Our Out-and-Back on Elena / Arastradero / Portola Roads
|Read about our ride around Uvas Reservoir|
The San Francisco Peninsula sticks out like a thumb, with San Jose forming the palm of the hand, and San Francisco forming the thumb nail. Los Altos Hills is one of a number of rich communities stretching along I-280, starting on the low ground near San Francisco Bay, and pushing up into the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Semi-rural roads string the towns together. We have ridden them many times.
We started near a church on University, in Los Altos Hills. After wiggling over to El Monte, we crossing under the very busy I-280 interchange, to get to Foothill Community College. From there, we rode up Elena, down to Purissima, and turned onto Arastradero to get to Page Mill Road. We rejoined Arastradero again, and rode through the Preserve. We climbed Alpine, and turned onto Portola. At Old La Honda, we turned around a retraced our steps. Rather than go through the I-280 interchange again, we rode down Robleda and wiggled around to University.
Our second week went in the planned order: Weights, Thresholds, Loaded Hills, Loaded Flats, AC Hills, and Recovery. The Loaded Hill ride was only slightly longer than the Uvas Loop, but with almost twice as much climbing. The ride was a real test.
My legs were already tired. Unlike the week before, they had already gone through both having weights and Thresholds. The first major climb on Elena pushed my heart rate up into Zone 5. Knowing we had more climbs to come, I dismounted, and finished off the hill on-foot. Elena became a series of rollers, with a final dip down to Purissima, and then on to Arastradero. Immediately after crossing under I-280, we face another very steep little hill. Not far from the top, my heart rate in Zone 5, I got off and pushed again.
After picking up Arastradero Road again, we pedaled on to the Arastradero Preserve. Long ago, we had ridden the trails with our son and our Samoyed. A cheeky little finch entertained us, from a safe perch. He was still there when we left. We were fortunate in our timing. We would not have been able to ride our route a day later. Controlled burns were performed the next day. The smoke would have forced us to take a different route.
We rode over another hill and down to Alpine Road. On the climb up Alpine, we wound up in a rolling conversation with a gentleman preparing for a European Tour. He had worn his panniers out. He wanted to know how we liked our Ortliebs. We told him they were the gold standard. They are waterproof in a downpour. My end of the conversation was, at times, almost breathless. I was just as happy when he finally rode off, leaving me to get my breath back.
After riding down Portola Road to Old La Honda Road, we turned around, and began the rewind. Coasting down Alpine Road, I had a “never done that before moment.” At about 20 MPH, I noticed a large deer bounding along off the road, to my right. Suddenly, he cut left, crossing my path only yards away, and dashed out into traffic. I had time for a single thought – has a bike ever hit a deer before? My heart rate spike quickly subsided. Sometimes I yearn for a helmet camera.
The return trip was not as strenuous as I had feared. True, I had to walk some of the hill where Elena soars up from Purissima Road. But, we managed the other climbs. We left Elena at Robleda, exploring a possible way around the I-280 interchange at the College. Our reward was an easy ride down the hill, arriving safely at the start point.
As we loaded up, an older biker rode by. Don is 72. He and his wife have a very slick blog, found at http://www.myrah.net. Don and his wife have been to Europe several times, and have done parts of the Pacific Coast Highway. We chatted for several minutes, comparing notes. He encouraged us to finish the Pacific Coast Highway, and go to Europe. We intend to do both.
On Thursday, we finished our loaded rides by riding 30 miles of Coyote Creek Trail. My legs were very tired. The return leg into the wind, was all we could handle. Even after a Luna bar at the turn-around, I found myself in those “what the heck am I doing here moments”, hoping I was building up my legs, not tearing them down.
On the return leg, we were slowly passed by a strange gaggle, riding a mixture of bikes. They rode everything from beat up mountain bikes to expensive road bikes. They ranged in age from 20-somethings to our age. Some seemed quite fit, while others might have outweighed us plus our Surly’s plus our 60 pounds of sand.
They wanted to know what we were doing (training), what we were training for (ride the PCH), how heavy was everything (107 pounds), and how far were we going today (30 miles in around four hours). Some wished us well. Most looked at us like we were out of our minds. We lost contact with them, and slipped into that half trance of weariness. The miles melted away. We were happy to finish our second week of heavy lifting.
|Read about our ride up Eureka Canyon|