, which took us to rest stop #2 at Pezzini Farms (31.4mi). This stop had a doctor theme with very enthusiastic volunteers - always a fun thing! I briefly talked to a woman who asked me about my California Triple Crown windbreaker, then Krisin arrived, and after the usual routine, we hit the road again.
The route jogged on a few streets, then picked up a bike path. I normally don't much like bike paths, but this one was virtually empty, so there weren't the usual hordes of rollerbladers and the like making things difficult and/or unsafe. The path did, however, go through the town of Marina, and the road crossings there were very badly designed, as turning traffic couldn't really see what we were doing. Fortunately this was but a brief stretch, and the path continued, following Hwy 1 along the lovely dunes before we left it, and had a fun ride through the abandoned Fort Ord. I stopped to remove my windbreaker, as the fog had lifted and it was now a nice temperature, and to let Kristin catch up. I'd never been there before, and it was interesting biking through the mostly deserted streets, looking at the entirely-deserted all-the-same government-issue buildings. After a little while, we rode on some newly-created streets (I imagine they're developing much of the former Fort Ord land), here and there, and along some nice fields. I'd pulled a little bit ahead of Kristin by this point, and she pacelined with 3 other nearby women, who eventually caught up to me, and the 5 of us motored along at a good clip until we arrived at rest stop #3 in Salinas (51.8mi). This stop had a "Halfway to Hell" theme, with most everybody dressed up in satan'ish costumes, which was most amusing. We hung around for a little bit, enjoying ourselves, when the woman from rest stop #2 who had liked my CTC jersey pulled in. Her name is Naomi, and she proved to be a most amiable woman. Before too long, Naomi, Kristin, and I pulled out, my chain immediately fell off, and Kristin's tire exploded! This was unfortunate for Kristin, as she'd already used her spare tubular tire, and thus had no way to repair her flat. This marked the end of her ride (at least it happened right next to a rest stop, where SAG was readily available!), and Naomi and I headed back out.
After a couple of turns, we arrived at San Juan Grade Rd. Naomi had heard that this was a 7mi climb, followed by a 7mi descent. That proved to be about correct - my previous assumption that the 3700' of climbing on this ride being entirely due to rolling hills was soon proved incorrect as we climbed the lovely, but warm, poorly-surfaced, and shadeless road. We made good time, however, and before too awfully long, we crested the real summit (as opposed to the several false summits we encountered), and started downhill. This wound up being possibly the worst downhill I have ever ridden with just horrible pavement, a narrow road, and many blind corners. This would be a super-fun descent if it was well-paved, however, it was not. It was still very pretty, though, and we enjoyed it as best we could with our eyes threatening to bounce out of our skulls. We eventually pulled into the lunch stop at the Veterans Hall in San Juan Bautista (66.6mi). Lunch was a DIY sandwich affair, with cookies and strawberries to spice things up. After food, relief, and some nice long stretching, we hit the road again.
It was only 10 miles to the next rest stop, and, as before, we rode through pretty farmlands, with the added bonus of an intermittent headwind, a common occurrence in this area. There was a nice 500' climb along the way, but it was short enough, and again, very pretty, so we were happy. Before too long, we arrived at the last rest stop in Aromas (75.8mi). This also had DIY sandwiches, leading us to think that perhaps it was the lunch stop for one of the other routes. They had a Hawaiian theme here, and we had leis bestowed on us when we got there. We didn't spend too much time at this stop, since it was pretty close to the previous one, and after a stretch, we headed out on the final 25 miles.
I was somewhat familiar with the roads heading from Aromas back to Watsonville. We rolled along past fields, some vineyards, and a nursery. We kept a more leisurely pace, as we were both feeling the effects of our earlier harder-than-usual efforts. We went through Corralitos, along Freedom Blvd., and north through Aptos on Soquel, arriving back at Cabrillo College at around 4:00. They had really tasty tritip strips, pasta salad, caesar salad, mushrooms, etc at the end - yum! Poor Kristin had been waiting there for a number of hours, but at least there was good food, a live band, and lots of folks to talk to. I though it was funny that the Surf City Century never entered the Santa Cruz city limits. Naomi left after a quick bite, while Kristin and I hung around a little bit longer before driving home.
This was a fun ride - one I'd definitely do again (all the better that its a fundraiser for the Santa Cruz AIDS Project!). The route was lovely, and the support was very good.
|Distance:||98.8mi (the route sheet said 103.5)|
|Total Time:||8h 52m|
|On-bike Time:||6h 22m|
|Total Climbing:||~3720 ft|
08 February, 2011 MST
Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul