Category Archives: climb

Zombie Raccoons Climbfest with WW

It’s been over a year being on Google+, and I’ve had such a blast connecting up with fellow cyclists on Google+, but never actually ride with any of them.  That all changed this weekend.

Zombie Raccoons Ride #bikecommutercabal

Zombie Raccoons Ride #bikecommutercabal

I finally got a chance to ride with my friends Lynne Watanabe and Chris Davies. In addition to this, we ride together with another hill chimbfest with Steve and Cheryl from WW.

Once again, we had short but very steep climbs and descents .. Ranging into 20% grades.  Yes, they were relentless.  These were a little like the hills of San Francisco.

Now I did warn Lynne and Chris that some of these climbs are really steep, but we still sent on ahead anyways.

It was still a little chilly, so I wore toe warmers on my shoes. When I wear toewarmers, sometimes it’s a little hard to feel where the pedal is with the shoe with the toewarmers on. One time, I missed, then hit the pedal on my leg. In the process, my left sit bone hit the saddle pretty hard. That was pretty painful, and I wound up riding with that pain for the whole ride. That pain still lingered with me the following day.

Then with all the hills climbed, it did catch up to a few of us, forcing some to skip the Ascension hill. Yes, this was a hard day. This was also historic. Finally getting to ride with some of my commutercabal peeps. Now if I can only ride with Jenny Oh, now that would be cool.

Yes, I Do Exist Outside of Facebook Postings

I haven’t done a Western Wheelers ride in a really long time, and so I saw my friends Steve and Cheryl leading a ride up Kings Mountain and some interval hills around Redwood City, including Lakeview, I decided to go on this ride. I get to Gunn High School, and see Cheryl, and the first thing out of her mouth is “oh my god, look who’s here”. Yes, Steve and Cheryl, I do exist, and it’s not some silly Facebook entity that shows up in your friend feed. That was too funny. It has been a while.

I just wanted to mix it up a bit … Ride with different people, different route, it’s always a good thing. Going up Kings Mountain … That’s nothing new, but usually we don’t go through Huddart Park … We did this time.

It’s a little more scenic, plus it avoids a section of car traffic. Rumor has it that this stretch is a little steeper than the typical stretch straight up on Kings, but does seem a little more scenic. You can’t go wrong with either route though.

The group stopped at the picnic grounds, to fill up on water and to use the bathroom. I was good to go, so I just continued on. I think the steeper stretch is the climb out of Huddart Park though … There are a few 20% sections although very short.

Everyone was concerned about it being cold at the top, but I was fine with just arm warmers and shorts. The next part of the route was going north on Skyline, and descents all the way to Hwy 92, then another descent to Canada. Ok, I would need my vest, but even then, I felt okay with just a vest and arm warmers. I guess I just got used to the early morning and evening temperatures, so I was fine.

Next up, we go down through parts of Redwood City for some hill intervals … That’s really the best way to describe them. We did Crestview, from the easy side … Yes, there is an easier side, but it was still a tough climb. I usually do this as a night ride, and this is one of the few times I did it in daylight. I thought at first the hill was an optical illusion … After climbing it, no it’s not an illusion, that hill is real.

We then bomb down Crestview … Really steep descent, then over to Woodside, then over to Lakeview. Another steep climb, but not too long. More hill intervals. Only on Steve and Cheryl’s ride, but loving it. And with the disc brakes, not a worry in the world.

It was a great day, riding with old friends, great route … Thanks Steve and Cheryl.

Bohlman LKHC, a Must Do Climbfest


This week’s LKHC was epic.  This is one of the most popular, and arguably most painful hill in the area (only Welch Creek may top it).  As a result, there were s lot of late RSVP and check in which made it extra difficult for the volunteers.  My hats go off to the volunteers … they are the ones who make these LKHC so successful.


The start was at the Saratoga Elementary school on Oak, with less than a mile lead up to the climb.  It’s an excellent staging area, with a Starbucks down the street, and a few other cafes in downtown Saratoga.



My friend Bogdan came on the ride with not over, not two, but at least 5 cameras, with one of them being a DSLR.  And yes, he did finish ahead of me.  In fact, 10 minutes ahead of me.  What a beast!

We took off right at 10:10 as scheduled, and positioned myself near the back, as that was where I was expecting to finish. Right away, I saw a bunch of people race in front of me, but I knew what is on this hill … pain! There were a number of riders who I knew I could stay with, and I maintain my pace with them.

We turn on Norton, which then goes on Kittridge, then Quickert, then On Orbit. This is an alternative to taking Bohlman straight on. I wonder which is tougher?

When it turns into Quickert, that’s where the climbs get tough, into the 17% range. Then onto On Orbit, which kicks it up even tougher. I saw a section of 25% on Strava. I saw a few poor souls stopped, by I had to avoid stopping at all costs, and keep going, even if it did mean sustaining 183 bpm heartrate. I spent a lot of time in zone 5.

Photo courtesy Tom Everman

Photo courtesy Tom Everman

I heard encouragement from Dan at the top of On Orbit, and that drove me to push even harder, and grunt even louder from my gut. I passed about 5 guys at this point, and I never looked back, and wasn’t passed at that point.

Whew, the hard part was done, but after a short descent, it’s a left turn to do yet more climbing. The ringing of cowbells was my sign for the left turn and off I go.

Photo courtesy Bill Bushnell

Photo courtesy Bill Bushnell

The rest of the climb wasn’t bad, but it’s all that climbing that was in my legs to this point which made it challenging. There were still a few 12% grades, but nothing like what we did with On Orbit.


I got to the top, and yelled my number out, but not knowing if it was recorded. Some people were on the climb that didn’t report a number, so who knows what the results were. I’ll have to wait later today for official results, but at least Strava says I got a time of 45:16, which was 45 seconds slower than my previous LKHC. I’m just happy I finished this.

wpid-20131019_111117.jpgI’m really anxious to see the suffer photos from this ride. After the climb, a bunch of us were comparing this to the toughest climbs in the Bay Area. Welch Creek seems to be tougher, with Bohlman being punchy-er, if that makes sense. Funny, I knew exactly what they mean.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have many pictures. I thought I had my GoPro set for time lapse, but I guess it wasn’t on. I was hoping to capture the suffering on On Orbit, but nothing. Damn.


Epic Sunday Mini Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge

Sunday’s ride was another Meetup Ride, and in a way, it probably should have been posted as a biking++ ride.  This is not what I consider a leisure Sunday ride … in fact, it was epic.

I rode from home, which made it more impressive, since the start of the ride was at Saratoga Gap (corner of Hwy 9 and Hwy 35).  First, it’s a 16 mile ride up Hwy 9, and it get in 2000 feet of climbing before the ride even started.  There were plans to have a group start from Starbucks in Saratoga, but Bronwen has to bail, and I think that lead others to drive up instead.  Not me!

Last time we did this, the descent down Hwy 9 was cold, and a little damp.  And did I dress early for this?  No, of course not.  I only had arm warmers and a light vest.  Lucky for me, it wasn’t that cold, and it was dry, so I was okay.  However, the group sped down Hwy 9 like a locomotive train.  I thought I can get down into a tuck and catch the group, but they were nowhere in sight.  I had to high tail it.  Do they know what the climb is like?

I caught up to the group on the next turn, which was just after Bear Creek.  This is a nice alternative from the usual route I do, which avoids a busy section of Hwy 236.

We finally get to Jameson Creek, and the fun begins.  It’s something like 1700 feet of climbing, but in a short 3.5 miles.  Damn, that’s steep.

Jameson Creek

Jameson Creek

I didn’t feel like I was climbing strong, but much to my surprise, it was my third best.  Amazing what the body can do when you just work within your limits.  I did get passed my one guy from Team Fremont, and we briefly chatted about why we are doing this tough steep climb.


I get to the top, but the lead group went on ahead.  I decided to wait for the rest of the group.  In the meantime, the rest of the Team Fremont group reaches the top.  They are a fun group, and they had a sag wagon following them.  They even offered me water and bananas, even though I’m not on their ride.  Cameraderie in cyclists is just awesome.




Rhysly and Dillan

Rhysly, Steve, and Dillan get to the summit, about 30 minutes after I got to the top.  Big kudos to Rhysly for completing this, who 1 year ago could hardly finish climbing Mt.  Eden.


We continued on Empire Grade to Alba, where we then take a hair raising descent down to downtown Ben Lomond.


Don’t believe the 10% sign …. there were done 20% sections there.  My disc brakes came in handy here, but just hope it doesn’t overheat.  At least only the disc will get hot, and not the rim.  That was a crazy descent.

We regroup at a gas station, but that was really the last we stayed together.  We got separated once we started climbing Zayante.  At this point, I think my legs are recovered from the steep Jameson climb, so now it’s steady 10 mile climb up to Summit Road.

I ended up climbing solo, and when we got to the top, I then went on , my own route back home.  It’s a little less climbing, and makes the whole ride one complete loop.

I was tired by the time I got home, but not completely exhausted, so I guess this is a good thing.  One problem … it’s a Sunday, and there is no recovery day before going back into work.  I guess I’ll have to use my commute in as a recovery ride.

Totals: 78.2 miles, 8494 feet climbing.  Epic climbfest.

Montebello LKHC 2013 and My CX Excursion Across Montebello Trail


Montebello is the beginning of the LKHC season.  This is a series of hill climbs that begin in October, and goes on for 2 months on successive Saturdays.  It’s a great series, and is completely volunteer driven.  This is the 3rd year in a row doing this, and I just love it.


Got to see my friend Mark, who I haven’t seen in a while.  In fact I think the last time I saw him was on the Hwy 9 LKHC Time Trial.


I also spotted Gregory Smith, who I interact with in G+.  Good to finally meet someone in my social media outlets in person.

Montebello is my local hill, and usually when I climb it, there’s maybe 3 or 4 cyclist I see on the road, so it’s cool to see the road suddenly filled with a line of 70-80 cyclists.  Awesome!!!!

Photo courtesy Gregory Smith

As usual, people are passing me at will, and that’s fine … I’m in it to finish it … and hopefully I won’t be the Lantern Rouge.  Eventually, I found myself in the same level as a group of others, and I used their pace to maintain my pace up the rest of the hill.  One of them is a tandem, and it’s awesome for them to climb this massive hill on a tandem.


Photo courtesy Alexander Komlik


Photo courtesy Garrett Lau

I had no clue where the photographers were on the route, which was probably a good thing … get more candid shots that way. It also have more suffer shots as well.

Got up to the top, and Strava tuned this at 49 minutes, while the LKHC has this at 45 minutes.  Obviously, different start time for that segment.  It’s not my best, but I’m still pretty happy with it, considering last week, I could only muster 55 minutes up this hill.

The paved road ends here, but I decided to continue on the unpaved dirt and sometimes loose gravel section of the Montebello Trail.  Some spots are hard on a road bike, due to traction, it lack of it.  However,  I know others have done it, so let’s give it a try.



The view is spectacular, and since there are no cars, I don’t have to worry about cars.  Most of the bikes I saw on here were in Mountain Bikes.  I wonder how many thought “what’s that idiot going here on a road bike?”


This is a view I wouldn’t have seen in a paved road.  There were a few seconds where I was fishtailing, but I got used to it and was able to recover.

I finally got to the paved section, but by the time I got to Page Mill, I was stuck inside a gate. There was no outlet. Was I riding inside someone’s backyard? Luckily, I could put my bike over the other side of the fence, and crawl though it to get to the other side on Page Mill. Hopefully no one saw me.

On my way back, I’m not sure what it was, but I started sneezing and had a runny nose. This also fatigued me, and I was barely inching my way back home. It’s this an allergy attack, or did my cold re-surface? Luckily I got the LKHC in before this thing hit started. Is this another day I’m stuck indoors while it’s gloriously sunny outside? This just sucks.

Strava stats: 38.5 miles, 3406 feet climbing.

Climbed Mt. Tam Finally on a Hot Day


Triumph! First time up to summit of Mt. Tam

I finally climbed Mt. Tam, and it would happen to be on the Hottest Day of the year on the Bay Area.  I mean, it was in the 80s in SF … that’s s rarity.

I’m the past, I would normally do either Alpine Dam and head up to Ridgecrest then do they Seven Sisters (set of 7 rolling hills), and then, get to a junction where we usually have a rest stop, then head down Pan Toll Road, down the hill.  But that would skip Mt. Tam.  At this point we usually already have a lot of miles and climbing in our legs that we have little motivation to go up.  Well the same thing was true on this day, but I decided I’m not doing and I’m just continuing up the road, and climbing Mt. Tam.

It was hot to start off with, even after getting off Caltrain by AT&T Park.  I brought a vest and arm warmers, because you can never tell what the climate is like in the city, but there was no fog at all, and it would remain hot.  This also meant traffic was bad.  Normally when I take the first train in on Saturday, it wouldn’t be too bad, but not today.  Plus, the finals of America’s Cup is going on, so lots of traffic at the Embarcadero.

I made minimal stops on this ride, so this was definitely not a social ride, but it also wasn’t a hammer ride, due to heat and climbing I know I’ll do.  Before making the climb to Alpine Dam, I fueled up at 7-11 … like drinking an entire bottle of Gatorade.  I normally don’t do this, but I needed something to cool my core before the climbing starts.


Huddling in the shade at Alpine Dam

Alpine Dam is the usual regroup spot, and usually people stop at the center of the dam to relax and enjoy.  Not this day.  I huddled over to the shade.

Next up was the next climb up to Ridgecrest.  This was a pretty shady climb, but it was still pretty hot.  I started to get fatigued here, and suddenly I had thoughts of bailing on Mt. Tam again.  I had to fight to wipe these thoughts out of my head, and just make it to the next crest at Ridgecrest.


At Ridgecrest, and start of Seven Sisters

At Ridgecrest, there was another group doing a training ride, and they had a support car, supplying water.  They graciously provided it, even to those not in their training ride.  That’s just awesome.  That’s what I love about cycling, such cameraderie.

Next it’s the Seven Sisters.  This is a set of seven rollies, before you even get to the base of Mt. Tam.   This is tough on a hot day, because it is all exposed, wide open.  Since you know there are seven of them, you can almost pace yourself, but with this heat, it’s still a tough climb.


Overlooking Stinson Beach

There are some really gorgeous views from here.  You get some really nice overlooks of Stinson Beach.

Continuing on Ridgecrest, when you finish the Seven Sisters, there is s parking lot, where most take a rest.  This is where in the past we would head down the hill, but not today.  I’m not doing and continuing on up the hill.


Mt. Tam looking east

Actually the climb up Mt. Tam is not that bad.  It is a little shaded to start, and the summit is all exposed.  I think the climb up to Ridgecrest plus the Seven Sisters usually it’s what does everybody in.  Amazing views from up here.


Caltrain Bike Car was busy

By the time I made it down the hill back to Sausalito, I was tired.  I’m looking forward to just sitting in Caltrain, and resting.  I made it to Caltrain just in time … got there at 3:05, and the train leaves at 3:15.  Sweet!  The bike car was also very busy.

Total stats …62 miles, 5000+ feet climbing

Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge with a modified 3 Spur Option

Saturday, we did the Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge.  The original plan was to do the 200k, with 3 spurs (basically additional loops), which was supposed to have a total elevation gain of < 15,000 feet of climbing.  However, with lack of long rides leading up to this (2 weekends prior were shot), I didn’t have too much confidence that I would last.  I rode with Karen and Ramon, and we pretty much stayed together the whole ride.

Started the day leaving at 6:30 am, and on the way over, we drove through a bunch of fog, so it was still misty at the start, and a little chill in the air.  I only brought a vest and arm warmers, and that should be sufficient, since we are doing a bunch of climbing.

This is one of my favorite rides (can you tell?  I’ve only done it the last 4 years consecutively).  The views are spectacular, with lots of tall trees, but you pay the price with steep 15-20% grades.  Of course, with the fog bank, it was kinda hard to see much of a view.

Old Santa Cruz Hwy

The first spur was a loop out to Hwy 17, straddling Old Santa Cruz Highway, then up Summit Road.  We seemed to be the only ones doing the spurs, until a few of them came up and passed us a bit later on in the spur.  Then, we saw more come up … they must have been the 7 am starters.

There is one thing about doing the spur … the rest stop comes at mile 33 … that’s a pretty long stretch to go without a potty stop, especially at the beginning of the ride.  It might have been good to include a potty stop at Old Santa Cruz Highway, after making that long descent down Bear Creek Road.  It was easy for me to just pull over, but for Karen, that’s a little more of an issue.  We got to the corner of Bear Creek and Skyline, and saw a porta potty there … but unfortunately, it was locked.  Oh, how cruel.  Guess we’ll have to hold it, but there’s another 1000 feet to climb before we descend into Saratoga Gap for rest stop 1!

First Rest Stop

First Rest Stop

After a few rollies, we finally rolled into rest stop 1.  We probably spent a bit too much time at rest stop 1 … Looking back at Strava, we were there a good 20 minutes.  Dang .. we should have a rest stop timer, especially since the next 10 miles or so is a downhill descent.

Fresh faces before climbing China Grade

Fresh faces before climbing China Grade

We descent down Hwy 9, and we break off to the 2nd spur, while the rest of the group continue into Big Basin.  Actually, we end up taking a different route to the same rest stop, then doing the climb up China Grade, for the 2nd spur.  Karen kept urging me to do at least the 2nd spur, so I caved in, and said I would.

China Grade

Once again, we were the only ones out there, until we get passed by one big guy … and I mean big.  Later on, we find out he’s 250 pounds, and he was on a 58 or 62 cm frame.  I end up later passing him.  I was stuck trailing, and then I saw him, and that was my target.  He was a good uphill climbing target, and that kinda helped me up the hill.

Ok, back down the hill, back to the same rest stop before we started the climb.  However, we had a big wake up call.  They were starting to tear down the rest stop!  One of the support workers asked us “is there anyone behind you”?  Wow, are we that slow?  We started thinking about whether or not we should cut short the ride, should we do the last spur … but then I said, we still have to do Jameson!

Re-fuel, then get on the road, and do this Jameson climb.  Since I had done this as a training ride about 4 weeks ago, I figured I’m prepared.  It was all business, just concentrate on smooth pedaling, getting efficient power into my drivetrain.  I notice the switchback that every falters on, and just power from the heels.  I felt pretty good about this climb, and I was averaging around 5 mph, dipping at the lowest at 4 mph.  I still didn’t beat my PR from the 2011 SCMC, but at least finishing it felt good.

Lunch came after Jameson, and by the time we were about to leave the lunch stop, it was about 2:10 pm.  I noticed the sign saying lunch closes at 2:30 pm.  Wow, we are really behind.  Now if we went straight back on the 100k route, we would get in only 90 miles, so we decided to continue onto the 3rd spur, then finish off with the 100k once we got back to Felton.  Sounds like a good plan, right?

It was a long descent down before we hung a right onto Smith Grade.  I think Jameson plus lunch did me in, and my legs had no strength for Smith, which really is not that bad, if your legs are fresh … mine weren’t.  I was way behind Ramon and Karen, and when I finally re-grouped with them at Bonny Doon, “I’m all spurred out”.


Still a few climbs more before we get to Ice Cream Grade.  Before getting there, we cross over the charred remains of a fire from a few years ago, and the charred remains are still present.  Kind of eerie coming through here … reminds me a little of Yellowstone when I toured there after their big fires.

Ice Cream Grade is the last significant climb we do before we make the descent down Felton Empire into the town of Felton.  We did get the ire of a local, who didn’t like the idea of cyclist being on the road.  Just can’t please everyone.

We got into Felton, and it was about 4 pm.  At this point, we were at the 94 mile mark.  Now if we continued on the 200k route, we would climb up Zayante (a long 18-ish mile climb), going over to Summit, loop around on Soquel San Jose Rd, before coming back to the school.  That would be a hard climb, especially since my legs felt like jello, with no zip in them at all.  We decided to take a more direct route, climb Mt. Hermon Road, before getting onto Scotts Valley Road.  This was a direct route back to the start.  However, Karen’s Garmin had 1-2 miles less than mine, and she had to get at least 100 miles (because she was advertising to everyone she’s doing the 200k).  So we ended up doing a few extra miles, before I ran into some thorns, which flatted both my front and rear tires.  At that point, after fixing both flats, I just told them go on ahead, and I’ll just ride back to the school.  It turns out, I would end up with just over 100.

More importantly, we got back, just in time to take advantage of hand rolled burritos back at the school, and a couple scoops of ice cream too.  You can’t climb Ice Cream Grade without having ice cream at the end!

It was a long, hard, painful day, but it all felt good.  This is one reason why I prefer the long hard ride on a Saturday, instead of a Sunday.

Links to more pics:

Strava data :

Don’t You Dare Turn Back – HTFU

The day started out a little slow.  I felt a little twinge in my back, which was kind of limiting how much power I can output on the bike.  Plus, it was a little overcast, and it felt a little cool.  I was not going very fast.

Ok, first climb of the day is Kennedy, a short 1 mile climb, with about 300 feet climbing.  Not too bad right?  But my thought was just get to the top then see how I feel.

I took a nice break, then down the hill.  I figured I would soft pedal for a little bit.  Well, I figured I have gone this far, just keep the pedals cranking.  The smaller hills somehow helped get myself into the groove, enough to just spin away at high cadence, and make it up Hicks.  If I feel weak, I can just head back down the hill.

I made it to the top of Hicks.  I definitely want breaking ant records today, but it did feel good making it up there.  I guess I channeled my inner Jens today.


I was spinning around the parking lot so I decided to soon a little bit up Umunhum.  Spinning turned into climbing … and yup, you guessed it …. I climbed up Umunhum.  Amazing how the battle off mind over matter goes. I guess my stubbornness and not giving up is a result of this.

I’m glad I did go up … spectacular views up there





Quimby and Sierra, a Bay Area Climbfest

Karen came up to visit in the Bay Area, so we decided to do Quimby and Sierra.  We did Quimby once before, so she knows how intense that climb is.  This time, we are adding Sierra into the mix.  She’s heard so much about Sierra, so it’s time to acquaint her with Sierra.


I decided to start the ride at the base of Mt. Hamilton, so we can get some warm up climbs in.  We started out looking for a road that climbs up that would take us down to eventually meet up with Quimby, but I got ourselves lost.  In fact, I found ourselves going around in a circle.  So much for using the Garmin for mapping out route. However this did give us a really short, but very steep hill, just to get our legs used to the pain.

Ok, over to Quimby we go. This is the first time doing Quimby on the Volagi, compact double, so I have a little fear that I won’t be able to make it up, since the previous times were with a triple. First time for everything, right?

Karen is a stronger climber than me, so I tried to stay with her on the hill as long as I can. That kinda helped me get a PR on the first third of Quimby segment, but was not able to maintain that for the whole climb.


The upper section was definitely much tougher. I got into my lowest gear possible to try to soon as much as I could up, but sometimes the intensity of the grade makes it difficult to spin. At this point I was wondering whether or not I should have brought the Seven.


Cadence was much slower but was still able to spin the cranks. I get to the last switchback, which is the toughest, and I stand, lean in, tack, do anything to keep moving. No matter what, I did not want to get off the bike. Somehow I made it through, and finally get up to the top, and well deserved rest, waiting for my heartbeats to go down to a respectable level.

We now descend Mt. Hamilton Road. Quimby actually takes us halfway up Hamilton, so after a few rollies, a nice descent back to the start. I had my baselayer on and it was way too warm for that, so I took that off, dumped it in the car.

Off to Sierra we go, following the DMD route markers on the street. I tell Karen to look up at what’s ahead, and OMG was the reaction. Let the suffering begin.


I normally do this climb as the first one of the day, but I already have a lot of climbing done in the legs, so I’m not expecting a great time on this. Karen paces up ahead of me, so it’s just me, the shadows off my wheel that I’m looking at on the ground, the sound of my rotor, and the sound of rubber as in climbing this. There’s nothing else v on my mind at this point, just concentrating on pedaling, and hearing those sounds of solitude.


There are a number of riders on this road (more than on Quimby) and all of them passing me. At least that gave me something else too concentrate on, but I still didn’t want to look up too much. I needed to stay within my own pace. Once again, I had to fight within myself to keep pedaling, and not stop, no matter how much my legs were screaming. I’m just remembering what it has printed on my bike … the will to go. Encouragement from the guys passing me also helps. That’s what I love about cycling and climbing these hills … a deep respect.


One final push … I see a group waiting at the top, and just pedaling with enough force just to keep moving. I’m definitely not making a final sprint up to the summit like I normally do. Success at last.

After a final rest, it’s over the other side and a descent down to go back to the cars. We were originally thinking of extending the ride, but I think our legs were saying enough. Besides, it’s not about the miles today, it’s all about the climbing. Awesome ride. Awesome climbfest!

Here’s the strava link … short but epic http: //

Exploring Montevina, an Epic Climb

I haven’t done Saratoga Gap in a while so I decided to do that today.  I was also planning on doing Big Basin today, as I haven’t done that in a while either.  However, when I’m out on a solo ride, plans can change really quickly.


I set out to do the Hwy 9 climb right at the base in Downtown Saratoga.  I didn’t want to do the Redwood Gulch.  After a quick stop for water at the fire station, I headed south on Skyline, with all good intentions of going all the way to Bear Creek, then heading over to Big Basin. However, I always pass by Black Road, and never ride it.

Today, I decided to take Black Road. It’s a nice descent, with many Redwood trees and was thinking thank God I’m descending not climbing this beast. This road took me all the way down to Hwy 17.


I could just cross over too the other side of the highway, then take the gravel bike path back to Los Gatos, but I decided I didn’t want to do that. No, instead, I remember Montevina connects up to Bohlman, and I can take that back through Saratoga. Nice plan, right?

Montevina runs parallel to Hwy 17, but then it cuts up into some steep hills. How steep? Well let’s say it’s in the double digit altitude gains. This road was totally exposed, with a few trees here and there. It was noon, so the temps were high … not quite 100 … but 99°F.

There was absolutely no one on this road, with the exception of a few residents and a mail truck going up the hill. The grade was consistently staying at double digit numbers. There were a number of fantastic views overlooking Lexington Dam, but it was so hot, and the climb so tough, I couldn’t afford to stop to take a picture.

As it turns out, the hill got the best of me and I ended up going for a breather a few times, particularly when there was a shade with a slight breeze. I definitely was not going for any records (since this was my first time going up). I could see one last stretch before the paved road ends, and I had to stop one more time, take a deep breath and push it.

Finally made it up, but I still had 0.7 more miles off-road, but hard packed. I had to stop a few more times and even had to walk it for a while, more to get traction. But then, right before reaching another gate, there was a little steep descent, still on dirt. That was scary, especially on a road bike.


Reaching the summit, someone left a cooler with water. Oooh that’s so nice. Thank you!


I still had a little ways to go still on dirty but the hard part was over. I was so relieved to be back on pavement, but more importantly, on the other side of the mountain. Now all I had to do was negotiate the steep descent down Bohlman.

Got into Saratoga, and I was, hot, I was tired, and there’s a Starbucks. Ice froappuccino time. I think I’m dinner, 5300 feet climbing in this heat … that’s enough for me.