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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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

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Napa Valley in the winter

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Roger conquers Mount Veeder

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On the way to Morgan Territory

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Into the park

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Flowering trees in the East Bay hills

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Three intrepid riders – myself, Nancy, and Evan – set out from San Rafael for a 33 mile jaunt through the Marin suburbs and back country. We were treated to a beautiful winter ride with sights rarely seen – a nearly-full Nicasio reservoir, plentiful and rushing water flowing through the creek that runs down the back side of Lucas Valley Road, and an empty parking lot (and no waiting) at the Cheese Factory at lunchtime.

I did not even realize there was a creek that ran alongside Lucas Valley Road  – I had never seen running water there – but on this particular day, it was spectacular.

A few minutes of rain at the very end of the ride did not spoil what was otherwise a glorious day for riding.

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Stage Road From Pescadero

6 riders braved the January weather in Pescadero. We all drove through a deluge on Highway 1 before arriving at Pescadero, then spent the first hour of the “ride” having coffee and tea in the bakery and country store, lusting after the baked goods, and debating the merits of riding vs. the warm artichoke soup at Duarte’s. Great hanging out with Wly, Scott, Nancy, Frank, and Patrick for a while – but I’m glad we decided to take off on our bikes around 11 – the sky cleared, and we were rewarded with a beautiful day.

One of the goals of this ride was to help us get in shape for spring and summer riding. Good thing – several of us (myself included) discovered that we were quite out of shape after a winter of hibernating and not doing much riding. When I caught up with the fitter riders in San Gregorio, my thought was “I can’t believe I ever rode 100 miles on the same day before.” Things will get easier as the season develops.

It was a classic coastside ride on a gorgeous day – beautifully verdant hills on Stage Road, clear air as we rode down Highway 1, providing great vistas, and running water in Gazos Creek.

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Lighthouse