Training for Double Century – Big Basin Loop

So a bunch of NorCal’ers have decided to do Solvang Double Century in March … woohoo. With it coming in 4 months, I decided now is the perfect time to start training for it. Get some miles in, and some climbing in, so that the body will be ready for the punishment in March.

I decided to lead a ride, starting from Bicycle Outfitters, in Los Altos, out to Big Basin, and back. It should be a good, healthy ride, about 80 miles.  I was riding with a stiff right shoulder, so who knows what type of leverage I’ll have climbing.

The ride started at 8 am, but the weather forecast this day was cold. It meant we had to really bundle up, as the high wasn’t expected to get anywhere about 55 F. This is evident from the Ninja wear …

The typical wrecking crew came out, myself included, Chris, Ramon, and Michael. Henry also came along, with his friend Armen.

This was also the first ride Ramon took his Allez on an extended ride. This was old school, downtube shifters, and of course, steel, and all in red. Looking really sharp there, Ramon.

The first climb we tackled was Redwood Gulch. With the temp being so cold to start off with, we were a little worried how cold it would be at Redwood Gulch. Even in summer, that climb, being nestled in the canyons, is cold. Would there be ice on the climb? After all, it does have stretches of 20% grades. It turned out okay, and not as cold as we had anticipated.

I was in my accustomed position, in the back. My heart rate was jumping up in the range of 178 bpm. This is pretty typical for this climb. I pretty much stuck with Chris on this short but steep climb. I recall when we regrouped at the top, Henry asked “all pretty much downhill relatively from here” … I had no comment. I knew what was coming up.

We headed south on Skyline, Hwy 35, and once we got past Black Rd, the road would narrow to one lane (approximately 1.5 car widths).  There were a number of christmas tree farms along Hwy 35 in this area, and this road is fairly isolated.  This was also the weekend where everyone is shopping, buying their christmas trees.  They actually go and cut down the trees as they are off the ground, instead of having them displayed on wooden stands.  This is pretty smart, so that if they didn’t sell any trees, no problem … just leave them where they are, rooted in the ground.  Anyhow, what this meant was a series of trucks, pickups, vans, and SUV’s driving up and down this narrow road with a bunch of switchbacks.  It was pretty hairy a few times, where we were descending, then all of a sudden around the corner, getting surprised by a car coming around the corner.  I’m pretty sure it was a surprise for them, seeing a cyclist coming towards them too.  I think next time, I’ll make sure this isn’t done on the first weekend in December.

Finally, a right turn on Bear Creek Road.  After a little climbing, we descend for quite a ways, till we reach Hwy 9 again.


After fueling up on supplies in Boulder Creek, we’re ready again to tackle the climb up Hwy 236 up to Big Basin Regional Park. It’s a very pretty route, and the climb itself wasn’t too bad. The visitor’s center is about 8 miles from Boulder Creek, and about 1000 foot climb. We got water here, and this would be the last stop for water for the rest of the ride. This would be the hard part of the ride, and that’s saying something, especially since we had already done 48 miles, and something around 4800 feet climbing.

I do recall from the last time I did this, the climbing itself was really tough. This didn’t make things any better, as the climbing just seem to continue forever. The only saving grace was seeing the spectacular views overlooking the valley. But there was one good thing to come out of this … at least I wasn’t cold.

After summiting, we descended for a little bit until Hwy 236 merged into Hwy 9. I am really exhausted at this point. It’s only 6 miles to Skyline, but it is still 1300 feet more to climb. I had no energy here, and just barely enough water to reach the top. I am really glad we didn’t do this on a hot day, otherwise I may get dehydrated.

We descended down to Pierce and Mt. Eden from here. We climbed Mt. Eden from the steep side … oh joy, just what I needed, some climbing.

By the time we got back to Foothill/Homestead, all we could think of was Starbucks! That latte really felt good going down. I’m still tired, one day later, and there is no way I’m getting back on the bike today. Having done mostly 60 milers, this 80 miler was a swift kick in the butt. I may have to do more rides out to the coast as a trainer.

I ended up with 81 miles, and about 8111 feet climbing.

I actually have more pictures.  You can find them at http://spingineer.smugmug.com/Cycling/Big-Basin/10549620_TQtr5#732719921_himMz

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