Do something crazy! And fix a bike or two along the way.

The Davenport Cafe is our mandatory mid-rid stop on the Santa Cruz loop.
The Davenport Cafe is our mandatory mid-rid stop on the Santa Cruz loop.

Wow, I think we’re finally back on-line, after 10 days in which the Almost-Daily Diary had vanished. Some catching up to do, like Tuesday & Thursday’s rides, but we’ll work backward and cover yesterdays’ first.

With the weather billed as being, well, awesome, we couldn’t do just any ride. And with as many miles as my legs have missed lately due to travel, clearly it was time to do something a bit beyond, and that can mean just one thing. Santa Cruz. Back in the day, a Santa Cruz loop was not all that common, perhaps done once a year, maybe missing some even, but it seems to be the new leg & body-testing ride for myself and Kevin. And why not? It’s got everything! Climbs, descents, headwinds, tailwinds, light traffic, heavy traffic, and did we mention the fantastic lunch stop in Davenport?

Just before hitting Old LaHonda we came across Lisa & Andy, customers of ours who were having trouble with a bike computer. It’s display simply said “Working…”. Seriously, that’s what it said. I did a reset on it, it still said “Working…” but came to life shortly after. Patience is a good thing sometimes.

Kevin enjoying Lunch at Davenport Cafe

Nothing fast up Old LaHonda (22:40) or Haskins (almost 11 minutes!) because we knew there was a lot more ahead. Traded pace with an Alto Velo rider we came across on the run towards Pescadero, then peeled off south for the run down the coast. Thankfully the winds were favorable, accounting for the PRs on Strava. And, as usual, the Davenport Cafe did not disappoint. Carne Asada burrito, Pepsi and a Mocha. Could have skipped the Mocha, but I’d never had coffee there so figured I ought to try it out. We used to eat at the Whaler Cafe just across the street, but they’re busier, the food isn’t quite as good (but not bad, better than just about anyplace else you’re likely to go… just not as good as the Davenport Cafe!), and it’s more expensive.

Boulder Creek Food Mart/Gas Station. Last chance for food & water before climbing to Skyline

The least-favorite part of the ride, as always, is the section on Highway 9 from Santa Cruz until you get a few miles past Boulder Creek where it finally pitches up permanently. Prior to that you’ve got leg-sapping rollers, lots of traffic, potholes… you just want to get out of there. It’s funny how much you look forward to a real climb, where you can settle in. As expected, I was feeling a lot better this far into the ride than Kevin, who’s got even fewer miles in his legs than me. Oh, right, almost forgot the mandatory stop for Mtn Dew and to refill bottles at the gas station in Boulder Creek. We’re beginning to question if it really makes sense to stop there, perhaps riding on through and stopping at Skyline (Mr. Mustard) instead. Might try that next time.

Kevin began to feel better at “Cheeseland”, the part of Highway 9 about 3/4 of the way up from Waterman Gap, where there’s a large parking lot on the right with a terrific view. He calls it “Cheeseland” because there used to be a sign there for “Cheeseborough Scout Camp” or something like that. We almost reeled another rider in just before the top, but not quite.

No stop for Mr. Mustard today; we still had plenty of energy drink left, and since Kevin’s legs were feeling better again, it made sense to just keep going. We did get stopped for a few minutes by the almost-mandatory motorcycle crash on Skyline (at least this guy had the sense to wreck near the fire station), and then stopped again to fix a guy’s chain at Sky Londa.

112 miles, almost exactly 8 hours door-to-door. Not a speed run, but it really felt good.

4 thoughts on “Do something crazy! And fix a bike or two along the way.

    1. 16.7mph. Think we’ve done 17+ before, have to look and see. Definitely had favorable winds on the coast, but nothing like some years back when the Sequoia Century has us riding the coast all the way from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz, with a hellacious tail wind and a really motivated & fast group, led by Richard Brockie. Haven’t seen him for a while. Guess I should check Facebook… –Mike–

  1. Mike,

    That average speed is moving speed-isn’t it? Very impressive still. Back in my day, I did the occasional SC loop. I would stop in Davenport, then proceed to Western Dr., up Eureka Canyon, down Felton-Empire and cross over to Zayante in order to avoid riding nine. Do you ever do that?

    1. Isn’t Eureka Canyon on the other (south) side of Santa Cruz/17? Going up Western Drive you connect with Empire Grade, which climbs up the ridge to Alba, Felton-Empire and finally Jamison Creek. The more-common way to do that is to go up Bonny Doon just south of Davenport, which connects to Empire Grade. Brutal climb, especially on a hot day! And yes, that average speed is moving speed. Total ride time was exactly 8 hours, so average speed including stops was 14mph.

      The other ways to avoid Highway 9 include Mtn Charlie Road (you have to parallel 17 for a bit up to Scotts Valley, then you have a nice climb up Mtn Charlie to Summit/Skyline) and, by going a bit further south, you can head up Soquel San Jose Road and connect to Summit just south of 17. All very good rides! –Mike–

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