Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cav reachs for the SKY! (and I did too!)

Well. is it any surprise that Cav is the new world champion? I have to say it's well earned...he's on track in just another few years to have the most stage wins in the TDF EVER! Most guys win one or two stages in their lifetime and that makes their career. Cav only wins 3 or 4 (in ONE tour) and everybody thinks he having an off year. I didn't get to watch the worlds tho, as no VS here in the hotel. So I had to read about it at VN (and in the comments on my last post..thanks for the update Rae!) Strange to see Cav in a SKY jersey tho. It's going to be a very odd year coming many drastic changes have been made. Levi with QUICKSTEP??? That just sounds freaky-odd. Are they going to fully support him in the Tour of California? It will be interesting, that's for sure.

So..NOW the party's officially over. But take comfort that they will be having training camps before you can shake a stick, and the Tour Down Under is just around the corner.

As to my own rides, last Thursday I did a totally new ride that was recommended to me by a girl I met on a ride the week before. She called this "THE RIDERS RIDE". It was a canyon called Tunitas Creek, and it goes east off of Hwy 1 up and over Skyline Road. I passed it on that ride whens he told me about it, and I ALMOST deviated from my plan to ride it that day...but in the end I stuck to my plan and finished the loop I had planned (had never done that either). So I parked in Woodside (I park there a lot...both rd and mt bike rides are doable from that spot) and rode up and over Skyline Rd, down La Honda rd, and turned north on Hwy 1 on the coast. 4 miles later there was the turnoff for Tunitas Creek Rd.

Immediately upon turning onto the target road, it was apparent that this was no 'usual' road. It was narrow...barely wide enough for 2 small cars to pass. There were NO lines of any sort painted on this road. And finally, the pavement was in great shape. That is an unusual combination. The first few miles were open terrain with farms and such on either side, widely spaced. And then I came to the redwoods.

It was like a light-switch was turned...a DOOR into the forest. There was a line of enormous redwoods marking the start of the good stuff...and I didn't have my camera! (I forgot it in my mt bike gear). The road went from sunny to dark and damp far beneath the redwood canopy. The creek was babbling along far below the road, as it was cut into the side of the valley following the contours of the creek. I had to stop and take off my sunglasses and iPod (I typically ride with earphones and only actually listen to them on the climbs). It was immediately apparent that listening to music on this climb would be tantamount to sacrilegious. The sunglasses were totally useless as it was quite dark until your eyes got used to the meager light making it's way thru the trees. And it tuns out you don't want anything blocking your vision here.  It was by far, BY FAR, the single most amazing piece of road I've ever ridden. If you were to custom design a piece of road for a bike, this is what you would strive for.

The climb was quite gentle at first, probably around 3 or 4% grade for about a third of the climb. But gentle grade or not, there was no 'racing' up this climb. I was spinning easy, just trying to take it all in. Looking down to the creek below, deep in the shadows you could see mighty fallen redwoods from centuries past, buried beneath eons of dirt and debris from what must have been tidal flooding going down the mountain. Pools and waterfalls (if there were more water) would be quite abundant. It was rugged and beautiful to watch. And looking uphill, just steep rugged terrain suitable only for animals. I'd imagine the deer and other forest animals do quite well in here. Even with a road going right thru it, I'd say it's still nearly wilderness. If you were to go hiking, you wouldn't get too far from the road in the steep hillside. Just cutting this road must have been an enormous undertaking.

And then the road got steep. It suddenly jumped to around 9 to 11% grade. Switchbacks were STEEP. All of a sudden I was working pretty hard just to keep moving. And all the while, the earthy aromas were almost overwhelming. And the quiet. I must have stopped 7 or 8 times just to look and listen. I think I saw maybe 3 cars the entire climb. And 2 motorcycles...but they were parked on a turn and were gawking at the awesomeness of the road just as I was. The words "magnificent, grandeur, splendor, magical" all come to mind and would not be overstating the beauty of this road. I can't WAIT to go back and ride it again...this time I'll go down and up, rather than a loop. I want to see this road from both directions, and may even do it a 2nd time if I have enough water. It's that good. I'd say it is a road that should be on the bucket list of EVERY road rider. The girl who told me about it said the Tour of California went up it one year....I didn't know that (and can't imagine the peleton going up this...I have to think they must have 'backed it down' a notch or 2 for the's not every day they ride a road like THIS!)

And after about a mile or 2 (or seemingly 7) of this STEEP climbing, it suddenly eases back to like it was at the start. You are fooled into thinking you are at the top...and fooled, and fooled so me more. It just cruises at about 3% grade for another 2 miles or so....all still quite beautiful, and it's just like the climb won't ever end (which is good, because you don't WANT it to end). And sadly, it does indeed end. You are back at Skyline Rd. At an intersection I've passed DOZENS of times...MANY DOZENS of times. And I NEVER had an inkling at what lies just across the highway....I've always turned right and gone down to Purisima Creek Redwoods. Amazing that it only took 7 or 8 years for me to find this ride! I guess that means that I need to turn a new direction in life now and then and see what's there. It might be totally amazing!

Anyway...I am still reeling in the awesomeness of this road. However I am riding Mt Hamilton tomorrow (Monday) it's ALSO on my bucket list. It's a big climb I hear...over 4000' I've been told...we'll see how it ranks with Figueroa Mt down in my neck of the woods.

On Saturday I did a Mt bike ride at Stevens Creek...I did this same ride as one of my very first mt bike rides up here many years back. It was a great ride, and at the summit of Black Mt, there was a coyote just hanging out. As I approached, he didn't' even acknowledge my presence...he was focused on catching a mouse or something. I stopped barely 5' from him, and he snagged whatever it was he was after and gobbled it down, then moseyed on by me on the double-track...passing about 2' from me. I took a picture as he was standing there, and then after he had passed me (when he was directly beside me I couldn't take the picture as he was too big in my viewfinder! Here are those shots:

He just finished eathing whatever it was he caught by the time I realized he wasn't going to run and I got my camera out.
And here he just loped away down the road like I didn't even exist.He wasn't even the slghtest bit afraid of me. It was rather cool actually.

I've seen some other animals on my rides too..lots of deer. And tbey haven't been very afraid either. On my way back from the Tunitas Creek ride on Thursday, I was descending Kings Mt Rd back into Woodside to finish the ride, and there was a road biker going up but he wasn't looking up the road, or at me...he was looking back at the switchback he had just come out of. I slowed for the turn and there on the inside of the turn was a huge buck, standing right at the edge of the road. If he hadn't moved (and it appeared that way), then the upcoming rider must have passed about a foot or 2 from him. He was at least a 3 point (3 spines on each side of his horns)..he was pretty big, and appeared quite calm.... just standing there as I passed. I was worried he might leap in front of me, but he didn't even blink as far as I could tell. It would be very easy NOT to see him, as deer blend so very well in the dark and shadowed woods. 

On a mt bike ride last week I was also deep in the canopy, and had just got to the bottom of a hill and there was an intersecting trail. I stopped and dug out my map, and had to move about 10 feet up the trail into a tiny sliver of sunlight streaming down thru the trees to actually read the map. I figured out where I was and was just getting ready to ride when I heard a twig snap. I looked around and a doe crossed from my right to left about 15 feet in front of me. I followed her and she stopped...and where she stood (which was also about 15 feet from me) was 3 other deer....2 does and a small buck. They had been there the entire time I was looking at my map, just watching me. If the one hadn't crossed my path I would have had no idea they were there. They are so amazing and beautiful!

OK...enough for tonight. It was a good weekend in MY football cheering section...both Michigan AND the Raiders won...and that seems to be a very rare combination I've discovered. I'm having a pretty good year! But it's off to bed for me...need to catch another hour of sleep before heading in tonight...ride days are always lighter on sleep than non ride days. Have a GREAT week!

Update 9/27/11My Mt Hamilton ride

On Thursday I finally knocked a ride off my bucket list: Mt Hamilton.
Turns out, looking at google maps to figure out where to drive/park doesn't really give you 'the rest of the story'. I did just that and parked at what looked like the edge of the city, heading out towards Mt Hamilton Rd...I was going to ride "Quimby Rd" up to Mt Hamilton Rd. Turns out it I parked at the base of a 11-12+ percent AVERAGE grade for the 3 mile climb, (then it dropped 500' and I was finally on Mt Hamilton Rd)....after that it was all easy! (come of the switchbacks on Quimby showed 16 to 18% was all I could do to keep moving uphill). Who knew my Mt Hamilton ride would START with a climb up Alp d'Huez!
The grade on the 7 miles of Mt Hamilton averaged a paltry 4 to 6 %...quite easy actually, even tho there were many switchbacks. My entire ride ended up at only 30 miles, but I got all of that that 5100' of climbing in that short distance. The weather was perfect, and I think I saw MAYBE 3 cars the entire ride. It was a good day. No, a GREAT day. Here are some pics:

The target: Lick Observatory atop Mt Hamilton

Looking back down

Lick Observatory at the summit, I'm almost there!

Polar altitude profile for the ride, notice how STEEP the opening climb was (that was Quimby Rd)

My shadow enjoying the view from the top


  1. Matt!! the season isn't over until Lombardia "the race of the falling leaves" in mid October (a beautiful race well worth watching--it migt be on versus, for sure online). And there are several good races before then, mostly in Italy. Although truthfully, for many of the riders that I follow, the season is over.

    Re Cav and sky--you know the rumors have been strong that he'd struck a deal with them as far back as June-- but in his post race interview on Sporza, the interviewer asked him if he was now ready to make an announcement and Cav's answer was an abrupt, non-smiling "No". REALLY makes me wonder what is going on!

    And again, the craziness of losing team Highroad--they dominated the world championships.

    Video clips of the WC races are available via by the way

    Tunitas Creek rd. sounds so awesome, and also familiar! Must be from the ToC, but Bob & I used to regularly visit in that area and drive down 1 from Mendocino to SLO, so maybe I also remember passing the road from those trips. I still have some pieces of jade that we collected from Jade Cove which is somewhere along that section. Love your ride reports, they are inspirational! Camera next time, please!

    I have deer in my yard several times a week, snacking on my garden. Not so charming after a while! They especially love hostas, and I have had to cover my bluebarries with netting , in the winter also disguising them with evergreen branches from the Christmas tree. I live in a suburban/urban area but wildlife is plentiful--including coyotes, which I have seen trotting down the street. They survive in the creek ravines and along the railroad tracks and lake nearby. That lake, just acrosse the tracks at the end of my block, was created when the railway was being built way back in the 1800s; the story is that they were digging soil to create the grade and hit natural springs. You can actually always hear water running through the storm sewer on my street from the springs still

    It is a dreary rainy day here. Seems that true autumn weather has settled in early, with night temps down into the 40-50s which my citrus trees don't love (too abrupt of a change). I spent an afternoon last week digging out crabgrass and reseeding, so the rain is good for that.

    Well, I skipped it yesterday, so tired from work, but I have to go to visit Mom in the nursing home. Isn't that sad, that it is sometimes more of a chore now! You see, she really can't interact with me; although she chatters, it is nonsensical. But she always appreciates the visit even though she often thinks I am her late sister, so it is not a waste of 3 hours yet I find it hard to get myself motivated to get there many weeks.


  2. Cav was a very deserving winner and I was really happy for him. You could tell that this was something that really motivated him and was incredibly rewarding. As always, he was very gracious to his teammates - who really did ride their hearts out for him. Did you notice how many riders really went out of their way after the finish to stop and congratulate him? Despite the sound bites he provides that can antagonize, you can tell that he is well liked. I do wonder what the hold-up is with announcing his new team. Seems odd to me.

    How about Cancellara??? I was cheering wildly for him, even though I was happy with Cav's win. How amazing would it have been for Fabian to take the WC ROAD race in a field sprint!?! The only people in front of him were Cav, Goss, and Greipel. NOT too shabby!

    Matt, your rides amaze me. The chances of me doing a ride up the mountain like that are maybe one in.....never;) That was STEEP!! Looks like you are having great weather. Gotta love that.

    Rae, it seems like fall is really here in our area too. We have already had a frost advisory and daytime temps haven't been above mid 60s. We're not ready to give in and turn on our heat yet for the winter, so temps indoors are in the low 60s :) I'm hoping for an Indian summer in teh next few weeks. Can you still say Indian summer? We've got 50 mph gusts going on right now that have the old house whistling.

    We have a lot of deer, fox, coyote, coons, etc around our house, too. Right smack in the middle of the city, but not too far from a golf course - which must be where they get their water. Our hosta are completely naked right now and we have pieces of hog panel fencing lying on our flower beds for part of the year to let the plants at least get a start in the early summer. It is fun to watch the little ones, though. We had a doe leave a very new fawn right by our birdbath for the day this spring. The kids were fascinated.

    My daughter is keeping a praying mantis right now She was the star of 1st grade when she took it in to school. The most fun part for me is watching her dance through the yard each night as she tries to catch enough crickets for it to eat. So wonderful to experience discoveries anew through the kids' eyes....


  3. If Fabian had pulled off the ROAD WC, well...I'd have just gone CRAZY! That he was in the hunt and THAT close, well...he is such a class act! It's cool that the Worlds alters their course so much year after year, giving all styles of riders a chance to have the Rainbow jersey. I'm only sad I didn't see a moment of the race.

    The weather here has been pretty fabulous, I have to admit. I brought my jacket I wear in to work pretty much all year back home, and it's been hanging in the closet since I got here. Come out of work about 6:15 to 6:30am every day and it's still T-shirt weather.

    On my last ride on Weds afternoon I did over 10 miles out on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, starting at the Saratoga Gap trail. Being as the ride BEGAN at the top of Skyline Rd, I'd sort of planned on an easier day for a change (no giant climbs). I felt quite sluggish as the temps were all over the place. Mid 80's was the low, deep in the redwood canopy...and out in the exposed areas it got quite HOT! Just before my turnaround point it registered 106 on my polar. By the time I got back to my car I had a total of over 3200' of climbing over the 20.5 miles. Turns out riding a ridge trail system is always either up or down, never in huge amounts tho...but it still kicked my hiney...I was crispy dead when I got back totally empty of water.

    Today I think I'll go back to my ol' fav...Purisima Creek's supposed to RAIN next week and it will be this will likely be my last on it for a while. Hope to do a '3 climb' day, so will also be around 5000' of climbing. Hope it's not so hot today! (by today I mean's almost 10pm Thurs night as I crazy graveyard shift sched...I go into work at 10:30pm, get off at 6'ish am).