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 climb...it'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)...as 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: