This all started because I wanted to find an alternative route to the west coast of the Peninsula (Half Moon Bay, San Gregorio) without having to go through Skyline and Hwy 92. I had heard about this old road, predating Highway 1 and nicknamed “Planet of the Apes” (its real name: San Pedro Mountain Road) because of the erie feeling you are supposed to get riding it, like you were in a post-holocaust world.
I tried a couple of years ago, but I chickened out a bit after Pacifica and ended up riding Hwy 1 at Devil’s Slide. Oh my. If there was a road hostile to cyclists, that was it. No shoulders, one lane of heavy traffic with drivers just coming out of the freeway part of Hwy 1, on a climb.
So this time, I decide to try it again. I posted the ride the day before, starting from my place. Needless to say, I was not expecting company. So imagine my surprise when I saw no other than Thomas showing up at 10am sharp in front of my garage.
Off we go, the first miles completely uneventful, until we reached the start of the trail. Tony had warned me, but I still felt a bit hesitant when I saw it: it really look like a dirt road with no apparent (even old) pavement. It got better: most of the time, we got to ride on some very old pavement, but pavement nonetheless. The whole road goes over the aforementioned Pedro Mountain, so it climbs for 2 miles. We had to ride so slow anyway, because of the road conditions, that it didn’t feel much of a climb. As a matter of fact, the descent was much more unpleasant, especially since that side of the road was in worse condition. And the weather was not cooperating: we were going through a heavy fog, indistinguishable from a drizzle, and the pavement/dirt was becoming very wet. At one point, my iPhone jumped off my handlebar bag, without me noticing it. Without Thomas, I wouldn’t have realized it before a couple of miles, and it would have been a nightmare trying to find it. Thomas, I owe you big time…
But we finally made it to Hwy 1 and that oh-so-smooth ride to Half Moon Bay, where we enjoyed a nice albeit late lunch. Originally, I had planned to ride back through Tunitas Creek Rd (I know, I know…) but it was so late that we would not have made it on the other side of Skyline before dark. Notwithstanding the fact that it would have probably killed Thomas.
So we had no choice but taking Hwy 92, which I had never ridden eastbound. Well, I probably never will, if I can avoid it. The traffic is awful, and the shoulders inexistent or worse, treacherous. Worse than westbound. But we made it and finish the ride in a light rain towards Millbrae BART station.
I am glad I did this Planet of the Apes, but it’s clearly not a road bike option. On the other hand, with a mountain bike, it’s a peace of cake. Oh, and about this “post end of the world” feeling, I was frankly a bit disappointed: it is just a trail.