Sunday, June 3, 2012
The Sequoia Century is presented by the Palo Alto based Western Wheelers Bicycle Club. They offer 5 different routes; from a moderate to rolling 20 mile ride all the way to a very challenging mountainous 200k! It’s one of the most popular organized events in the Bay Area and Peninsula.
The Century starts and finishes at the Stanford Blood Center in Palo Alto. Depending on the route you’ve chosen, the start time varies from an early 6AM to a late 11AM.
We exit the Blood Center and take Miranda Ave to Arastradero Rd and head south along Foothill Expressway for the next 10.4 flat miles. This road takes us through Los Altos to the outer edges of Cupertino.
We continue on Stevens Canyon Rd which runs along Stevens Creek Reservoir and Pichetti Ranch Open Space Preserve. After passing the south end of the reservoir, the rolling terrain brings you through a gorgeous stretch of road under a canopy of trees. The visual image of the sunlight peeking through the trees creates a beautiful light and shadow show!
The next turn takes us up Redwood Gulch Rd-it’s a very steep 1.4 mile climb! The gradient starts off at around 6-9% and continues creeping to a max of 19%! The terrain levels out for a short bit before reaching steady grades of 11-12% for the remainder of the climb.
The route continues west on Big Basin Way/CA 9 for the next 3.1 miles towards Saratoga Gap. This moderate climb has gradient ranges of 6-9%.
The rolling terrain on Skyline Blvd for the next 5.8 miles takes us pass the many Open Space Preserves in the area; Saratoga Gap, Long Ridge, Monte Bello and Skyline Ridge.
The turn on Alpine Rd takes us pass the Russian Ridge staging area and through the Preserve along the ridge line. Take the time to enjoy the head turning spectacular views of the surrounding lush, densely forested open areas!
The descent on Alpine Rd continues west for the next 3.9 miles at the intersection with Portola State Park Rd. The series of switchbacks on this narrow road will take you through the groves of redwoods as you drop down to Pescadero Rd.
From Pescadero Rd, we head north at La Honda Rd/CA 84 to the brunch stop at the La Honda Center. I had a small slice of homemade pineapple upside down cake, a few servings of rice and black beans and plenty of fruit-it was all good!
After this nice little stop, we head west towards the coast on La Honda Rd/CA 84 for the next 8 miles to San Gregorio. The terrain is mostly flat with a couple of short climbs in between. It seems there is always a headwind going out this way! You’ll see farms, ranches and plenty of open fields dotted with grazing cattle and horses.
The next climb up Stage Rd from San Gregorio to CA 1 is 1.2 mile long with an average grade of about 5-6%. At the top, you get some fabulous views of the valley below!
The turn on CA 1 heading north brings us to Tunitas Creek Rd. All along the coast, there are cyclists strung out on the road heading south who are participating in the AIDS/Life Cycle Ride.
We reach the rest stop at The Bike Hut after going one mile along Tunitas Creek Rd.
Tunitas Creek is a fantastic road that stretches 9.5 miles starting off the coast from Cabrillo Hwy/CA 1 and heads inland all the way to Skyline Blvd/CA 35. The road starts mostly flat from Hwy 1 where you will pass farms, ranches, splendid open fields and meadows.
The climbing starts off gently at the intersection with Lobitos Creek Cutoff with grades of 3-5% and quickly increases to grades of 7-9% as you enter through the densely covered redwood forest. The surrounding landscape along this climb is extraordinary! The towering redwoods and the sound of the water trickling along the creek create a very peaceful environment-both calming and comforting. It’s a wonderful distraction to the long steep sections of road with gradients that ranges from 9-11%!
After the third switchback, it’ll feel like the road will never end, but it does get easier! Once you reach the little open clearing on the right side of the road, the gradient eases up quite a bit to grades of 3-4%. Enjoy the last few miles-the road is nicely paved and the scenery is fabulous all the way up to water stop at Skyline.
The 5 mile descent on Kings Mountain Rd can be very fast; take heed-there are several very tight hairpin turns and blind curves! This road drops us down to Woodside Rd /CA 84-it’s along this flat stretch that my right quad totally seizes up! I can’t move my leg and have to pull off the side of the road to let the muscle retract-it’s quite painful. Thinking back, at all the rest stops, I didn’t have any salty type foods.
The turn on Whiskey Hill Rd takes us to the 3 mile run along Sand Hill Rd where we go up and over Hwy 280 into Palo Alto. We wind our way through the city streets on Santa Cruz Ave, Junipero Serra Blvd and Hillview Ave back to the Stanford Blood Center. The post-ride pic is with new found friends; Rinaldi, Claire & Leon-nice riding with you guys!
The post ride meal was served in a courtyard area with plenty of seating. I had a cup of vegetable soup, half turkey sandwich, salad, fruit and an It’s-It ice cream sandwich. Who knew that the It’s-It is a SF tradition-just like Rice-A-Roni!
We also got some PhotoCrazy pics taken somewhere along CA 9.
Thanks to Michael and Jackie for riding the Metric Century with me! Regardless of anything else that is going on in our lives-This is still a good life and I love it!
Thanks to Western Wheelers and all their Sequoia volunteers for being out there to support us!
69 miles with 6244′ of elevation gain
Avg grade: 5%
Max grade: 19%
Weather: FANTASTIC! Sunny blue skies with temps ranging from the mid 50’s in the morning to the low 80’s in the afternoon
Fractures well cured make us more strong.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Follow this route for today’s ride: