Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Perfect Pigeon Point Edition

From Screen Captures
From Screen Captures
Pigeon Point Halloween 2010

In the past few years, I've been using Pigeon Point hostel as a qualifier for my annual tours. This has gotten to the point where I had forgotten why I started doing these trips: to enjoy a wonderful location that's not very well known even amongst locals and just to get away from it all. I noted that this year, Halloween fell on a weekend, and guess that it was very likely that the place would be less busy than usual, making it possible to do just a fun (i.e., not a qualifier) trip. I sent e-mail to the usual suspects, but nobody bit except Phil. The forecast was for 30% chance of rain on Saturday, but it was supposed to clear up in the afternoon, so we decided to risk it and go anyway.

Phil met me at my place at 9:30am, and we headed towards Page Mill road. As we approached Altamont road, however, I felt a few sprinkles and saw that while the top of Page Mill road was shrouded with fog, there was blue sky to the north. Never being one to pick a fight with mother nature I suggested to Phil that we changed direction and head for Old La Honda road instead and he assented. Phil hadn't been riding for a while, so he went quite slowly.
From Pigeon Point Halloween 2010

The bottom of Old La Honda road was clear, but as I approached the top it became quite foggy, and I started seeing the trees alongside the rode through the fog in a misty beautiful light. I had seen this before on Mt. Tam but never on Old La Honda road and became quite enchanted. At the top, while waiting for Phil I stuck up a conversation with a woman cyclist named Eva. Eva wanted to tour the Pacific Coast with some friends next year, and knowing that Phil wanted the same, I introduced the two of them and gave Eva one of my cards.

We quickly descended West Old La Honda road and then 84. Unlike my previous visit to the area, no pickup trucks buzzed us this time. At Applejack's we made a left and turned into one of the minor roads I loved. Phil was quite hungry and I advised him that we would stop for a water and snack break at Sam MacDonald park. Phil wondered why he was feeling so hungry and after a little bit we realized that his recent vegetarian diet must have been the cause.

Once past Sam MacDonald park, the rest of Haskins hill was pretty. Surprisingly enough, the fog had lifted and I did not see any chance for it to return. We were even getting occasional bits of sunshine through the trees. The descent from the top of Haskins hill is gorgeous: I am constantly reminded why Pescadero road is easily one of my favorite roads anywhere. There are enough rollers to keep you on your toes and keep you from getting cold, but the descent is fast and manageable. The scenery is ever changing, and until you get near Pescadero proper, there's enough shelter from the wind that it's never bothersome.

We rolled into Pescadero downtown at 1:30pm and grabbed fresh artichoke/garlic bread piping hot out of the oven. After lunch, we bought food supplies and rolled backwards towards Cloverdale road, which would drop us onto Gazos Creek road. At Gazos Creek road, I started to feel sprinkles and we turned on the speed towards Pigeon Point, with a tail-wind pushing us along on highway 1. The sky was grey and I did not have much hope for a good sunset.

We arrived at the hostel at 3:30pm, the earliest I've ever made it there in recent years. What a difference not riding a tandem and having just a party of 2 makes! The hostel manager was named Sparrow, and unlike the man she replaced, Sparrow was bright and alert and chatty. We had a lot of fun chit-chatting with her while we checked in. I had cleverly looked up the sunset time before I left Sunnyvale and grabbed the sunset spot on the timetable for the hot tub. I had never seen the timetable so empty before, either! In fact, Sparrow gave us a room with 6 bunk beds but we effectively had the room all to ourselves.

We moved our stuff in, took showers, and started eating, as cyclists are wont to do. At 5:45, I visited Sparrow and got the key to the hot tub and Phil and I sat in it. The colors started out drab but by the time sunset came around at 6:12 it had become absolutely brilliant:
From Pigeon Point Halloween 2010
From Pigeon Point Halloween 2010

After our hot tub/photography session, we went back to our building and made dinner. Over dinner, we found out why the place was even more empty than past Halloween. Apparently there was a baseball game going on involving the Giants! Thank you SF Giants!

The next morning it was calm and beautiful when I woke up at 7:20am. I quickly made breakfast, then walked around a bit while Phil got himself revved up for the ride home. We rolled out again around 9:00am. Phil wanted to see the dead whale carcass at Bean Hollow State Beach. We quickly rode to the Bean Hollow road turnoff and there I spied the sign for the state beach. The whale carcass stunk, but it was huge and clearly it would take the birds at least another month to eat all of it.
From Pigeon Point Halloween 2010

I continued feeling frisky, so when we got onto Stage road I took off and rode both hills in good time. At San Gregorio Phil caught up to me and we kept going. Someone riding a Landshark rode by and I hopped onto his wheel, and we chatted a bit about Landshark. When we got to Tunitas Creek, I waited some time for Phil again. When he showed up, he said he had been taking photos of the cliffs, which are very pretty but also situated on a fast descent which I was not about to give up for the sake of a mid-day photo!

We proceeded up Tunitas Creek road, after a quick stop at the bike hut for some water. I don't think I have seen Tunitas Creek so pretty. Deep in the redwood forests, the road parallels a creek and winds around a canyon far away from the sun. In the quiet of the day when all you can hear is yourself breathing, the atmosphere takes on that of a church run by nature. It is all you can do to keep from whispering as you ride amongst the giant trees, with an occasional sunbeam penetrating through the trees, here lighting up a branch, there lighting up a trunk. I rode up at a steady pace reverently, as befits that of a Sunday worshiper in attendance.

Halfway up, an unloaded cyclist caught up to me, and that broke the spell. We took turns pulling each other, and I gladly matched him attack for attack. I was having fun on my brand new frame and even the load did not feel very much. "You're strong!" he gasped between breaths as I responded to yet another attack. It did not take too long before we got to the top and I waited for Phil again while eating from a bag of cashews we had bought. I was exactly halfway through the bag when he arrived and took over the eating. Phil finished the bag, then went on to finish a bag of Clif bloks, then some Clif bars. He ate and ate and ate. Clearly the sausages and beans I had done my best to pump into him yesterday was insufficient.

I was getting cold so I descended Kings Mountain Road so I could wait at the Tripp water stop. There, we decided to ride 84 to Sand Hill road and Foothill Express way. On Foothill, an unloaded cyclist pulled me along at 24mph, dropping Phil, but he was going almost all the way to Sunnyvale and I ended up getting home before 3:00pm. What a great ride.
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