Tunitas Creek or My First 7,000 ft climbing day.

If you just want photo’s, skip to the gallery at the end, otherwise read on!

Once again my amazing powers of observation came to the fore on Friday afternoon (if you’re a boss/coworker/client, I promise that in work matters I’m completely on top of things) when I realized that I’d decided to do the advanced route on Saturday.  The advanced route that I read earlier had 5,000 ft of climbing…  So once I realized the route had 7,000 ft of climbing I decided there wasn’t that much difference in it and I really wanted to do it.  Some simple math says that 7,000 is 40% more than 5,000 but denial is a much stronger force than math.

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The Start

What a great start to the day, perfect temperature, no wind and an almost cloudless sky. After one missed turn in Woodside (that road really does look like a market parking lot) we came to the start of Page Mill Rd.  The ride up to there was great, very nice but  I couldn’t stop thinking about the first 10 mile climb of the day. Once we got there I graciously allowed Rich and Roger to get ahead and make sure the road was clear. The first bit was fine, something similar to Tunnel Rd maybe.  Before long though it steepened, a lot.  It was also around then that I realized it really was a long way.  I was also realizing that while my nice new carbon bike was light and fast, it was a compact crank with a 25 tooth rear cog and I was fast running out of fitness. In fact there where a couple of time I elected to take a small break in order to allow my heart rate to drop slightly, that and to make sure Rich and Roger had enough time to clear the road ahead. Eventually I got to the top.

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The Summit

I started on the decent only to come around a corner and see:

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More Up

Oh well keep pedaling, if I’d thought about it I would have noted I was unlikely to do 10 miles in 35 minutes while climbing at 8mph.  At least I was out of the fog:

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East Bay Fog

Bruce came past at one point to wish me a good morning and to cheer me on over the actual summit.  He took my que that he really should tell me it was the summit regardless of whether it was true or not. A really nice decent into the forest was my reward for all that up.  I really like descents, especially when they look like this:

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I can only assume that Rich and Roger were having so much fun themselves that they didn’t have time to clear out the leaves that had been washed onto the road from the storm early in the week.  The section into Pescadero was really spectacular, certainly some of the nicest riding I’ve done.  Once again I’d managed to get myself into a solo ride section, but figured the leaders would stop at some point. They did stop, at the San Gregorio General Store, an oddly unwelcoming to cycling establishment. The live music was nice though and the three of us left town together.

Coming up was Tunitas Creek Rd.  For those of you who don’t follow competitive road cycling (why not!) the Tour of California came through here last year.  I therefore imagined myself looking somewhat like this:

Bet Lance doesn’t even own a compact

They averaged something like 18mph.  Instead it looked like this:

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See you at the top guys

And soon things started to look like this:

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In the interests of keeping my heart within my ribcage I was once again “forced” to stop and let things settle down a bit. The upside was that I couldn’t possible think of a better place to stop and rest.  The redwoods in there are really spectacular.  They also keep the road fairly slick make standing to pedal a bit treacherous at times. At some point prior to that I’d passed the pink “5 miles left” line on the road.  I was surprised that there wasn’t a 4 mile marker as Andrew had mentioned it in his excellent “Anatomy of a Climb” article.  Of course this was because I hadn’t reached it yet, and when I did there were very few happy thoughts being directed towards the person responsible for drawing them.  Eventually I got to the easier grade and after a close encounter with a deer (the second in two weeks) I made it to the top to find a waiting Rich and Roger.  Thank you so much for waiting! After redirecting a lost motorist (who’s GPS had led her up Tunitas Creek Rd from Highway 1 on the way to Santa Cruz!) we made yet another great decent down to Woodside, followed by a short 7 mile headwind section to finish the day.  Maybe it sounds like I’m complaining about all the climbing.  I’m not, it was definitely challenging but I would certainly put this ride on my top 10 favorites of all time. It’s just so amazingly nice to be in all those Redwoods, the roads are great and there’s almost no traffic.  I’ll certainly be back to tackle it again soon, with my newly installed 27 tooth rear sprocket. When I got home I was meet by this by my back stairs:

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Taking a picture to make sure I wasn’t seeing things seemed like a good idea.

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