This was the fifth year for the Surf City Century, and the fifth time to do one of the routes. Bill & I had done the 25 mile route the first two years together (yes, he has in fact ridden his bike.) Two years ago, Joseph C and I planned to ride the century route together, but since it was raining, we ended up starting and riding alone. Last year, I was joined by Bill and Bart for the century, Doug D followed us till the Aromas turn off for the metric, and Laura P & Sharon were also spotted.
So this year, an official DSSF event brought Chris & Anne, Laura, Scott, Jeff, Bill, Mark H. Jeremy and myself out for this fundraiser for the Santa Cruz AIDS Project. Under overcast skies we headed out from Cabrillo College in Aptos for the first 11 miles to the first rest stop at the Corralitos CDF station.
Rest stop 2 was at Gizdich Ranch, famous for their bake shop, apples and berries, although no pies were offered as rest stop food. From there it was a quick 9 miles to the next stop at Aromas Grange, which we passed by. Leaving Aromas, is the first climb of the day, up Carr Avenue, followed by a nice downhill to the valley floor surrounding San Juan Bautista and after meandering around farm lands, we arrive at the lunch stop at the Native Daughters of the Golden West in San Juan Bautista.
By this time, I had expected the overcast to have burned off and the sun to have come out, but that was not to be. Leaving San Juan, we begin the long climb up San Juan Grade, around the side of Fremont Peak and the Fremont Peak Observatory who just celebrated 20 years.
The downhill brought us to the Salinas rest stop, where we receive many compliments on our rainbow jerseys. From there, we traversed more farm land across the Salinas Valley. Along the way we were getting sprinkled on, nothing major, but enough to get your glasses wet. Of the four weather forecasts that morning, only one had any prediction of rain, go figure that weather.com would be right for a change.
As we approached the Artichoke Capital of the World we passed the Pezzini Farms fried artichoke jeart stand popular on Day 2 of ALC, and then onto the Monterey Bay Coastal Bike Path to the end.
The next ¾ mile was on Highway 156 and we had to cross the highway to make a left turn onto Castroville Boulevard. Three years ago, the motorcycle club, The Vampires, had manned a number of the scarier or busier sections, and last year, this turn was done solo. This year, thanks to a traffic back-up, it was much easier to cross to make the left turn.
Leaving Castroville, we headed around Elhorn Slough to make our way to rest stop 6 at yet another CDF station at mile 84. This rest stop has the Ladies in Red Hats, from Santa Cruz, and we were greeted by the character of them all, telling us to get our “kicks on Route 66” which had nothing to do with the rest stop, but was amusing nonetheless, at least she thought so.
Leaving the stop, we eventually crossed under Highway 1 and rejoined a portion of the ALC Day 2 route in reverse passing by Sunset State Beach, and one more rest stop at Renaissance High on San Andreas Road. From there it was an easy 8 miles back past Manresa State Beach, and thru Rio Del Mar to Aptos. The closer we got to Aptos, the more signs of a hard rain became apparent, add rain to farm land roads, equals muddy roads.
The post ride meal was fabulous, with barbequed tri-tip, pasta and tossed salad, grilled veggies, bread and strawberries. One of the organizers stopped by our table soliciting feedback on the ride, and we gave many suggestions for getting the word out more. She also mentioned the possibility of a multi-day (a la MS ride) being considered in the future, and we shared our opinion that a round trip option would be preferred over a point-to-point route, due to the logistics and concerns over having your bike transported by others.
Photos are published in the DSSF Gallery here.