Tag Archives: road bike

There are good reasons to stick to the plan (smart people don’t ride road bikes on dirt Montebello)


The plan. Remember, there’s always a plan. Do an “ugly” ride, maybe up 92 to Skyline, then south to Kings/Tunitas, ride down to the coast, Stage Road to Pescadero, over Haskins, up West Alpine and back to Woodside via Skyline & 84. Not such a bad plan, but nobody wanted any part of it but me. Kevin didn’t think it sounded “fun” and Michael and Andrew from the shop didn’t look forward to riding up 92 with all the traffic.

So Plan B. Leave at 9:30am with Michael and Andrew from the shop and head over to the coast, maybe over Kings and down Tunitas (leaving out the ugly part going up 92 and south on Skyline) then the rest of the route from the first plan. Only it’s pretty nasty up on Skyline, with heavy fog coming over the hill, so Kevin and I opt for a later start. Plan C.

Plan C involves staying “low” for a while, giving the fog up on Skyline a chance to burn off. Ride south down through the foothills, up Redwood Gulch to 9, then north on Skyline, descend West Alpine and back over the hill via Tunitas Creek. Seemed reasonable, until, heading up Stevens Creek towards Redwood Gulch I got the idea of skipping the West Alpine/Tunitas section and doing an out & back up Montebello instead. I don’t even remember for sure if I’d ever been up there before; maybe 40 years ago, not sure. But I do know that it’s a heck of a lot steeper now than it was before!

35 (hard!) minutes up Montebello and we come to the end of the paved road. Time to turn back and take on Redwood Gulch! And here’s where we should have stuck to the revision of the revised plan, because instead of heading back down, we decided to try out the dirt “road” that supposedly connects up to Skyline and Page Mill. How tough could it be?

This is not what you want to see on a tire. Especially the front!

You don't want to see this on a tire either! This tire was clearly worn too thin long before we hit the nasty stuff.

Well, it’s one of those roads that starts out looking not-so-bad but, as you’ll see in the video, deteriorates into a tire shredder, something much better done on a mountain bike with big fat tires at 40psi rather than very skinny 23c road tires pumped up to 120psi. And while there were places we definitely would have felt more comfortable walking, that’s just not terribly practical with road-style cleats! And even if it was, it seemed like we might be many hours from civilization at walking speed. So ride we did, and somehow, miraculously, we avoided shredding our tires. Sort of. When we inspected them upon our return to pavement, we found Kevin was riding on casing material in several areas, rubber either torn or completely worn away. I fared a bit better, with just a few spots worn through, but at least mine were on the rear, while Kevin’s were on the front.

With Kevin’s tires on extreme borrowed time, we descended Old LaHonda instead of 84, wanting to keep our speeds down in case of a blowout. Fortunately we made it home without such an event, but by Tuesday morning, it’s likely all tires on both bikes will have been replaced.

Big group on the Tuesday ride

Big group at Old LaHonda & Skyline. Left to right, Kevin J, Mike (not me), Kevin S, Chris, Eric, George, Karen, Todd, Marcus, Mike (not me again) & Karl. Missing (turned off earlier) is Jim.

So now I go to bed the night before the Tuesday/Thursday ride wondering how badly I’m going to get beat up… by my son. I knew this was coming, but I didn’t realize how rapidly he would progress. It was only a couple months ago (literally) that Kevin finally broke 30 minutes up Kings and could actually ride with our group without holding us up. And now, he can squeeze off a 26-something time more reliably than I can.

But today I never got to find out how badly he might beat me. Maybe a quarter mile before the start of the climb, one of my two computers came off the handlebar, without me noticing, but Karl let me know he’d seen if fly off and hit the side of the road. OK… I briefly considered whether it was worth sacrificing the climb for a computer… maybe it would still be there when I got back… but it might be tough figuring out exactly where it had landed later, so I watched the others head on up the hill while I made a u-turn and retrieved the computer. Did anyone offer to stay behind and ride up with me? Er, no, but Chris was a late arrival and was coming up behind, trying to catch the group. Yeah, sure, I can just have Chris pace me back up the hill. Right. For about 100 meters or so, and then he vanished. Poof. Gone. Didn’t see him again until the top of the hill.

Eventually I did catch up to Kevin, Todd & Karl. Yes, Karl, who’s recovering nicely from his latest collarbone/clavicle issue. They had been soft-pedaling for a while, actually having conversations, while my lungs are searching for every available atom of oxygen (I was going to say “molecule of air” but is air a molecule? Apparently yes.) I was dying; probably 27:20 or so, a lot of time to be thinking about everybody else already well ahead of me, riding faster, finishing soon.

Very big group this morning. 12 at least, given that there are 11 in the photo plus me, and there might have been one guy who turned off before then (yes, there was one more, Jim I think). A bit foggy at the top, fairly cool, and just damp enough to give me the creeps descending (Kevin doesn’t seem to have such trouble, but then Kevin doesn’t have the years of experience descending that I have, some of those descents ending up on my side instead of my wheels).

For the final sprint it was all Chris. Kevin wasn’t anywhere in sight; obviously, it’s time I get him back to sprinting again (since maybe emphasizing sprinting will slow him down on the climbs).