Hollister – Aromas – Castroville – Fremont Peak – Hollister

Just three riders – the other David G., Doug, and I – met in Hollister Sunday for a terrific day of riding. I had never done this route before, so it was all new ground for me.

David’s route took us out Hollister and up into the coastal ranges, past the entrance to the GrantiteRock quarry, and into funky little Aromas (so named because of the odors of a sulphur spring, according to ePodunk.com) for our first stop.

There’s not much going on in Aromas on a Sunday (or any other day I expect, unless the CrossFit Games in town), so we continued east after a short rest. After a few more miles, we turned right down Elkhorn Road, and proceeded through the Elkhorn Slough. Elkhorn is a huge tidal slough and estuary, the largest in California except for San Francisco Bay, and we rode for about 6 miles through this most beautiful, largely deserted  place, surrounded by birds, tidelands, mud, and mudhens.



Coming up out of Elkhorn, we climbed a small hill now named “the hill of dropped chains,” a new tourist attraction something like the Mystery Spot. Both Doug and David experienced the same mechanical difficulty within a few feet of each other.

Through suburbia now for lunch in Castroville at the Giant Artichoke!

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Then more mostly flat riding into Salinas before our big climb of the day back over Fremont Peak and a bumpy descent down the poorly-maintained road. (David told us to observe road quality as soon as we got to the San Benito county line, and the difference was truly remarkable.) Finally, screaming tailwinds took out of San Juan Bautista after our last regroup and home to Hollister.

A great day, and an extremely well thought-out ride.


Evil Step Sisters-April Jersey Ride

The forecast was 10% chance of rain all day, who knew that forecast was so wrong. Seventeen of us headed for Fairfax, most intending to do the full Alpine Dam-Mt. Tam loop as planned. But the weather gods were not pleased, for whatever reason because in Larkspur while we were at Rullie Gran Cafe for our first regroup, the skies opened up and it rained. And iPhones came out, various weather apps were launched and… none of the radars showed anything; nada, zip, zilch, not even pale blue, let alone the green we expected!


More than half the riders decided to bail out then, some heading back to the City by bike, others to the Larkspur ferry terminal. Will and Kevin hoped to get in the China Camp loop before catching the ferry. Cam, Doug, Joseph, Jon, Jerome and I opted to ride on to Fairfax, figuring whatever “it” was, will have passed us and then we can continue on.

We didn’t get rained on heading to Fairfax, but while in Perry’s Deli, the skies opened up once again. None of us wanted to be caught on the mountain in the rain, so we headed back, once again with different plans. Jon was parked at Mike’s in Sausalito, and Joseph wanted to stop there and get his chain replaced. Jerome and I opted to head for Larkspur also to catch the ferry, and Doug and Cam rode all the way back.

We had about a 40 minute wait for the ferry, not bad. Will and Kevin arrived drenched, having turned around at the entrance to the China Camp State Park when it appeared that the rains were going to continue. The ride back to the City was enjoyable, and all appeared dry. Post ride reports indicated that it stopped raining in Sausalito for Doug, Cam got rain halfway across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Reports from the gals doing the Cinderella Classic were vaguely reminiscent of 2006, the year the forecast was so bad the we postponed the Evil Step Sisters until Sunday. Rain and headwinds, not fun!

Saddle Challenge final results…

…are in!

Doug rode the most miles in March, with 703 miles, followed by Larry (483) and David Gaus (417).

David Goldsmith smashed his goal by more than 50%. Doug, Will and David all exceeded their goal. Larry, David Stouffer and Evan came very close!

For the second year in a row, Larry lead the most days of riding, with 12 days, followed by Doug (11) and David Stouffer (10).

The biggest day was March 21 with an impressive 385 miles, even more so since it didn’t include a double century!

Everyone who joined the challenge and rode during the month is a winner! Overall we completed 3,158 miles of the 3,340 total mileage goal with $320 raised for Project Inform by 10 participants!

Those who pledged money for Project Inform can send your check to the club PO box and they will be send in on the club’s behalf, in memory of Ron Wilmont.

Thanks to all who participated in this year’s Saddle Challenge. Great job everyone!

My first google map ride

Last Saturday, I went on a BART to BART bike ride through the 3 bears and Mt Diablo (up to the junction). I knew most of the route, but there was some parts I was not to familiar, around Pleasant Hill, and some part where I knew only not bike friendly routes (north of Dublin).
So I decided to use the new bicycling route from Google Maps. It took me literally 20 seconds! Here is what they come up with:

Google maps direction from Orinda Bart to Dublin Pleasanton via 3 bears and Diablo junction

Mostly I was very happy with the results:

– I discover some nice street in Pleasant Hill that connected to the Contra Cost Canal Trail

– The last part of the Trail (south of Pleasant Hill BART station) I was familiar with, but they made me leave it to cross Ygnacio Valley Rd, which I think was better than what I usually do.

– Then they make you reconnect with the trail, but with misleading indications, using the street names. Fortunately I knew that part.

– Much later on, they finally made me discover southern part of Iron Horse Trail, that very nicely connect to the Dublin Pleasanton BART station.

One problem is that it is sometimes hard to follow their indication when on a trail, because cross streets are very rarely marked.

I am pretty sure that won’t be news for some of you, but it opens new perspectives for the rest of us.

Marshall Wall!

David (Prez) and David (Secy) led this 61-mile long (well, my longest to date anyway) but BEAUTIFUL DAY’s riding as a part of David G’s (Secy) multi-ride training series. We were joined by Frank (bike mechanic extraordinaire and tire-changing contest winner at annual meeting), Roger (car mechanic extraordinaire and dedicated photo chronicler of the lovely scenery along our ride routes), and yours truly, Evan (on his new/first road bike and SO HAPPY to be moving past the heavy hybrid).

We started out at the Marinwood Community Center near 101 and Lucas Valley Road and rode up to the top of that long climb, the Big Rock. This route takes us past (unknown to many) George Lucas’ offices. After much of ILM moved to the presidio, I think his international operations are based there now. Anyone know? Along that road, wherever you see really nice fence and signs saying the land is dedicated to farmland forever, it is likely Lucas’ land that has been left as open agricultural space through the Marin Agricultural Land Trust. We LOVE this because it means open beautiful spaces for us to ride past and enjoy for generations to come!

After pausing at Big Rock, we continued down Lucas Valley to Nicasio Valley Road, past the Nicasio Reservoir (very full thanks to recent rains) to the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, where we turned right towards the Cheese Factory and La’Alp du Fromage. With high spirits we mounted Le Alp and paused at the Cheese Factory’s little lake for a break. While there, we met up with the intrepid group of riders doing over 100 miles that day led by Joseph C. I think five of them were showing us how it was done by doing the same riding in beautiful West Marin but with a starting point in San Francisco! With water topped off, I made sacrifices to the wind gods asking that we be spared a headwind on the coming Marshall Wall. David G had dramatically warned that, with a headwind, the Marshall Wall is some of the hardest climbing he had ever done.

Frank, who may well be the fastest rider in the group went on ahead of us and “missed” the turn to the Marshall Wall. So he was cheerily waiting for us in Pt. Reyes when we arrived for lunch- looking much better than we were.

Thank the Heavens, we were spared a headwind on what for me was a looong climb – especially because there were so many false summits. Sure, you think “this has got to be the end” and then there is a curve and another hill!! This is where I was grateful to have gone for the road bike and left my hybrid at home. Having a few less pounds to drive up that hill was welcome! One of the best things as you crest the Marshall Wall is the view of some wonderful body of water ahead. It might be the Nicasio Reservoir again—who knows what this is? Speak up. Anyway, it looks cool and lovely in the distance! Set among those rolling hills (and between us we’ve now climbed ALL of them!) that is a real treat.

The decent down the other side after Marshall Wall is a long and rushing pleasant surprise. I’m sure the more aggressive riders must have hit 35 mph. Being new on a road bike, I kept myself slow and safe for what was a new experience on very skinny tires!

Pt Reyes never looked so good to me. After 41 miles before lunch, I was famished. A big lunch and nice social time was had by all.

After nourishment, we took our time on the long gentle climb and rolling hills of Hwy 1 along Tomales Bay. If I need reminding, next time tell me to eat a smaller lunch or save the second half for the first stop! Lesson learned!

Back to the Pt. Reyes Petaluma Road and then up the back side of Lucas Valley Road to Big Rock again. This was, for me, the hardest climb of the day. I relished my granny gears. Thank goodness I didn’t go for a compact double gearing option on my new bike! When I figured out that the roadside numbering system was essentially telling me how far the end of the ride was, I was a happy man. (You know, sign tells you this is mile 6.67 of the roadway.) I’m training for my first century ride in a month so adding on miles is important and so much of this is new—and so welcome (22 pounds lost later!).

Again the descent down Lucas Valley on the East side was a joy. Nice long lovely drop and then a bit a flat riding to finish up the day. The guys were all waiting for me at the end and we traded comments and stories on our day’s achievements. I was especially gratified when the more experienced riders shared which part of the ride had been difficult for them as well. It wasn’t just me!

Thanks to David, David, Frank and Roger –and Joseph’s whole brave crew!- for coming out- and thanks to all of you for showing up on these rides!



Gilroy Hot Springs and South Bay Reservoirs Loop

Well, this was a fabulous ride with a nice group of riders. Two David G.’s, two Rogers, and one each Ben, Will, Frank, Doug and Stephanie met up at Peet’s in Morgan Hill on a gorgeous morning of what proved to be a gorgeous day. Perfect weather, and green hills all around, can’t beat that. This part of the South Bay is great riding territory in the spring.

The gang, just before ride out

After coffeeing up, we headed east and then south. After we reached Roop Road, David G.’s route roughly paralleled the metric century of the Tierra Bella tour. Uphill on Roop Road towards Gilroy Hot Springs, then back down Canada Road. Unlike Tierra Bella, there were no hunky firemen at the CDF substation (darn), nor was there a deathly skeleton atop Canada Road reminding us to take it easy on the descent. (So we didn’t.)

We cruised into Gilroy around 12:30 and lunched at Quizno’s, knowing the hills were mostly behind us.

From there, my favorite part of the ride – up Uvas Road and McKeen. But I am used to doing this part of the route first thing in the morning, when there is no wind, and on this particular day, we faced headwinds all the way up Uvas. We were ready to take a good break when we got to Calero before going wee, wee, wee all the way home to Morgan Hill.

62.25 miles more towards the Saddle Challenge!

Out in the middle of nowhere
Stephanie takes a breather on Uvas Road


Saddle Challenge – Update #2

It still not too late to sign up!
Just go to http://dssf.org/dssf_html/sc and enter your first and last name, and the password “SC2010”
You can of course retroactively enter your miles of the month.

After more than two weeks into the challenge, David Goldsmith seems to be about to reach his goal already, since he has done already 80% of it!

The miles champion is still Doug, followed by Larry and Evan, who had been the most consistent with rides between 42 and 54 miles.

Larry and David Stouffer rode the most days, 5 each.

Other stats:
1309 miles have been ridden so far.
The two biggest days are still the 6th and 7th with 344 miles and Sunday with 231 miles.

And 96 miles were ridden on the 16th, a weekday!

We raised $310.

Happy riding!

King’s Mountain

After five months off my bike due to back problems, I am trying to get progressively back in the saddle, and I found that David’s series of winter/spring rides have been perfect for that.

Today was a good day to test my first big climb: King’s Mountain Rd, 1630 feet of climbing on 4.2 miles, with some parts around 11%. In a sense, I was lucky I was the only one to show up with David with morning, so I could control my pace better.

On the other hand, it was a shame, because it was a gorgeous day. And thanks to El Niño, we have been enjoying some unusually green scenery. The foothills of Palo Alto are generally pretty nice but they are now particularly lovely.

There was also a first today: we had lunch at Robert’s Market, but not the one in Woodside, the one in Portola Valley at Alpine & Portola. It’s the same great food but the location is more enjoyable: warmer, with a few tables outside, and a nicer environment.

A perfect ride. Thanks, David!

More Running Water Than I’ve Ever Seen in Northern California

I led two rides in late February, and I continue to be amazed at the amount of running water in places I’ve never seen running water before. Creeks are appearing and rivers that are nearly dried  up in summer are full. Last weekend, on another ride, I saw a waterfall on Petaluma-Point Reyes Road as we approached Nicasio Reservoir.

On Saturday, February 20, Will, Evan, Ben, the two Rogers and I rode up Mt. Veeder, which is the first part of the route of the Tour of Napa Valley. The ride was largely an excuse to go up to Yountville and pig out at Bouchon, the bakery owned by Thomas Keller, who also owns French Laundry. Since Bouchon was the start point and end point for the ride, we did just that. Mt. Veeder was its usual nasty self, and I heard Roger swearing at me on the way up for having the brilliant idea of climbing it. At about 1,200 feet elevation, I was swearing at myself, too. But the great thing about this route is that once you get to the top, it’s downhill or flat the rest of the way. Thanks to a good idea by Will, we changed the route to tour Bear Creek Rd. all the way back to Napa, where we had a nice lunch at a grocery on 29 and Redwood Road. Yes, I guess this one was all about the food.

The following Sunday, a nice group of us including co-leader Doug, Evan, Roger, and Mark (apologies – I think I’m leaving one or two out) did a club favorite, Morgan Territory Road. The climb was tougher than I remember, as the hill up to the Preserve seems to have gotten steeper over the winter than it was the last time I did it. Another great day.


The pretty gate to the property at the top of Mt. Veeder


Napa Valley in the winter


Roger conquers Mount Veeder


On the way to Morgan Territory


Into the park


Flowering trees in the East Bay hills

Saddle Challenge – Update #1

The challenge stared pretty well, thanks for some reprieve in the rainy weather, and the adventure of two challengers in the Death Valley.

Don’t forget, it not too late to sign up!
Just go to http://dssf.org/dssf_html/sc and enter your first and last name, and the password “SC2010”
You can of course retroactively enter your miles of the month.

Right now we have definitely two champions both in term of miles and % done: Doug and Larry who did the Death Valley double Century last Saturday! Doug completed the full 200 miles and Larry, more sensibly limited himself to 150. They both done more than 30% of their goal, well on their way.

David, David, Will and Jerome also got to accrue some miles on David & David’s “Bovine and Cowgirl” ride, which was fantastic, in spite of its excessive number of Davids 🙂
Last weekend, Joseph also lead a ride to the Cheese Factory, with even more miles, so you who joined his ride, why don’t you sign up?

Again, just go to http://dssf.org/dssf_html/sc and enter your first and last name, and the password “SC2010”.
You get more explanation on the blog and of course don’t hesitate to bug me if you have any problem.

Other stats:
561 miles have been ridden so far.
The two biggest days were of course Saturday with 344 miles and Sunday with 176 miles.
We raised $143.

Happy riding!