Category Archives: Travel

We are retired. In my last decade of work, I logged zillions of hours on airplanes. The planes went from relatively comfortable to cattle cars, crammed with sweaty, overweight people, and almost every middle seat filled. Food disappeared, unless you wanted to by a can of Pringles for $7.00. And the stewardesses spend all their time in First Class.

So, do I still want to travel? Of course. Do I want to get on another airplane? Not really. So, how about hopping on a bike and pedaling away, at a pace that agrees with my retired lifestyle. After all, life is the perfect way to pass the time away.

Daily Post: Interplanet Janet

Now Arriving

The Daily Prompt discovery of Interplanet Janet astonished all of us.  We commend those hard working people for their ingenuity and courage.  Knowing that many of you are eager to visit, we will commence daily flights on 2 January, 2014.  With NASA no longer in the Manned Space Mission business, our consortium purchased Endeavor, the last operational shuttle.  Please visit our site to buy tickets, or purchase directly at Gate 8 3/4.

We expect that our service will continue until NASA actually restores Space Flight as their primary mission.  Until then, we will provide you with all the comforts of home away from home.  Oxygen and water are provided as part of the purchase. price.  Feel free to contact us if you have further questions.

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Solitary Community (Weekly Photo Challenge: Community)

A Solitary Ride Into Community

When I saw the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Community , I immediately thought back to warm, good-hearted people inviting us to share on a Sunday morning in May, yards from the Pacific Ocean, near Watsonville, California.

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Retiring to touring in early 2011, Marian and I trained to ride bikes down the Pacific Coast Highway.  Mentally, I still lived in the mountain biker’s solitary splendor.  I left my isolation, forever on our second over-night training ride.  We inadvertently became part of a Diversity Ride, sharing the route for twenty miles.  Riders perched on sleek carbon bikes passed us by the hundreds, astonished at our loaded down Surly’s.  They welcomed us their gregarious community, inviting us to their rest station.  With that, we accepted that our bulging panniers are an open invitation to friendship and encouraging words from complete strangers.  We love being part of the least exclusive community in the world, touring cyclists.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

High Desert Pastels at Sunset

Over Thanksgiving, we drove I-80 from San Jose to Central Wyoming, and back.  On our return trip, as the sun sat in the west, we crossed the northern Utah desert, descending to the Bonneville Salt Flats.  Had we come any earlier, or later, we would have missed the stunning magnificence and pastel simplicity of the last light playing on the clouds.  When I saw the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Grand, I thought immediately of those chance photos, and decided to offer them in my first photo challenge.

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To the north, the Bonneville Salt Flats were already black.  The clouds caught the last of the sun light, as the earth bent the rays around, emphasizing the red end of the spectrum.

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To the west, the sun was already behind the mountains near Wendover.  The pastel colors would have been the envy of a painter of water colors.  The pastels, in their simplicity, capture the scene and the mood.

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F9 – And They Lived Their Lives – Three Thousand Miles of Thanksgiving

And They Lived Their Lives

Three Thousand Miles of Thanksgiving

Return to our Family Page
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All years are the same length, 365.25 days long, with almost 24 hours in each day.  Yet, some years stand out, with the makings of a Hallmark Movie.  2012 was one such for us.  I retired at the end of January.  Marian and I bike toured Washington State and the Oregon Coast.  Then, the adventure turned to drama.  My father made a life changing transition to an assisted living facility.  That Christmas our family gathered together for our first Christmas in many years   The time was special.  In the movies, the main character does a voice over as the camera zooms out, the end credits start to roll, and the final music comes up.
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3.1.10: Blue Autumn Skies of California – Mountain BIking In The Soquel Demonstration Forest

Blue Autumn Skies of California

In The Soquel Demonstration Forest on 17 November 2013

Read About Our Ride In The Henry Cowell Redwoods
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overviewThe Santa Cruz Mountains separate San Jose from Santa Cruz.  These rugged mountains have few way through, from the Santa Clara Valley to the Sea.  Highway 17 is one of the few routes.  Many State and County Parks dot the mountains.  The Soquel Demonstration Forest is on land that was, once, part of a Spanish Land Grant, although it is unclear who granted the Spanish Crown original title.   The Forest is home to several highly regarded mountain biking trails.  The Forest passed to the people of California in 1988, and is now used by the California Department of Forestry (CDF) to experiment with timber harvests and regrowth, making the forest a renewable resource.
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Highland Road provides the only motorized entrance to the Forest.  Highway 17 / Summit Road connects to the north end of Highland Road.  Corralitos / Eureka Canyon connects to the south end of Highland Road.  A ride may gain entrance, from the south, by cycling north from Aptos, through the Forest of Nicene Marks, a very steep climb.

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3.1.9: Deep Shadows and New Friends – Mountain Biking In The Henry Cowell Redwoods

Deep Shadows and New Friends

Mountain Biking In The Henry Cowell Redwoods

Read About Our Ride In The Sun Drenched Santa Teresa Hills
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p (1)The Henry Cowell Redwood State Park lies just a few miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway 9, near Felton, California.  The Park includes virgin Redwoods at the southern limit of the great California Redwood forest that stretches from Crescent City south to Monterey Bay.  The large Redwoods that now form the Grove have long been the object of protection.  A businessman spearheaded the first efforts to preserve the trees.  Later, Santa Cruz County took on the Grove as a Park.  IN 1952, the Cowell Family donated the surrounding land to California, on condition the Grove was also deeded over as part of the current park.
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Visitors can reach the Park from the north, east, or south.  The most picturesque route is south, from San Francisco, on the fabled Pacific Coast Highway, to Santa Cruz, and Highway 9 to Felton.  The same is true from the south.  The eastern approach is over the Santa Cruz Mountains via Highway 17, and taking Mount Herman Road in Scots Valley to Highway 9.
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Marian and I enjoy Henry Cowell.  It is pleasant, and easily accessible.  Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the Redwoods in the Grove.  Bikers can ride the paved trails in any weather.  When we have visitors, we often encourage them to visit the Park, since it provides an easy way to become acquainted with these wonderful trees.  Our most recent visitors were our nephew Paul and his family.
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Our Plan
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p (2)Riding in Henry Cowell is straight forward.  While there are many paths, only a few are open to bikes.  We started at  the Visitor Center, near the Highway 9 entrance at Felton (N 37°02.391′; W 122°03.817′).  We rode the three miles of paved Pipeline Trail south-east to the Graham Hill entrance.  Then we retraced our steps and rode 0.8 miles of the unpaved Powder House Trail to the outlook, the highest place in the Park.  We coasted back down to the Pipeline Trail.  From there, we returned to the Visitor Center.  Our total distance was about 7.6 miles.
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Op (3)ur route in Henry Cowell required 1200 feet of climbing  After a gentle opening ride, the first climb was about 350 feet.  We descended to the San Lorenzo River, then up to Graham Hill Road, another very steep 120 feet.  On the return trip, we climbed 450 feet to the Park Overlook.
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Our Ride
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blank Turn-By-Turn Directions
blank 0.0 Miles – STRAIGHT on paved Pipeline Trail from Visitor Center
blank 1.6 Miles – Scenic Overlook to Santa Cruz Boardwalk
blank 2.3 Miles – Picnic Table
blank 3.0 Miles – TURN AROUND at Graham Hill Gate
blank 3.7 Miles – RIGHT on dirt Powder Mill Fire Road
blank 4.5 Miles – TURN AROUND at Overlook
blank 5.3 Miles – RIGHT onto paved Pipeline Trail
blank 7.6 Miles – END at Visitor Center
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Our Ride
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p (4)We parked at the Visitor Center, after paying our $10 to support the Park.  Preparing for our ride,  we heard the nearby Roaring Camp RailroadI took a turn around the parking lot, and stopped to admire the narrow gauge train.  The Rail Road was built to haul tourists from Santa Cruz up to a resort at Roaring Camp.  As I completed my circuit, a mother, father and three-year old son emerged from the Grove.  The whistle excited the boy.  I opined that the train would be at the station for a time, before returning to Santa Cruz.  The father hoisted the boy on his shoulders, and quickly walked off.  Trains are made for boys of all ages.
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p (5)We left the sunny pasture near the Visitor Center, and descended into the lush green tunnel of the Pipeline Trail.  New spending was in evidence.  New pavement replaced heavily damaged black top, and new timber railings bordered the walkways.  We passed the Grove on our left and followed the creek.  Hikers moved in both directions, on the trail, although the crowd was far smaller than a mid-summer weekend.  Many were students, as well as a sprinkling of Asian tourists.  People smiled, reverent of their surroundings.  They were calm, polite, and friendly.
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The forest deadened traffic noises and all but the closest voices.  The further we cycled from the Visitor Center, the more it seemed we left the 21st Century.  Soon, we might have been miles from civilization, instead of a few miles from Surf City Santa Cruz and the blaring music of the Board Walk.
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p (6)Instead of the mandatory strenuous climb out of the parking lot, we enjoyed pedaling 0.8 miles down the gentle slope, moving politely and carefully around the hikers.  We soon reached the lowest point in our ride.  Above us, the Roaring Camp Railroad soared high over our heads on a wonderful old trestle spanning our valley.
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p (8)Our first climb greeted us, 280 feet in 0.8 miles.  The hikers disappeared, turning around at the Trestle.  The first 0.3 miles was fairly steep (13% according to the Garmin), but manageable.  As we ascended, an enthusiastic hiker, going in the other direction, encouraged us with spirited exhortations.  After a small respite, we did our best on the rest of the grade (22% at the steepest point).  I gamely rode as much of it as I could, but my heart rate maxed out, still some distance from the top.  Without a shred of guilt, I pushed my bike the remaining 600 yards to the top.  If if I had the energy to finish the climb, it was fa too steep to restart.
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Once at the crest, we greedily drank in the sweet oxygen.  Few hikers ventured up the steep slope.  Almost alone, we rode easily along the top, taking the rollers without complaint.  We had time to become tourists.  The trees were, occasionally, thinner, allowing watery sunlight through.  In other places, the green tunnel absorbed light and sound.
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p (7)As we rode along, we notice great fire hydrants poking out of the ground along Pipeline Trail.  Some giant had planted these enormous, towering artifacts in another age.  Even painted in earth tones, they seemed out-of-place.Still, the purpose of the fire hydrant is noble.  In the event of a fire, the hydrants, linked by pipes to the River, can provide an instant, inexhaustible flood of water to firefighters.  They were installed long ago, standing ready to perform their duty.  While this might seem extravagant, they stand guard in this forest.  While Redwoods can always be replaced, the virgin timber in the Grove could never be replaced.
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p (9)We reached the bench by the trail, and paused.  A short time earlier, we passed a hiker.  She joined us.  She was friendly, saying she often rode the trail, as well as hiked.  Her name was Cindy.  Since she was familiar with the trail, we asked her what we were looking at, what we would see if the view were clear.  The Santa Cruz Boardwalk hide under the mist.  Once we understood, we could also see the Great Dipper, and the Railroad Bridge over the San Lorenzo River.  We also chatted with another woman.  She had walked her dog from the Graham Hill Road Gate.
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p (12)We bid farewell to our new friends and followed the paved trail down to the San Lorenzo River.  Along the way we met a young man who stopped us and earnestly proselytized to us.  The message was fine, and we believe.  Still, I am not sure how well it was received by others on the trail. xxxxxxxxxxxx We continued, reaching the steep descent to the San Lorenzo River.  Pine needles covered the steep path.  We negotiated the tight turns, trusting our brakes.  We rode on to the bottom, since we could not stop our bikes anyway  The south bank had the steepest grade of the ride, over 23%.  I wish I could say I rode all of it, but, again, I pushed my bike up the last half.
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We rested at the Graham Hill Road gate before turning back into the green tunnel.  We dropped down to the San Lorenzo River, amazed at the slope.  Pushing up the far side, I rode all the way to the turnoff to the Powder Mill Trail.  However tempted I was to stop, I pushed on to the turn off to the Powder Mill Trail.
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In earlier years, when we rode Henry Cowell, we often rode it in the Spring, just as the Wet Season was ending. The steep Powder Mill Trail would be filled with muddy ruts, pools of water and small streams and bogs.  On the day we rode, the Wet Season, such as it had been, was six months in the past.
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The ride to the top was about 0.8 miles, with about 300 feet of climbing.  But, to my tired legs, it seemed longer.  Happily, the ride was not very technical.  I kept the bike away from ruts, and worked my way through the sand traps, left over beach front property from some earlier geological era.  For the most part, the bike steered itself, and I just pedaled.
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p (14)Four students began their hike up the trail while Marian and I ate Luna Bars.  As I rode up the hill, I gained ground on them. I considered passing them, but knew I would have to stop shortly afterward.  We were near a confusing trail junction.  Marian had no map, and I needed to guide her to the correct trail.  After Marian joined me, we pushed to the top.  I caught the students, again. Politely, I let them take the stairs and claim the only picnic table on the observation deck.  A pair of equestrians were also there, and happily posed for us.
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p (13)Finally at the top, we claimed our reward, the view.  Sadly, the scene included no Ocean, which had been visible from the Bench.  Instead, we had a view of the mountains around us.  In every direction, trees covered the rugged slopes.  If we squinted a little we could imagine the land as it might have been, untouched by humans, for as far as the eye could see.
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Coming down, we took our time on the Powder Mill Trail.  The road was just steep enough, with just enough sharp, loose gravel, to make me cautious.  I found it difficult to let go of the brake levers and zoom recklessly down the slope, trusting the bike design and my rusty skills.  Instead, I picked my way through the ruts and sand, arriving safe and sounds.
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Once back to the pavement, we headed to the Visitor Center.  The upper reaches were relatively deserted. We met our cheerleader again, urging us on.  His enthusiasm was infectious.  I learned he cheered us on because he seldom saw bikers of our advanced ages riding such difficult trails.  Defalted, we descended to the Rail Road Trestle.  We slowed down and worked our way through the hikers to the parking lot.
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Our Thoughts
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Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park was our second mountain bike ride of 2013.  Unlike the dirt of the Santa Teresa Hills, the paved trail for much of the ride almost felt like cheating.  And, my heart resonated with the trees in a way the  barren slopes could never meet.  I was grateful to live in a place like Henry Cowell Park, and anyone can ride in it, not just a privileged few.  The greenest of all Presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, made a lasting difference in this country in promoting Conservation.  I owe them an immeasurable debt.
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Read about our ride to blue skies of the Soquel Demonstration Forest.

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3.1.8 – Rocks, Dust and Sun Drenched Hill – Mountain Biking At Santa Teresa Park

Rocks, Dust, and Sun Drenched Hills

Mountain Biking At Santa Teresa Park

Read About Our Ride From Lexington To Buzzard Lagoon
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st overviewSan Jose is the most populous city in the Bay Area.  On the south end of San Francisco Bay, the city sits on top of the Santa Clara Valley , once known as the Valley of Heavenly Delight.  This valley, once an agricultural treasure-house, is now paved over.  The self-styled capital of Silicon Valley is the bedroom community for the tech industry of the moment.
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Mountains and bay bound the the valley.  To the east, Mountain Hamilton, 4000 vertical feet above the valley floor, sprawls in a south-easterly direction.  To the west, the Santa Cruz Mountains, climbing over 2500 feet high, parallel their eastern cousins.  Down the valley, the Santa Teresa Hills, a harsh, rocky outcrop, juts out from the Santa Cruz Mountains, impinging on the farmland.  The County included the hills in a park, Santa Teresa County Park, along with other open spaces, forming a green belt on the south edge of the city.
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To celebrate the end of our training, Marian and I returned to our mountain bikes, just as we did in 2012.  We selected Santa Teresa Park because it was nearby.  I had just repaired my mountain bike, and needed a test ride.  In the event something went wrong, Santa Teresa Park had many easy access points that we could drive to and retrieve my bike.
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Our Plan
rideA rider can use Santa Teresa Park from a number of points.  We chose the Fortini Trail Head, just off McKee Road, south of San Jose.  (N 37°12.195′;  W 121°48.355′).  We planned to ride the Fortini Trail, a gentle single track, to the picnic area.  From there, we would climb Hidden Springs Trail / Coyote Peak Trail, a very steep dirt road, to Coyote Peak.  From there, we expected to have good views of south San Jose, and the open spaces beyond the city.  From there, we intended to either retrace our steps.  Once at the top, we decided, instead to try a different way down, the Rocky Ridge Trail, a technically difficult single track.
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elevationsOur ride was only 6.1 miles long, with 993 feet of climbing, all on dirt.  The Fortini Trail, single track, was a gentle climb.  The Hidden Springs / Coyote Peak Trails were extremely steep in many places.  On our descent, the Rocky Ridge Trail, was a steep, technical single track down to the Fortini Trail.  From there, we returned on the Fortini Trail.
Our Ride
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blank Turn-By-Turn Directions
blank 0.0 Miles – STRAIGHT on Fortini Trail from Fortini Trail Head
blank 0.8 Miles – STRAIGHT on Mine Trail
blank 1.1 Miles – LEFT on Mine Trail
blank 1.2 Miles – RIGHT on Mine Trail
blank 1.5 Miles – RIGHT on Hidden Springs Trail
blank 1.7 Miles – STRAIGHT on Hidden Springs Trail
blank 2.1 Miles – STRAIGHT on Coyote Peak Trail
blank 2.5 Miles – LEFT on Coyote Peak Trail
blank 2.6 Miles – STOP at Coyote Peak
blank 2.7 Miles – STRAIGHT on Coyote Peak Trail
blank 3.0 Miles – RIGHT on Rocky Ridge Trail
blank 4.8 Miles – LEFT on Fortini Trail
blank 6.1 Miles – END at Fortini Trail Head
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Our Ride
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p3We started from the Fortini Trailhead, one of several entrances to  Santa Teresa Park.  We could have driven to the Pueblo Picnic Area, for a fee.  Had we done so, we would have continued our usual mountain biking luck of always beginning with a steep climb, straight up the Hidden Springs Trail.  Instead, we elected to start with a gentle climb.  And, it was just as well.  We had not ridden our mountain bikes, on dirt, in a year.
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At the Fortini Trailhead, the rider has two choices.  The rider may go left, taking the Stile Ranch Trail.  The climb consists of seven switchbacks on this steep, narrow, very rocky trail.  From time to time, I have seen the twenty-somethings bop up the trail.  In years past, when I rode my mountain bike on a daily basis, I attempted the climb.  The grade was steep, with a precipitous drop down the face of the hill.  At one of the switchbacks, I dismounted to make the turn.  From there, with such a steep trail and rock strewn surface, I could not get started again.  So, I walked.  On two other occasions, coming back down, I walked again.
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p4To the right lay the Fortini Trail.  We knew the grade was gentle, and the single track not particularly technical.  As we prepared to start, the overcast lifted.  What had, earlier, offered us a cool ride on a cloudy day, slowly changed.  The sun came out as the overcast dissipated.  The scene brightened, and the brown hills slowly, magically, shifted to golden hues.  While the sun came out, the temperature remained in the 60’s.  I had no need of the long sleeve pull-over, and could ride in short sleeves and shorts.
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After some last-minute adjustments, we pedaled down the trail.  Hugging the left side of the hill, above a farm road, we were gently reintroduced to single track.  Here and there, harsh, sharp rocks protruded from the dirt, some in the path, more further up the hillside.  I learned to ride Red all over again.  My handlebars were much wider.  My gearing gave me far more mechanical advantage than my Surly could offer.  My shifting was more restricted, allowing me to jump only three gears at a time.  As I rode, I evaluated the repair to the rear suspension.  I noticed a little squeaking, but soon forgot it as I became more involved in the ride.  Marian noticed nothing untoward.
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we rode about 1.6 miles, and climbed about 250 feet, and arrived in the Pueblo Picnic Area.  We could have started at this point.  Like most Californians, I am averse to paying for parking, when I can find another place to park for free.  Besides, we would have missed the opportunity to shake down our bikes, and get ourselves back into a mountain biking mind-set.
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p5After clearing the parking lot, we rode down a pleasant, shady road, to a gate.  Marian announced that she remembered the hill we faced.  I did, too.  Ahead of us was an extended stretch of steep road.  Worried about the climb, I hoped my hard-earned touring climbing skills would give me the strength and endurance to get to the top.  After all, Red was lighter than my Surly.  And I had no panniers or the 60 pounds of sand in them.  Even out of practice, I hoped I could climb like a mountain goat.
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It was time to find out who well I could climb.  I attacked the first slope, riding up as far as my legs would take me.  This was my first serious climb of the mountain bike season.  Even leaning forward, I had trouble keeping my front wheel on the ground.  I fought to steer the bike where I wanted it to go, somehow managing to stay out of the worst of the ruts.  Still, the road was too steep, and I began to slow down.  With the worry that I would suddenly topple over on my side, into the harsh rocks and gravel, I stopped.
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My heart pounding, I waiting for my breathing to catch up with my needs.  Often, in these situations, odd things pop into my mind.  I wonder if this is my subconscious mind frantically searches for something, anything, to get me off the bike.  The thought that popped into my mind was that Marian’s sister was due to go into surgery at the beginning of the week.  She lives in the UK, eight hours ahead of us.  We should have called her before we left for the ride.  I we waited until the ride was over, it could be quite late, and we wanted her to get as much rest as she could.  So, while we pushed our bikes up one of the steeper stretches,  Marian Face Timed her.  It turned out we had misunderstood, and her surgery was on Tuesday, not Monday.  The connection was poor, and we finally signed off.  Happily, the surgery turned out well.
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We returned to the business at hand.  We still had 300 feet between us and Coyote Peak.  While we had talked, several hikers passed us.  At least we were standing still while they walked on.  Somewhere, up ahead of us, a group of teenage boys walked and rode.  I rode the first part of the road.  Again, I ground to a halt.  My climbing abilities, or lack of them, disappointed me..  I could not climb as well as I remembered from earlier years.
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p6Above us, the teenagers were already on top.  They noisily talked about school, classes, and football games.  I heard no commits directed to our own struggle up the hill.  We rode another stretch, finally reaching the top.  The County had upgraded the summit.  Where, once, logs warded the unwary back from the edge, regular park benches offered comfortable and secure seating.  We drank our water and chomped on a Luna Bar.
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p7Our hoped for sweeping vistas were fuzzy and indistinct.  San Jose spread out to the north and east of us, in the haze and remaining overcast.  The mountains to the west were blurry and indistinct.  And the southern view was vague.  I took photos anyway.  When I prepared this photo, I was happy the camera saw the landscape more clearly than my eye did.  With only a little manipulation, I was able to bring out more detail.  One of the blogs I follow has a raging debate about whether photo enhancement is cricket or not.  But, as Marian says, we haven’t changed anything.  Everything is there, whether we can see it or not.
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Our original plan had been to take the same road we had climbed, down to the picnic area.  From there, we could either explore the northern parts of the park, or return to the trailhead.  In the past,, we had always elected to shorten our ride.  Today, as we gazed about, the Rocky Ridge Trail caught our eye.  We had never taken that trail.  Looking at the map, we saw that it linked back up with the Fortini Trail.  We wondered at the name, knowing that names can offer clues.  We remembered China Grade at Big Basin, and Green Mountain Road on the Columbia River.  We thought it might be more interesting than slipping and sliding down the loose gravel road to the parking lot.  We chose the undiscovered trail.
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We rode down the dirt road, shaped like a roller coaster.  The road dropped and rose to a peak, followed by another drop, and another rise, ending on more level ground.  I was re-introduced to another difference between cycle touring and mountain biking.  On my Surly, I can and do control the speed on my descents.  Always, I retain the ability to stop when and where I please.  This steep, rocky road was far different.  Once I started, I could not stop, save at the bottom.  So, embracing the moment, I trusted my riding skills and let go of the brake handles.  I knifed through the sand with only a little fish tailing and popped almost all the way to the top of the next rise.  After the second one, I stopped and waited for Marian to join me.
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We reached the turn-off for the Rocky Ridge Trail, and discovered another group of riders.  These guys were twenty and thirty somethings.  They had expensive bikes.  I believe one of them was One of them was, a 29’er, the latest craze in mountain biking.  Standard mountain bike, for years, sported a 26 inch wheel.  The marketing geniuses have come out with a bigger frame with bigger wheels.  This bike had incredibly wide tires.  Unlike the two-inch tires on our mountain bikes, the other tires seemed like small motorcycle tires, perhaps three or four inches wide.
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p8We waited, while the group talked. Behind us, the teenagers roared down from Coyote Peak, following us.  Knowing both groups would be faster than we were, we waited for someone to lead the way.  The teenagers went on past us.  The pros finally sallied forth.  We watched and waited.  Finally, we followed them.  At first the grade was gentle, but I knew we had to give back over 600 feet.  The longer we waited to descend, the steeper the grade would, inevitably, be.  The trail was rocker than the Fortini trail.  The trail would be covered with several dozen yards of dirt.  Rocky outcroppings would rear their ugly heads, followed by more dirt.  I carefully picked my way through the rocks, sometimes with only one foot in the stirrup so I could quickly hop off when I needed to.
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p9We looked about.  The ground tilted gently down, with a drop-off further away.  The the dirt was thin, and rocks stuck through everywhere.  It was instantly obvious this stretch would never be farmed, ever.  Gradually, the dirt stretches on the trail got shorter and shorter.  Eventually, there was nothing but rock.  Even at my best, I was always cautious riding through a rock field.  I know that, to ride well, the cyclist must ride with skillful abandon, and let the bike fulfill their purpose.  The bike will go where the rider looks.  If I looked at the rocky points and crevices, that was where my front wheel went.  And, I also knew that I would ride where I looked, and I needed to avoid looking at the rocks and crevices.  The thought of how sharp, hard and unforgiving those rocks remained near the top of my mind.  If I spilled, I risked a scathing crash, or a broken collar-bone.  One by one, the teenagers began to pass us.  One roared past, narrowly missing me, without any warning.  Finally, giving in, I dismounted and walked.
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In earlier years, I would have been shamed at walking.  Not only had I walked up a good part of the Coyote Peak Trail, I was now walking down a big part of the Rocky Ridge Trail.  But, I did not see that I really had a choice.  If I went back, would have to push up the hill, at least as difficult a task as pushing it down.  The weather was cool, crisp, sunny, and dry.  We shared the hill with few people.  Rather than fume, I became one with the hiking part of the ride.  We passed two groups of hikers on the way up while we were on the way down.  Politely, they said nothing about us not riding, because it was probably obvious to them how difficult the trail was.  I enjoyed this part of Santa Teresa Park.  The walk changed my view of the park.  Before, it had been hot, dusty, dirt road.  Now, I could add narrow, rocky, single track to the list of features.
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p10After a time, we reached a point safe enough for us to ride.  We coasted down to Fortini Road.  We turned left and headed back to the trail head.  The path seemed far wider and much more tame than it had a couple of hours before.  We soon saw the farm road below us.  We passed a rusty metal barn just off the trail, a reminder of the continuing agricultural activity on Fortini Road.  Our path offered a sharp demarcation between the harsh rocks to our right, and flat, fertile ground to our left.
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Our Thoughts
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We enjoyed our first mountain bike ride in 2013.  As always we were thankful to finish a ride without injury or incident.  The crisp weather, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, was perfect for riding.  Few people were around, perhaps because of NFL football games.  I came to appreciate Santa Teresa Park more than I had before, perhaps because of the leisurely hike down Rocky Ridge Trail, something I would never have done had we come back down the Coyote Peak Trail to the parking lot.  While this park will never be a favorite, I left with happy memories.  Will we bike Santa Teresa again?  Yes, but not soon.
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I learned, again, many of the difference between mountain and tour biking.  Aside from the obvious, dirt trails instead of paved highways.  The skill sets are different.  Touring requires patience, strength, and endurance to ride long hours, day after day, with cars plucking at your left sleeve.  Mountain biking is violent, with sudden, steep climbs, and hair-raising descents.  Am I still a mountain bikers?  Yes.  But I need more practice.
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Read about our ride in the shadows of the Henry Cowell Redwoods

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3.1.7 – Dazzling Beams and Dark Shadows, A Ride From Lexington to Buzzard Lagoon

Dazzling Beams and  Dark Shadows

A Ride From Lexington to Buzzard Lagoon

Read About Our Ride Over The Golden Gate Bridge
Buoyed by our successes in 2012, Marian and I entered the new year, confident of our riding skills, and our abilities to adventure.  We also knew how physically demanding touring could be, having ridden in Washington State and down the Oregon CoastOne of our goals was to ride the California Coast near Big Sur.  And, to prepare for that series of rides, we designed a series of training rides to condition our bodies, minds, and souls.
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We designed a training ride, from Lexington Reservoir to Buzzard Lagoon Road, at the top of Eureka Canyon, as our capstone ride.  The ride resembled one of the more arduous rides on the Pacific Coast Highway, from Lime Kiln State Park to San Simeon State Park.  Our ride featured several long, steep climbs, and had a saddle to negotiate, although it was a number of miles shorter.  With heavy loads, simulating touring conditions, we intended to prove our readiness to negotiate the toboggan run from Monterey to Morro Bay.
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Our Plan
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OverviewOn 20 October, 2013, many months later than we planned, Marian and I rode the final ride in our climbing sequence.  There were any number of reasons for the delay, not the least of which was an earlier training injury which knocked us out of our training sequence.  Our route took us from Lexington Reservoir, near Los Gatos, up Old Santa Cruz Highway to Summit Road.  We rode along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains until we reached Buzzard Lagoon Road.  From there, we retraced our steps.
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MapOur ride was an out-and-back.  We started at Lexington Reservoir, in a parking area often used by fishermen accessing the Lake, (N 37°11.370′;  W 121°59.522′).  We rode up Old Santa Cruz Highway, paralleling Highway 17.  At the Summit, we turned left and followed Summit Road, with a planned excursion down Morrill Road.  Summit Road turned into Highland Road, which we followed to Buzzard Lagoon Road, at the top of Eureka Canyon.  We, then, retraced our steps.
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blank Turn-By-Turn Directions
blank 0.0 Miles – STRAIGHT on Old Santa Cruz Highway
blank 5.5 Miles – LEFT on Summit Road
blank 6.8 Miles – LEFT on Morrill Road
blank 7.9 Miles – LEFT on Summit Road
blank 8.5 Miles – STRAIGHT on Highland Road
blank 10.2 Miles – STRAIGHT on Highland Road
blank 16.2 Miles – TURNAROUND at Buzzard Lagoon Road
blank 22.1 Miles – STRAIGHT on Highland Road
blank 23.8 Miles – STRAIGHT on Summit Road
blank 24.4 Miles – RIGHT On Morrill Road
blank 25.4 Miles – RIGHT on Summit Road
blank 26.8 Miles – RIGHT on Old Santa Cruz Highway
blank 32.4 Miles – END
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ElevationOur ride, as predicted by GPSies, involved 3560 feet of climbing.  The outward leg, with 2510 feet, had four notable climbs:  (a) Shorter climb up School House Hill;  (b) Long climb up Old Santa Cruz Highway;  (c) Steep climb at the beginning of Highland Road, and (d) Final climb up to Buzzard Lagoon Road.  The return leg, with 1050 feet, had three notable climbs:  (a) Up to the high point on Highland Road; (b)  Gentle climb up Summit Road to Old Santa Cruz Highway; and (c)  Final climb at School House Hill.
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Our Ride
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p (3)Sunday dawned, gray and foggy.  We decided this was the day to finish our suite of training rides.  We knew the first part of this ride, up to Summit Road, every well.  We rode, with full weight, parts of Old Santa Cruz Highway three times.  Twice, with full load, we rode up to Summit Road, with one ride going on to the Summit Store.
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We loaded up our truck with bikes, panniers filled with sand, and other accoutrement necessary for an extended ride.  As we left our house, I reflected on second overnight tour which also started at Lexington Reservoir.  Ideally, we would like to ride from our house up to Lexington Reservoir, using the Los Gatos Creek Trail.  At Main Street, in Los Gatos, the trail surface turns to dirt, which a loaded Surly can negotiate.  However, an extremely steep hill blocks the way, shortly before the dam face.  We would have to dismount our panniers, drag our bikes up the slope, and then haul up our panniers.  For that reason, we choose to start at a parking area, used by fishermen, on the north bank of Lexington Reservoir.
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Saying little, we rolled our bikes off the truck, wrestling panniers onto the racks, and mentally preparing ourselves.  The fog rapidly burning away, so we would be more visible on the road.  The air still held a chill, but we eschewed a pull-overs, going with short sleeve jerseys.  Strenuous climbing is unpleasant enough, without unnecessarily overheating ourselves.
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The first part of the ride was a trial.  Highway 17 was scant yards from Old Santa Cruz Highway, separated only by a three-foot high concrete barrier.  Motor traffic, screaming down at 60 – 70 MPH, chaotically bequeathed us with exhaust fumes and noise.  Collecting myself, I regarded the first slope, dubbed School House Hill.  Starting a ride, especially with a steep climb, is a soul-searching experience.  Often, such questions as ‘why am I here’ and ‘this really is not all that much fun’ and ‘couch potatoing could be a way of life’ cross my mind.
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The first hundred yards was always easy, giving rise to a hope that our training had finally kicked in, and the ride would finally be a piece of cake.  However, as we passed the CDF Station, my heart rate rose into Zone 4.   I wondered how I could continue to turn my legs.  I fought panic, trying to ignore the fear that I would be unable to make it up the first hill, that Buzzard Lagoon, over 16 miles away, was an impossible dream.
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School House Hill (Total distance = 0.5 miles – Total climb = 100 feet):  Finally at the top, we turned and swooped down, past the reincarnating Lexington School.  During the week, large trucks and construction traffic fills the roads.  Perhaps in the fall of 2013, the mountain children will return to a school close to them, and not being bussed to far-away locations.  Regretting that we gave back all the ground we had just won, we were happy to catch our breath.
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From there, we tilted back up, for the extended climb of the day.  I paid just enough attention to ride safely, and let my mind go where it wanted.  We were very familiar with this part of the road, and it was easy to slip into that special mental state of climbing.  I didn’t count cadence.  My legs turned on their own.  My heart rate climbed back into Zone 4, but I set that worry aside.  Trying to do my touristing duty, I noted that the trees were still green.  Most of the leaves were still on, although some were starting to turn.  In the cool green tunnel, we did not particularly noticed differences between autumn light and summer light.
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p (4)We slowly rode past the turn-off to Alma Bridge.  We discovered that, riding up from the bridge, the hill is perfect for AC Hill Intervals.  When called for in the training sequence, we deliberately push our heart rates as high as we can get them.  Pedaling on, legs starting to protest, I looked forward to the S-T-O-P A-H-E-A-D letters painted in the road.  From there, I knew that I was only one steep little rise and 100 pedal strokes from less steep ground.  Eager for any diversion, I often make a game of riding between letters without touching them.
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Idylwild Road (Total distance = 2.0 miles, Total climb = 440 feet):  We paused, having completed one of the two steepest single stretches up to Summit Road.  Waiting for my heart rate to drop, I knew we could make it to the top of this climb.  I put out of my mind that we still had far to go.  Climbing is best done in a parasomniac state.
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We crossed the gentle slope, passing politically incorrect road signs like Ogallala War Path before resuming our climb to Holy City.  We returned to the green tunnel.  The slope increased.  My heart rate climbed.  Unloaded, my heart rate on this stretch usually stayed in Zone 2.  I resigned myself to random excursions into Zone 4.  We twisted and turned, hoping our odometers lied, that we would soon seen Holy City.  But we didn’t.
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Since we started riding bikes, the engines on newer cars and trucks have become quieter.  Still, on a quiet road, the crunching tires give the machines away.  All, save for motorcycles, which remain loud and obnoxious.  A group of motorcycles shattered our quiet agony.  In all, Marian counted 38 smog belching, ear-splitting machines pass us. Some moved over into the other lane, while some motored on past, giving us only minimal clearance.  Many were single riders, but some had a second person hugging the back.  What made it more interesting for us, we had to maneuver around a dead skunk without becoming road kill, ourselves.
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Many differences separate motorcyclists and bicyclists, aside from the obvious mechanical advantages.  Bicyclists tend to space out, riding close enough to keep contact with the next rider, but far enough back that they can ride their own ride, if they wish.  On the other hand, motorcyclists bunch together, as if in a low-speed race, looking for advantage, perhaps to pass.  Only the lead motorcyclist can enjoy the scenery, unimpeded by other motorcycles in front of them.  To compare the two riding styles is like contrasts the easy companionship of solitary fence riders of the old west with the herd animals they tend.  At the end of a ride segment, motorcyclists, voices raised, glare and stomp about, working off their stress.  Bicyclists smile and celebrate, knowing their own abilities have carried them thus far.
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Holy City:  (Total miles = 3.2;  Total climb = 778 feet):  We twisted around the final turn and hove to at Holy City.  We have stopped in the custom glass shop parking lot many times.  For whatever reason, I have never gone inside.  The shop is seldom open when we ride.  Standing there, recovering from our steep climb, I was struck by how different the light was.  The sun was bright, now that the fog had burned completely off.  But the light seemed watery.  And the shadows were deeper.  I particularly noticed this when I selected photos for this article
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Leaving Holy City, we pushed on to the Christmas Tree Farm, our next stop.  The grade was more gentle.  Our legs forgave us for what we had done to them.  We passed Madrone Road, one of our training turn-around points.  The ride was easy and I shifted out of my lowest climbing gears.  I picked up speed, settling into a steady 8 MPH.  Skinny tired bikes make better time.  They have passed me more times than I can count.  Once, it bothered me.  Now, it is just part of riding my ride.
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p (7)Christmas Tree Farm (Total distance = 4.4 miles;  Total climb = 1099 feet):  We reached another traditional stopping point.  Summit Road is not so far away, in time, but it is a pleasant place.  Small fir trees and pines rise up a slope, in well-tended rows.  The trees grow in groups, each with relatively uniform heights.  Plentiful rain helps the new trees grow, quickly replenishing the ones cut down.  We have never bought a tree here.  Many do.  Still, cutting a tree so it can live in my front yard for a few weeks seems, somehow, wrong.
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Immediately after leaving the Christmas Tree Farm, we passed Mountain Charlie Road.  The deceptive turn hides a brutal climb, one of the steepest I know of.  By taking this road, a cyclist can climb to the Highway 17 over-crossing, one of the few for miles.  From there, the rider can parallel Highway 17, on the north side, and descend to Scotts Valley, and on to Santa Cruz.  Instead, we took the easier path.  The climb was so gentle that, on the return leg, we often pedal to keep our speed above 10 MPH.
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p (8)Summit Road (Total distance = 5.5 miles;  Total climb = 1339 feet):  We completed the longest ascent of the day.  I still remember the first time I made it to the top.  That was my first ride to Santa Cruz.  The plan was for me to ride to Santa Cruz, where Marian would pick me up.  For the adventure, I borrowed my daughter’s cell phone, given to me only reluctantly.  At the top, breathless with exertion and excitement, I called Marian.  The signal-to-noise ratio on those phones was so poor that, combined with the road noise, Marian had great trouble understanding me.  She guessed, correctly, that I was okay, and set her watch to come get me.
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Summit Road is a typical mountain road.  There are few ways through the mountains.  When the road is the only connections between two points, the road must carry all the traffic, light or heavy, large or small, automobile or bike.  Summit Road traffic becomes quite heavy, especially on the weekends.  As long as the shoulder is wide enough, cars don’t have to leave their lane.  Sadly, the shoulder goes away very soon, and then it becomes a true sharing experience between the cars and the bikes.  One way to tell if a car is making room is to listen for tires hitting the Bots Dots.  When we don’t hear them, it is time to wonder.  Happily the distance is short, and the climbs are not long.
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p (9)Morrill Road (Total distance = 6.8 miles;  Total climb = 1421 feet):  Sometimes, a road offers the rider a chance to step off the main road, down a quiet country lane.  Morrill Road is just one such opportunity.  The rider has two choices.  The main road, in gloomy shadow, tilts up, complete with narrow lanes without a shoulder.  On the other hand, a sunny clearing beckons through a dark tunnel, seeming to offer an easier path, with light at the end of the tunnel.
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p (10)Once down the little hill, the traffic noise quickly disappears.  The promise of sunlight clearings was a mirage.  But, this pleasant, unexpected oasis might well have been miles from heavily traveled roads.  The Redwoods, standing close together, rose, straight and tall, competing for the sunlight.  Many of the trees were relatively new.  They seemed skinny and insubstantial, compared to the remnants of a once mighty veteran of the forest, now little more than an impressive stump.  A trunk, laying nearby, might have been the downcast arm of a warrior.
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Summit Road (Total distance = 7.9 miles;  Total climb = 1421 feet):  Our descent reminded us we would have to climb to get back to Summit Road.  While Summit Road climbed straight over the hill, passing the local Community Center, our road skirted the worst of the hill.  Only in the last few yards did we climb again, suddenly reaching Summit Road.  The aroma of two wineries, complete with “Wine Tastings Today” signs, tempted us.  Intent on our true goal, we put it behind us and climbed another gentle rise.
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p (11)Summit Store (Total distance = 8.3 miles;  Total climb = 1490 feet):  The Summit Store is the only food source, and restrooms, for miles.  Over the years, we have biked up The Old Santa Cruz Road many times.  We never considered the store a destination.  But, over time, they have added a sun drenched patio.  Now, less than three gentle miles from the top of our longest climb, we could stop, if we wished.  The staff is friendly, making everyone feel welcome.
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We planned to take advantage of the Summit Store, on our return leg.  One of the quandaries of riding is to know when to stop and eat, and when to go on.  It was not yet noon, and we let our conventional thinking get in the way.  Had we really thought it through, we would have stopped and eaten lunch.  Instead, we elected to wait until the return leg.  It was a mistake, although not a large one
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Soquel Road (Total distance = 8.5 miles;  Total climb = 1598 feet):  We pedaled on, passing the turn-off to Soquel.  Signs point to Soquel, 11 miles away.  While seeming a great distance, it is almost all down hill.  While riders share the road with cars and trucks, the descent can be managed in well under an hour.  We prefer Soquel Road, over both Mountain Charlie Road, on the North side of Highway 17, and Highland / Eureka Canyon Road, the route we were taking today.  The rider joins the ACA Pacific Coast Highway Route.
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Crossing a creek, the road tilted up.  We were climbing to the highest point of our ride, the northwest rim of the saddle.  I did not know this climb well, having climbed it only a few times, on my Mountain Bike, but never only my Surly.  At first the grade was not overly demanding.  And I congratulated myself on my level of fitness, praying that my progress was not an illusion.
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p (13)Alas, my celebration was premature.  The grade became steeper.  Enclosed in the green tunnel, the road cleverly hid the length of the climb with slight twists and turns.  My Garmin told me the grade was well above 10 percent.  My heart rate climbed well into Zone 5.  My legs, worn from the early climb on Old Santa Cruz Highway, protested.  Finally, I stopped.  It turned out I was less than 100 yards from the top.  Had I known I was so close, I would have finished it.  At the time, I thought I was saving my strength for more hard work.  But, that is the luck of touring.  Unless a rider knows the course, intimately, they sometimes get off too soon, or continue to ride when they should get off and save their strength.
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Radonich Road (Total Distance = 9.9 miles;  Total climbing = 1939 feet):  Rather than perform the difficult maneuver of remounting heavy bikes on a steep slope, we walked the 100 yards to the top.  We paused to catch our breath.  We compared Highland Road with our ascent of The Old Santa Cruz Highway.  Unlike earlier, brights shafts of sunlight punctured the dark greens and deep shadows.  The brilliant yellows and golds dazzled us.  This sight was priceless.  While most of the country prepares for winter, Autumn is in full force for the next several months.  For truly, our part of California knows no winter.
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p (14)Cheered by the marvelous scenery, we rode on along the top, through the rollers.  Traffic was very light, and the climbs were gentle, asking little of our legs, which still recovered from the beating they had taken earlier.  At the 10.2 mile mark, we negotiated a confusing convergence of roads, steering right of Mount Bache Road and left of Spanish Ranch Road, staying on Highland Road.  We stopped long enough to eat Luna Bars and drink water.  We faced with a riddle for which there was no answer.  The sun continued to dazzle us, and the shadows remained deep.  If I left my sunglasses on, the holes and cracks lurking in the shadows were hard to see.  If I took my sunglasses off, I was at the mercy of the bright sun.
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p (15)Soon, we came upon a scene which as become distressingly common.  Time, traffic, and weather severely damaged the roadway.  The further we rode, the more damaged the surface became.  The lack of repair was, obviously, the result of deferred maintenance.  Now, the road is past simple remedial action.  Now, only more expensive options will suffice.  The cost might rival replacing the entire road.  It is easy to imagine that, after another winter or two, the roadway will crumble away.  Often, our lane was in such bad shape, that we rode in the other lane.  This went on for some distance.
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We rolled along the top, dodging the worst of the road damage, wary of the shadows. The climbs were gentle enough, but reminded us our legs were weary. We welcomed the drops, even though we knew we would have to pay for them on the way back.
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Some vehicle traffic passed us in both directions. They were polite and gave us as much room as they could, and were patient where they could not. In almost all cases, mountain bikes gently rocked from rear racks, or perched in the bed of trucks.
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p (16)Further along, we came across a piece of roadway slowly giving way.  Down to one lane, cracks across the open lane signal that a complete collapse is inevitable.  For now, warning posts steer bikes and vehicles away from the dangerous edge.  Drivers are left wonder if they might be the ones to cause the demise of the road.
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We remembers a similar stretch of road, ten years ago.  Eventually, the roadway collapsed down the canyon.  Even then, local governments struggled to find tax dollars to pay for their obligations.  Santa Cruz County decided to never repair the road.  So, for a time, Highland Road became a wonderful bike path.  However, during one of the following fire seasons, fire fighters, needing an escape path in the event of catastrophe, removed the barriers and graded a way past the washout.  Afterwards, the County elected to replace the damaged road, over the objections of the County Road Department.
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p (18)When I ride, I often become locked in to the destination, and lose sight of the journey. I forget that I, too, am a tourist, free to notice sights, take pictures, remember for a future blog.  Sometimes, I sail right past a beautiful sight.  What would I miss, were it not for Marian, with her exclamations of how a certain flower is out, or how beautiful a view is.  My only memories would be of pavement, cracks, and Bots Dots.  How sad that would be.
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Off to our right, when we could see the canyon.  For some distance, houses, perched between us and the view, blocked out way.  Along with buildings, walls, hedges and trees, we had to wait.  Fortunately, not al of the land is privately owned, and some scenes are visible to the public.  We looked out on rugged ridges, with a canyon, leading to the Pacific Ocean.
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p (20)We reached the edge of the Northwest rim of the saddle.  Highland Road tilted down, and we dipped down toward the low point of the saddle.  Quickly, we were out of the sunlight, and into the familiar green tunnel again.  Off to our right, Soquel Creek soon appeared, running in the opposite direction.  The end of our ride was near  The descent was a welcome change, and we rested our weary legs.  Still, we knew we would have to climb the very slopes we rode so quickly down.
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We immediately noticed the chill, the deepest of the day.  It was more than just riding into shade, or coasting after a strenuous stretch.  We were feeling the effect of the creek.  Especially in the summer, this stretch is always a welcome relief.  On this bright, cool autumn day, we did not mind.
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The dry season is nearly over, and soon, the rains will fall.  But, for this day, the creek was nearly dry. The banks and stream bed were strewn with rocks, well-rounded, tumbled by years of rushing water.  It was easy to imagine some hardy soul, panning for gold. While small amounts of gold were found in the Santa Cruz Mountains, large strikes were never made.
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p (21)Soquel Demonstration Forest (Total distance = 18.3 miles;  Total climbing = 2264 feet):  At the bottom of the saddle, a bridge crosses the creek.  It is the entrance to the Soquel Demonstration ForestThe bridge spanning the creek, is one of the gateways to the Forest.  The bridge is a symbol of cooperation between private interests, owning a strip of land between the road and the forest, and the citizens of California, wanting to bike in the forest beyond.  The trails well used by the Mountain Biking Community.  I immediately thought of Paul, one of my friends, where I used to work at.  He is an enthusiastic mountain biker, and has taken week-long vacations to Canada, riding obstacle courses in the deep forests of the North.  Paul has been actively involved in trail creation and maintenance in the Soquel Demonstration Forest.
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We rolled past cars and trucks, parked along the road.  Some riders prefer to ride up Highland Road, and take Buzzard Lagoon Road to reach the high point, before descending on the trails.  Others prefer to cross the bridge and ride up a fire road to foot of the trails, before climbing them.  The one time we were there, we chose to ride Highland / Buzzard Lagoon to the top, and enjoy the descent.  Riding down a single track trail is always more fun than climbing.
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p (22)After passing the bridge, the road began a gentle climb, leading us out of the saddle.  The steep slope on the left, and the creek on the right, squeezed the roadway down.  In the narrowest stretch, the left slope was cut away to create room.  Here, too, the road surface was heavily damaged.  The shadows were deep, and we rode with care, dodging around cracks and holes.
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Just after the private campground, a road, barred by a locked gate, leads off to the left, climbing the steep slope, and disappearing into the trees.  The road did not exist before 2008.  In that fire season, a great fire swept through the mountains.  I will never forget seeing it from the air.  I was flying home, on an evening flight from Los Angeles to San Jose.  It was dark.  Looking out the left side window, we could see a fire line that ran north from Morgan Hill, up into the Santa Cruz Mountains.  It stretched for miles, and looked like the ends of the earth.  This was the same fire that forced the firefighters to reopen Highland Road, over the objections of Santa Cruz County.
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The growth is so heavy in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  The slopes are very steep.  There are few roads.  To get equipment of any kind to the fire, the firefighters gouged out a new road, up from Highland Road.  Despite their heroic efforts, the fire forced them back, step by step.  They halted their retreat at Highland Road.  There, the heroes of the mountain made their last stand.  Were they to lose, the next fire line would be four miles north at Soquel Road.  Pumper trucks parked bumper to bumper.  The fire-fighters poured water on the advancing flame.  The fire jumped the road, and the creek at several points.  Fortunately, the firefighters beat those fire back as well.  Finally, the firefighters prevailed.  With aggressive seeding and erosion control , the forest will heal itself.  In less than a decade, the forest is already well into its recovery.  The very nature of the redwoods helps.  Blackened by fire, they shrugged off the heat and smoke, and have reclaimed their rightful place.  To this day there are signs thanking the fire fighters.  Enterprising locals have turned the fire lanes into smoother roads.  Lots are now for sale.
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p (23)Finally, the creek ducked under the road, and we turned, starting the final climb up the south-east edge of the saddle.  Once again, the power of Mother Nature was on display.  Another section of road was washing out.  This one was more serious than the wash out on the other edge of the saddle.  In an effort to save the road, maintenance people spread tarps and built curbs to slow the erosion.  The roadway was so heavily damaged, that more tarmac had been land on what was once unpaved shoulder.  Cars need this additional space to wiggle around the wash-out.  Eventually, this part of Highland Road will slide into the creek.
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Moving past the washout, we climbed the half mile to the south-east rim of the saddle.  The roadway was heavily cracked, and we picked our way through, mindful of our wheels, and not wanting to take a spill in the last few hundred yards.  I feared the climb would be worse than it was.  Still, I kept from pressing.  When I press, I use more energy.  But, I climb no faster.
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p (24)Buzzard Lagoon Road (Total distance = 16.2 miles;  Total climb = 2510 feet):  The sun poked through the trees, and we rounded a turn, seeing the welcomed paint on the pavement.  S-T-O-P A-H-E-A-D proclaim the turn-around point of our ride.  We reached the point where, on the map, four roads come together. Highland Road arrives from the north-east, and continues to the south-west as Eureka Canyon Road.  Crossing this road is Buzzard Lagoon Road from the North West, which turns into the private Ormsby Cutoff.
 
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At the top, a group of cyclists on road bikes waited for the last member of their party to climb up Eureka Canyon Road from Corralitos.  The last mile or so is very challenging, not just because it is at the end of a long climb, but the grade is also steeper.  Most of the riders were distantly polite.  One did come over, wanting to know more about my front hub, which has a dynamo to generate power.  The other riders pretty much ignored us, and departed as soon as their two mate arrived.  It was odd, because we often get questions about our bikes, our destination, and the loads we carry.
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On several of our descents on the outward leg, Marian noticed a grinding in her rear brake.  After we chomped down a Luna Bar and drank our fill of water, I looked at it.  I inspected the brake pads, wondering if something had lodged in the rubber.  I saw nothing, which makes sense as I had just replaced the brake pads.  I readjusted the pads, using a thicker shim for the back of the shoe, and opened up the brakes a little.  Unfortunately, it did little good.  Marian compensated by using her front brake more than she normally does.
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Return Leg  (Total distance = 16.2 miles;  Total climb = 2510 feet):  We prepared for the return trip.  We quipped, with gallows humor, that more mountain climbing accidents occur on the return leg, than the outward leg.  The message was clear enough.  Tired climbers, and riders, make more mistakes.  A mistake could lead to injury.  The other quip was that, what goes down must come up.  We would have to pay for all those descents we made.  Happily, we knew we had already done 2/3 of our climbing for the day, and had no climbs left that were as steep or long as the ones we had already done.
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We picked our way back down, past the washout, and over the creek.  We rolled past the Soquel Demonstration Forest  (Total distance = 18.3 miles;  Total climb = 2610 feet),  and began our first real climb of the return leg.  We started with a stiff little hill, that instilled fear that we were more tired than we expected.  Happily, it crested very quickly, and we descended, before we began a steady, less steep climb.  After a time we reached the Top Of The Rim (Total distance = 20.0 miles;  Total climb = 2923 feet).  We went through the rollers, less steep than I remembered, arriving at Radonich Road (Total distance = 22.3 miles;  Total climb = 3074 feet).
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I descended that long grade, bemoaning that I had walked the last 100 yards.  We past Soquel Road (Total distance = 23.8 miles) and arrived at the Summit Store (Total distance = 24.0 miles).  We debated getting lunch, as it was now nearing 3 PM.  Instead, we decided on  sodas and a candy-bar to tide us over until we got back to the truck.  On our Oregon Tour, I developed a fondness for Snickers Bars as my snack of choice.
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We rode up Summit Road, and turned off, at Morrill Road (Total distance = 24.4 miles;  Total climb = 3110 feet).  We detoured through that peaceful diversion, before returning to Summit Road (Total distance = 25.4 miles;  Total climb = 3160 feet).  From there, we climbed two more hills, arriving at Old Santa Cruz Highway (Total distance = 26.8 miles;  Total climb = 3314 feet).  From there, it was an easy glide, taking less than 20 minutes to go down what had taken us over an hour to climb.  We did not press.  The shadows were deep, and we were in no hurry.  A mistake at speed could have led to a serious accident.  We arrived at the Bottom of the Hill (Total distance = 31.1 miles;  Total climb = 3452 feet), although I was hard pressed to notice any uphill segments.  We climbed to the top of School House Hill (Total distance = 31.1 miles;  Total climb = 3544 feet).   We quickly rode down, across the barrier from Highway 17, and arrived at the Stopping Point (Total distance = 32.2 miles;  Total climb = 3560).
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Our Thoughts
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p (25)We felt very good about this ride.  The outbound leg was demanding, but we were up to the challenge.  The reality of the return leg was far less demanding than our fears.  The Autumn colors, the dark greens, the deep shadows, the bright sunlight, all joined to make this a memorable ride.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxStill, we were sad that it was over.  Our capstone ride, the one that could have spring-boarded us into a magical tour, was less than that.  We completed the ride, so late in the touring season, that it made little sense to hit the road.  Soon, there will be less than nine hours of sunlight a day, rains are on the way, and the northwesterly wind will start to move to other points of the compass.Were we ready to ride from Monterey to Morrow Bay, on a five-day toboggan run?  I think it would have been a struggle, one that we probably could have answered.  While we had just proven we could ride from Lime Kiln State Park to San Simeon State Park,  could we have done another ride of similar intensity the next day?  I have my doubts.  When we toured in 2012, we were able to ride ourselves into touring shape, taking full advantage of the extended sunlight, and easy options for shorter rides if we needed them.
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In a way, our training program is an allegory for the plight graduating college student find themselves in.  Like them, we set out with a bright, shiny, once in a life time goal.  As with the students, we trained hard, learned to increase our abilities, tried to cover all the possible outcomes.  We, too, met with unexpected challenges, and rallied to recover from them.  Finally, at the end of the day, we crossed the finish line, ready to step out into the real world.  We found ourselves, suddenly, without a purpose.  The students can find no jobs.  We can find no rides.  However, we have one essential difference from the students, left with the empty promises of the system.  We are fit, and committed to touring.  And, with a little tweaking to maintain our fitness, we will begin touring, perhaps as early as the Spring of 2014.
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Read about our ride in the rocky, sun drench Santa Teresa Hills

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3.2.2 – For Want of a Nail, The Shoe Was Lost

For Want Of A Nail

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Read about our 2013 Adventures
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Ask a cyclist what little things most irritate them during a ride.  Set aside dangers like cars,  honking, or brush-backs, and several answers will surface.  For some, it might be bugs flitting in their face on long hills.  For others, it might be an endless stream of stinging sweat, blurring their vision, and giving the ride a dream like quality.  For me, it is a bike noise, especially one which repeats with each turn of the wheel or pedal stroke. Continue reading

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3.0.2 – 2013 Training Log: January – September

2013 Training Log: January Through September

Read about our 2013 Bike Goals
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Marian and I are training for the 2013 Tour Season. I will try to provide monthly progress reports on our training, using the above chart. We have five places we want to ride, shown as triangles. In addition, we are aiming for 3000 bike miles, and 400 bike hours, which will be shown on the graph.
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3.2.1 To Awaken From Dreams of Pedals, Prednisone and Pain

3.2.1 – To Awaken From Dreams Of Pedals, Prednisone and Pain

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dBurning pressure brought me out of a sound sleep on a Thursday morning. Thinking it seemed more painful than usual, I rolled onto my back, and waited for the pain to subside. The no-pain-no-gain mantra never appealed to me. Thirteen years of training taught me that training causes aches and pains. My 62 years taught me all pains are not the same.  I can work my way through some.  Others require that I stop.
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I had no inkling my life had changed.  I imagined I was about to move from Build 2 to Build 3, by adding more training weight to the bicycle, while recovering from several days of a mild illness.  Instead, I was about to step out into a Prednisone supported injury recovery.  I would experience changes to perception of physical effort, sleeping patterns, mood, and nervous energy.
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I endured a pain-filled weekend.  We canceled a training ride that would have proven we were ready to tour from Monterey to San Luis Obispo.  I iced my shoulder and popped Advil, waiting for the symptoms to abate.  The rotator cuff calmed down.  The shoulder blade continued to burn.  However much I told myself I was getting better, some sudden movement or stretch would throw that back in my face.
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aI finally acknowledged my predicament.  I called my Doctor.  He quickly diagnosed my ailment as a pinched nerve, not rotator cuff impingement.  He supported my wish for therapy.  He also prescribed Prednisone, a drug I was utterly unfamiliar with.  The tapered regime stepped down from 50 mg per day to 10 mg per day, over a 10 day period.  Because I was at no risk of tendon or ligament damage, he allowed me to workout and ride to the degree that I could endure the pain.
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So, for the next ten days, I used Prednisone as I completed Build Three.  I knew what changes to expect with the training routine.  I had no idea what Prednisone induced changes I would see.
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bAlmost immediately, I perceived physical effort differently.  Everything seemed harder.  Through training, I have tuned my mind to listen to my body and trust my eyes.  Now, my body consistently shouted out how hard everything was.  True , my heart rate was higher  But the short layoff, illness and increased weights could explain what I saw.  My caloric burn rate might have been slightly elevated, but there was nothing dramatic.
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Very soon, I began to sleep differently.  I went to bed later, slept poorly, and awoke sooner.  Once an eight hour a night guy, I slept now five or six hours, when I could.  Before, exercise helped me sleep like a rock.  That vanished.  Who knows how many hours I would have slept had I not exercised?  Maybe I would have slept the same because my body shrugged off the exercise.  Maybe the exercise helped me sleep, and I would have slept less without it.
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Then, my nervous energy climbed through the roof.  My body accumulation of serotonin changed.  Normally, with a heavy workout, I build up serotonin.  The happy cure for that is a nap.  But, for most of the 10 days, even the heaviest workouts left me wide awake.  My eyes, burning, screamed how tired I was.  My body and mind could not slow down.  Trying to put those hours to use, I wrote.  But my mind was sluggish, and the glib words and random thoughts I depend on, weren’t there.
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And, my mood shifted.  I became grim and automated, like a robot.  I was anxious, almost jangled.  My workouts were joyless and I felt driven and mechanical.  Elapsed time surprised me.  And my situation awareness dimmed.
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eI took my last Prednisone tablet today, I hope.  Now, I can continue the process of making my shoulder feel right, which it still lacks.  I will use therapy and posture to provide the long term fix.  I will be delighted to get back to the old-normal, to my original mental state, following familiar training techniques.  With good fortune, Marian and I will still ride, although we may miss Moab and Klamath Falls this year, and the Pacific Coast Highway seems like a real reach now.
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Of course, when I wake up tomorrow….
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3.1.6 – From Summer to Winter and Back – Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

From Summer to Winter and Back – Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

Click to read about our 2013 Calaveras training ride
01a overviewSan Francisco Bay is the heart and soul of the fourth largest metropolitan area in America. While many cities and towns dip their borders into the Bay, it is really the tale of two cities, San Jose and San Francisco. They are as different as summer and winter, a California winter anyway. San Jose, sheltered in a sun drenched valley, has daytime highs seldom higher than 90 degrees F, and nightly lows around 60 degrees F. San Francisco, shrouded in fog and mist, has daytime highs seldom reaching 75 degrees F, with lows of 60 degrees F. Denizens of each will claim they have the perfect climate. Guess what? Both are right.
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For the rider traveling north from San Jose, the choice is to either sweat in San Jose, or shiver in San Francisco. The solution is, of course, layered clothing. And the same applies to riding the Pacific Coast, whether it is from San Francisco to Monterey, Washington State,or the Oregon Coast. Most of the time, we wear bike shorts, and short sleeve jerseys, with long sleeve undershirts. Continue reading

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2.4.0: 2012 Mountain Biking

Back on Our Mountain Bikes

Return to our 2012 Adventures
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You may wish to skip ahead and read about our rides at Old Haul Road, around Moffett Federal Airfield, or on Quicksilver.  It’s okay.  We don’t mind.

We returned from our travels to Wyoming.  David was safely in school.  Our home seemed more quiet.  We cast about for our next cycling adventures.

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2.3.10 – 24 July 2012: Rest Day in North Bend

Resting Up In North Bend

Read about our ride from Reedsport to North Bend
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On our ninth morning,  the wind was blowing as strongly as ever.  We decided to take a rest day in North Bend.  We had ridden for three days, and were mindful of what had happened when we rode that fourth day from Pacific City to Lincoln City.  We also decided to change motels, not wanting to spend another night at the little place we were in.  We moved near the mall, with a wider selection of shopping.  Dahttps://pchtraveler.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/2-3-10-24-july-2012-north-bend-rest-day/vid confirmed that he would be available to pick us on the coming weekend.  We expected to get no further than Crescent City, California.

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2.3.06 – 20 July 2012: Rest Day in Lincoln City

Resting and Healing In Lincoln City

Read about our ride from Pacific City to Lincoln City
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306We, finally, awoke, on our fifth day on the Oregon Coast.  We were in Lincoln City.  What a luxury it was to sleep in!  I had nagging feelings of guilt, but I fought through it, turning over to sleep until well after 8 AM.  Marian pronounced her hip sore, but serviceable.  In true trooper fashion, she said she could have ridden.  Instead, we finished breakfast, and set about washing.  I had nothing clean to wear for another day in the saddle.  We loaded up the washer, and ran several loads.  I ran out all my nylon rope, and we hung everything to dry in our room.  It got humid.  We wished we had clothes pins.

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2.3.00: 2012 Oregon Tour

Our 2012 Adventures in Oregon

Return to our 2012 Adventures
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We awoke, on 1 July, 2012.  Two of our three cats shared our, bed, waiting for us to feed them.  They were impatient.  Our dog curled up by the door, guarding us from anything coming down the hall.  The sun shone brightly.  As Dorothy said, we weren’t in Kansas anymore.

For the first time in almost two weeks, we had an almost unbelievable number of choices.  What clothes would we wear?  What food would we eat?  What things would we do?  We could do whatever we wanted.  Or, we could do nothing.  But, doing nothing was too hard, at first.  We slowly adjusted to the pace and scale of the world we had returned to.  We sped about in our car, driving in a single hour what might take a day on a bike, or a day on the train.

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2.2.10: 29 June 2012: Cathlamet Back to Longview / Kelso, or Rain, Rain Go Away

Giving In To The Rain and Returning to Longview / Kelso

Read about our ride from Longview / Kelso to Cathlamet
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We awoke in Cathlamet.  We were 101 air miles from Bremerton.  We were not far from Astoria, just 21 air and 25 Surly miles away, with 2300 feet of climbing on US-30. Our morning was soggy, grey and overcast.  Each time I woke up in the night, it was raining.  Hoping for the best, we logged on to the net.  The forecast was for rain in Astoria, Nehalem, and Tillamook for the next four days.  We had not planned for rain.  Had we come two weeks sooner, or two weeks later, we would have missed most of IT.  It was unfortunate, but we ran into a June that had 200% of normal precipitation.  We had prepared and trained for many things.  But the persistent rain surprised us.  Marian bore it pretty well, but I found the rain depressing.

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2.2.09: 28 June 2012: Longview / Kelso to Cathlamet, or Headed Down the River

From Longview / Kelso, Down the Columbia River, to Cathlamet

Read about our ride from Vancouver to Longview / Kelso
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The Columbia River cut through mighty mountain ranges to reach the sea.  When it turned at Longview, it did not cut evenly into each bank.  For a time, it favored Washington State with a flood plain.  Further on, it favored Oregon.  Longview sets on lower ground, while the south bank is steep.  At the next turn, the plain on the north bank disappears into steep cliffs, while the south bank broadens out.  From there, until reaching Cathlamet, Highway 4 climbs the hills along the river.

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2.2.08: 27 June 2012: Vancouver to Longview / Kelso, or Making It Up As We Go


From Vancouver to Longview / Kelso, Getting Back to Our Route

Read about our rest day in Vancouver
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Vancouver sets across the Columbia River from Portland.  The most immediate geographical feature is the River Valley.  Running north to Longview, it then completes its turn to the west, and runs on to the sea.  The Valley is quite large and spacious near Vancouver.  It narrows sharply as the River flows down hill.  Near Kalama, on the Washington side, the River runs close to the hills, pinching everything down, including the road network.  The hills and mountains, on both sides of the river, channel travel into this narrow corridor.

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2.2.07: 26 June 2012: Rest Day in Vancouver or Planning the Next Step

Resting and Replanning in Vancouver

Read about our train ride from Centralia to Vancouver
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We awoke to light rain. We decided what to do with our day.  We were taking a rest day, the first one we had ever taken.  We needed to plot our next leg of the tour.  Our modest amount of clothes needed to go through the laundry.  And, we needed to food for the 27th, where ever our goal might be.

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2.2.05: 24 June 2012: Elma to Centralia, Or A Disturbing Sound

Elma to Centralia, Back in the Saddle, but Bike Worries

Read about our travel from Shelton to Elma
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We awoke in the Chehalis River Valley, at Elma.   The Valley skirts the heights of the Capitol State Forest, gently rising from North to South, running for about 40 airline miles.  Our route took us along the river to Centralia.  We had overcome the tire problems of the day before, but would be tested, again, when Marian’s bike developed a rear hub problem.  We looked to Centralia, to the imagined bike shop, to cure our  problems.

OUR ROUTE

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We started the day 51 air miles from Bremerton, our starting point, and 21 air miles from Aberdeen, the closest point to the sea.  We would end the night at Centralia, 36.1 Surly miles from Elma.  We followed back roads, riding west of the Capitol State Forest, converging on I-5 at Centralia.  Our route was exactly as we planned:  0.0 miles – START in Elma;  0.9 miles – RIGHT ont0 3rd;  2.8 miles – LEFT ont0 Bank;  18.0 miles – RIGHT ont0 Cemetery;  18.8 miles – Right onto Elma Gate;  20.2 miles – Right ont0 Highway 12;  24.6 miles – Right ont0 Albany;  25.6 miles – LEFT onto James;  29.1 miles – RIGHT ont0 Old Highway 9;  30.4 miles – RIGHT ont0 Old Highway 99 / Harrison;  35.5 miles – LEFT onto Main;  36.1 miles – END at Centralia.

2205 elevationThrough the day, we would climb 1047 feet.  The ride up the Chehalis River was a gentle incline.  Except for the odd rise, such as the bridge over the river, we did not really notice the grade.  The ride was one of the most flat we will ever ride on the PCH.  The distance, 36 miles, and gentle climb, was what had enticed us to believe we could have ridden from Shelton to Centralia.

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2.2.04: 23 June 2012: Shelton to Elma With a Bang

From Shelton to Elma with the Help of Two New Best Friend

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Read About Our Rainy Ride from Bremerton to Shelton
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We intended to ride from Sheldon, on an arm of Puget Sound, over a range of hills, and down into the Chehalis River Valley.  We started the morning, 31 air miles from Bremerton, and 37 air miles from Aberdeen, at the mouth of the Chehalis River.  Our minimum goal was Elma.  We harbored hopes of reaching Centralia.  Our day went far differently than we had planned.  Marian would suffer a catastrophic rear tire failure.  We would hitching a ride, about nine miles to Elma.  I would ride onto Montesano to get replacement tires for Marian.

OUR ROUTE

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We started the second day of cycling, 31 air miles from Bremerton, and 37 air miles for Aberdeen.  We would end the day at Elma, 51 air miles from Bremerton, and 20 air miles from Aberdeen, at the mouth of the Chehalis.  By a strange quirk, Pat would actually cycle to within 10 miles of Aberdeen.  In between, we would benefit from the kindness of two different strangers, as we dealt with the complete failure of Marian’s rear tire.  Our route, both by bike and by car was different from we had planned:  0.0 miles – START;  0.2 miles – RIGHT ont0 3rd;  0.6 miles – STRAIGHT onto Pioneer;  1.1 miles – LEFT onto Lake;  1.5 miles – STRAIGHT onto Cloquallum;  14.5 miles – RIGHT onto Cloquallum (TIRE FAILURE);  23.5 miles – LEFT onto Cloquallum;  25.1 miles – STOP / START at Elma;  26.2 miles – LEFT onto 3rd;  26.4 miles – RIGHT onto Highway 12 Ramp;  35.9 miles – RIGHT onto Main St Exit;  36.2 miles ;- RIGHT onto Main St;  36.6 miles – STOP / START at Spruce;  37.1 miles – LEFT onto Highway 12 Ramp;  48.6 miles – RIGHT onto 3rd St Exit;  46.9 miles – LEFT onto 3rd;  47.2 miles – RIGHT onto Main;  48.2 miles – END at Elma

2204 elevationsThrough the course of the day, we would climb about 2000 feet.  We climbed two hills of about the same magnitude.  The first hill, about 250 feet, came immediately outside Shelton.  The second climb, over 300 feet, came after the road cross Rock Creek and climbed up into the hills separating the Chehalis Watershed from Puget Sound.  From there, it was a gentle descent into Elma.  On the ride to Montesano, the road followed the Chehalis River, and was very flat.

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2.2.03: 22 June 2012: Bremerton to Shelton in The Showers

From Bremerton to Shelton – Welcome to Washington State, Now Get Your Rain Jackets Out

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Read about our trip from Portland to Bremerton on bikes and trains and ferries
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We woke up early.  Finally, finally, finally, we were ready to start our adventure.  At least that was how I felt, that we could not have our adventure until we were out, on the road, with our bikes.  Somehow, in my mind, the train trips up to Seattle, and the ferry ride to Bremerton did not count.  I was still trapped in destination thinking, not yet accustomed to journey thinking.  Actually, I still struggle with that.

As a child, maps fascinated me.  The romantic in me tried to picture who had gone to those places for the first time, and drew their route, and some of the features.  Over time, “adult” concerns replaced.  Perhaps, as I put “adult” things aside, and take up less serious concerns, I am returning to some of that wonder.

Our Route

To be honest, I did not remember maps, geography, and exploration, until I started this rewrite.  And I came into it, almost by accident, finding and building the map below.  This map clearly shows how geography has influenced this part of Washington.  Bremerton sets on a peninsula, bounded on one side by the Hood Canal, and on the other by nooks and crannies of Puget Sound.  The only landward way out is the one we took, toward Belfair, and on to Sheldon.

2201 mapPrior to the start of our adventure, we had plotted our route, using GPSies.com to generate .TCX files.  We tried, several times, to merge the ACA supplied Way Points, but were not able to overcome our Garmin Edge 705.  Finally, we built .TCX files for each scheduled day, and kept hard copy of the Way Point information.

We based our route on a number of sources:  START:  Bremerton – 0.0 miles – RIGHT onto Kitsap;  0.2 miles – LEFT onto Auto Center;  1.1 miles – RIGHT onto Werner;  1.3 miles – LEFT onto Union;  1.5 miles – LEFT onto 3rd;  2.3 – RIGHT onto Kent;  2.7 – RIGHT onto Sherman Heights;  3.8 – RIGHT onto Belfair Valley Road;  9.0 – STRAIGHT onto Old Belfair Highway;  13.8 – RIGHT onto Highway 3;  15.3 – RIGHT onto Highway 106;  19.3 – LEFT onto Trails End;  22.6 – RIGHT onto Mason Lake Drive West;  29.2 – RIGHT onto Mason Lake Road;  34.0 – RIGHT onto McEwan Prairie;  36.5 – LEFT onto Brockdale;  38.6 – LEFT onto Northcliff;  39.9 – RIGHT onto Railroad;  40.3 – End in Shelton

2201 elevationFor the day, we climbed about 2400 feet.  While we climbed no mountains, we did ascend three attention-getting hills.  The first was shortly after we left our motel, and quickly focused on our day’s work.  The second, higher climb, was the ascent to Belfair Valley.  Later, at Trails End, we would climb those backbone hills which keep Bremerton from being an island.

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2.2.02: 21 June 2012: Portland to Seatle by Amtrak and on to Bremerton by Ferry

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From Portland to Bremerton Through Shelton, by Train, Ferry, and Bike

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Read about the night train from San Jose to Portland
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Awakening in Portland, we had the luxury of a noon departure.  We ate our complimentary breakfast and, otherwise, took our time.  We donned a combination of street and bike clothes, not wanting to stand out.  We need not have bothered, as no one noticed or cared.  We rolled our pannier laden bikes into the elevator, one by one.  As would happen many times, people felt compelled to comment on our venture.  Most of them, often very overweight and unlikely to ever take such a trip, wished us well, mumbling about undertaking such a venture.  I hope all of them do.  They will have a wonderful time, even if it turns out differently than they planned.

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2.2.01: 19-20 June 2012: Amtrak from San Jose to Portland

From San Jose to Portland – The Overnight Train

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Return to our Washington State Adventure
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Bike touring might have been the gateway from the daily drudge of a job I had for 28 years.  But that sounds too negative.  The romantic in me wants to see it differently.  There’s everything right in wanting something that, in it’s most simple terms, sets you down as a vulnerable cyclist, on a roadway, sweating as we labor our way up hills, and trusting the drivers of one ton cars to know how close their passenger mirrors are to our elbows.

Biking down the Pacific Coast Highway was a dream.  It might have ben an ignorant dream, based on little more than a vague, naive notion of crashing waves, headlights cutting through a foggy curve, and freedom.  Maybe it was a cycling overlay of some Humphrey Bogart movie, like the Maltese Falcon.  But it was our dream, and we set out, six months ago, to do it.  We trained our bodies and minds.  We switched over to touring bikes.  We equipped ourselves with a myriad of biking and camping gear.  We went on two overnight rides.

So it had finally come down to it.  We were two rookie adventures.  For a frantic two days, Marian and I had packed, and repacked, and made emergency dashes to bike and adventuring stores.  In the end, we had each of our Surly’s in their own Amtrak boxes, mostly because they were big enough to keep both wheels on, and required the least disassembly.  in the muggy afternoon, we donned one of our two sets of camp clothes, and took our other pannier and handlebar bag, one for each hand

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2.2.00: 2012 Washington Tour

Our Adventure In Washington State

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Return to our 2012 Adventures
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christmasAt Christmas, I discussed possible retirement with my family.  They knew I had considered it, and most thought I would wait until at least the summer of 2012.  They became accustomed to the idea of my retirement after the start of the year, and supported me.

Entering retirement, we planned cycle touring as our first major experience.  Following the advice of many, we selected a start date for our tour, 18 June 2012.  We selected the date, based on completion of a 23 week training sequence.  (Please find a training at http://wp.me/P2ngSu-ht.)  Our goal was audacious, the entire Pacific Coast of the United States.

As it turned out, we started later than we planned, 20 May 2012.  And, we rode only part of the Pacific Coast, Washington State and the Oregon Coast.  Not only that, our tour came in two parts.  In the first part, we rode through much of Washington State.  In the second part, we rode much of the Oregon Coast.

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2.1.2 – San Jose to Monterey (19-20 May 2012)

Our Second Week End Training Ride from San Jose to Montery

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Read about our first weekend training ride from San Francisco to Santa Cruz
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t2 d0Our second cycling tour was from San Jose to Monterey.  We pedaled down this piece of the Pacific Coast Highway on 19-20 May, 2012.  We rode in two stages, San Jose to Santa Cruz, and then on to Monterey.  We rode about 70 miles and climbed about 4500 feet.  We based our route from San Jose to Santa Cruz on our own knowledge of the local roads.  We based our route from Santa Cruz to Monterey on ACA Map 4.  We recommend this route without reservation.

We were more confident on our second foray into touring.  We knew more, we were, physically and mentally, better prepared.  We were far more used to heavier loads.  By moving the front panniers back, our bikes handled almost like a dream.  Still, the wind surprised us.  Unlike the NW winds of our first trip, we encountered SW winds on the second day, bucking a headwind all afternoon.

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2.1.1 Week End Ride – San Francisco to Santa Cruz

Our First Weekend Ride from San Francisco to Santa Cruz

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Return to our 2012 Adventures
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FORWARD

t1 d0Our Cycling Tour was a trip from San Francisco to Santa Cruz.  We rode this piece of the Pacific Coast Highway on 29-30 April, 2012.  We did the ride in two stages.  The first stage was from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay.  The second stage was from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz.  The total ride was about 77 miles, with 6600 feet of climbing.  With minor exceptions, we followed ACA Map 4.

I had retired in January 2012.  We chose to retire to Cycle Touring.  We chose not to retire from the aerospace industry.  Since the beginning of the year, we had trained to ride as much of the Pacific Coast as we could in the summer of 2012.  We were anxious to try out our bikes, our equipment, and get a reading on the effectiveness of our training.

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2.1 2012 Week End Rides

2012 Weekend Training Rides

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Return to our 2012 Adventures
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2.1  2012 Weekend Training Rides

Marian and I toured in 2012, for the first time.  We transitioned from Mountain Biking day trips to multi-day cycle tours.  We changed our training program to become stronger, able to climb with very heavy loads, and ride for many hours a day, for several days in a row.

We did two practice rides.  We had been training, hard.  We finally had our bikes ready to go.  We were eager to try it. The first try was in April 2012, riding the ACA Route from San Francisco to Santa Cruz.  The second was in May 2012, were we rode from San Jose to join the ACA Route at Santa Cruz, and then cycle to Monterey.

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2.2.11 – Washington Daily Logs

Raw and Uncut – Our Daily Notes on Touring Washington State

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Return to our ride from Cathlamet to Longview / Kelso
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2012 Washington State Daily Logs

This post consolidates the individual daily postings Marian and I did on our tour of Washington State.

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3.1.5 – Calaveras Road Out-And-Back (Ridden 19 June 2013)

Our Training Ride Up Calaveras Road

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Read about our training ride up Eureka Canyon Road
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p1I-680 connects San Jose to Fremont and the Almaden Pass.  Row after row of hills separate I-680 from the Central Valley.  Behind the first row of hills, where I-680 swings east of Fremont, and south of Livermore, lies Calaveras Road.  Starting on low ground near I-680, it climbs into the hills.  Within minutes, the cyclist is far away from heavy traffic and urban congestion.  The climb, plus rolling hills, is a perfect ride, whether sight-seeing, or training.

Calaveras Road, stretches from I-680 to Felder Road. We added a side trip to Camp Olhone, in the Sunol Regional Wilderness.  Beyond our stopping point, the road dips quite sharply down to Felder Road.

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3.1.4 – Serendipity on Eureka Canyon Road

Substituting Eureka Canyon Road for a Smoke-Filled Calaveras Road

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Read about our Elena Ride
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There is an old adage in engineering.  Plans are nothing, planning is everything.  Serendipity gave us our chance to find this out.  We had enjoyed our rest week, letting our battered muscles heal.  We began our training week, expecting to ride up Calaveras Road.  The fire fighting teams were practicing on Calaveras Road.  We needed to find an alternative.

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3.1.3 – Out and Back on Elena Road

Our Out-and-Back on Elena / Arastradero / Portola Roads

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Read about our ride around Uvas Reservoir
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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.

P1- Our Elena Ride started in Los Altos Hills, near Foothills Expressway.  We rode up El Monte to Elena, then around to Arastradero and through the Preserve, up Alpine, and along Portolla.  On the way back, we took Robleda as a shortcut, avoiding the traffic at I-280.

Our Elena Ride started in Los Altos Hills, near Foothills Expressway. We rode up El Monte to Elena, then around to Arastradero and through the Preserve, up Alpine, and along Portolla. On the way back, we took Robleda as a shortcut, avoiding the traffic at I-280.

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3.1.2 – Riding Circles Around Reservoirs

Our Training Ride Around Uvas Reservoir

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Read about our ride up Mount Hamilton
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 1.3.2.2.2  Uvas Loop (Completed 21 May)

 Morgan Hill lies south of San Jose, California.  It is within easy biking distance.  We have ridden there many times.  West of Morgan Hill are two reservoirs.  A road network forms a circuit around them.  The 20 mile circuit has 900 feet of rolling hills.  This was the perfect ride to begin hills training with touring loads.

P1 - The Uvas Loop is slightly more than 20 miles, and easily accessed from the Morgan Hill Park.

The Uvas Loop is slightly more than 20 miles, and easily accessed from the Morgan Hill Park.

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3.1 – 2013 Training Rides

Our 2013 Training Rides

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Read our 2013 Training Log
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3.1 –  2013 Training Rides – The Usual Suspects

We plan to use five rides to condition us for touring.  We will kick of climbing with Mount Hamilton, unloaded.  We then plan to do the Uvas Loop, Elena – Alpine – Portola, Calaveras, and Old Santa Cruz – Summit – Highland.  We will update these sections, based on the outcome of our training.

P6 - We designed the loaded climbs to increase the amount of climbing each week.  We intended that the final climb to be comparable to the Day 5 leg of the tour to San Luis Obispo.

For 2013, we planned five rides, to condition us for touring.  We added Eureka Canyon because of  smoke on Calaveras.

So far, we have ridden special rides to improve our conditioning.  They are an out-and-back on Mount Hamilton, a loop around Uvas / Cheesboro Reservoirs, an out-and-back on Elena / Arastradero / Portola Roads, and out-and-back up Eureka Canyon Road, an out-and-back up Calaveras Road, and a loop over the Golden Gate Bridge.  We still hope to do a fully loaded training ride up Old Santa Cruz Highway, along Summit and Highland Roads to the top of Eureka Canyon Road.

Unlike 2012, we reserved extended climbing for the end of the training sequence, rather than embedding it, starting with Build 3.  We kicked off the serious 2013 climbing at the end of Build 3.  We climbed Mount Hamilton, with our Surly’s.  This was our first attempt with such heavy bikes.  Thankfully, we did not try the 4800 foot climb with touring loads.  If we were to meet such conditions on tour, I suspect we would spend a great deal of time pushing our bikes.

With Tour 1, we began training with full loads.  Each week, we placed climbing and flat rides, back-to-back.  We adopted the Friel tempo of two hard weeks, followed by a rest week.  Each hard week added miles and elevation gain.

We designed the climbs to prepare us for the Pacific Coast Highway, riding from San Jose to San Luis Obispo.  Our final training ride, Old Santa Cruz – Summit – Highland, approximates the most difficult day of the Pacific Coast, from Lime Kiln to San Simeon.  We will learn whether our preparations have been adequate.

P8 - Our original plan was to do only four training climbs.  Because of controlled burns, Calaveras was unavailable on week 25.  We added in Eureka Canyon in as a fifth ride.  Calaveras is still needed in order to take the step up to Summit - Highland.

Our original plan was to do four training climbs. Because of controlled burns, Calaveras was unavailable on week 25. We added in Eureka Canyon in as a fifth ride. Calaveras is still needed to take the step up to Summit – Highland.  We will conclude our training with the Summit – Highland ride.  By then, our UK visitors will have departed.  We will put our training to use.

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Read about our training ride on Mount Hamilton

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1.0 – Training – When Riding Isn’t Enough / Friel Training Approach

Our Training

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Return to the Training Page
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Training complex, and addresses a vast amount of material.  And, to be honest, the material is dry.  I will try to present our experience in a logical manner.  I intend to provide no more than a summary of our approach and experience.  If you wish to know more, please contact a knowledgeable trainer, or consult the wealth of material on the net.  The reader may, either scroll through this page, or jump to a specific topic.  The topics are organized, as show, below.  I regret the clumsy and sterile numbering scheme.

Forward
1 When Riding A Bike Just Isn’t Enough
1.1 Friel Training Approach
1.1.1 It All Starts With Heart Rates and Heart Zones
 (1) What is a Heart Zone?
 (2) What is a Lactic Heart Rate Threshold (LHRT)?
 (3) What is LHRT Good For?
 (4) How to Apply Heart Zones
1.1.2 What Exercise Routines Do We Use
 (1) What About Bike Riding?
 (2) What About Weights?
1.1.3 How Do We Stretch?
1.1.4 How Do We Warm Up?
1.2 The Recipe
1.2.1 Base Approach
1.2.2 Customizing Our Training For Touring
1.2.3 2012 Training
1.2.4 2013 Training
(1) Replacement For Peak Training
1.3 Places We Like to Train At
1.3.1 Guadalupe River Trail
1.3.2 Los Gatos Creek Trail
1.3.3 Coyote Creek Trail
1.3.4 Lexington Reservoir
1.3.5 Other Places We Have Trained At
1.4 Places We Like to Mountain Bike

Training rides have been an integral part of our adventures.  In describing our 2012 adventures, I wrote extensively about our overnight training rides from San Francisco to Monterey..  In describing our 2013 adventures, I devoted specific attention to our 2013 training rides


Forward:  Should A Cyclist Even Train For A Tour?

 We made the big decision to switch over to Cycle Touring.  We were faced with finding new bikes, and an assortment of camping gear suitable for cycling.  We reconsidered our training.  Should we should train, specially, for touring?  Blogs are replete with stories of people loading up their bikes and riding out of their driveways.  Happily, they soon rode themselves into shape.  There aren’t many stories about riding out on day one, and dragging themselves back, a couple of days later, exhausted, vowing never to look at a bike again.

Last year, 2012, we turned from Mountain Biking to Cycle Touring.  We adapted our training routines, and hit the road.  In 2013, we plan to resume touring.  Several of our goals are tour specific, including the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) from San Jose to San Luis Obispo.  We hope to do that ride in seven stages, with rest days sprinkled in.  Some of the stages are quite daunting.

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Based on our ages, fitness, and being self supported, we have divided the San Jose – San Luis Obispo tour into seven days.  Day five is the most difficult.  We designed our training program to give us the best chance of being able to do that leg of the ride.

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2.3.14 – Oregon Daily Logs

Oregon Coast Daily Logs – Raw And Uncut

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Read about our rest days in Gold Beach
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2012 Daily Logs

This post consolidates the individual daily postings Marian and I did on our tour of the Oregon Coast in 2012.  The old individual daily postings will be removed.

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3.1.1 – Mount Hamilton – Surely You Can’t Drag A Surly Up There, Can You?

Our Training Ride Up Mount Hamilton

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Read about our Training Rides
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Marian and I moved to San Jose in 1984.  In the days before GPS, navigating required a good map, and landmarks.  One strip mall looked like another, and the housing developments were hardly memorable.  One of the most dependable and recognizable landmarks was Mount Hamilton.  On good air days, the gleaming white domes of Lick Observatory stood out as an unmistakable beacon.

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Lick Observatory, atop Mount Hamilton, as seen from Twin Gates Trail Head in Grant Ranch County Park, near San Jose, California.

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2.3.13 – 27-28 July 2012 – Rest Days at Gold Beach

The End Of The Trail – Waiting In Gold Beach For Our Pick-Up

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Read about our ride from Port Orford to Gold Beach
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We awoke to our twelfth day on the Oregon Coast.  We awoke at our normal time, and made breakfast.  We discussed our plan.  Brookings lay ahead of us, with Crescent City beyond.  If we kept to our sequence, this would be our third day of riding.

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2.3.12 – 26 July 2012: Port Orford to Gold Beach

Port Orford to Gold Beach – Our Last Day On The Road

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Read about our ride from from North Bend to Port Orford
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26 July 2012 – Port Orford to Gold Beach

Our eleventh day on the Oregon Coast opened in sunshine.  We were 239 air miles from Astoria, and 69 air miles from Crescent City, our planned destination.  We planned to bike, at a minimum to Gold Beach, about 30 miles away.  Beyond, at about 58 miles, was Brookings.  We agreed to decide, over lunch at Gold Beach, whether to press on or not.

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2.3.11 – 25 July 2012: North Bend to Port Orford

From North Bend To Port Orford, A Ride In The Fog

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Read about our rest day in North Bend
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We started our tenth day on the Oregon Coast, eating our free breakfast. Looking out the window, it was grey, as usual. The wind continued to blow, north to south, but not as hard as it had the day before. We were 192 air miles from Astoria, our starting point, and 113 air miles from Crescent City, our planned designation.

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2.3.09 – 23 July 2012: Reedsport to North Bend

From Reedsport to North Bend, Riding With A Tail Wind

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Read about our ride from Wakonda Beach to Reedsport
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 Our eighth day on the Oregon Coast opened to a strong wind blowing down from the north.  We were 172 air miles from Astoria, our starting point, and 133 air miles from Crescent City, or planned destination.

We ate our free breakfast at outdoor tables.  Although sheltered from the wind, we could tell it was blowing hard.  The clouds were gone.  We considered the goals for the day, we looked closely at the map.  North Bend was about 30 miles away, Bullards Beach was a little more than 50 miles away.  Beyond, Bandon was about 60 miles away.  The ride from the day before had worn us down.  We decided to make the call once we got to North Bend.

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2.3.08 – 22 July 2012: Wakonda Beach to Reedsport

From Wakonda Beach to Reedsport, A Long Day’s Ride

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Read about our ride from Lincoln City to Wakonda Beach
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22 July 2012 – Wakonda to Reedsport

Our seventh day on the Oregon Coast began with grey clouds.  We were 125 air miles from Astoria, our starting point, and 180 air miles from Crescent City, our planned end point.  We were approaching the less populated portions of the Oregon Coast.  There were only two towns of any size within striking distance.  Florence was 29 miles away.  Reedsport was over 50 miles away.

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3.0.1 – A Quick Look at 2012, and Biking Goals for 2013

A Reflection on 2012, and Biking Goals for 2013

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On January 27, 2012, I was enduring the final Friday of my life at Lockheed Martin.  After the weekend, I would fill out final paper work, turn in pagers, and purge my office of those final few things that had made it home for the better part of a decade.  I would literally skip out the door of B157 for the last time.  I would not be able to suppress laughter, finally free.

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2.3.07 – 21 July 2012: Lincoln City to Wakonda Beach

Lincoln City to Wakonda Beach, Riding Healthy and Strong

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Read about our rest day in Lincoln City
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Our seventh day on the Oregon Coast opened to grey skies.  We were 85 air miles from Astoria, our starting point, and 221 air miles from our planned destination, Crescent City.  Marian was biking for the first time since injuring her hip.  We hoped we could continue our tour, but we were uncertain.  We planned both a near term and a longer term destination.  Our near-term destination was Newport, about 25 miles away.  Our longer-term destination was Wakonda Beach, less than 50 miles away.
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2.4.3 – 6 October 2012 – Mountain Biking Around Quicksilver

Riding Around Quicksilver

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Read about our ride around Moffett Federal Airfield
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The days shorten.  Change is in the air.  Broiling temperatures have fallen off.  Highs seldom reach 70 now.  Winds come earlier in the day, as often from the south as from the north.  Rain is forecast for early next week.  Fall is coming to Santa Clara County, the first since I retired.

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2.4.2 – 29 September 2012 – Mountain Biking Around Moffett Federal Airfield in Sunnyvale / Mountain View California


Circling Moffett Federal Airfield

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Read about our ride on Old Haul Road
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Marian and I did an easy ride with our Mountain Bikes this weekend.  Looking for an easy ride, since this is a training rest week, I harkened back to my working days, when I used to ride after work, often on the levies behind Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale.

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2.4.1 – 15 September 2012: Mountain Biking Through Pescadero Creek County Park / Portola State Park

Riding Old Haul Road From Pescadero Creek Park To Portola Park And Back

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This weekend, Marian and I did our first Mountain Biking of 2012, as ridiculous as that sounds.  Because we had trained so long and so hard with our Surly touring bikes, we set aside riding dirt trails.  We picked an old ride, Pescadero Creek County Park / Portola State Park, located near the small hamlet of Loma Mar.  While it feels like it is far up the Peninsula from San Jose, it is actually South West of town.

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2.3.05 – 19 July 2012: Pacific City to Lincoln City

From Pacific City to Lincoln City, Shortened By Injury

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Read about our ride from Tillammook to Pacific City
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Our fourth day on the Oregon Coast opened to sunshine and humidity.  We were 68 air miles from Astoria, our starting point, and 237 air miles from our planned destination, Crescent City.  Our original plan had been to bike for three days, and then rest.  We had already biked three days, but were not happy with our motel in Pacific City.  For what it was, it was quite expensive.  We, could find no reasonable camping earlier than Lincoln City.  We had one set of bike clothes left, so we decided to press on.   We planned to bike to, at least, Lincoln City, and had thoughts of trying for Newport.  Unfortunately, Marian became dehydrated on a very long climb, and we decided to stop for the day at Lincoln City.

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2.3.04 – 18 July 2012: Tillamook to Pacific City

From Tillamook To Pacific City, Riding Around The Capes

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Read about our ride from Manzanita to Tillamook
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Our third day on the Oregon Coast opened to grey skies.  We were 50 air miles from Astoria, our starting point, and 250 air miles from our planned destination, Crescent City.  We planned to bike to at, least, Cape Lookout State Park and camp for the night.  Instead, we pushed on, stopping in Pacific City for the night.  Our tour took us through three Capes, Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cap Kiwanda.  We got our first taste of small hamlets on the Oregon Coast, at Netarts.

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