It’s one of the hottest weekends of the year, so it’s time to think about coastal routes. Plus, it’s two weeks before the Grand Tour, so I had to get some miles in. My lofty goal was to get in 100+, but you know how goals sometimes just to get done.
So most people were pre-occuppied with other stuff, so I did this ride solo. I stuck arm warmers in my pocket, not thinking I’d need them … and I didn’t. There was not a cloud in the sky, and even at 8 am, it was getting pretty warm.
I decided to take Arastradero to Alpine, then Portola over to Old La Honda for the first climb. Normally, there is a water fountain at the corner of Alpine and Portola, so I was planning on filling up there before the OLH climb. However, I get there, and there is no water fountain. What the heck did they do? Well, I probably have enough water to make it to the top of OLH, so I went with that.
Climbing OLH, I didn’t feel the freshest. I spent a bit of energy concentrating on climbing those little bumps on Arastradero on the big chain ring. So my expectation on OLH was not very high. I immediately get passed by 4 riders, who just have so much energy. I’m huffing and puffing and not getting as far. They are huffing and puffing too, but they just seem to pass me as if I’m standing still. I was able to pass a few people, but I had this one target rider in front of me, and for the life of me, I just could not pull him in. In fact, he was distancing me.
I’m trying the best I could, and although I am not gasping for air, I felt like I did a lot of work, and it just felt like I had a slow climb. Little did I know, after I downloaded my data to Strava, it was my personal best at 27 minutes (actually, that’s not true … I netted 25 minutes on the Low Key Hill Climb last year).
I refilled water at the store at 84 and 35, then headed down 84. It was okay till we got some massive headwinds West on 84. That made the ride a bit more challenging. Hills, ok, but headwinds … and add to that the heat.
Not sure if many realize this, but 84 is a tsunami evacuation route. I have proof.
Heading down 84, you eventually get to San Gregorio. I then head south via Stage Road. This is a nice, lightly traveled road, with some climbs, but not too tough. It’s just enough to keep your legs honest.
Got into Pescadero, and ate at the local store (they have some nice sandwiches). Everyone flocks to the Country Bakery, and I can see all the bikes parked along the back of the store. Now if they would only go down the street a little bit, the store is not as crowded, and in my opinion, serves better sandwiches. I was sitting down, enjoying my sandwich, and seeing several group of cyclists pass by. Every one of them goes right to the bakery. I guess it’s personal preference, but if you don’t want to wait, there is another option.
Ok, I’ve spent long enough time in Pescadero … my original plan was to do a loop out to Pigeon Point, then back to Pescadero. However, with all the headwinds, I decided to just skip that and head on the tsunami evacuation route on way to Haskins Hill and Alpine. On the way over, I decided to stop by Paula (aka msincredible on bikeforums).
Paula has not been riding lately, because she is pregnant. She still looks great, even being pregnant. Some women are just like that … they look good no matter what the circumstance. It was great catching up with her. She happens to be right off of Pescadero Creek Road, just before the steep part of Haskins Hill starts. What’s great is she is offering to provide food or drinks to any of her cycling friends if needed. But since the park is nearby, you can also get water and bathroom stop there too. Her place is pretty easy to spot … just look for the Orbea on the trainer, in the window of her living room. I thought that was pretty funny.
Now the hard part is after leaving Paula’s place, we get immediately onto the climb. We climb about 1000 feet on Haskins Hill, then a short downhill, before you get onto West Alpine for the real climb. Haskins is sort of a warm up for Alpine. However, I spent so much energy on Haskins, I didn’t have a whole lot left for Alpine. It was a long journey, and unfortunately, the second half of the climb is completely exposed, so you have no shade to work with.
I think the combination of having Alpine come at 60 miles into the ride, and having to climb Haskins Hill right before it, makes this climb so tough. I remember doing another ride, where I did OLH, then Alpine, and it wasn’t too bad. There, Alpine came at mile 40 … that makes a big difference.
While riding on Pescadero, I noticed a large number of cyclists coming the other way. In fact, I didn’t see too many motorcyclists, nor any fancy cars zooming up and down. There were many local teams represented … I think they are probably training for the Pescadero Road Race, which is coming up later this month.
A couple things I forgot on this ride … first, I didn’t bring my e-pills. That’s killer, especially on a hot day like today. Second, I didn’t take my Claritin before the ride. I heard that the pollen count was high, so that may have sucked some of the energy I was missing at the second half of the ride.
On the way home, I descended on Altamont. This was the same stretch where I had my first accident, where it was a damp road, and I lost control, and took a spill. This is also where they try to warn cyclist that this is a bad turn. They put some interesting street signs here. They also paint in chalk “caution”, but I don’t think it is as effective as the street sign.
All in all, it was a great ride. My climbing fitness is starting to take shape. My lower back is not straining like it used to, and I’m able to recover a little better.
Totals: 82.9 miles, 6214 feet climbing. Quite a busy day, if I might so say so.