Tag Archives: redwood gulch

Toughest 75 miles last week, toughest 56 miles today, what’s next?

What's missing? Mr. Mustard's hot dog stand, that's what? 80+ degrees, dying on the climbs and you're really looking forward to an ice cold coke... and it's not there. Did I arrive too late?
What’s missing? Mr. Mustard’s hot dog stand, that’s what? 80+ degrees, dying on the climbs and you’re really looking forward to an ice cold coke… and it’s not there. Did I arrive too late?

56 miles should not have been as difficult as it seemed to be! It didn’t start so badly; a nice cruise south through the foothills with a stop at our Los Altos store to use the bathroom and check in on things (they looked busy, which is good!) and from there it was all downhill. Or rather uphill. Uphill being, in this case, Redwood Gulch and Highway 9. I had these fine ideas of trying to do the climbs seated, so I could get some decent video. What stopped me? 80+ degree temps, riding by myself, and there’s no way around it, I just don’t have what it takes anymore when it gets really steep.

But what made it worthwhile was knowing that, once I got to the top, Mr. Mustard’s hot dog stand would be there, with ice cold drinks and, yes, hot dogs. A hot dog has to be one of the worst things you could eat on a ride, but it’s not as bad as you think. The right place at the right time makes the difference.

Tried feeding it dollar bills, even a 10 but it just wasn't hungry!
Tried feeding it dollar bills, even a 10 but it just wasn’t hungry!
But Mr. Mustard wasn’t there! Just checked the time stamp on a photo I took… 4:44pm, and he’s usually there until 5. Thank goodness for the Saratoga Gap fire station just down the road, with its outdoor coke machine. Just a couple minutes north on Skyline. I am so looking forward to something cold to drink. Get to the fire station, feed it a dollar bill, and… it’s not taking it. I mean it’s not even making a noise like it wants to. Maybe quarters would work, but dollar bills aren’t today. Had to settle for making some more Cytomax, which probably was better for me anyway and I did, in fact, start feeling a bit more lively shortly thereafter.

What finally got me going was being passed by another cyclist, the only cyclist I saw on all of Skyline. For a (brief) moment I let him go and then thought hey, I don’t have to do that, I’ve got legs, so I chased him down and stayed with him the rest of the way. He did drop me pretty quickly descending 84 into Woodside though.

Overall glad that I got out there, but it will be nice when Kevin’s past his kidney issues and riding with me again. But I remain concerned that my “tough” rides are getting shorter and shorter… what’s next, a 25 mile ride that does me in? Hope not! –Mike–

Climbing so hard I made my wheel spin!

Sure sounds good when I type that… and it’s true, my wheels were spinning, as I climbed Redwood Gulch towards highway 9. Of course, the road was slick from the steady drip coming down from the trees, a result of this-morning’s fog, certainly not from my awesome strength, shown by my barely sub-13-minute time for a climb that should take me just over 10.

It was time to do something other than the usual Sunday ride to the coast, time to do something different and in some ways more challenging. Maybe something in the “ugly” category. And what could be uglier than heading south through the foothills before turning west on Stevens Creek, then up up up Redwood Gulch & Highway 9 and then return via Skyline? What I didn’t plan on was doing it alone (Kevin wasn’t feeling well), nor leaving pretty late to avoid the heavy morning fog.

By the time I finally got out it was just past 1pm, making this yet another “chasing the sun” event. Can’t tell you how many times, as I headed south, I considered truncating the ride, maybe head up Page Mill (but didn’t), maybe stop by the Los Altos store to work on the computers for a bit and then head back the same way I came (but didn’t) and finally two other options. One, ride up Stevens Creek to where it dead-ends and then retrace the route back home (but didn’t) and then finally, after climbing Redwood Gulch, descending 9 from that point and again heading back along the foothills. But didn’t.

It wasn’t a fast or pretty ride, but it was purposeful. No stops for food, just to change batteries in the video camera and to put on warm gloves once up on Skyline.

Skyline, by the way, has been destroyed by Caltrans. Their idea of repairing the road has been to ignore the potholes and just pour a little bit of oil and a lot of gravel onto it, not enough oil for the gravel to actually sink into the pavement, but rather adhere to the top. It’s nuts! A road that used to be remarkably smooth is now like riding on glued-down gravel, eliminating the feeling of your bike gliding along, every turn of the cranks feeling like it has to be forced. You’ve got to wonder how much efficiency is lost, not just to bikes but motorists as well.

If this is the new method for road repair, we’re going to be selling a lot of Trek Domane road bikes in the future (they’ve got a design that really eats up the bumps).