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Quadrophenia #5: Epic Dead Ends (3/7/2015)

Date: Saturday, March 7
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: 50

Description:

This ride was such a hit last year that we've brought it back for an encore in 2015. At first glance, the map for this ride looks rather ho-hum: another boring ride up to Cañada Road and back. But look more closely! The route is full of little side trips that extend like the tentacles of a mighty beast and make this a very challenging ride. And since they're dead ends, many of these locations aren't visited often and give you some new options close to home. Some of them are pure climbs, others descend first and then climb back out, and still others are an up-and-down mix of the two. The even nicer part about it, though, is that you can skip as few or as many of the dead ends as you want.

We begin quickly by climbing into Los Altos Hills to Olive Tree Lane (0.7 mile, 8%, but that includes an intermediate descent) -- be sure to continue all the way to the end, and don't be fooled by the cul-de-sac that looks like the end but isn't. Next, we go around the quarry and then climb Oak Knoll Circle to rise even higher above the quarry (amazing views!) and then drop down to the steep dead-end of Oak Park Court ... which requires climbing back out for 0.1 mile at 14%.

We're just getting started! Next, we'll start on the usual Elena-Purissima route to the Arastradero nature preserve. But wait: You know that little hill on Arastradero Road next to 280? The one where there's a new stop sign for an impossibly steep road that you've seen a thousand times but never been brave enough to attempt? Welcome to Stirrup Drive, a mere 0.1 mile at 14.6%. This takes us to Saddle Mountain, where we drop down into a dead-end valley and climb partway back out before we dismount and walk down a secret, short, steep gravel path (who knew this would be a biathlon?) to an amazingly beautiful backroad that eventually leads us to Page Mill Road, and finally back to the nature preserve.

We'll take our first rest stop at Roberts Market in Portola Valley, and then it's time for the biggest climb of the day: Wayside Road. This is a mile-long, secluded, scenic dead-end that you fly by every time you do the Portola Valley loop. The total elevation gain on Wayside is only about 500 feet (9% average), but a lot of that comes on tight, steep hairpin curves that twist their way up the mountain. Use caution on the twisty, narrow, technical descent!

We've got just one dead end to go, and it's another gem. Runnymede Road branches off Cañada Road in Woodside and meanders up and down for 1.3 miles (and then up and down for another 1.3 miles on the way back) to the end of the pavement. Yay, we're done! Well ... not quite. We get back from the hills to the valley floor with a final stimulating climb through the Cañada College campus and the thrilling descent of Farm Hill Blvd.

After that, we're feeling merciful and benevolent, so there's a final rest stop in Menlo Park and 10 miles of easy riding with no hilly surprises (we promise!) along Junipero Serra and Foothill back to Mountain View. Treat yourself to a hearty and healthy post-ride meal; you've earned it!

Ride With GPS reports about 4,000 feet of climbing. Toilets and water are available nearby at Stevenson Park; Safeway and Jack In The Box are a half-mile away at Shoreline Blvd.

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