April 28, 2018

Three Bikin' Babes

Looming gray clouds must have convinced my fellow cyclists to stay home this morning. There were no showers on the local weather radar map.

Two women joined me, both excited to share “This is one of my favorite routes!” (Mine, too.)

As I had hoped, the cool (and gloomy) weather meant that we would contend with little traffic; on a hot summer day there will be a steady stream of impatient drivers diverting off the freeway onto the original Santa Cruz Highway. Today, we had the redwoods to ourselves.

A male turkey fanned out his tail feathers for his hen (but not for my camera).

Male wild turkey in a field along Skyland Road, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Some of these back roads, I believe, were originally logging roads. They've been paved since then, but ... not regularly. Every rainy winter breaks up more of the pavement, or worse—last winter a car was trapped in a hole (where the road had given way). I couldn't be sure which stretch of smooth, fresh pavement corresponded to that repair. But I can say that no section of road gets repaired before its time. [Which, in some cases, may be a century. Or more.]

Young bug in a field along Skyland Road, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
A young buck eyed me warily.

Sculpture garden, including a T Rex mother defending her hatchling from a diving pterodactyl, and other dinosaurs, Skyland Road, Santa Cruz Mountains
Mama T Rex is still defending her hatchling from a diving pterodactyl.

A few drops of rain fell from the sky, barely noticeable. Which was good, because it was much chillier than I expected; I regretted not donning wool socks this morning.

Wild iris flowering in shades of cream, yellow, and purple, along Highland Way, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
The hillsides were dotted with wild iris, purple vetch, and some very tiny flowers unfamiliar to me.

The patio at the Summit Store was overrun by cyclists—another club's ride overlapped with a bit of ours. Three or four people emptied out of a car, bundled in puffy insulated jackets, and stared at us as if we were a herd of exotic creatures.

Yes, this is what we do on the weekend. 38 miles, 3,370 feet of climbing—even when it's gray and gloomy.

April 26, 2018

The Mighty Eucalyptus

I set off for home late on a blustery afternoon. No need to hurry, I told myself, with all that wind.

It's not unusual for me to pass a long line of cars along one stretch; some drivers prefer that route, even though a couple of stop signs cause traffic to back up.

Most of them, I expect, regretted their choice today.

Huge fallen eucalyptus tree limb blocking one lane of S. Stelling Road, Cupertino, California
I have to admit that I'm not a particular fan of eucalyptus trees. It's wise not to linger near them. Especially on windy days. Or hot days, when they sometimes explode.

I dismounted and took to the sidewalk, chatting with the firemen who were clearing the lane that they could. “It's not often we get to walk to a call,” they noted. (Their station is right across the street.)

Fortunately, there was no one in the path of that falling limb. “It was a close call,” a fireman said.

I can't begin to count the number of mornings I've pedaled beneath that monster and its neighbors, but I can tell you I'll be sprinting in the future.

April 21, 2018

Sounds of Spring

Oh, that enticing ribbon of road! One rider claimed to see the snow-capped peaks of the Sierras in the distance, but there was too much haze for me. I was tempted, oh-so-tempted, to head down the other side of Patterson Pass, but that was not part of today's plan.

View to the east of wind turbines and green hills from the summit of Patterson Pass Road, Livermore, California
Another rider matter-of-factly identified the repeated trill of a nearby western meadowlark. They'd seen peacocks, too; I had recognized their cries but I didn't catch a glimpse. None of us could miss the spectacle of hundreds of red-winged blackbirds swarming in a brushy field we'd passed. What a cacophony!

Frogs croaked, goats bleated, sheep baaed, wild turkeys gobbled, cattle mooed, cyclists panted.

By the time I reached the base of Morgan Territory Road, I had recovered enough to make the turn with the rest of the group. Why not?

View to the west of green hills and grazing cattle from the lower portion of Morgan Territory Road, Livermore, California
Why not? Because I had climbed the front side once before (and I remembered it well).

But, here I was, again. When I met an SUV coming down the steepest section, I stopped debating whether to attempt it. [I walked.]

View to the north of a rocky peak and green hills, Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, Livermore, California
I wondered at the rocky peak in the distance, so clearly visible from the park where we'd stopped, just past the summit.

Close-up of orange California poppies with pep's bicycle in the background, Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, Livermore, California
The green hills will fade to gold all too soon, and the poppies will shed their petals and seeds.

Our return via Collier Canyon Road was unfamiliar, and unexpectedly lovely—a very pleasant surprise.

I've been commuting by bicycle with more determination, and it is paying off. My most challenging ride of the year: 43 miles, 3,090 feet of climbing, with no regrets.