Tag Archives: stage road

The Perfect 60-mile Ride

The weather turned on us this week, first getting wet, then getting cold & wet. On a bike, wet isn’t so bad, and cold isn’t so bad, but the two together? Bad. Anyone getting out on Saturday got it bad, but most cancelled their rides and seemed to head for shelter at our Redwood City store. Hey, when it’s dark & cold & wet outside, we’re expecting it to be quiet, so having good company (since our customers are cyclists, that goes without saying!) and a few dollars in the register was very welcome.

Click for full-size image and route description

Even more welcome was having a nice day to ride today (Sunday). The weather forecast held up; sometime around 11pm Saturday night it started to clear up a bit, and by the time I got out at 10:30 Sunday morning, it was pretty nice. Not warm nice, not not too cold, and nice skies with a few clouds for contrast.

The view on Stage Road, looking back towards San Gregorio
The view on Stage Road, looking back towards San Gregorio

There were three of us enjoying the day; myself, plus Andrew & Brian from the shop. I did try to convince Burt to ride, but I don’t think he really believed the day would turn out so nice. We did a variant of the reverse Pescadero loop (detailed Google map), starting in Woodside, heading up Old LaHonda and down the other side to San Gregorio, south on Stage Road to Pescadero, then over Haskins Grade (the “hard” way) and back up to Skyline via West Alpine to add a bit more “kick.” You can see the details on the map; this is a ride that’s nice in just about anything but rain (although I’m dumb enough that wouldn’t likely stop me).

Heading north on Stage Road into Pescadero
Heading south on Stage Road into Pescadero

I’ve always tried to see something new on each ride, even on roads I’ve ridden literally hundreds of times before. Today? Easy. Heading out towards San Gregorio there’s a barn on the right hand side, one that you can often see cows hanging out underneath on a hot summer day. Today, out in front, not too far from the road, was a Coyote munching on an animal carcass. I rode past before realizing exactly what it was; it looked, for all the world, just like a large piece of meat that would be hung from a hook at a butcher, all the ribs showing white against the red flesh. As I stopped and started back (had to get a picture, y’know?) the Coyote quickly headed off, very wary of our intentions. Strange thing, that. My recent dealings with Coyotes on rides has been that they just haven’t seemed to care about me as I rode closely past. A couple of years ago, there was one on Mount Hamilton that was heading up the hill alongside the road at pretty much the same speed I was, which was almost creepy.

It did start getting a bit cold as we neared Skyline
Looks cold & was cold as we neared Skyline

Brian was surprised we weren’t stopping at the San Gregorio store, but I generally don’t stop there when doing the counter-clockwise loop, because the much-better Pescadero Bakery isn’t too far off and they actually like cyclists in Pescadero, while at San Gregorio, they’re concerned we’ll be displacing customers drinking their 10am Bloody Marys. Seriously.

Check your tires before riding! You don't want to see this with 30 miles to go.
Check your tires before riding! You don't want to see this with 30 miles to go.

It was in Pescadero that I noticed my rear tire getting a bit soft, and then saw a pretty good amount of exposed casing. Not much life left in that tire; please check your tires carefully before each ride and make sure they’ve got some life left! Thankfully, it held up the rest of the way.

The temperature was pretty nice until we got to the back side of Haskins Grade, but since we quickly started the stiff climb up West Alpine, it wasn’t an issue until we got to Skyline. Not much snow, just a little bit left here & there alongside the road, probably having been washed away by the pretty heavy rains Saturday.

Why I like my job

Faithful readers will recall that, in last Tuesday’s entry, when our morning ride was enjoying yet another incredible day to ride and regretting that they had to get to work, I mentioned my job involves getting others to enjoy the same sort of thing we were. And today, at the top of Old LaHonda, I came across someone we had sold a new bike to just a couple days ago, on his very first ride up to Skyline. How cool is that?

Obviously lots of people out riding today, most of them a bit earlier than I got out, trying to get back before the Superbowl. I would have been in that earlier crowd, except that Kevin (my son, not the pilot) got out of bed limping pretty badly and had to make a trip to Kaiser (something he’s rather used to by now).┬áTurns out he’d┬ámessed up a tendon at LaCrosse practice on Friday, so no riding or LaCrosse for a week. So instead of getting out at 9:30, it was shortly after 12 that I got going, something you wouldn’t do in the summer because you’d be facing the climbs in the heat of the day. Well guess what? February 6, 2011, which is technically the middle of winter, and it was in the mid-70s and I’m even feeling like I got too much sun.

My original plan, or the slightly-modified version without Kevin, was to do a speed run, no stopping for rest anywhere, just get out, do the Old LaHonda/Pescadero/Tunitas loop and return. It didn’t quite work out that way though, as my legs and mind just didn’t initially seem wired for speed. I took a bit of time at the top of Old LaHonda, where I came across Hugh (the guy who’d just picked up a bike from us) and a number of others enjoying their bikes. Then down to LaHonda, loop through the back roads to Pescadero Road, up Haskins Grade and wondering when I was really going to get in the groove on this ride. I stopped in at the Pescadero Bakery for an Ollallieberry Scone and then headed across Stage Road. Curiously, I came across quite a few cyclists I know, all heading in the opposite direction (doing the loop counter-clockwise). Did they know something I didn’t? Struggling north against strong winds on Stage Road, the answer was yes! But headwinds have been less of an issue for me these past few years, whether because I have more patience now or see it as a challenge, not sure. Just know that I don’t mind putting my head down and driving into them, at least for a little bit.

It was on Tunitas that I started feeling really good. It took 3/4s of the ride to get that feeling, but there’s no better way to finish a ride than feeling good on a climb. Nothing earth-shattering; from the coast to the top took 51 minutes, 17 seconds (not that I keep track of such things!), but the warmer weather opened up my lungs and I could breathe! For once I wasn’t limited by my usual winter lungs so I was able to breathe easily and slowly, limited instead by whatever my legs could deliver. Of course, I’ll claim that I could have made it up significantly faster if I hadn’t been fighting the strong offshore flow at the bottom, and perhaps that’s even true. Whatever, it felt like I was putting in a good effort, and my bike was doing a fantastic job converting that effort into speed up the hill.

And Burt, yes, you should have ridden with me today. You would have liked it. –Mike–