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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


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.

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RSVPs are requested but not required.