Tag Archives: bicycle

Do snakes rattle your nerves? The joys of warm-weather riding!

About a third of the way up Old LaHonda Kevin spotted this guy, at first hiding at the edge of the road before deciding to come out and show some skin. Skin and a bit of tail which might sound like a male fantasy but probably not in this case. This guy was the right size and, I think, coloring, for a rattlesnake, and pretty sure I saw a rattle at the end of the tail (you can barely make out the appearance of the rattle in the inset). That plus a little bit of aggressiveness as he raised his head about a foot off the ground. Not your typical gopher snake behaviour, but rattlesnakes typically have a wider head.

Click on image for closer shot of the snake’s head, to help identify as either Gopher or Rattlesnake (looks more like a Gopher Snake head under closer inspection)

The original plan went to pieces when Kevin developed quite a nasty headache prior to the ride (a “cluster” headache I’m told it’s called), but, somewhat against his wishes, I did get him out on the road. He was giving me the silent treatment until we got about a third of the way up Old LaHonda when he yells to me, “Did you see the snake?” No, I hadn’t seen it, but he circled back to show me where it was (although between the time he’d seen it and then went back to find it, the snake had literally holed itself up in a hole in the embankment, but eventually came back out to find out what was going on).

This guy was pretty big, and pretty mobile. The warm weather gets them moving faster, but also a bit more aggressive, so that, once settled into the drainage area along the side of the road, he lifted his head up about a foot or so, definitely trying to strike a threatening pose. Normally, I remove snakes from the roadway so they don’t get run over, but thankfully this guy wasn’t in the road (close though) and besides, I’m not going to play around much with what might be a good-sized rattlesnake. So instead we stayed around for a bit, warning anyone riding up the hill to stay to the other side of the road (since this guy was easily within striking distance of an uphill cyclists’ legs). Check this out for a prior ride where we came across a no-question-about-it rattlesnake.

Eventually we moved on, heading over the top of Old LaHonda and down the other side to San Gregorio. The original plan had been to head to Pescadero and return via West Alpine, but that wasn’t going to happen, not with Kevin still feeling a bit under the weather, so instead we went north to Los Lobitos, took in that nasty steep section and then looped back to Tunitas.

Only 47 miles with about 5100ft of climbing, but still a nice ride, and enough to keep my weight about two pounds below where it was last year.

One hot ride today! 65 very tough miles. 95 degrees.

90, 95 degrees, who's counting?

What better way to prepare for the heat we’re likely to encounter in France than riding up Page Mill Road when it’s 90-95 degrees? Making it especially tough is having Page Mill as the first hill of the day. That’s one mean way to start a ride. Page Mill is one of those hills it’s really tough to get a rhythm on; that bottom section starting just past the golf course/country club turnoff is just plain ugly, and it’s not until you get past Foothill Park that you can really get a handle on it. And that handle is pretty darned slippery, especially between park gates 3 & 4, where it’s gut-wrenchingly steep and you’re thinking why didn’t you go up Old LaHonda instead, an easier grade with lots of shade?

Adding insult to injury is Strava claiming I got a personal best on the climb, at 47 minutes. Umm… no. It wasn’t that long ago I did it in 44, and my son probably could have closed in on that time today too, except that he was being relatively-civil and stayed with me all the way up. OK, it seemed like it wasn’t that long ago, but since I loaded the last three years worth of data from my Garmin into Strava, maybe it was longer ago than I thought!

A beautiful day on West Alpine

We wasted no time heading down West Alpine for another date with Haskins Grade, a climb that Kevin claims to hate but is getting much better at, getting his own personal best today at 9:52 despite not climbing it for time. At least not until the last half mile or so when he noticed his time was pretty good and rode the rest hard. Funny how that works.

I’d like to say it was a fun run out to Pescadero, but not really; the stiff headwind and heat made it pretty tough. The upside? It’s rare that a cold Coke tastes as good as it did today!

Heading north on Stage we once again faced a headwind, yet did pretty good times up the two hills, primarily because motivation was provided by rabbits (cyclists ahead of us). Speaking of rabbits, I should have mentioned we had earlier seen a rabbit the size of a small deer as we rode Arastradero between Alpine and Page Mill. It was seriously huge!

The lower and middle sections of Page Mill proved to be Kevin’s undoing; we’d normally climb Tunitas in 45 minutes or so, but he was barely able to turn the pedals for a while. He can out-climb me dramatically on the first couple big hills of the day, but eventually he wears out and I keep on going. He did a miraculous recovery when the steep stuff ended though, charging the rest of the way at a pretty respectable pace.

In the end a tough ride with the unexpectedly-high temps causing a pretty significant weight loss (6.5 pounds for me) due to not drinking enough, even though I tried. Maybe I did drink enough and I burned 6.5 pounds of fat? Don’t I wish!