Eating Dessert First

The Davids as part of their Winter/Spring training series led a loop ride this past weekend from Pescadero up the Stage Road and then back south on Highway One to Gazos Creek before returning to Pescadero. It’s about 30 miles. If you’ve been around the club for a while or you’re a regular cyclist from the Midpeninsula, you’ll recognize these roads and you’ve probably ridden them many times because they’re marvelously scenic, beautiful, and serene, comparable although different from what you may experience in Italy, Japan, New Zealand, or almost any other touristy part of the world.

The difference this time was that we started in Pescadero rather than some distance away. When I lived in Palo Alto I used to head out to the San Mateo coast on my bike and it was always a long ride. In high school on a 32-pound Schwinn bike it was an exhausting trek up and over the Coast Range and then up and over to get home. When I lived in San Francisco, it was a really long ride down Skyline to 92 and then down to Pescadero before returning to the city. The most popular way the club does this ride is to start in Half Moon Bay and cycle down to Gazos before returning up the Stage Road as well as a couple of additional inland forays. That ride is quite a bit shorter than starting in San Francisco but it’s still nothing to sneeze at, coming in at over 55 miles.

That’s not the sort of ride you want to do when you’re starting out your riding year unless you’ve already been riding all winter. So the Davids’ little trick is to cut out all the lean meat and leave just the delicious fat. And yummy fat it was! Stage Road is quiet, almost devoid of cars (except for the occasional car rallies), and a pastoral sensorium guaranteed to quiet your uneasy mind. Highway One takes in the beautiful San Mateo coast with its blooming coastal daisies and iceplant as you roll over one short hill after another. We passed the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, which incidentally is part of the club’s very first ride in 1982, before turning up Gazos Creek, another isolated country road that follows the rushing creek up a serpentine canyon. Then it was past Butano State Park and quiet ranches before returning to Pescadero. This short loop leaves out the long slogs up to Skyline from the Bay or the very long trek through surburbia down the Peninsula. Those additional miles might do wonders for your conditioning but the tedium of getting to the good part takes away a lot of the enjoyment. That I had never realized until I relented and joined the ride at my husband’s urging. Being the kind of child who was lectured incessantly about eating everything on my plate and by nature obediant—we didn’t have a dog, unfortunately—I was often too full to enjoy dessert. To this day for me dessert is still the least significant part of a meal. And I still always eat all my vegetables. The Davids’ ride philosophy is like being told that I can eat dessert first. Skipping the sloggy parts of a ride to get to the good part is like taking a helicopter to a mountain pass—the long, hard trek to the top is what makes the view so impressive, right? Well, it turns out, no. That’s just propoganda. You can take it easy and enjoy the view even more. So much for all that training to tolerate delayed gratification, the value of hard work, yadayadayada…

It’s going to make getting over to coastside a lot more pleasurable now that I’m hooked on just driving over there to ride. Of course this philosophy is what is destroying Western Civilization, right?

2 thoughts on “Eating Dessert First

  1. Glad you enjoyed the ride, Tony! It’s one of my favorites.

    But there’s one more thing about going the way we did that’s really nice. It’s very common that north to south winds pick up as the day goes on. So, by starting in the southern part of the route, you do most of the south to north riding early in the day, when there’s typically less wind. When you get to Highway 1, if the wind’s picked up, you have a glorious tailwind for the 15 mile stretch of the ride down to the lighthouse.

    There’s much less chance of a slog into headwinds than when you ride from Gazos Creek up to Half Moon Bay. (And probably do half of that on a full stomach, because we’ve all stuffed our faces with artichoke bread in Pescadero at lunchtime.)

    We only had light winds Saturday, so it didn’t come into play, but when the winds are up in the spring and summer, it’s still a pretty great ride.


    1. I’m trying to wrap my mind around the idea that cycling actually should be pleasurable. I don’t know if I like where this is going!


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