Santa Cruz Scrub



This was pretty much the perfect weekend to ride. It’s been a fairly mild winter overall, but even so when a day pops up with clear skies and temperatures near the 70s it’s time to ride! John came down from Sacramento and was interested in running some of the local roads up in the redwood trees. That pretty much meant the Santa Cruz mountains.  I’m good with that. The local favorites are always fun!

Stevens Canyon Road and Redwood Gulch Road always push me a little bit. There are a couple of turns on those two roads which work my skill sets. So, we started there. The front side of Highway 9 is always a great ride. Riding it over the years I’ve gotten better and better and push the bike a little further and further with each year. I was definitely in my groove! The hills were green and spring was in the air!

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That being said, highway 236 is the total opposite. It’s one of those tight little roads that is just barely over a lane wide. Each turn you go into you have to expect a car coming flying around the other way. It always keeps you on your toes.  About two thirds of the way down the road we got stuck behind a long pile of cars. Not having very much fun, I saw the turn off for China Grade and decided to take it. I had heard stories over the years of how rough it was, but never got around to riding it. Now was the time! I have to say it lived up to its expectations. The road was very steep, plenty of dirt and potholes, and deep within the redwood trees. We loved it! I’m looking forward to riding it the other way later in the season.

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We pulled in to Ben Lomond right at noon to meet one of John’s friends for lunch. She suggested we go to the beach boardwalk.

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Local company was ready to take any handouts.

We cruised over to the Beach Boardwalk and had some seafood out on the coast. We ate at Stagnaro Brothers.

Stagnaro Brothers Restaurant (C is average. No grade inflation here):

SeatingBDuring lunch hour the host found a window seat for us and didn’t try to pawn off the less desirable locations
AtmosphereAAwesome.  It’s near the end of the wharf and has great views of Monterrey Bay.
Wait Staff?A member in the group knew the waitress so it hard to say here.
FoodAClam Chowder was awesome.  Well worth the food coma afterwards.
ValueC-A touch spendy, but worth what you get.
OverallBWell worth the stop if you are in Santa Cruz.  Parking wasn’t bad on the wharf either.
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Again, the weather was great the food was good: life is good.

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From there was a mellow cruise up the coast to Pescadero Road. After a long stretch of mellow riding it was nice to do something technical again! Pescadero Road was a great warm-up and then Alpine Road was a true workout! Both China grade and Alpine Road we’re short of late discoveries for me in my riding career. I’ve been riding Alpine Road quite a bit. I’m finding I enjoy the tight little technical roads more and more. When I first started riding I didn’t really like them. Now that I have a better bike and more experience I’m finding that they’re really fun. Apline Road folded into Skyline Blvd and we stopped at the viewpoint overlooking Palo Alto and the Bay Area.

After the stop we were losing sunlight quickly. We jotted down highway 35 to highway 9 back to the valley wrapped up the day.

Day two was much easier day. We had to be in Emeryville at 1 PM for the John Ryan session. So, rather than taking the freeway have it was time to do some twisties again! To get more practice we took the same way up Stevens Canyon to Redwood Gulch to highway 9. It was equally as fun today as it was yesterday. Once we got to Alice’s, it was time to go back down the hill. We took highway 84 to Kings Mountain Road. There were crazy amounts of bicycles on Kings Mountain Road. It seems like every turn was full of bikes. On top of that we had one car that wouldnt go over 15 miles an hour through the whole stretch.

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Once we crossed Skyline Boulevard the ride down Tunitas Creek was much better. The redwood tress were a great area to ride in.

Because we had a late start there were many more bicycles that I was used to. Note to self: start earlier next time.  Tunitas Creek was a lot of fun. About halfway down I had and oh shit moment head when a Mustang was going way too fast around a corner on that road. I was in a decent spot on the pavement so not necessarily in a any real danger, but it’s just one of those reminders to always be cautious.

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Tunitas Creek folded into highway 1 and thus began began the ride north. We stopped off in one of my favorite vista points overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A few quick pictures and some stretching and then it was time to hit the road again.

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Traffic wasn’t so bad on highway 1 up to Pacifica. Leaving Pacifica highway 1 turns back into the freeway. The view is much better coming south, but you see the great expanse of the ocean behind you as your climbing the hill northbound. It’s one of those views I’ve never tired of in 10 years. Once getting back to 280 it was pretty much a fairly standard jaunt to the city over the bay bridge and into the East Bay. I missed our exit three times did a bit of backtracking but we finally got there. Yet, with all the adventure, great weather, and good riding: life is still good. :-)!


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