The ride listing said:
SUN JUL 24 5!/TM/62 Uh oh – Tunitas backwards
Leader: Philip Morton
Meet at 8:50 am for a 9:00 am start
GPC Route: Tunitas backwards
Start Location: Woodside Town Hall
The potholes on the top of Tunitas Creek Rd have been nicely paved since the Tour of California went up there a few years ago. So it’s up King’s Mountain, and down Tunitas Creek – a lovely descent – much less white knuckle than King’s Mountain, with a quick stop at the Bike Hut. Lunch in Pescadero is still about halfway. Return via Alpine, and down Page Mill Rd. Refreshments at Roberts in Portola Valley. As a humane alternate, avoid the brutal Alpine climb by taking Pescadero Road to La Honda and Hwy 84 to Skyline.
My buddy, Phil, tends to put together rides that combine steep terrain and new adventures with maybe a twist on the same-old-same-old folks are used to, and true to form, for the dozen riders who piled into cars (some of us car-pool style) and made the drive south (Phil, Andres, Der Lutz, Tim, Alex, Kate, Eileen, Pat, Vinny, Wallace, Kurt, me), he served up another amazing torture fest on the Peninsula yesterday, taking a well-known and well-loved loop (Woodside-Pescadero-Tunitas Creek), turning it upside down on its head and throwing in some new “discovery” trails to cap off the insanity of it all….and despite moments of doubt whether i’d finish (and why), every hot, dry joyless climb and every summit reached led me to the same conclusion. . . i’m glad i did. For the payoffs in views and sense of personal accomplishment were worth every pedal stroke of the journey. The first leg took us from downtown Woodside up King’s Mountain Rd – although seemingly never-ending, is lovely that time of morning, almost no motor-vehicle traffic, the occasional bow-and-arrow hunting party getting ready for their own adventures in the top sections. At Skyline, we had our first Regroup, then took the plunge down the other side on Tunitas Creek Rd. Jury is still out on whether I enjoyed Tunitas on the downhill, since the first time on any loop I’m unsure what to expect (i think i still prefer its rewards as a climb in the shade on a hot afternoon).
Left turn onto Hwy 1 from Tunitas Creek Rd took a long time, what with the density and speed of the cars whizzing along on the Hwy. And btw, you know just after the bridge (crossing the creek), how you get that looooonnnggggg uphill? Well, it’s a bit easier when you’re already on Hwy 1, not starting cold after a stop/regroup at the BikeHut. But being on the coast, overlooking the surf and the wild rocky profile is always great for an ocean baby such as myself.
At the top of that somewhat longish slog from where the creek meets the ocean, the left turn onto Stage Rd was easy and then I got to experience the old stage route for the first time southbound. I’ve been tempted and curious to do just that before, and must say, i think i prefer it to the usual northbound direction…. also, it was a beautiful thing and picture-perfect to see a line of some of the stronger riders in our group proceeding as a clean line of closely spaced Grizzlies climbing the ramps ahead of me (Kurt, Alex, Kate, Wallace, Greg, Andres, Tim). And all in all, it seemed like the southbound direction is an easier climb, at least it felt that way to my legs, and a nice way to go (even with that last bone-jostling downhill section right before Pescadero, where i truly felt i was riding on an old-fashioned buckboard on the old Stage route!)
Lunch at Arcangeli’s (Norm’s Market) had its usual treats, group picnic at the common tables in the backyard, and i feasted on one half of a sandwich and a small carton of chocolate milk, saving the other half of the sandwich as an immediately available post-ride recovery snack. Yum!
Eileen had started her uphill trek after lunch a bit ahead of us, then Kurt led out from Pescadero, and somehow I was able to catch up with and hang with the “big kids” for a long stretch on Pescadero Creek Road, leap-frogging Eileen until we were further into the climb up Haskins Hill in the relentlessly hot mid-day summer sun, and then I fell back and suffered alone for a while. Phil had offered a shortened (50 mile), bail-out option from Pescadero Creek Rd to Hwy 84/La Honda Rd as an alternative to the next climb (Alpine Rd), and I deliberated whether to cut my ride short by 12 miles (as Vinny had indicated he was resolute in doing) or take my chances with what mysteries might unfold on the 6.75 mile uphill and unknown adventure of Alpine Rd. Kurt and Greg had just taken off before I reached the “decision-point” intersection of Pescadero Creek Road and Alpine Rd (I saw them sprint out as I was making that turn) and Wallace was off-the-front most of the ride, so I didn’t see him, but the rest of the group (Andres, Tim, Alex, Kate) was waiting for us (me, Eileen, Vinny, Pat, Phil). Looking left at the continuation of Pescadero Creek Rd toward Hwy 84 in full sun and traffic, and comparing that to the tree-lined one-lane loveliness of Alpine Rd stretching out uphill to the right, I chose to stay with the main group, as did Pat, Eileen and Phil – up Alpine Rd, which turns out to be relentless in its uphillishness, but never really steep, and the few stretches of open sun were accompanied usually by a breeze, the majority of the climb being tree-lined to the ridge and vaguely resembling pieces of both Tunitas Creek Rd and Calavares Rd (in the direction toward Sunol) in character.
At the top, Skyline again (it’s EVERYWHERE!), Alpine becomes Page Mill Rd, a long and fast descent forever down toward Palo Alto and beyond, with views that go forever (and from VERY HIGH UP!). The last miles on the valley floor wind back and around to Portola Rd and eventually back to Woodside.
Despite the heat, it turned into a perfectly wonderful ride, with great company, excellent challenge, and a good sense of accomplishment. I’ll do it again, and I recommend adding it to your ride “library”, too. Check it out in our “Routes” page (Route ID: 164), https://ridewithgps.com/routes/6308281, pick a day with temps lower than the 80s-90s, and go for the full almost-metric-century version. You’ll be glad you did!
Thanks again to our fearless and inventive Ride Leader/Ride Coordinator, Mr. Phil, for setting us loose on such a great adventure!