Tag Archives: santa cruz

112 miles in February. On a beautiful day like this, why not?

It was Thursday the subject came up- where are we going to ride on Sunday. And both Kevin and I were thinking the same thing, but there’s this strange unwritten rule that, if it’s the Santa Cruz loop, it can’t be spoken. It’s simply understood.

It wasn’t going to be fast; we knew that ahead of time. It’s February, after all. The “fast” longer rides come later in the year. But Kevin’s been riding better lately, keeping up with the faster guys on the climbs (which means he’s way ahead of me), and I’m good for 100 miles pretty much anytime.

This was the “classic” Santa Cruz loop, heading up Old LaHonda, over Haskins almost to Pescadero, taking the Cloverdale/Gazos Creek “shortcut” to Highway 1, then south to Davenport for lunch, further south to Santa Cruz, up Highway 9 to Skyline, north on Skyline to Sky Londa and then descend back into Woodside on 84.

It’s a rare winter day that you can ride without legwarmers, baselayers or long-fingered gloves, but we took our chances that today would be that rare day and we were almost right. The forecast had shown lows in the upper-50s, but there were parts of the run to the coast where we saw it drop as low as 45. Thankfully it warmed up as we got out of the trees, so we didn’t quite get to that “sure wish we’d brought warm stuff” stage.

Winds were very light, which meant we missed out on the often-strong tailwind on the coast. But better no wind than a headwind!

Lunch at the Davenport Cafe was as usual… phenomenal. Best burritos anywhere. Service was a bit slow today, but worth the wait. These are not quantity burritos, they’re quality. One of the things that makes the difference is that the meat is lightly crisped (probably fried for a bit after cooking), giving it a different type of texture than the typical burrito.

The only bad thing about stopping for lunch in Davenport is that you immediately have to tackle a small hill when you start out, but it is small, and about 10 minutes later it was time to clear out the cylinders and see what I could do. There was a chance I could pay for the effort later, but it felt like the thing to do at the time, and it felt good. I’ve ridden that segment quite a bit faster at other times, but those were, frankly, wind-assisted. Today, it was just me. And of the 9 people riding that segment on Strava today, mine was tied for fastest, so I’m ok with it. :-)

Highway 9 was the usual slog to Boulder Creek, narrow road, fair amount of traffic, but could have been worse; the road was closed between Santa Cruz and Felton for maintenance, but not closed in the way that would keep bikes out. Of course, we didn’t know that would be the case, just hoped it would!

Boulder Creek was the usual stop for Mtn Dew before the run up to Skyline. Kevin was running low on energy while I was feeling better as the ride went. So no records broken there either, but Kevin became re-energized upon seeing that Mr. Mustard was back in business at Saratoga Gap. Heading north on Skyline we were passed by someone near Page Mill, and Kevin would have none of that. The guy had passed us on a climb and seemed to have a lot more horsepower than we did, but looks like it was mostly for show; he started slowing down after a bit, and Kevin sped up. We passed him in a mile or so and by the time we covered another mile, he couldn’t be seen.

In the end it was 112 miles that felt like a lot less.

A great day for a hard ride!

Question of the day: Why does it feel so good, after 70 miles, to finally hit a solid climb? What is it about a climb that rejuvenates your spirits and somehow lightens the load on your legs? You would have been willing, for a good reason, to pack it in but now that you’re on a real climb you feel like you can go on forever?

Last year, by mid-February Kevin and I had already done our first 100+ miler, the classic Woodside/Santa Cruz loop (112 miles from home in Redwood City). Things got off to a slow start this year though, mostly due to Kevin’s various issues with his kidney, but early this week his stent was removed (finally!) and it was time to get back to basics.

Thank goodness the weather forecast was incorrect. I had been concerned about riding in a drizzly fog, but it was so nice out we needed (but did bring) neither leg warmers nor light jackets. It probably helped that we didn’t hit the road until 11am, definitely a bit on the late side for a run to Santa Cruz, but not unusual at all for us (obviously, our ride in February last year must have started a lot earlier or we wouldn’t have gotten back before dark!).

Old LaHonda was ridden at a moderate pace, ending up around 23 minutes for the climb after hanging back for a bit to chat briefly with one of our customers. Kevin followed the plan and rode at the same pace, rather than the sub-20 he would like to, but he’s so short on miles it didn’t seem like a good idea for him to burn too many matches too early in the ride. Yet it was such a nice day there was no way you could completely hold back, so even Haskins ended up being close to a 10-minute climb, a couple minutes faster than I thought likely.

Lunch in Davenport
Lunch in Davenport

Thank goodness the prevailing winds held out! It wasn’t a direct tailwind heading down the coast, but it was close. I’d already decided that, if we got to the coast and it was going to be a headwind into Santa Cruz, we’d be reversing course and doing a shorter ride. No need. We arrived for “lunch” at the Whale City Bakery in Davenport, downing a ham & cheese croissant, coke and a cookie for Kevin, raspberry muffin for me. That took care of us for the run south to Santa Cruz then up Highway 9 to Boulder Creek for the obligatory Mtn Dew stop before the long climb up to Skyline.

80 miles down, 32 to go, time for a cold drink and a hot-dog! Thank you, Mr. Mustard.
80 miles down, 32 to go, time for a cold drink and a hot-dog! Thank you, Mr. Mustard.

Skyline. We’ve grown to depend on Mr. Mustard’s hot-dog stand on Skyline for drinks and… yeah, hot-dogs. Mile 80 in a long ride and a hot-dog actually goes down really well. But we were in Davenport past 2pm, and didn’t leave Boulder Creek until 4:15, and Mr. Mustard leaves shortly after 5! Yikes. We had money for the coke machine at the Saratoga Gap fire station, but it’s just not the same. Fortunately, once we got onto the real climb, the legs started working again and we actually got some Strava-worthy times, personal bests (for the past 4 or 5 years; I was certainly a lot faster back in the pre-pre-pre-Strava days) for both of us. Mr. Mustard hadn’t packed up yet so we scored the usual… hot-dog and a drink!

From there it was the easy north run on Skyline to Sky Londa, returning home not much past 6:30. Plenty of light, still nice out. Great ride.