Big Basin Loop

It was a great day for a ride … temps in the 60’s-low 70’s, blue skies, so you couldn’t ask for a more perfect day.  But weatherunderground forecasted Boulder Creek would be in the 40’s.  Fudgy (or ygduf, aka Chris) tweeted this, so I had to quickly put on my knee warmers,and bring my jacket.  It was a little nippy, but we’ll see how it goes.

However, when I got to the start, I didn’t see leg warmers, and no longer fingered gloves … once again I’m overdressed.  Oh well.

Right off the bat, the group felt really frisky.  I knew it was going to be a long day, with close to 80 miles, and 7000+ feet of climbing, so I hung in the back, trying to conserve myself.  I didn’t dare look at what pace we were taking our Stevens Canyon, but we were passing people left and right.  I think my HR went up to 170 bpm at that point.  There is no way I could keep this up for the whole ride.

We head up Redwood Gulch, and as always, we are the only ones climbing this hill.  This is only 2 miles, but there are really steep sections of this climb, anywhere from 16% up to 21%.  I have ridden this stretch enough times to get into a rhythm, so that’s ok … it’s just that I’m not that fast.  As I mentioned to Michael, I may be slim, but I am slow.

Fudgy had been complaining about some weird creaking coming from the back wheel.  It got so annoying that we and Ben decided to swap rear wheels, just to see what affect that is.  Little to my knowledge, they decided to do this, right in the middle of the climb up Hwy 9 to Saratoga Gap.  Then, suddenly I hear two voices from behind me, and it was Fudgy and Ben.  How the heck did they get behind me???  But I guess they swapped it out somewhere on the side of the road where I didn’t notice them.  They swapped wheels, and no noise coming out of the back.  They swap it back, and again no noise … silence.  I guess they don’t call him SilentBen for nothing???

Anyhow, back to the route.  We head south on Hwy 35 en route to Boulder Creek.  Most people don’t realize how high up in elevation that goes.  In fact, I think that is the highest point in the South Bay area.  It peaks up at 3,115 feet.  No wonder the Sequoia Century was so tough the last 20 miles or so.

I met up with everyone back at the intersection of Bear Creek and Hwy 35.  Ben had to split off from the group at this point, so he was not going to come with us to Big Basin Park.

When we got to the gas station at Boulder Creek, it donned on me that I didn’t drink too much water.  My water bottle didn’t have to be topped off.  This is not a good sign … I guess I am following Donald’s bad habits.

Once again, I’m in the back as we climb towards Big Basin Park.  This is a gorgeous state park, and just to think we had the redwoods in our back yard … tons of redwoods, and humongously tall trees.  What an awesome sight, but pictures don’t even begin to tell the beauty.

I am so far behind everyone at this point, it didn’t make sense to try to kill myself to bridge the gap (yeah, like I could do that on a whim).  So I just sat back, got into a rhythm, and just enjoyed the scenery.  Gee, what a concept … enjoying the scenery!  Sometimes, I think I’m so focused on trying to get so fit, that I don’t look around and marvel at where I am.

I do meet up with the gang back at the Big Basin State Park Visitor’s Center.  This is a water refill stop, and this time I was consuming water.  In fact, I think I almost finished all of it, so it’s a good thing we had this water stop.

We continued on Hwy 236 out of Big Basin State Park, with more fantastic views.  There weren’t many cars on this stretch of road, so for the most part, we could enjoy the riding and the scenery without being bothered too much.

Hwy 236 turns into Hwy 9, and that’s where I caught up with the rest of the group.  Ramon had to take off, as he had to get back earlier, so it was down to 5 of us.  It is now 6 miles to Skyline, and I am ready for this ride to be over.  Knowing the elevation profile of this ride, we still have a bit more climbing to do.  The only bad part about this stretch is that Hwy 9 is pretty heavily traveled, so we were constantly being buzzed by motorcyclists, trucks, speeding SUV’s … but as long as they leave me enough room, I’m fine.

It was originally thought that the gang was going to go up Montebello (another 2000′ climb), and I was going to bypass that.  But I guess the group was just as fatigued and tired as I was, and they didn’t want to do any more climbing.  So down we went, and much to my surprise, we descended Redwood Gulch.  I normally don’t like descending this, as it is really steep (16-21% in places).  Luckily I got down without incident.  It was fairly quiet on this road today.

On the way back, something odd got into me … since I was always in the back, I needed to change this up a bit.  So after riding 65 miles, and about 7000 feet of climbing, what do I do??? Attack!  Charge up the slight incline as we pass by the reservoir at Stevens Canyon, and then we trade off attacks from that point till we got to the start.  I had just enough in me to pull that off … I’m glad we were done with that at that point.

It was a great end to a great day.  Gorgeous weather, hanging out with my buds of the Wrecking Crew.


79.4 miles, 7073 feet climbing

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