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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 CaƱada 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.