Yet another ride I can blame, er, thank Patrick for. He’d been on it previously and talked it up as a great adventure. It definitely fit in the mixed terrain theme.
A mixed-terrain bike adventure: 100ish miles, 10k ft of climbing, 40% dirt covering Grant Ranch, Mt Hamilton, Henry Coe State Park, Harvey Bear County Park and Coyote Creek Bike Path.
You can’t do the ride too early in the year, at least if it’s a regular rainy year, as part of the route goes along a creek and would be impassable (or extremely difficult) at high water. Later in the year the temperatures would be unbearably hot. After one rain delay we were able to get it in before the summer heat.
the penultimate bear…
We met near a school in south San Jose. There was a mix of cross and mountain bikes, I was on the Viaje, but had left tire choice until the last minute, and found that the 35s with tread that I’d been planning to run were actually a bit thin in spots. That left me on 32 slicks. Nothing like bringing a knife to a gun fight.
We rolled out through the suburban neighborhood and over to Quimby Road. I’d never been up in on a bike, but knew it was plenty steep from driving up it. Maybe from all the dreading it before hand, it actually turned out to be not as bad as I feared. There were pleasantly distracting views as we ascended, and some chit-chat from some of the other riders to listen to. (I can either talk, or breathe. Hmn, pick one…)
Somewhere along the way was the day’s first mention of bear. Bear of a climb, I think it was Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s gears. Or maybe it was smelling like a bear. Then there were bear statues on the gateposts flanking a driveway!
Regrouped at Grant Ranch Park, and continued up Mount Hamilton. Going up the front side was also new to me. In that direction it never gets too steep, so it was quite pleasant as far as climbs go, especially after Quimby. We could see fog swirling around the top of the mountain, and the temperature dropped as we climbed into it.
Stopped in at the Observatory to use the restrooms, snack vending machines and fill up on water. Last chance til we get out of Coe. (If we make it out… cue dramatical music…) Being inside made the temperature and wind outside feel even chillier, and no one seemed in a big rush to get going again. I at least had a vest (always worried about freezing), but was wishing I’d brought the sleeves. Some of the guys took event flyers to tuck in the front of their jerseys for the impending descent.
We actually dropped down in to the sun in fairly short order and it quickly warmed up. Fun descent, which I’d done down to The Ranch before. Past that was new going that direction, and then we were to the jumping off point to head over to Coe. Which involved some teamwork getting everyone and their bikes over some locked gates. And sweet riding along some fast gravel roads.
At one of the gates (perhaps the penultimate? That word kept getting used all day too, attributed to hearing it from the bike race announcers), someone asked how my tires were working out. Not to jinx you or anything. Well, so far so good. But it’s still early. There’s always time for regrets…
Super fun roller coaster along the ridge top, and then up Bear Mountain. (That b word again.) There was not an ice cream stand at the top. But there were amazing views, and swirls of swallowtail butterflies. We also picked up a few other riders.
What goes up must go down down down ohcrapski that’s steep and even though I saw other folks roll it fine just in front of me the happy thought well ran dry and no I didn’t need to crash at that point of the ride and yes I know walking it is maybe just as hard but whatever I made it down in one piece. Whew.
Then the riding along the creek portion of the program, with a few crossings. Yes, I could see how it would be problematic if there were lots of water. Super pretty though.
Then back to some climbing, and there was The Mahoney Wall in there somewhere, which, no, I didn’t make it up that. Well, not riding anyway. But I wasn’t the only one that had to walk, so there.
I don’t know how many miles we were in Coe, but really just a small slice of it. Coe is a fantastically huge park, with fascinatingly remote and unpeopled areas. Crazy beautiful open space, the kind that can eat you for lunch and not even burp.
Wended our way around and about and eventually came out on Gilroy Hot Springs Road and made our way down to Harvey (yes, that’s right) Bear County Park, which could perhaps be described as the tamer, more manageable younger sibling to Coe. Wait, what’s that about younger sibs being manageable?
Not city park, but not Coe epic scale you could say. Some sweet singletrack, but smooth flowy and contouring along the hillsides rather than super steeps ups and downs. Super grin inducing, and an awesome way to finish the dirt portion.
Back on pavement it was battle the headwinds er, sit in behind the guys feeling the beer gravity to El Toro in Morgan Hill. STOUT FLOAT OHYESPLEASE! That and a burger really hit the spot. Someone made a comment, I forget the exact wording of it now, but the gist was that I’d adjusted his reality that a woman would do a ride like this. Yep, men don’t have the corner on the market for stupid.
More headwind to get back to our cars. Unless you had a wife that came and picked you up at the brewery. Hmn, maybe I should get me one of those…
There were some surface streets, but much of it was on bike path, so that was nice. The “joke” at the end was that we had to go up Metcalf (a notorious climb), which we did turn on, but then cut off on a bike path before the big climby bit.
It was a tough day, but awesome. And fun, not just type 2 variety!