Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tunitas Creek Road & Priests Rock Trail, & Veterans Day!


On Tuesday I did a road ride and FINALLY went down and back up Tunitas Creek Rd. It's the road I climbed about a month and a half ago, thinking it was possibly the most awesome piece of road-riding pavement ever. The weather forecast was 64 in San Jose. Got up at 11am after a whopping 4 hours sleep and was riding by noon. Turns out I needed another forecast. The one for INSIDE the redwood canopy. As I climbed up out of Woodside on Kings Mt road towards Skyline Rd, the temp dropped to about 51 degrees.  On the way up there were 2 does just grazing away on one of the switchback turns...I stopped and we watched each other for a bit, and I even managed to get a picture of them. They sure didn't seem to be very afraid. Deer are such pretty animals, and to watch them run (especially UP a seemingly impossible climb) is just awe inspiring.

Doe, Rei (and Me)

I was riding in a short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, knee warmers, and my wind vest. No toe warmers, ear warmers, or a jacket. After crossing Skyline Rd I started descending on Tunitas Creek. THAT is where things changed. 51 is pretty chilly, even when climbing...but it's do-able because you're working hard. But once you start to descend, 51 is way past chilly. And it had now dropped to 49. I was SO cold...I started stopping every mile or so in any sunbeam that managed to slip thru the enormous redwoods, and I'd stand there shivering and shaking for a few minutes until I talked myself back on the bike to continue down. I knew it would be better climbing...I just had to endure the descent.

I finally made it thru the redwoods and lollygagged the final 3 miles to the coast in the sun, where the temps climbed back to around 60. After that I turned around and climbed back up.
Thought this bike-hut was pretty's about a mile or so up from the ocean and before the redwoods. The little sign on the door says it's "always open". Must be an honor system or something...I didn't stop as I was anxious to just get climbing again and warm up. Stopping would only delay the inevitable cold. I'll stop someday though...would be fun to stop on a nice day with a crowd there to yak with.

 And the redwoods begin. Funny how it looks SO warm and toasty out. You can see how dark it gets just inside those trees. And these are the small ones!

 This was taken without a flash. It shows pretty accurately how dark it is inside the canopy. And you can see a bit of the bank on the left and how steep it is. This road was cut into the side of the mountain long ago.

 Nearing the top of the ridge (still 3 miles to Skyline Rd, at the very top, then the 4 mile descent into Woodside). The trees are much younger up here and the sun is coming thru. Again you can see how steep the bank is that they cut away to make this road.

It was a pretty awesome ride, but when you're freezing it's not as fun as it could be. All I could think of was getting back to my car and getting the heat on. But I did stop about a zillion times to take was just SO dark in there...the redwoods do a great job of almost completely obliterating the sun. It felt like it was going on night most of the ride, with only moments of sunlight peeking thru. I actually have a lot of pics from inside...but the auto-focus and all doesn't do a good job if you jiggle it ever so slightly w/ not enough light. It wanted to use the flash but I had to turn it off or the pics would be almost black.
  There's a car down in the middle of this picture. I'm betting that was an E-ticket ride! They didn't even bother to try to get the car out!

Finally I crossed back over Skyline and made a quick descent (cold as I was) to the car. It was warm again down in the village of Woodside...and the car was toasty warm! It never felt so good climbing into a HOT car!


Today (Thursday) I did a totally new Mt bike ride: Priest Rock Trail to Kennedy Trail out of Los Gatos. I found this trail looking online for new sections of the Bay Area Ridge Trail (BART) network. I've ridden portions of it farther north up off of Skyline Rd, and found this southern section and it looked worth a shot. It hasn't rained since last Thurs/Fri, so I hoped the trails would finally be dry. I was right...but there were semi-gooey sections and even yesterday they might have been muddy still. Looking at the BART map online it appeared the trail would climb pretty much from the start. Little did I know how true that would be.

 Looking back down at Lexington Reservoir. I've only been climbing a few minutes and already gained this much altitude. It's really beautiful up here.

The other sections of the BART trails I've ridden are quite fun. This part was a little slice of mt bike hell (on the way up I mean...coming down was quite fun actually). I only made it up 6 miles before turning around, totally wasted. This trail was the quintessential ridge ride. Ridges go up and down, and up, and get the picture. Initially I had to just climb climb climb to get up on the ridge proper. For about an hour. After that the trial continues to yo-yo with ever increasing high-points as you get further back. Throughout this ride I kept talking to myself about how interesting the name of this trail was: Priest Rock. I don't know about the Rock part, but I sure could have used a Priest! Over and over again (not kidding here) as I'd somehow barely crawl over yet another 15-20+% grade section, I'd get a look at the NEXT ridiculous grade awaiting me (and sometimes the next 2 or 3)...and the words out of my mouth were "oh God"...or "Jeeeesus!"...and more than once I actually I gasped "Holy Mother of GOD!"
Oh God!


Holy Mother of GOD!

It's either down or up, not much in-between!

I kid you not that I must have uttered those phrases dozens of times in the 6 mile outbound portion. It was so hard it was funny. In a 'I can't breath or use my legs anymore' way of funny. I can't recall when I last did a lowly 12 mile ride and felt SO utterly wasted. I will HAVE to go back! There are many more trails in that area, and it turns out I took the 'hard' way up. On the way back I ran into a trail steward who was out for a jog, and she chuckled at my 'choice' of trails to do an out and back on. NEXT time I'll go up a different route. But this trail is part of the BART network, and thus had to be done. I'm sure glad it's over though, as I won't be in any hurry to repeat this particular climb!


And that pretty much wraps up this week. Tomorrow (Friday) is Veterans Day...the annual day where Jeannie (the NON veteran) gets the day off with pay to sleep in and suck down coffee all morning at her leisure, while I (the VETERAN) get the honor of getting up and going to work. Actually, being as the holiday fell on a Friday this year (and Jeannie gets every Friday off as she works Mon thru Thurs, 10 hour days), she had TODAY off for the holiday! Technically, as far as I am concerned, this year she got TWO days off compared to my NONE! But hey...she is a Federal employee and that's just the perks of the job. My company has given up all of the 'lesser' holidays (don't mean that in a bad way) and I get them back during the week between Christmas and New Years. I just have to keep reminding myself of that. But it doesn't make it any better as I head off to work while Jeannie snoozes every year.

Anyway, Veterans Day is always a nice time to remember those who have sacrificed SO MUCH for our country. The world would surely be a much different place without their sacrifice over the centuries. Even now we have a vast number of our finest young men and women scattered across the globe, MANY in harms way, defending the rights we take for granted every day. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers that they will come home to their friends and families soon, safe and sound.

To ALL the veterans (AND their families!), THANK YOU!

And God Bless America!!!


  1. Oh how I LOVE the redwood forest! It always seems like I'm in some mysterious ethereal world when in the dark of the redwoods. Also keep expecting Ewoks to peek out from behind the trees.

    Your pics are fantastic, as always, Matt! The climbs on your trail made me giggle with your captions. Me....I'd take one look at that and put on my hiking boots and have a much shorter adventure :)

    That is GREAT news, Cathy! I hope the details of your job turn out to be ideal. More details from your dinner with Horner please :)

    So difficult for me to believe that Thanksgiving is coming next week. Impossible. Where has the year gone?

    Thanks also to all of the veterans from me!! We've been sending more and more Honor Flights out to Washington for the WWII vets. Amazing men.


  2. Well...Jeannie and I are headed to Hawaii tomorrow (Weds) morning. We'll be on Oahu for the first 3 days, then fly over to Kona on the Big Island for a week. Not sure how much internet I will have...most likely very little unless I roam around and find free hotspots. I know the hotel in Oahu charges per day...(won't be using that option). And don't think it's even available at the place in Kona...SO....there may or may NOT be any new postings in the next 10 days. I hope so..should be tons of nice pics. Just in case, have a GREAT Thanksgiving!