Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay & Buena Vista-SCR 300k Brevet

Saturday, August 11, 2012

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Today’s 300k brevet is organized by the Santa Cruz Randonneurs-it begins at the Santa Cruz Lighthouse & Surfing Museum on West Cliff Dr and finishes at the home of the orgainizers at 226 West Ave.

This out-n-back route heads north along the coast on Hwy 1 to Half Moon Bay and returns south on the same road back to Santa Cruz. The second half of this ride continues to head further south to Monterey County; Moss Landing, Marina and into the Salinas Valley before reaching the turnaround point at the Buena Vista Market.

Willy’s van is parked at the finish location and we have to ride the 1.8 miles to check in at the lighthouse. Willy and I are on a tandem for this event and we both get off on a funny start by getting lost-a wrong turn cost us some time but a bit of laughter was gained in the process! We both had no idea where we were or which way to go-the only folks out and about at 6 AM were drunken homeless people. We asked for directions; the first guy we encountered just kind of mumbled a bit “go left, then straight, right, etc., etc.”. Well that didn’t help; I think we ended up in the downtown area. The next time we stopped for directions, Willy just asked a more generic question “Can you tell me where the Pacific Ocean is?” I think that worked-2 fellas pointed left and said to go right then straight up over a hill….we thanked them and headed in that direction. They got it pretty close; we made it to the lighthouse and signed in to receive our brevet cards!

We head out at around 6:20 AM through the cool early morning fog and drizzle.

The first couple of miles on West Cliff Dr and Swift St bring us to the turn onto Hwy 1. The first half of this brevet is easy to follow-stay on Hwy 1 for the next 46 miles! The coastal fog is still lingering about with the sun trying to peak through-a bit of blue skies can be seen in the background.

The run along Hwy 1 has numerous short climbs with gradient ranges of 7-10% and one longer steady 7-8% climb of 1.2 miles starting from San Gregorio Beach to the junction with Stage Rd. 

The surrounding landscape and scenery on this stretch of road is really beautiful even  with the coastal fog! Shortly after passing Davenport, we pull over to one of the beach access areas to fix a flat. We manage to find a small piece of glass embedded in the tire. Two tubes and two Co2 cartridges later, we’re back on the road!

For the next few miles, the fog appears to be lifting but the further north we go, the thicker the fog becomes! We ride pass many beaches and parks. The fertile land produces fields and fields of berries and brussels sprouts.

We arrive at Half Moon Bay, Control #2-More or Less mini mart, mile 48.9 at 9:48 AM. I get a receipt for a banana and a pineapple turnover. There’s also a bike shop located across the street-Bike Works, WIlly is purchasing a couple of spare tubes and Co2 cartridges while I use the shop’s floor pump to top off the air in the tires.

On the way out, we meet up with Deb & Tim again. We’re now heading south on Hwy 1 back to Santa Cruz.

The previous downhills are all uphills now; same amount of climbs-they’re just all in reverse! The longer climb in this direction begins after you cross the Tunitas Creek Bridge-it’s 1.5 miles up to Stage Rd followed by a blasting descent towards San Gregorio Beach. The ocean views are spectacular!

After the climb past San Gregorio Beach, the terrain is pretty flat all the way out towards Pigeon Point Lighthouse and Gazo Creek Rd. The surrounding scenery is just gorgeous!

The next climb drops us down towards Ano Nuevo Bay followed by another uphill towards Davenport. At this point, we get another flat-Willy’s pretty quick at fixing it and we’re back on the road!

At Davenport, we spot Tim & Deb having coffee in front of the Whale City Bakery and we pull over too! Willy gets a coffee for himself and a turkey croissant for me-Thanks Willy! It’s a welcome break from the winds and the sun is back! It’s 12:45 PM.

The last 10 rolling miles along the agricultural fields on Hwy1 into Santa Cruz brings us back to the parked van. We  remove layers and pack extra clothing for the second half of the brevet. It’s 1:30 PM.

We roll out with Tim & Deb once again through the busy streets of Santa Cruz on Mission St to Water and Soquel Ave for our lunch stop at the Safeway in Aptos. I get a cup of chicken noodle soup with some crackers, a nectarine and a cup of tea.

The route continues on Soquel Dr to Freedom Blvd. This stretch of road has quite a few eye catching murals.

We cross the freeway and make the short climb on Bonita Dr to San Andreas Rd. Once you pass the palatial residential neighborhood, the road opens up to the dramatic sights of strawberry fields! for as far as the eye can see! The sweet fragrant smell of the berries is intoxicating!

We continue through the farmlands on the edge of Watsonville into the Salinas valley. There are fields and fields of strawberries and artichokes.

The next series of turns on Trafton, Bluff and Jensen takes us onto Hwy 1 heading south towards Moss Landing. The 5.6 miles along this stretch of Hwy 1 has nonstop traffic going in both directions of the road-be careful!

The next 3+ flat miles on Molera Rd takes us through more agricultural fields and up the highway overpass to Monte Rd which parallels Hwy 1.

We continue on Del Monte Blvd into the town of Marina. Actually we hop onto the bike path to avoid all the bumpy expansion joints on the main road. It’s a nice detour with better views of the area.

The next turn on Reservation Rd takes us to Open Control #3-Marina, mile 133.7 at 5:17 PM. We chose to stop at the Chevron station and I got a receipt for a bag of Lay’s potato chips.

On the way out we catch a glimpse of several Randos going in the opposite direction on Reservation Rd.

We continue on Reservation Rd for the next 7.9 miles through the main part of town and pass an unfinished residential subdivision. The upcoming climbs ahead drop you down onto the outskirts of Salinas Valley. The road changes to River Rd at the crossing with Hwy 68. It’s a mixture of old and new out here; you have the farmlands and horse ranches together with the residential subdivisions-all in one area!

We reach Control #4-Buena Vista Market, mile 144.7 at 6:10 PM. I get a receipt for a pack of Ritz crackers with peanut butter.

This is the turnaround point-from here; we just reverse the route all the way back to Santa Cruz.

The climb back up to the ridge has fabulous views of the valley below! You can see the fog rolling back in very quickly as the sun is disappearing behind the clouds.

The 11 miles back on Reservation Rd brings us to open Control #5-Marina, mile 155.7 at 7:30 PM. This time we stop at McDonald’s to get a receipt for coffee, french fries and chicken nuggets.

It’s funny how the return on any ride seems faster than the outbound. it’s dark by the time we rolled back through Molera Rd to Hwy 1. It seems like the car traffic is just as heavy as it was earlier-go figure!

I’m so glad Willy knows all the turns on the way back in the dark through the farmlands. I would get lost riding my single! We’re very close to the finish as we make the turn onto San Andreas Rd to Bonita and Freedom Blvd. Another 11 miles to go and we’re almost there. We reach Mission and turn onto King, Miramar and West Ave.

3-4 other riders roll in with us and we finish at 10:57 PM.

Much “thanks” to Willy for tandeming this brevet with me! I had a wonderful time going up and down the coastline and into the Salinas Valley! Thanks to SCR for organizing this brevet-it’s a fantastic ride with gorgeous views of the ocean and of our agricultural farmlands!

193.5 Miles with ~7300′ of elevation gain

Weather: GOOD! Overcast cloudy skies with coastal fog turning to some afternoon sun. Winds were prevalent throughout the whole day. Cool temps ranging from the mid 50’s along the coast to the high 60’s in Santa Cruz.


The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.  ~Wendell Berry


Click here to view the route map & profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:



  1. Nancy, I don’t know how to thank you for your great blog. I am getting to know some great places and routes through your pictures and texts, some of which I probably will never do myself, too long distances to cover for me, but I may do portions of them in the future. I am enjoying these rides almost as if I had done them myself. Great writing and great pictures! Thank you so much.

    Christian, You’re welcome! THANK YOU for the postive feedback and validating the whole purpose of this blog! Nancy


  2. FYI, the link to “Click here to view the route map & profile” is not there. tks

    tks, Thanks for noticing that-it’s has been corrected and linked! Nancy


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