Friday, April 21, 2017

Coast Ride

I took a nice loop ride of about 70 miles over to the coast yesterday in the warm springtime sunshine.

Good old Old San Pedro Mountain Road has survived the rainy winter...mostly.  I was glad to be riding the Vaya with bigger tires on a few sections.  Other sections were quite nice, with many little wildflowers.

One of my favorite lunch spots, near where the first dirt section spits you out onto Highway 1.

The view along Highway 1 near Pacifica was spectacular, without any fog.

I worked my way down the coast on a combination of side roads and coastal bike trail, which led to the discovery of a new cafe just south of Pillar Point.  Naturally I had to stop.  Mmmmmm....  One of the other customers admired my bike, asked where I was riding, and was suitably impressed by the answer.

Thus fortified, I rode a bit more of the coastal trail, and was mildly entertained by the unexpected mud on the dirt section just south of Half Moon Bay.  Riding on mud feels a lot like riding on the sand we rode last week, except that it makes entertaining squelchy noises.

Then it was time to head inland, toward the Purisima Canyon trail.  I had originally planned on going up Tunitas Creek Road (paved), but since my bike and I were already a bit muddy and I was in a jolly mood, I decided to take the dirt route.

Somehow, I didn't think about the fact that if there is unexpected mud on the beach bluff there will be unexpected deep slippery gloopy mud x 1000 next to the creek under the redwood canopy...

Here we leave the realm of Type 1 fun -- what any normal person would consider fun -- into Type 2 fun -- that horribly miserable fun that totally sucks while you are doing it but seems awfully jolly in retrospect...

As I headed up the trail, it became clear that there was mud.  Lots of mud.

And downed trees.  Seven in all.  Some of them were tricky to climb over with a heavy bike and slippery muddy bike shoes.

Those problems in and of themselves weren't so bad, but then you add the gradient.  1600 feet in about 4 miles, with evil stairsteps in the 15% grade range.  Even with big knobby tires traction is an issue in the mud when it gets that steep.  I eventually gave up and walked most of the last two miles of the climb, with brief bits where I was briefly optimistic enough to try to ride again, only to have all my energy sucked into the endless spinning of tires in steep mud.  I would have been better off without that optimism.  Oh foolish person....why do you try to ride??

I finally made it to the top about an hour behind schedule, covered in mud.  Note that there was no falling -- all the mud including the stuff on my neck was kicked up by the wheels while I vainly tried to pedal up the Sisyphean hill.  Mud even managed to sog its way through and into my bike shorts.  Ick.

Mud in the shadow of redwoods.

I haphazardly wobbled my tired self down Kings Mountain Road and back to where I had left the truck in at the start of the ride, feeling a bit woozy, only to discover that I had parked right along the edge of what becomes the Portola Valley Farmers' Market on Thursday afternoons (hmmm...*that's* what those mysterious orange cones with the radish posters on them signified...).  Just picture me as the scary wrecked mud monster arriving in the middle of that, in a community that is affluent even by Silicon Valley standards.  Hee hee hee hee!  I stopped to briefly chat with another cyclist who was curious enough to ask where I had ridden, loaded up my bike, made my escape, and pondered the weirdness of small muscle fibers firing in my legs all the way home.

Playing in the Wonderland of Rocks

How can you not like an area named "The Wonderland of Rocks"?  This region is located near Indian Cove; we explored a bit of it by heading up the wash that leads into Rattlesnake Canyon.  There's no official trail here -- you just get to poke around and play :)

Boulders on the approach hint at the fun to come.

We started in a sandy wash.  Even there, there were a few hints of water.

Such improbable boulder positioning.

It was bright out, so kiddo kept averting her eyes, but she was clearly having fun.

Monkey face!

Clever monkey finds shade.

There was a nice little slot canyon with running water to play in.

There were also quite a few plants blooming even among the rocks.

And frogs doing unmentionable things.  Nim was amused that they could hop around and swim while also otherwise occupied.

We like the rocks.  I also have to admit a partiality for hikes without real trails.

And that's all for this vacation!  Stay tuned for this summer's trip:  The Tour of the Cascade Volcanoes.  Planning now in process :)

Hiking amidst the artifacts

In addition to the crazy vegetation and desert scenery, there are also quite a number of human artifacts leftover from the ranching and mining days in the area.  We took several short hikes to poke around and see what we could find.

An unusually amusing sign defacement.

A surprising oasis behind the dam.

Kid, with funny rental van in the background.

The area around the Wall Street mill was littered with old cars and equipment, in addition to the old stamp mill.

Chad's always good at providing explanations.

Car parts sometime look like they have faces.

 Critters and flowers abounded too.  A common western fence lizard.

Less common for us to see was the horned desert lizard.

Nice cactus bloom with adjacent Dudleya

And of course, lots of Joshua trees.

Old buildings are fun

and make good picture frames.

 The Desert Queen Mine is one of many in the park.

Chad enjoyed peering in.  Fencing is abundant to prevent further exploration.

A thingie to play with!

Maybe its most useful function today.

Can you tell we had fun?