Montara Mtn – 10:50am, 22mi
Approaching Old San Pedro Rd, some riders around us started joking about taking a detour to descend Crack and Boy Scout, and hoping that Murphy’s route took us there. Not likely, I thought!
At the start of the climb, ZT’s front derailleur cable began to rub randomly on his tire so we stopped quickly to bend it out of the way. I was having shifting issues with all the mud in my drivechain and used my water bottle to spray much of it off.
The Old San Pedro Rd climb is mellow, only slightly technical because of the old broken road surface creating potholes to avoid. The grade is very easy and we took an easy approach rather than sprinting to the top.
20 minutes later we summited and immediately continued to the descent. I pre-warned ZT that this was prime pinch-flat road, with fast speeds and sharp edges in the broken road. He, of course, was running tubeless, so it was more a warning to myself to be careful!
I took off down the descent, having fun. I was particularly pleased that my wrist was not painful at all, having injured it back in January. On my last ride here a few weeks ago, on this bike, it had jarred enough to be quite sore.
I caught up with a roadie having trouble on the descent and patiently waited to pass. It eventually turns into a fire road, still with broken road surface to be negotiated, but allowing much faster speed. The roadies were being very cautious but my CX bike was handling the conditions fantastically, so I let fly.
There’s an intersection where you can continue down the broken road or take a steep dirt fire road descent to the bottom. Last time (in dry conditions), I opted for the steep road and had a blast! This time, the road was muddy but I quickly realized that my bike ate it up! So I blasted down at almost full speed (my Garmin says I averaged 25 mph down here hitting a max of 31), slowing only to safely pass some roadies taking it very gingerly.
If you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed out-riding the roadies here – they were all way stronger than me, and would have their chance to blow past me later, but for now I loved showing off what my bike could do in these conditions!
I reached the bottom with a huge grin on my (muddy) face and stopped to wait for ZT to catch up.
My bike actually wasn’t too dirty, although my water bottles were covered in mud. I washed down the drivetrain again and once ZT arrived, we headed out to Hwy 1 and began the long, long road ride south.
Highway 1 – 11:20am, 27 mi
It was immediately obvious that we were going to have to ride into a strong headwind. On a good day, the wind would be at our backs, but as jms points out, in bad weather it often blows north.
As awesome as my bike is in the mud, it’s not quite so awesome on the road. It’s not bad, but I’m generally 2 mph slower on any given road. ZT took the lead and quickly got us up to 20+ mph. I jumped in front to take a pull and found it very hard going into the wind – ZT was making it look easy!
We had gathered some other riders that we passed and they cycled up for a pull but slowed the pace way down so ZT and I jumped back up front. Eventually, we pulled into the first rest stop at El Grenada.
El Granada Rest Stop – 11:35am, 32 mi
I could tell ZT was eager to make this a fast stop. I would like to have lingered and recovered but getting moving, rather than getting cold, was actually a good plan.
Murphy had stocked the rest stop with delicious potatoes, PBJ sandwiches, bananas and, most importantly, hot coffee. That coffee was simply awesome. ZT looked so reinvigorated that he was going to jump for joy!
Murphy was at this stop, and reminded us that nearly all of the climbing was yet to come, with a couple of big climbs at the end of the ride!
In under 5 mins, we were back on the road, motoring at ZT’s amazing pace. I was feeling some fatigue, having to work hard to just to stay on ZT’s wheel so ended up letting him do most of the work. I think I took only 2 or 3 pulls, both fairly short compared to ZT’s and much slower. I consoled myself hoping that it was just enough to give ZT some rest to keep the pace up and get this highway riding overwith fast!
We picked up a few riders who jumped on ZT’s train, but none of them could hold on for long. I was very impressed and humbled!
After crossing Tunitas Creek, our turnoff to Stage Rd approached. I pulled next to ZT as we climbed and we were chatting about something when my front wheel went off the lip of the road and I crashed. It was a slow motion crash but I almost brought down ZT as well – credit to him for staying upright! No damage at all to me or the bike – just felt kinda stupid
Stage Rd – 12:26pm, 45mi
After the climb up from Tunitas Creek, we turned onto Stage Rd. I looked forward to a bit of an easy descent for a few miles and a chance to enjoy the way the CX bike handles corners and sticks on the wet road.
We rode past the San Gregorio store, a normal stop on any other ride, and straight onto the rolling Stage section. ZT hadn’t ridden this before, so I tried to describe it. He was expecting a steep climb, like Lobitos Creek Rd, but it was really two quite mellow climbs.
Once past the final climb, he amped up the power for a ZT-special into-the-wind pull and I attached myself to his wheel. We rolled into Pescadero to find the next rest stop there (which I wasn’t expecting).
Pescadero Rest Stop – 1pm, 53 mi
I was ready for a longer break, but we had caught up to a fast pack of riders who had lingered here and ZT was eager to ride out with them. So we filled our bottles, grabbed what food we could and were out in 4 mins.
The roadies didn’t know the route but this was all very familiar territory for me so I pointed out where to go and they yelled, “yellow.. follow yellow” I got them onto Cloverdale Rd and gave directions that the gate was in 3 miles.
The gate to Butano Fire Road is not signed and is very easy to miss. The pack stayed together, mostly, I think, because the roadies weren’t sure where to turn and wanted to stay close to me. Nevertheless, there was some paceline fighting for position, which was kinda fun