Rolling Around the Santa Cruz Mountains (again)
A visiting member of STN (Bill) was in town and ready to ride. I, being with the encumbrance of a job, volunteered to go riding for a day through the local mountains. Despite the fact that he’s the visitor and I live here, he knows the roads much better than I do. Therefore I let him plan and lead the ride, which he did a very good job with.
September 11, 2008
Total Miles: 147 miles
Mountain View, CA to Pescadaro, CA
I met Bill in Cupertino, a halfway point for us to ride to before starting our little exploratory ride. After a quick introduction and description of the ride that Bill had in mind we mounted our bikes and took off towards Saratoga. Bill was on a new-to-him KTM 950SM and I was on my KLR 650; a fairly good match for the roads that we’d be on.
From Saratoga we took #9 west – I had heard good things about this road and now I know why. I really enjoyed this little “warm up”. From #9 we turned off onto Alpine Road, a stretch I’d been on a couple of times now. But I still forgot how twisty it is in the beginning and when Bill invited me to lead I took off a little more aggressively than I probably should have. I didn’t have any problems, but it was the first time I’ve ever dragged a toe in a corner. I took it a little easier after that.
A nice day for a ride on Alpine Road
Bill’s KTM 950SM
Looking back at the road
Clouds along the coast
Alpine Road led us to Pescadaro Creek Rd, a route that I had just come up on last week’s ride, which was still very enjoyable. We pulled into the small town of Pescadaro and had lunch at Durante’s, which had come recommended by other riders. My food was good and fresh. In reading the history on the menu, I learned that the family started the business back in 1894 and has operated it continuously since then. The vegetables are grown in a field behind the restaurant and arrangements are made with local fisherman to acquire the freshest possible ingredients. Of course I’m not sure what else the rest of Pescadaro does, despite the building next to Durante’s the proclaims “Made In Pescadaro”.
Family owned since 1894 – and good food, too
Another KTM parks next to Bill’s
I should have checked to see what is made in Pescadaro
A slight back-track along Pescadaro Creek Rd took us to Cloverfield, a lovely back road that parallels the coast, but with many more curves and a lot less traffic. There were a couple of sketchy moments near the southern end when we ran into some freshly-laid chip seal, where the “chips” hadn’t quite settled in yet and provided very little traction in the corners. We slowed down a bit at this point.
Cloverfield had turned into Gazos Creek and then that dumped us back on the coast and Hwy 1. After all of the twists and turns of the back roads, Hwy 1 seemed almost boring. The Pacific was calm, the sky lightly overcast with a high marine cloud layer and the beached crowded with pelicans. Traffic was light and it was a quick ride south to our turn off, Bonny Doon Rd.
Bonny Doon quickly became Pine Flat Rd and the transition was seamless. The scenery was pleasant, but not what I’d call “scenic”. A lot of it was made up of houses tucked behind fences or hedges, thick forests with underbrush up against the road, fields in various stages of growth/harvest. Nice, but not really photo-worthy. So we didn’t stop very often, and when we did, I tried to shoot the road as well as the scenery, so as to share the experience. Next time I think I’ll shoot some of the houses along the way. Although I felt that if I stopped at a couple of them, someone might shoot back.
Stopping for a view
Typical “view” along the Santa Cruz roads
After traversing Empire Grade Rd, we eventually we reached Big Basin State Park. This is a large area dedicated to outdoor activities and camping. The road slowed down immediately as it shoved its way around the massive trees. Fortunately there was little oncoming traffic, as the road would fit a car and a bike, if each person was aware enough to be on their own side of the road. The map is a little fuzzy at this point, as I was blindly following Bill and while I think I have it right, I’m not 100%. It should at least be close.
Big Basin State Park
Big Basin State Park
With a big enough space inside to live in!
China Grade Road
China Grade Road
A brisk and enjoyable ride over China Grade Rd dropped us off back on #9, but a new section I hadn’t been on yet. We followed it until we reach Skyline Drive again and then Alice’s Restaurant. Our day was almost over, as each of us had to be back to our homes shortly. We stopped for a drink and while we were there, a few more bikes pulled up. One of them was a KTM with Italian plates – you don’t see that every day! It turns out that the couple on the KTM had shipped their bike to the States for a couple of weeks’ worth of riding and were related to the BMW rider with them.
Bill and I said our good byes and then headed in down out of the mountains to return to our homes. I thought I lost him when I stopped for a photo but he caught me again when he stopped for his own photos. It was a good day and a good ride. Thanks, Bill!
View from Skyline Drive – the “Golden State” indeed
Traveling KTM from Italy
The road home (Page Mill Road)