Monday, March 14, 2005

Spring Trip Report
Two of us were planning a Jobst-style tour of the Alps this summer, so we decided to do a shake down overnighter on March 12-13 to test out equipment issues. 2 other co-workers joined us at the start but would not be staying overnight.

I had my Heron with a Nelson Longflap mounted on my Brooks, fenders (the Heron served as a commute bike as well), and a Topeak Morph. Mike had a Canondale with a Camper Longflap (which impressed me by its sheer size). Emil showed up with an REI Novara with aerobars, and Noah showed up with a Bianchi Volpe.

We made a few detours in Cupertino to get around the wine festival, headed up McClellan road and then made a turn onto Stevens Canyon road. The weather was cloudy with very little wind as we rounded the quarry and made a sharp right onto Montebello road, a normally untrafficked road that for some reason saw significant traffic (i.e., more than 6 cars per hour) that day.

The cool day made for good climbing and I struggled to keep up with Mike & Emil, who were setting a pace not at all normal for anyone carrying a load. I discovered that my saddlebag reached far enough down to make contact with the fender, which made an annoying squeaking noise. Cinching the straps up further solved that problem but I might well have to do without the fenders for the actual tour, where I expect to overstuff the bag on a regular basis. We climbed hard until we stopped at the Montebello school to wait for Noah, who hadn't ridden a bike for awhile. After 10-20 minutes Noah showed up looking a bit worn, but after a bit of rest signalled that he was ready to go.

The remainder of the climb wasn't steep, but we finally burst through the fog a mile from the top and saw a glorious view of the Bay Area covered entirely by white clouds, with Mt. Hamilton, Mt. Diablo, and parts of the coast range peaking through it. We felt like we were at 7000', though Noah's altimeter only read 2300'.

After stopping for pictures we passed through the gate leading to the fire road and kept going towards Black Mountain. All around us the hills were lush and green, with daisies, poppies, sprinkled throughout the fields. At the top of Black Mountain we paued to enjoy the sun, and peered out towards the ocean to see that the coast was entirely fogged in. We all had sunscreen on but guessed that we really did not need it that day.

Down towards Page Mill road we went, negotiating a few ups and downs with care, since none of us had tires wider than 25mm. Nobody crashed, however, and we all emerged safely onto pavement where a water fountain awaited us. At the corner of Page Mill road, Noah decided that he'd had enough and turned down the mountain. The rest of us completed the climb. There, Mike discovered that his tires were low, so we stopped to pump it up, hoping that it wasn't a slow leak, and descended Alpine road, a fast swooping descent that alternated between sunny warmth and cool hillside as the road threaded its way towards the Redwoods. After a particularly beautiful section Emil noticed he had cellphone coverage and stopped to call his wife to arrange for a pick up at the lunch spot in Pescadero.

We then plunged into the deep Redwoods along a stream, the cathedral of trees with its fresh and scented air permeating our skin, face and lungs. The descent was fast but we were not in a hurry and were sad when we emerged at the bottom at the corner of Pescadero Road, where we turned once again uphill. A quick stop at Sam Macdonald Park HQ to relieve ourselves and we went on ahead. The air was still, so we made rapid time into Pescadero where we stopped at Norm's market for OJ, freshly baked artichoke garlic bread, cheese and meat. The 3 of us demolished short work of an entire loaf, and then Mike and I bought ingredients for the evening's dinner. Emil discovered that his wife had gotten slightly lost and wouldn't show up till later, so we all decided to take another short loop to stay warm.

We rode onto Cloverdale road towards Gazos creek road. There was now a slight South wind, making us work for our progress but also chilling us, so the pace wasn't as high. Past Butano State Park, however, we received a bit of shelter and the rollers started as the road turned towards the coast once we arrived at the intersection with Gazos Creek road. This is a fun, one-lane road with not much traffic, and I was sorry that we reached the coast so quickly.

There, Emil turned right while we turned left (erroneously due to a navigation error of mine). But we stopped for directions at a gas station and quickly corrected ourselves and headed North, this time the wind assisting us and we arrived quickly at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Youth Hostel where a soak at the hot tub was welcome after the day's journey.

The next morning, our bags being lighter from not having to carry dinner, we headed up the coast in still air towards Pescadero, swooping down into the quiet hamlet from above via Bean Hollow Road, heading North. A couple of quick climbs had us passing farmlands (now under a conservation easement paid for by the Peninsula Open Space Trust), and under cloudy skies, we pulled into San Gregorio general store, where we each had a cup of coffee before proceeding.

The descent on Highway 1 to Tunitas Creek road was exhilarating as usual and very low traffic due to the early hour. We rode along this road until Mike had to stop to adjust his saddlebag, which had sagged
onto his tire. After snugging up the straps the bag now had plenty of clearance, so we kept going despite our growing interest in what appeared to be a shouting match between a cow and a rooster in the farm where we'd stopped.

The coffee must have had a stimulative effect on me, for I felt extremely strong, climbing Tunitas Creek with vim. Despite the load, I felt very good on the road, and quickly soared along the stream and breathed in deeply from the fresh clean air. Halfway up the hill the sun broke through and sent shafts of light down through the trees, forming corpuscular beams which lit up little spots of yellow on an otherwise dark road. This further encouraged me, since the road levelled off for a bit and I shifted out of the granny and rode the rest of the way to Skyline which was lit up by a warm morning sun.

Mike joined me after awhile and we descended Kings Mountain road back into Silicon Valley, where at the bottom of the hill Mike found the saddlebag dragging against on the tire. A strong pull on the bag and the entire saddlebag mount came off in his hand, so we stopped to re-attach the saddlebag mount onto his saddle. I advised him to put some loc-tite onto the threads for the actual trip, and then we rode my favorite backroads home, arriving just in time for lunch.
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