Tag Archives: old la honda

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.

A view to die for / Why we ride

At the start of this morning’s ride,¬†Kevin (pilot)¬†gave his oft-repeated warning that he’s going to be slow today. Right. But he insisted, he’s going to be slow. I hoped he was telling the truth, but by now, I know better.

It was Thursday so we rode through the park, and it took no time at all to see that Kevin was riding plenty strongly, able to entertain Keith for a while anyway, and Keith is FAST. Keith, Kevin, Ludo and Eric were doing just fine, while I’m at the rear, catching up briefly at the park entrance, then dropping off again. I woke up feeling like I was going to be lucky doing 31 or 32 minutes bottom-to-top via the park, but got up in 29-something, and felt just fine about that. Tired, but fine. Shortly after arrival I mentioned to Kevin that, when he starts the ride by telling me he’s going to be slow, and then he quickly rides me off his wheel, it would be civil to say something like “I did better than I thought” since without that, I’m left thinking great, he was “slow” today which makes me…

The other Kevin wasn’t with us today; he remained at home, nursing a nasty cold, thinking that’s a good reason not to ride. In some ways he’s obviously from my DNA, and others? I was hoping he would ride, and maybe for once he’d be at my speed.

Speed? I did start feeling better once up on Skyline, even taking a pull once or twice.By the time we got to the descent towards Sky Londa, I took off, trading the lead with Keith, and managed, with perfect tactics, to take the sprint against a far faster rider.

But as always, the highpoint was the incredible view from west-side Old LaHonda road. It is sad that so many people ride up the east side, from Portola Valley to Skyline, and never continue the couple of miles down the coast side, missing a real gem.