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Quadrophenia #2: Los Altos Hills Overload (1/24/2015)

Date: Saturday, January 24
Meet time: 9:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 9:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Pace: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills, some steep climbs
Miles: 35


Los Altos Hills is so close to Mountain View that you might think you've already done Every Friendly Hill in town. Think again! We've got some new ones this time, as well as a few of our, um, "favorites" from the past.

After about 6 miles of warmup, we start with an old friend: Alta Tierra Road in the tougher direction (0.2 mile, 10%). Then we'll descend and tackle an all-new challenge: the combination of Ascension Drive and Anacapa Drive (0.6 mile at 9%). Next we head over to Page Mill Road and start climbing gradually until we reach another new one: Via Ventana Way and Briones Way. It's 1.2 miles at 7% total, but the last part on Briones is an attention-getting 0.1 mile at 13%. All this climbing earns us the right to cruise along the scenic crest of Altamont Road and descend past Foothill College.

Time for a rest stop? Not yet! Two more challenges await. First, we'll do the easier side of Quinnhill Drive (0.2 mile, 8%), and then we'll head the other way on Valley View Drive (again 0.2 mile, 8%). Now we're ready for a break!

OK, rest stop's closing in five minutes; back on the bike. We'll do the full climb of Magdalena Road (1.2 miles, 5%) and then head past the end of Mora Drive for an all-new adventure on a freshly repaved path (0.5 mile, 10%) that descends steeply right into the heart of Rancho San Antonio County Park. After a bit more climbing to get out of the park and over to Foothill Blvd., we'll finish with the little eastbound "bump" on Stevens Creek Blvd. and eight easy miles back to Mountain View. Don't forget the dessert tray at the end of the ride!

Ride With GPS reports about 2,500 feet of climbing for this ride. Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

Quadrophenia #1: Highlands Highlands Highlands Highlands (1/10/2015)

Date: Saturday, January 10
Meet time: 9:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 9:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Pace: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills, some steep climbs
Miles: 30

Welcome to the second season of AIDS/LifeCycle Quadrophenia, the hill-climbing extravaganza that will enable you to absolutely DEVOUR Quadbuster this June ... and enjoy it! Compared to last year, this year's rides have MORE total climbing but FEWER extremely steep climbs. We ride only every other weekend and we're low-pressure, so you don't need to quit any other fundraising team that you're on. We just want to make your legs scream now so that they'll smile on the event. Wait, legs don't smile, do they? Um, well, you get the idea.

For our first ride of the new year, we've got a new route that hits a couple of the more well-known moderate climbs around Los Altos Hills, but there's an all-new challenge waiting in the second half of the day.

We start with an easy spin through Palo Alto on our way to La Cresta Drive, a stairstep climb (0.8 mile, 6% average grade) that has alternating steep parts and flat parts. Then we'll climb the southbound direction of Elena Road (0.5 mile, 7%) on our way to Foothill College and then up Stonebrook Drive (0.3 mile, 6%) to the scenic Neary Quarry. We then get some relief with an easy spin to Foothill Expressway and into Cupertino for our rest stop.

Now the real fun begins. Highlands Circle in Los Altos is a brief but imposing 0.2 mile at 11% average. After you get to the top, though, you'll see several side streets to your right as you get ready for your descent. Why climb to the top of Highlands just once when you can get there four different ways? So we'll descend and then loop back around and climb Andover Way (0.1 mile, 10%), descend and then loop back around and climb Regent Drive (0.1 mile, 9%), descend and then loop back around and climb Yorkshire Drive (0.3 mile, 4%), and descend one last time. Whew!

(The alert reader will quickly recognize that any or all of the extra descents can be easily skipped ... or repeated, if that's what floats your boat.)

So now we're done and ready to head home, yes? Of course not ... this is Quadrophenia! We finish our day with the climb of West Loyola Drive (0.6 mile, 8%). Finally, this earns us a downhill ride all the way back into Mountain View and home to Stevenson Elementary. Welcome to the new year!

Ride With GPS reports about 1,950 feet of climbing for this ride. Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

Quadrophenia Prelude #4: Egdirtsew (12/13/2014)

Date: Saturday, December 13
Meet time: 9:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 9:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Pace: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills, some steep climbs
Miles: 35

Our final prelude ride of the season begins with a trip to Foothill College and the little climb up Taaffe Road, which might not hurt as bad because we're doing it at the beginning of the day. After that, we'll take an easy ride to our rest stop in Menlo Park and then head counterclockwise around the Portola Valley loop to our main destination of the day: Egdirtsew.

Egdirtsew? That's reverse Westridge! In the forward direction, Westridge is quite steep. But in the reverse direction, it's considerably mellower, relatively speaking. The biggest challenge is the mind game that you'll play as you confront not one, not two, but three false summits on the way to the top of the hill! After that, it's all icing on the cake: the usual route through the Arastradero Nature Preserve and Palo Alto back to Mountain View.

Ride With GPS reports about 2,450 feet of climbing for this ride. Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

Quadrophenia Prelude #3: Parker Ranch (12/6/2014)

Date: Saturday, December 6
Meet time: 9:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 9:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills, some steep climbs
Miles: 31

The start of the regular training season in January is getting closer, so this week we're getting a little more serious about our climbing. We start by going into Los Altos Hills again for a little warmup on the easier direction of Highlands Circle -- a street we'll see plenty of, come January. Next, it's off to Cupertino for our first Epic Dead End of the year: the short but definitely attention-getting Voss Avenue. After that, we head uphill toward Fremont Older Open Space Preserve and today's main destination: the Parker Ranch development. We'll pass by a couple of evil-looking climbs, but we'll skip them today and save them for later in the season.

After a quick rest stop in Saratoga, we'll do the two-fisted climb of Sarahills Court, one of last season's, um, "favorites," and we'll follow that up with the backside (the tougher side) of Mount Eden. It's all easy after that as we visit scenic Stevens Canyon on our way back to Mountain View.

Ride With GPS reports about 1,950 feet of climbing for this ride. Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

Death Valley in the Fall (11/22/2014)

Date: Saturday, November 22
Meet time: 9:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 9:15 a.m.
Meeting place: Death Valley National Park, Furnace Creek Visitor Center (map)
Rain policy: Heavy rain cancels
Category: 3 - moderate-fast pace (12-15 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills, some steep climbs
Miles: 36-48

Bicycling in Death Valley is an experience unlike almost anything else in the world. In fact, it's a multitude of experiences, depending on the altitude, season, and the weather; every visit is different. A few years back, several DSSFers traveled to Death Valley in the springtime for a major event, only to be confronted with impossibly strong headwinds, freezing temperatures, and even a mudstorm. Other times, the ride has been peaceful and serene, if a bit hot. The long-term average temperatures for November 22 are a high of only 73 degrees and a low of 49 degrees. So even if you've been to Death Valley before, consider joining me for this journey to three of the valley's key locations ... two of which are not part of any of the organized events that take place there.

We depart from the Furnace Creek visitor's center and immediately begin a short but attention-getting climb of about 200 feet, with an elevation at the top of, um, zero feet. Really. Sea level. Then we head south for about 16 miles of rolling hills as we gradually lose altitude on our way to Badwater, which at -282 feet is the lowest point in North America.

After a photo and toilet break, we begin to retrace our route back north, but we take a detour in this direction. We will travel the entire length of Artist's Drive, a 9-mile one-way road that begins with a moderate climb of about 1,000 feet before twisting among the scenic, colorful rock formations and then dropping back down to about -250 feet.

Next, we take Badwater Road back up to the Furnace Creek junction and elevation zero, and then we head east for a climb of about 650 feet to the Zabriskie Point parking lot. If you want to take pictures at the overlook, it's a bit of a hike on foot from the parking lot to the point itself (no bikes allowed). After that, it's all downhill back to Furnace Creek, where much-needed food and drink await.

Total climbing is about 3,500 feet. Two options are available to shorten this ride. You can skip Artist's Drive to save about 5 miles and 1,350 feet of climbing. You can skip the Zabriskie Point climb to save about 7 miles and 650 feet of climbing.

Lodging is your responsibility. Rooms at Furnace Creek are expensive; as of posting time, two-bed rooms for November 21 range from $209 to $273 plus tax. Beatty, Nevada, is one hour northeast and has a Motel 6 at $53 for one person. Pahrump, Nevada, one hour east, has two-bed rooms for $98. Ridgecrest, Calif., is about two hours southwest and has several name motels in the $70 range. There's also camping available at Furnace Creek Campground, right next to the meeting location, for $18 and up.

Death Valley National Park charges a $20 fee for each motor vehicle entering the park.

Because getting here is such a big deal, we will ride unless conditions are really, really bad or unsafe. Note that there are no services, no water, and no food along the entire route. You must bring enough food and water to cover the entire route. (You will likely require far more water than normal.) Toilets are available at key locations along the route. We have no SAG vehicle planned (you're welcome to volunteer to be one if you'd like); if you have a mechanical or other failure, you could be in the desert for a few hours until another rider can retrieve you. Because of National Park Service rules, this ride is limited to 19 people, including any SAG drivers. RSVPs are required for this event so I can keep you informed about anything that might come up.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are required for this ride.

Quadrophenia Prelude #2: 7 Hills of Los Altos (11/8/2014)

Date: Saturday, November 8
Meet time: 9:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 9:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills, some steep climbs
Miles: 25

Think riding in the South Bay is flat? A visit to Los Altos will change your mind in a hurry. Today we'll conquer seven of the more notable Los Altos Hills ... but don't worry, there are still many, many others waiting for us when the main Quadrophenia rides begin in January. And while there are a couple of steep bits today, none of the hills are particularly long.

We begin with La Cresta Drive, a stairstep climb of about 0.8 mile with alternating steep and flat parts. Next is the moderate southbound climb of Elena Road and Natoma Road, about 1.8 mile total but with a bit of a break in the middle. Then, after a nice invigorating descent, we'll climb the somewhat steep Westwind Way -- although you probably can get a good running start to get you at least partway up before having to summon the granny gear. After that is southbound Alta Tierra Road, which averages only 8% over just 0.1 mile, but the first few feet are quite an attention-getter.

You've earned a break by this point, so we'll stop briefly in downtown Los Altos. Then, because we still have three more hills to go, it's back to the climbing! Next is the gentle to moderate Barley Hill (followed by the fun, very steep descent on a narrow path), the easier side of Quinnhill Road (0.2 mile at only 8% average, but the last few feet are very steep), and finally Valley View Drive.

Whew! That's seven hills. But just for fun, we'll finish by doing the loop around the Los Altos Golf & County Club on Loyola Drive. Now we're ready for the final four miles back into Mountain View ... all gently downhill!

Ride With GPS reports about 1,625 feet of climbing for this ride. Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

Quadrophenia Prelude #1: Neary Quarry (11/1/2014)

Date: Saturday, November 1
Meet time: 9:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 9:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills, some steep climbs
Miles: 20

Description:
Quadrophenia 2015 premieres in January! Before then, however, we have four rides to help you (re)awaken those climbing legs. If you're a Quadrophenia 2014 veteran, then you already know about our fun and our challenges. If you're new to Quadrophenia, the Prelude rides -- which have a little less climbing but still just as much fun -- will help you decide whether they're right for you.

Today's ride visits the unexpectedly scenic Neary Quarry high above Los Altos Hills. To get there, we'll do the 0.7-mile climb of West Loyola Drive, which is moderately steep but not stupidly so. After the quarry, we'll head around Foothill College and then go part of the way along Elena Road before doing a little-known but quite steep descent down to Purissima Road.

We've got one very steep climb on today's ride, and it's the 0.2-mile, 12% backside of Viscaino Drive. It's perfectly OK to walk some or all of it -- and, in fact, you might even make better time by doing so. When we reach the top, we'll go down the longer, steeper front side of Viscaino (control your speed) and then play around in some of the lesser hills of Los Altos Hills for a few miles before heading back to Mountain View.

Ride With GPS reports about 1,500 feet of climbing for this ride. Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

Ride report: Double Bay Double 4 (9/27/2014-9/28/2014)


With a new route, the fourth Double Bay Double has gone into the history books as another successful event. Our 12 riders and and seven volunteers made it all the way from Sunnyvale to Marina and back without any significant incidents, and we have so far raised more than $10,400 to support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

In fact, after having unpleasant weather surprises in every previous DBD, we were extremely fortunate this year that temperatures were moderate throughout the weekend and (sadly for the state's drought) the most precipitation we faced was just a few scattered sprinkles on part of Day 2.

Day 1: Sunnyvale to Marina

This year's event start/finish moved from Mountain View to Sunnyvale because of new parking restrictions related to Levi's Stadium. We took the opportunity to move the start a few miles to the southeast in Sunnyvale -- still "near" the bay -- and this gave us some newfound flexibility in designing 100-mile routes for both days of the event.

For starters, we began Day 1 by riding nearly the full length of Lawrence Expressway southbound. During commute times, such a move would be stressful at best and dangerous at worst. But at 7 a.m. on a Saturday, things were relatively calm, and this allowed us to get out of the city and into the hills much earlier in the day, and with far fewer stop signs and traffic signals. One rider got a flat tire along this stretch, however -- a theme that would recur throughout the day, mostly due to the rain that fell the previous two days and left scattered debris on shoulders across the area.

Soon enough, we were amid the rolling hills (and palacial estates) of Saratoga, and we quickly took our first rest stop before starting our big climb of the weekend.

Highway 9 out of Saratoga, which tops out at more than 2,600 feet above sea level, is one of many benchmark climbs for area cyclists. The climb of nearly seven miles usually is uninterrupted and is moderate but rarely steep. But two sections of road work this year meant that most cyclists had to wait several minutes at one or both locations before the traffic signals allowed them to proceed on the one-lane sections of highway. This might have been bad for setting any personal speed records, but it was also a very good thing for us because it forced most riders to take some breaks during this long climb, preventing people from burning out so early in the weekend.

The top of Highway 9 is where most cyclists reach their peak and begin to head back down. But not us! We took advantage of the very helpful water (and snack) stop that AIDS/LifeCycle had set up for us (and where just the tiniest wisps of fog had finally arrived), and then we headed south on Highway 35 (Skyline Blvd.) for even more climbing, all the way to a peak of about 3,163 feet above sea level.

There's only one way to go from there, and that's downhill ... and that's where many of our riders had the most fun of the weekend. That part of Skyline usually isn't part of training rides or events, so it was completely new to many of our riders and volunteers. Over the next 10 miles, the road gradually gave back about 1,400 feet of elevation -- and it turned into a narrow, desolate, almost traffic-free one-lane road that offered amazing panoramas of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Sure, there were a few little intermediate climbs -- some of which even called for the granny gears to come back out -- but this part of the ride easily won the most compliments, including "best road ever."

One rider apparently liked this descent enough that they kept going down Bear Creek Road instead of turning onto the last two miles of one-lane Skyline. They ended up all the way down at Lexington Reservoir (elevation about 700 feet) near Highway 17! Making them climb back to the summit would have just been cruel, so one of our support vehicles rescued them and brought them back on course.

With all of the different jurisdictions we travel through, it's tough to keep track of road work. After crossing Highway 17 onto Summit Road, we got a bit of a rude surprise when we found that a few miles of the road had very recently been chip-sealed.

The surface had been sealed, but there was still plenty of loose gravel and even more blowing dust that whipped us every time a car or truck passed us. So as we pulled into the second rest stop at Summit Center, many of us were ready to take a break.

After the break, however, we were still about 1,600 feet above sea level, and we needed to get to the metro Santa Cruz area. What did that mean? More descending! Also new this year was our 11-mile descent of Soquel-San Jose Road, a glorious, fast route that most of us also enjoyed. Better yet, after all that descending, we arrived in Soquel for Rest Stop 3, fairly well-rested and ready to keep going, almost as if the day wasn't already half over.

With a new route out of Soquel via Trout Gulch and Valencia roads, we quickly escaped the hustle and bustle of the city. A little more traffic built up as we approached Watsonville, but our new bypass route this year allowed us to avoid the sketchy shoulders and traffic signals of previous years. As we turned onto Highway 129 to head east for a few miles -- with a gloriously smooth and wide shoulder -- the winds picked up out of the west, giving many of us an effortless, quick ride to Murphy Crossing Road. With only a few roads crossing the Pajaro River, our choices to get across the river are limited, and Murphy Crossing was the best of a suboptimal set of options: rough, pitted, potholed, with heavy agricultural traffic. Fortunately, it only lasted a couple of miles, and it was mostly flat, but most of us were happy when it was over.

A short but attention-getting climb up San Juan Road took us to the turnoff for the tiny community of Aromas, into which we descended for our final official rest stop of the day. The toilet inside the Aromas Free Library was appreciated by many, as was the friendly and helpful staff that greeted many of us.

Aromas also marked another division in the day's route, from mostly flat back to somewhat hilly. A somewhat tough climb greeted us right out of the gate as we left Aromas, and we ended up back on San Juan Road -- but heading in the opposite direction to what we'd been doing earlier. (Fortunately, none of the riders noticed that they could have saved several miles by skipping the whole side trip into Aromas ... or, at least, none of them felt the need to do so.)

Our last long climb of the day was San Miguel Canyon Road, a mostly moderate climb that was a bit easier thanks to more tailwinds. The reward this time was an equally long, equally moderate descent into Prunedale, where friend-of-DBD John had set up a secret water and snack stop for us, which was a most pleasant surprise. The skies had become noticeably more dark, and a few drops of rain even fell on some riders around here.

The route from Prunedale to Castroville was also new this year. Blackie Road started out fun enough, with a moderate climb on a smooth road with a nice shoulder. But conditions gradually gave way to more of what one expects in rural Monterey County: a rough, narrow road with no shoulder. Moreover, now that we were heading westward, the winds that were helpful tailwinds earlier in the afternoon had become annoying headwinds.

Speeds dropped for many riders during this stretch, and many of us were even pedaling downhill to keep up our speed. The headwinds didn't let up on the bike path out of Castroville, so we were more than ready to take one more unofficial break at Pezzini Farms, home of the famous ALC artichoke stop, even though we were just five miles from the end of our day.

Del Monte Blvd. into Marina is the same road that it's been for many years: rough in places with a bike lane that's serviceable at best. Some of us stopped at the Marina city limits sign for ceremonial pictures, but others were more than ready to get to their hotels as quickly as possible.

That, however, didn't stop a few riders from adding a few bonus laps around the parking lot -- or riding to the beach and back -- to make sure that their bike computers registered a full 100 miles for the day.

The last riders -- one of whom was completing their longest, most difficult ride ever -- arrived well before the official 6:30 p.m. route closure, and the usual collection of small groups formed to head to area restaurants for dinner. This year, several of the riders and volunteers decided to congregate in the Comfort Inn lobby to feast on delivered pizza and salads -- a good choice for those who wanted to eat more than the standard restaurant portions, a not-so-good choice for one rider who ate a little too much and got an upset stomach, causing them to skip riding Day 2.

Day 2: Marina to Sunnyvale

As usual for Day 2, I was awake before 5 a.m., expectantly looking outside in the dark for signs of the dense fog that has plagued us many times in the past. This year, however, the fog was nowhere to be found, temperatures were in the low 60s -- much warmer than usual -- and there was almost no wind. All the ingredients were there for a perfect ride-out.

After a brief announcement that our fundraising total had increased by about 10% just overnight, we got underway a couple of minutes before the official 7 a.m. start. Because we were riding one week later than we did last year, headlights and tail lights were most helpful.

Although one rider had a flat tire in the first segment (not really a surprise, considering all of the dirt and gravel in the bike lane due to agricultural traffic), we mostly made good time into Salinas on the almost-complete new bike lane along Davis Road. After a quick Starbucks rest stop, we headed north for our big climb of the day: San Juan Grade.

Skies continued to be gray, and the hills were as barren as ever as we climbed to just over 1,000 feet above sea level, where friend-of-DBD John was again waiting with water and snacks. The descent on Salinas Road was at least as rough as ever, but traffic was a little bit lighter than in previous years.

I often gripe about the absolutely horrible condition of this road, but I remind myself that if the road were resurfaced, then more people would use it as a bypass of U.S. 101 (it was the original 101 until the late 1920s), and they would undoubtedly do so at much higher speeds. So I think we're stuck with it.

As we left our next rest stop in San Juan Bautista and headed east, we could see several patches of low clouds -- or was that light rain? -- on all sides around us. As we went around the west side of Hollister, we reached the easternmost part of our route, which is farther east than the state Capitol building in Sacramento.

A left turn onto Highway 25 started us back toward civilization, and we were very fortunate again this year to have nearly no wind on this segment of road that's notorious for intense headwinds.

By the time many of us reached Gilroy, the skies were dropping liquid on us -- whether it was heavy mist or light sprinkles is open for debate -- but that also meant that temperatures were unusually cool, which was a relief compared to the often-hot conditions in the South Valley.

One rider decided to leave the event in Gilroy with the usual collection of cyclist aches and pains, but the rest of us continued forward.

The streets of Gilroy provided a brief change back into city riding, and we headed north out of town on a new route this year that skipped much of the narrow, high-speed Uvas Road in favor of a direct route along Santa Teresa Blvd. into a new rest stop in Morgan Hill.

Temperatures were starting to warm up, and I exchanged my windbreaker for arm warmers as I left town. But just a couple of miles later, the sun suddenly emerged from the clouds, and things warmed up dramatically and quickly.

Just as quickly as the arm warmers went on, they came off, and we were treated to beautiful weather as we saw the amazing and sobering sights of the almost-empty Chesbro Reservoir, complete with a bridge from the original road that was submerged in the mid-1950s when the dam was built.

After a short climb on McKean Road, John was there to surprise us one last time with goodies. (My apologies for the error on the route sheet that misplaced the name change from Uvas to McKean.) Then we were back among the big-city roads and traffic of south San Jose as we entered our final rest stop of the event, where friend-of-DBD Debi had showed up to provide frozen Otter Pops in the increasingly warm afternoon.

There were still about 22 miles to go, but this year's new route back to Sunnyvale only had one significant climb: the ascent of Camden Avenue. After that, it was fairly easy riding back into Los Gatos and north into Campbell, where we began the event much as we began it: with a fast ride of several miles on a county expressway (San Tomas this time) directly back to Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, skipping most of the traffic signals and all of the stop signs on the side streets of previous years.

And for the second day in a row, everyone was done long before the official 6:30 p.m. closing time. Some participants assembled nearby for hamburgers, others went home, and everyone got ready to emerge from the mini love bubble and return to the real world.

Random observations

A total of 12 riders began this year's event, and 10 finished. Each of those 10 rode every mile of the route. It was another safe event -- no crashes or injuries -- and we had only a few of the minor mechanical issues and flats (and one blowout) that pop up on any event. Our riders deserve special commendation for riding safely and obeying all the rules of the road and of the event.

To me, although this year's route was still quite challenging, it seemed slightly easier than those of previous years -- just as I intended. Cutting the length of Day 1 back to about 100 miles also helped considerably and got everyone to Marina well before the 6:30 p.m. closing time. And on Day 2, the new route between Gilroy and Morgan Hill eliminated what, for me, was the part of the ride where I often hit my proverbial performance wall and started to dread the rest of the day. Of course, the generally favorable weather this year almost certainly helped as well.

Also, I was pleased that the new route along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains on Day 1 got generally high marks. One of my big goals this year was to offer scenery that's not often seen on training rides and other events, and I think we delivered in high style. And by arriving at the coast in Soquel, we were able to bypass much of the heavy Santa Cruz traffic that has hounded us in past years.

Again this year, our volunteer team did an amazing job of supporting our riders. Big thanks go to volunteer coordinator Taryl, and to Brendan, Brian, Clyde, Irene, Dale, and Andrew, plus friends-of-DBD John, (another) John, and Debbie for added support and encouragement along the route. Even though we had no serious incidents, it's impossible to overstate the immense value of seeing a friendly face in an unfamiliar place and knowing that help is there if we need it, even if we don't. We couldn't have done it without you.

Thanks are also due again this year to Different Spokes San Francisco, which provides the legal framework under which the ride can exist. Without this structure, the ride couldn't happen.

The several months of work that I put into organizing and producing DBD always motivates me; the summer of training rides gives me something to focus on; and seeing the many riders, volunteers, and supporters come together for a good cause every September moves my soul. But I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge at least some disappointment that this year's event wasn't nearly as large as I had hoped.

Our attrition rate this year -- riders who registered for the event but did not ride or fundraise -- was more than 50%, even excluding those who registered as riders but later converted to much-needed volunteer roles. (In fact, many of our non-riding volunteers did significant fundraising this year, including -- as of this writing -- top fundraiser Andrew Bennett, and for that I'm extremely grateful.) The reasons were many: injuries, insufficient training, or just simply life happening. And since we have no actual event "staff," we don't spend much time on what the event professionals would call "retention," so it was mostly just a confluence of random events that kept this year's event small.

Nevertheless, in retrospect, I wish that I had been able to invest more time in promoting the event and attracting (and keeping) new and returning riders alike. And while more than $10,000 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation is definitely something for our small group to be proud of (as is the more than $50,000 that DBD has raised for the foundation since it began), I'm sorry that I wasn't able to bring more money to the foundation this year, especially considering all the behind-the-scenes help they give us every year to run registration and fundraising.

Even though our numbers were small this year, the camaraderie among us was out in force, and our own "mini love bubble" encased us for the entire weekend. DBD is a magical event, and I'm proud to be part of it. But I'm just one part; everyone who comes together to support SFAF and one another -- through riding, volunteering, donating, supporting, or just thinking good thoughts -- provides the real magic.

And in a world that's increasingly difficult for many, it's refreshing to escape the tribulations, even if only for a weekend, and especially while doing good for others. Thank you to everyone who's been part of DBD.

Photos by DBD participants and friends

DBD4 ride #7: Kings Mountain and West Alpine (9/14/2014)

Date: Sunday, September 14
Meet time: 9:40 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 4 - some steep hills; two long climbs
Miles: 69

Description:
This year's finale to the DBD training season is a whopper of a ride. You can Have It Your Way ... as long as your way is hilly! (The good news is that today's ride contains about as much climbing as on Day 1 of the event, but compressed into 69 miles instead of 100.)

Our first main climb of the day is Kings Mountain Road, a 4.1-mile Category 2 climb that averages about 7% and is mostly a steady grade all the way up. To get there, however, we first have to ride to Woodside, and we've cooked up a crafty way through part of Portola Valley with a short but rather steep climb that surely will wake up any tired legs.

After we reach the summit of Kings Mountain, we turn onto Skyline Blvd., where a few hundred more feet of climbing awaits before taking us down to the junction with Highway 84. We'll descend 84 as far as the village of La Honda, where it's time to stock up for our big climb of the day: West Alpine Road. This 7.4-mile climb averages only 4%, but that's because it starts rather mellow and has some intermediate descents in the second half. Some parts of West Alpine reach 9% to 10%, and it plays with your mind as you reach one false summit after another on your way to the top.

Next, we'll return to Skyline Blvd. and head south, again for a few hundred more feet of climbing until we reach the intersection with Highway 9. We'll be climbing Highway 9 on Day 1 of the event, but today we'll be descending it. This is a good chance for you to scope out the lay of the land ... and to get the latest info on the roadwork situation. There are at least two major construction zones on Highway 9 where traffic is reduced to one lane and is controlled by signals with a wait cycle of several minutes, so don't expect to set any PRs on your descent today.

We arrive in Saratoga Village, ready for our final rest stop of the season. After that, it's an easy ride back to Mountain View ... well, except for that little hill on McClellan Road on the way to Foothill. We haven't done it all season, so why not now! You are now ready for DBD4.

Ride With GPS reports about 6,300 feet of climbing for this ride.

Our new location is an easy 1.1-mile ride from the Mountain View Caltrain station; the first southbound train from San Francisco arrives in Mountain View at 9:29 a.m. We've adjusted our meet time so Caltrain riders can make our meet time.

Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

DBD4 ride #6: Old La Honda plus (9/7/2014)

Date: Sunday, September 7
Meet time: 9:40 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 4 - some steep hills; one long climb
Miles: 65

Description:
Our big climb of the day is legendary Old La Honda Road, viewed by many as the benchmark climb of the Peninsula, the place where you go year after year to gauge your progress. How popular is it? Strava has logged more than 84,000 climbs up OLH! If you're training for DBD4, chances are you've already been up it at least once on your own. But today's ride isn't just Old La Honda; the "plus" is that it comes in the middle of today's ride, with a healthy serving of hills both before and after the main event.

We start by heading to Palo Alto and La Cresta Drive. Next, it's into Los Altos Hills for Natoma Road. Then, it's the back way into Neary Quarry. Then Ravensbury. And, mercifully, a rest stop. We might have cycled 18 miles so far, but we're actually only about 5 miles from our starting point!

Rested and refueled, we're ready for more. Barley Hill. Elena and Taaffe. Arastradero Nature Preserve. And finally we're ready for Old La Honda, a moderate 3.1-mile climb that gains about 1,250 feet without ever becoming stupidly steep. And today we'll also get to enjoy the amazingly scenic descent down the backside of Old La Honda as well! This takes us to Highway 84, where we'll do the very gentle 3-mile climb back to the summit before descending into Woodside and our second rest stop.

We're almost done, but we've got a couple more little pieces of fun on the way back. We'll revisit the Southgate/Eleanor hill we did a few weeks ago, and we'll climb the mostly gentle Concepcion Road in Los Altos Hills. That leaves just 7 miles to home, and it's almost all flat or downhill. What a workout!

Ride With GPS reports about 5,400 feet of climbing for this ride.

Our new location is an easy 1.1-mile ride from the Mountain View Caltrain station; the first southbound train from San Francisco arrives in Mountain View at 9:29 a.m. We've adjusted our meet time so Caltrain riders can make our meet time.

Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

DBD4 ride #5: Montebello (8/24/2014)

Date: Sunday, August 24
Meet time: 9:40 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 4 - some steep hills; one long climb
Miles: 58

Description:
After a month of flirting with the coastal mountains (who knew we could be such a tease), today we finally begin our full-throttled assault on our altimeters.

Our quest is the summit of Montebello Road, a climb of 5.2 miles to a top elevation of about 2,560 feet. (That's just about as high as Mount Tamalpais!) But you can think of it as three separate climbs. The first mile averages 9% and is moderately challenging. The middle three miles average only 6% and offer some relief. The final mile averages only 7%, but it has a few very steep (double-digit) pitches on the way to an epic dead end with amazing views of the valley. Your reward for all that climbing? An epic 5.2-mile descent, but watch out for wildlife, oncoming traffic, and debris.

But if Montebello were our only destination of the day, that wouldn't be a very long ride ... and it wouldn't simulate the riding on Day 1 of DBD4, when we have a couple thousand feet of additional climbing after we reach our peak altitude of almost 3,200 feet early in the day. So we've packed today's ride with a few extra bonus (smaller) climbs both before and after Montebello. We've got the backside of Pierce Road from Highway 9 to the Mountain Winery (the easier direction), the backside of Mount Eden (OK, not so easy), and Barley Hill. And we'll also do West Loyola Drive, the same hill that began last week's ride ... but it's at the end of the ride this time, and you might notice some difference in how you feel about it!

Ride With GPS reports about 4,300 feet of climbing for this ride.

Our new location is an easy 1.1-mile ride from the Mountain View Caltrain station; the first southbound train from San Francisco arrives in Mountain View at 9:29 a.m. We've adjusted our meet time so Caltrain riders can make our meet time.

Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

DBD4 ride #4: Woodside plus (8/17/2014)

Date: Sunday, August 17
Meet time: 9:40 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep hills
Miles: 55

Description:
Sure, we're just riding to Woodside and back today, but our route is certainly twisted ... in more ways than one!

We begin with a climb up West Loyola Avenue to Neary Quarry, followed by a few miles of hilly rambling through Los Altos Hills before we get our first rest stop at about mile 17. Next, we'll begin to head toward Woodside, but we'll take a detour along the way and tackle the reverse Westridge Drive (the easier direction, but certainly not "easy"). After descending back to Stanford, then we'll climb Sand Hill Road and (finally) take Mountain Home Road to our second rest stop at Roberts Market in Woodside.

The last leg of our ride has only one climb, but it's a fun one: the back entrance to Cañada College, followed by the blazing descent of Farm Hill Road. After that, it's an easy ride for the last 12 miles through Menlo Park and downtown Palo Alto.

Ride With GPS reports about 3,500 feet of climbing for this ride.

Our new location is an easy 1.1-mile ride from the Mountain View Caltrain station; the first southbound train from San Francisco arrives in Mountain View at 9:29 a.m. We've adjusted our meet time so Caltrain riders can make our meet time.

Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

DBD4 ride #3: Los Gatos

Date: Sunday, August 10
Meet time: 9:40 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep hills
Miles: 51

Description:
Today's ride ramps up the hill-climbing just a bit as we begin to gently nudge our way up against the edge of the coastal mountains that we'll be climbing on the event.

We begin with the traditional and popular route through Stevens Canyon, up and over Mount Eden, and then down Pierce Road (we're not climbing the steep part) into our first rest stop in Saratoga. After that, we'll tackle a couple of new hills around Saratoga before making our way to the scenic and quirky Montalvo Arts Center. (Be sure to check the road signs as we enter.) Then, we'll spend a couple of minutes on the last public brick road in Santa Clara County and travel some of the secluded residential backroads of Monte Sereno and Los Gatos.

Then we've got our two big climbs of the day: Kennedy Road eastbound, followed immediately by Shannon Road westbound. Neither one is particularly long, although each has a short section of moderate steepness. Our reward is the rest stop in Los Gatos that follows immediately thereafter. After that, it's back to Monte Sereno for a new variation on the Laurel/Oak hill, followed by the Saratoga real estate tour on Sobey and Chester roads. Our return through Cupertino and Sunnyvale is gently downhill and, thankfully, has no surprises.

Ride With GPS reports about 3,250 feet of climbing for this ride.

Our new location is an easy 1.1-mile ride from the Mountain View Caltrain station; the first southbound train from San Francisco arrives in Mountain View at 9:29 a.m. We've adjusted our meet time so Caltrain riders can make our meet time.

Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

DBD4 ride #2: Redwood City plus (8/3/2014)

Date: Sunday, August 3
Meet time: 9:40 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Stevenson Elementary School, 750 San Pierre Way (map) NEW LOCATION
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep hills
Miles: 45

Description:
It's just a ride to Redwood City and back! What could be simpler? Well ... that's the "plus."

We will visit a lot of the quiet side streets and backroads between here and there. None of the climbs are especially long -- the longest is only about a mile -- but there are a lot of them, which is a good way to help prepare for DBD. And there are a lot of turns -- which is also a good way to practice your navigational skills for the event. (Remember, the DBD event route is not visibly marked!)

The rewards are plenty on this ride. Even the most well-traveled cyclist likely will go somewhere they've never been. And even the most jaded cyclist likely will find something that makes them go "Oooooh, wow."

Strava reports about 2,750 feet of climbing for this ride.

Our new location is an easy 1.1-mile ride from the Mountain View Caltrain station; the first southbound train from San Francisco arrives in Mountain View at 9:29 a.m. We've adjusted our meet time so Caltrain riders can make our meet time.

Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

DBD4 ride #1: Woodside (7/27/2014)

Date: Sunday, July 27
Meet time: 9:30 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Parking lot at Villa and Franklin streets, Mountain View (across from the Tied House) (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep hills
Miles: 40

Description:
Welcome to the DBD4 training ride series! This season's rides will focus on increasing total climbing and distance, but mostly WITHOUT stupidly steep hills. This will help get you ready for the long, moderate climbs on the event in September. All are welcome; you don't have to be a registered DBD4 rider to join us (although we'll do our best to persuade you).

We begin by going "only" as far as Woodside, but we've got a somewhat hilly route to get there. We'll start by visiting the quarry in Los Altos Hills and climbing Elena Road behind Foothill College. Then it's a familiar route through the Arastradero nature preserve, around the backside of the Portola loop, and into Woodside for our rest stop.

After that, we'll head partway up Cañada Road and then take Jefferson Avenue back to the valley floor -- which, incidentally, involves a 0.7-mile climb before we can descend. We close with an easy route along Alameda de las Pulgas, Junipero Serra Blvd., and Foothill Expressway back into Mountain View.

Strava reports about 2,250 feet of climbing for this ride.

This ride is Caltrain-friendly; the first southbound train from San Francisco arrives in Mountain View at 9:29 a.m.

Click here to RSVP now
RSVPs are recommended but not required.

Quadrophenia #11: Bohlman-On Orbit celebration (5/24/2014)

Date: Saturday, May 24
Meet time: 9:30 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Parking lot at Villa and Franklin streets, Mountain View (across from the Tied House) (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 5 - one extremely steep climb
Miles: 34

Description:

It's time to celebrate the end of our Quadrophenia season! And because we're Quadrophenia, we're not just riding up the street to the next Starbucks and back, oh no. On today's Very Special Episode of Quadrophenia, we are going to conquer what is absolutely the toughest road climb in the entire South Bay!

The 4.4-mile Bohlman Road begins in Saratoga Village and wastes almost no time getting down to business. After just a quarter-mile, the grades already exceed 10% and stay that way for almost the entire first 1.75 miles of the climb. In fact, many sections are steeper than 12%, and some of the tight hairpin curves are a quad-crushing 23% to 24%!

But that's just the gentle warm-up. When we reach On Orbit Drive, we enter a whole new dimension of climbing (or, quite possibly, cross-training). On Orbit has several sections that average more than 18% with small pieces of 21% to 22%. But at 2.45 miles up the hill, just when you think you can't go another inch, there's an intermediate summit, and you get some brief relief with a steep downhill of as much as -16%.

All that does, though, is take you back to Bohlman Road for the remaining 1.8 miles of the climb. This part is considerably easier -- sure, there are bits and pieces of 13% to 15%, but there are also "flat" sections of only 8% or 9% ... and, shhhh, even a couple of short downhills.

Finally, at 4.4 miles up, we're at an elevation of 2,570 feet (just two feet shy of the Mt. Tam summit) and the end of the road. Dirt paths could take us down to Highway 17, but instead we'll turn around and descend the first part of Bohlman, skipping On Orbit. When we reach the lower end of On Orbit, though, we'll retrace a tiny part of our climb so that we can take an alternate way down the rest of the hill. The combination of Quickert, Kittridge, and Norton roads is narrow, twisty, and extremely steep, but it's also almost completely free of traffic as you take in the breathtaking vistas of the entire Santa Clara Valley. Feel free to stop for pictures on the way down -- in fact, it's highly recommended so that your wheel rims can cool down and your hands can get a break from the death-grip you'll likely be applying to your brakes.

And just like that, we're back in Saratoga Village, almost as if nothing happened. Celebrate your climb at our final rest stop of the season, and savor the last gentle 12 miles back to Mountain View. What a year!

Ride With GPS reports about 2,800 feet of climbing with its new 2014 calculations; most GPS devices should report about the same. Because of the extremely steep climbs and descents, your bike must be in excellent condition to do this ride. Also, we will not ride if it is raining or if Bohlman is wet or slippery.

This ride is Caltrain- and VTA-friendly. The first southbound train of the day leaves SF at 8:15 and arrives in Mountain View at 9:29. We're about four blocks from the station.

These rides are for experienced cyclists who know how to safely handle their bikes on climbs and descents.
Please RSVP even if you're not sure you're attending. We use the RSVPs to plan support (including free bagels!), and if the weather might cause problems, it's important that we be able to reach you. Also, join our Facebook group to get additional updates and scintillating conversation.

Click here to RSVP
RSVPs are requested but not required.


Quadrophenia #10: Sierra Road (5/10/2014)


Date: Saturday, May 10
Meet time: 9:30 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Parking lot at Villa and Franklin streets, Mountain View (across from the Tied House) (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Heavy rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 4 - one very long, steep climb
Miles: 72

Description:
It's the grand journey of our season! All of our climbing this year has prepared you for today's epic challenge: Sierra Road, "the meanest, nastiest climb on the entire Tour of California." And you can do it!

We start with 15 miles of flat, urban riding to get across San Jose and over to the east side, where we'll take a very quick stop at a grocery store for restrooms and last-minute supplies. But then, the fun begins in earnest.

According to Strava, Sierra Road climbs 1,788 feet in just 3.6 miles, for an average grade of 9.5% that tops out at an elevation of just over 2,000 feet above the valley below. As with many climbing averages, though, that's somewhat deceiving, because there's a significant flat-to-gentle part near the top that brings the average down. There are significant parts of the climb that are well over 10%, but each part really isn't anything worse than hills we've already done. The tough part is that this is all one big, giant hill with very little relief. Oh, and did we mention that most of the climb is free of trees and completely exposed to whatever cold, heat, and/or wind the National Weather Service decides to throw at us on ride day? You will most likely need to take one or more breaks on the way up; that's perfectly OK, but be sure to do so only in safe locations, and get as far off the narrow, winding road as possible.

After you've made it to the top, take a quick break ... and some photos of the amazing views. Then you're in for a special treat: 7 miles of mostly downhill, remote backcountry riding along the rest of Sierra Road and onto Felter Road as you drop about 1,200 feet in elevation. You'll be amazed at how secluded everything feels (and you'll probably have no cellphone signal, too), just so close to the city.

At mile 26, we could just head back home (and if you're already spent for the day, you can do just that), but instead we'll turn right onto Calaveras Road and climb the infamous "Calaveras wall." Once upon a time, we thought that 0.2 mile at 12.7% was insurmountable. Today, however, you might be pleasantly surprised at how easily you can climb the wall!

The reward for this climb is the scenic, meandering ride northbound around the edge of the Calaveras Reservoir. We eventually begin to descend again, and we pop back into civilization way up at the junction with I-680, where we stop in beautiful downtown Sunol for food and water. After that comes the 6-mile gentle descent of Niles Canyon Road (Highway 84), where the traffic can sometimes be heavy and fast, so use caution and be sure to always ride single-file.

We're not quite done with the climbing yet, though. After we enter Fremont, we'll head south on Mission Boulevard for the gentle climb up to the Mission San Jose district, where our final rest stop of the day awaits. We get one last climb to the top of Warren Boulevard for one last epic view of the bay, and then we drop down to Dixon Landing Road and ride mostly on trails along the southern edge of the bay through San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and back to Mountain View. Wow! As promised way back in January, you are now totally ready to EAT Quadbuster for BREAKFAST in June!

Ride With GPS reports about 3,500 feet of climbing with its new 2014 calculations; most GPS devices should report about the same.

This ride is Caltrain- and VTA-friendly. The first southbound train of the day leaves SF at 8:15 and arrives in Mountain View at 9:29. We're about four blocks from the station. This ride includes a 25-mile segment with no food or water available and no cellphone service.

These rides are for experienced cyclists who know how to safely handle their bikes on climbs and descents.
Please RSVP even if you're not sure you're attending. We use the RSVPs to plan support (including free bagels!), and if the weather might cause problems, it's important that we be able to reach you. Also, join our Facebook group to get additional updates and scintillating conversation.

Click here to RSVP
RSVPs are requested but not required.

Quadrophenia #9: Epic Dead Ends II (4/26/2014)

Date: Saturday, April 26
Meet time: 9:30 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Parking lot at Villa and Franklin streets, Mountain View (across from the Tied House) (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Heavy rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 4 - several steep climbs
Miles: 54

Description:

Worried about doing this ride on the day before Day on the Ride? Worry not; read on.

Our first Epic Dead Ends ride earlier this season was such a hit, we've created the sequel. Today, we'll head into the South Bay for another half-dozen streets that go nowhere but sure look faaaaabulous while doing so.

This time, we head south and begin our climbing in Cupertino with Voss Avenue, a side street off Foothill Blvd. that you've no doubt seen hundreds of times by now. Perhaps you've wondered what awaits you up there; the answer is an 11.0% climb of about 0.2 mile. Now that we're warmed up, it's just a short jaunt through the neighborhoods of Cupertino to a more significant challenge: Regnart Road. This 1.6-mile climb is rated at only 6.4%, but that's because there's a much steeper section in the middle: 0.2 mile at more than 16%. Chances are that you'll need to take a break; the toughest challenge when doing so is getting started again! (Be sure to descend this steep and curvy hill carefully.)

Next, we're off to Saratoga for our next challenge: Upper Hill Drive (0.2 mile, 14%). This hill is so far off the beaten path that only 11 cyclists have ever recorded attempts on this hill in Strava!

After a quick rest stop, it's off to Los Gatos for the rest of our fun. First is Matilija Drive (0.4 mile, 13%), which takes us up over 1,000 feet elevation while still in a residential area. Then we'll take a quick break in downtown Los Gatos before we cross over Highway 17 for the combination of Cypress Way, Maya Way, and Aztec Ridge Drive (1.7 miles, 9.5%). Doesn't sound too bad, but the middle part is 0.2 mile at 14% as this one takes us up to nearly 1,400 feet.

One more dead end awaits us. To get there, though, we'll have to do the old favorite of climbing Kennedy Road, although we'll have a bit of a head start, so this time it's only 1.0 mile at 6%. If you've been to the top of Kennedy before, you might have noticed another road branching off to your left. It is called, appropriately enough, Top of the Hill Road, and we'll do it today.

So that's a half-dozen epic dead ends. We're done, right? Nooooooo. We'll head down the other side of Kennedy and begin to climb Shannon Road, but we'll turn onto Santa Rosa Road, which is marked as a dead end. It's 0.3 mile at an impressive 13.6% ... and then it starts to descend, gently at first but then steeply. You're beginning to dread the climb you'll have to make to get out of this dead end. And then, when you least expect it, there's a gate and a paved park trail! Just a little jaunt down the trail and, shazam, you're in south San Jose, just a few blocks from Blossom Hill Road. Sweet!

Remember up top when I said not to worry about tomorrow being Day on the Ride? Two reasons why. First, you can skip any or all of the dead ends to make the day easier. But second, after we're done with Santa Rosa Road, we're going to get home by the quickest, easiest route possible: 15 uninterrupted miles of wide-shoulder, flat, easy expressway riding on San Tomas and Central expressways, all the way back to downtown Mountain View. This ride truly has everything!

Ride With GPS reports about 4,700 feet of climbing; most GPS devices will report a little bit less.

This ride is Caltrain- and VTA-friendly. The first southbound train of the day leaves SF at 8:15 and arrives in Mountain View at 9:29. We're about four blocks from the station.

These rides are for experienced cyclists who know how to safely handle their bikes on climbs and descents. Please RSVP even if you're not sure you're attending. We use the RSVPs to plan support (including free bagels!), and if the weather might cause problems, it's important that we be able to reach you. Also, join our Facebook group to get additional updates and scintillating conversation.


Click here to RSVP
RSVPs are requested but not required.

Quadrophenia #8: Coastside adventure (4/12/2014)

Date: Saturday, April 12
Meet time: 9:30 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Parking lot at Villa and Franklin streets, Mountain View (across from the Tied House) (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Heavy rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 4 - long hills
Miles: 58

Description:

So far this season, we've stayed on the bay side of the coastal hills. No more! Today, we'll do one of the Bay Area's quintessential benchmark climbs, we'll climb through quiet backwoods, and we'll end with one of the region's best descents.

Our epic adventure begins with a quick trip to Menlo Park and into Portola Valley for the first big climb of the day: Old La Honda Road. This 3.1-mile effort is one of those climbs on which cyclists measure their time year after year. In Strava, more than 68,000 climbs of Old La Honda have been recorded! The fastest time is a blazing 14 minutes and 41 seconds; you won't go nearly that fast (anything under half an hour is considered "expert"), and in fact there's no need to rush up the hill since we have all day to go just 58 miles.

After reaching the top of the coastal ridge at en elevation of about 1,650 feet, we'll descend partway to the coast. But we'll take a turn at the village of La Honda, where we'll climb Alpine Road. Yes, that's the same Alpine Road that we know and love from Portola Valley, but this is the coastal side of it. In this direction, the climb is a substantial 7.4 miles and averages 4.5%, but it has several steeper sections along the way. This takes us back to the top of the ridge -- this time at a much higher elevation of about 2,400 feet -- where portapotties are available for a quick stop.

Then we'll ride along the crest on southbound Skyline Drive, gaining a couple hundred more feet over the next 6 miles on the way to the junction with Highway 9. Hang on to your seats, because it's time for the 7-mile descent into Saratoga. Expert cyclists might be able to keep up with the flow of motorized traffic, but be sure to observe the posted speed limits because even cyclists can get a ticket out here. And it's perfectly OK if you don't want to go faster than your comfort level; just stay to the right and give motorists and other cyclists a chance to pass when safe.

After a rest stop in Saratoga, the remainder of the route is mercifully flat or gently downhill. What a day!

Ride With GPS reports about 6,100 feet of climbing; most GPS devices will report a little bit less.

This ride is Caltrain- and VTA-friendly. The first southbound train of the day leaves SF at 8:15 and arrives in Mountain View at 9:29. We're about four blocks from the station. This route contains a 22-mile segment with no food or water available; be sure to stock up at the rest stops and in La Honda, especially if it's hot on ride day. But also keep in mind that coastside conditions can be vastly different from those in Mountain View; a temperature difference of 30 degrees or more along this route is not at all uncommon. Dress appropriately!

These rides are for experienced cyclists who know how to safely handle their bikes on climbs and descents. Please RSVP even if you're not sure you're attending. We use the RSVPs to plan support (including free bagels!), and if the weather might cause problems, it's important that we be able to reach you. Also, join our Facebook group to get additional updates and scintillating conversation.


Click here to RSVP
RSVPs are requested but not required.

Quadrophenia #7: Midpeninsula Monsters (retry 4/5/2014)

Date: Saturday, April 5
Meet time: 9:30 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Parking lot at Villa and Franklin streets, Mountain View (across from the Tied House) (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Heavy rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 4 - three very steep climbs
Miles: 51

Description:

Today, we travel into new territory to conquer three of the most challenging climbs on the Peninsula. And because we love you, there's also a little bit of climbing on the way there ... and again on the way back. Because the first 11 miles and the last 11 miles of this ride are almost flat, there's a lot of climbing packed into those middle 29 miles!

After an early rest stop, we'll move right into our warm-up climb. We'll do the steeper direction of High Road, a quiet residential street that branches off Highway 84 on the way to Woodside. It's a little tough getting to the top (0.7 mile, 8.0%), but the reward is a long, moderate descent back down to Alameda de las Pulgas.

Now we're ready for some fun. We'll start up Edgewood Road in Redwood City, but before we reach the main Edgewood climb, we'll instead take a right turn and climb the appropriately named Crestivew Drive (0.5 mile, 11.2%). Then, after a jaw-dropping descent on Brittan Avenue (0.4 mile, about 15%), we'll turn around almost immediately and climb Melendy Drive, a 1.2-mile hill rated at a very deceiving 9.6% grade because it contains several much steeper stairsteps along the way. At an altitude of about 900 feet, we'll ride along the crest of the foothills and eventually reach the screaming descent of Ralston Avenue in Belmont and our well-deserved second rest stop.

Don't eat too much, though, because one more monster remains. Club Drive is 1.3 miles at 8.7% average, but the middle part approaches 19% in places. This takes us right back to the top of Crestview Drive, which we'll descend this time on our way back to Edgewood Road.

Remember that Edgewood climb we skipped at the beginning of the ride? No such luck this time; we're going all the way to the top at I-280 and then down to Cañada Road for a gentle ride into Woodside, where a quick rest stop is available if needed. But don't dilly-dally, because there's one more piece of fun: On the way down Highway 84, we'll take a right turn on Southgate Drive, one of those secluded areas you've gone by a thousand times but never quite felt the need to enter, especially considering the short but steep climb that greets you immediately upon entering. We'll enjoy the quiet beauty of the area for a couple of miles and make our way to Stockbridge Avenue, where we descend to Alameda de las Pulgas for a quiet return to Mountain View. The monsters have been tamed!

Ride With GPS reports about 4,770 feet of climbing; most GPS devices will report a little bit less.

This ride is Caltrain- and VTA-friendly. The first southbound train of the day leaves SF at 8:15 and arrives in Mountain View at 9:29. We're about four blocks from the station.

These rides are for experienced cyclists who know how to safely handle their bikes on climbs and descents. Please RSVP even if you're not sure you're attending. We use the RSVPs to plan support (including free bagels!), and if the weather might cause problems, it's important that we be able to reach you. Also, join our Facebook group to get additional updates and scintillating conversation.


Click here to RSVP
RSVPs are requested but not required.