32.8 mi / 8.5 mph / 3244 ft. climbing
Home: John and Rhea’s WarmShowers land
The Santa Cruz Mountains rise south of San Francisco, dividing Silicon Valley from the Pacific Ocean to the west. The normal Pacific Coast bike route keeps you hugging the coast out of San Francisco, so most cyclists won’t even notice them. But our route into Silicon Valley had us way too far south on the wrong side of the mountains, so the only reasonable option to get back to the coast was to go up and over.
That meant the climb we did over Leggett Hill several weeks ago was in fact not the biggest climb we’d do on the coast, as it is for most coast riders. Nearly 2000 feet from bottom to top, with a main climb of 1600 feet, today’s climb was the biggest climb Rett has ever done loaded.
Luckily the route we took, up Kings Mountain Road, and down Tunitas Creek Road, was nearly car-free, on smooth, narrow, twisty asphalt mostly in the shade of redwoods.
It wasn’t bike-free though, and every one of the handful of cyclists who passed us on the way up eventually passed again in the other direction, doing the climb and descent both ways. Even including the downhill portions, our day had 100 feet of climbing per mile, by far the highest we’ve done so far.
Proof of the popularity of the route with (unloaded carbon-bike road) cyclists was The Bike Hut, an awesome unmanned honor-system roadside shack catering to every cyclist need, in the middle of nowhere at the bottom of Tunitas Creek Road. We brewed ourselves some hot tea to warm up from the cold descent, munched on some snacks, used the toilet, and paid via Venmo. There is something warming about the knowledge that someone had the faith in humanity to establish such a place, and that the faith has been honored.
After a brief return to the ocean views ending our long hiatus from Highway 1, we continued south on similarly-empty, cyclist-friendly Stage Rd., taking us into the small hamlet of Pescadero, and a return to 3x-more-than-Safeway grocery prices at Arcangeli Grocery. We did get some of their famous artichoke bread though, and they also found a way to get us some fresh chicken to take into camp when we couldn’t find our expected can.
Then it was time for our final, on-foot ascent, to another WarmShowers stay, this one quite different from our last. John and Rhea, a dichotomous couple who split time between Menlo Park and a yurt on their land, offered us space to camp. A lucky setup in a spot without many accommodations, after a tough day when we couldn’t get much further, and made even better when they invited us in to dinner and conversation with them and their dogs, making it worth the 300-foot, 19%-grade Jeep-track that we had to wrestle the bikes up. My heavy breathing and frequent breaks told me it was the hardest effort I’ve put in the whole trip, but to John’s credit, it was exactly as he’d advertised, so we knew what we were getting into. And it was a “safe” way for us to dip a toe into “wild” camping (no running water, bucket toilet, no table). Though they did have a warm outdoor shower!