Do you know the way to San Jose (It is what it is.)

The title for this ride is because the original plan was to take the train to San Jose, then ride from there. Later we decided that driving would shorten the trip almost two days.  The challenge was to find a place to park the car, while we toured. I asked on the bicycle touring mailing list, and the plan changed again. Anne came to the rescue with an excellent route, and we could park the car at her house. Many thanks to Anne for her assistance and for the excellent advice for routing. In the future, I will try to consult a local before making a plan to tour in some distant place.

Tuesday July 30, 2013

Rest Stop

Rest Stop in the California Central Valley.

Here we are at the rest stop along I-5 with the two bikes on the roof. The bikes traveled just fine, though they can be a little tough to get up or down if you’re tired, as Paul would find out later.

Here’s the map of our ride Tuesday July 30th. We left San Diego County at about 6:00 A.M. drove for eight hours to Los Altos, about 480 miles. Then we did this ride to the first campsite. Notice how the last mile suddenly turns up? We were walking there. 🙁

LosAltos-SanbornSkyline-Map

Tuesday July 30

Here’s what the road looks like as we started climbing that last mile to the park entrance.

Sanford Road

Looking up Sanborn Road end of our first day of touring.

We almost gave up, and returned downhill to Saratoga Springs campground, we were glad we didn’t. It was really challenging after 8 hours of driving and a strenuous climb to Sanborn Road. The reward was the campsite. There are only walk in camp sites. No cars allowed. There is a parking lot at the bottom, but you have to carry in all your gear. Bicycles are not allowed, since we arrived by bicycle, they allowed us in, but we had to walk our bikes. That was fine, since we didn’t have the energy to climb the hill on our bikes.

First Night Camping

Tuesday night July 30, first night camping.

The reflectors on our panniers really stands out in this picture, because of the camera flash. The spot was definitely worth the work to get here. See Paul is cooking his dinner.

One of the other campers introduced herself by asking “Are you 7?”. We affirmed that we were camping in site 7. “Glad to meet you 7 I’m 5.” was her response. We never did find out her real name.

Wednesday Morning

Same picture without flash.

Wednesday July 31, 2013

This is how we left the site in the morning. Just a little slice of heaven. It was a great place to spend the night. Blue Jays woke me in the morning with their chatter.

Wednesday Morning

Wednesday Morning

Boy Scout Ryan Pachauri of Troop 407 in Cupertino as a part of his Eagle Service Project is constructing a stairway for the RV Campers to provide a safe path to the restrooms and showers. Whenever I find these Eagle Scout Projects, I like to bring attention to them. It is my opinion, too much attention is paid to the bad things young people do, and not enough to their good works. I know this is a big project for Ryan. I’m sure he’ll do a fine job and many people will appreciate it. Three cheers for Ryan Pachauri.

Eagle Scout Project

Ryan Pachauri’s Eagle Scout Project

Here’s a map of our ride Wednesday. About a six mile climb in the beginning, then a little flat. When we got to Alpine Road we started dropping down. Lot’s of hairpin turns and steep downhills, through Redwood forest. At moments I thought I was riding through a Tolkien landscape. I was watching for Hobbits.

Wednesday's ride

Wednesday July 31

Sanford Skyline County Park, to Butano State Park

Leaving me behind

This is Paul leaving me in his dust climbing the six mile hill. When you have to ride in mountains it’s ideal to start with your big climbs in the morning and get your downhills in the afternoon. By that measure Wednesday was an ideal day of riding in mountains. We did miss a turn and had to take an alternate route on Stage Road to get to our destination at Butano State Park.

Roadside Memorial

Small Cross and wind chimes

Small Cross and wind chimes memorialize someone who lost their life here.


No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Riding in front

For at least part of the time I was in front of Paul. This picture proves it.

Paul and I swapped off the lead for all five  days. He would be out front for a while, then I would take  the lead. I do tend to be more daring  on the down hill rides, so I would often be waiting at the bottom of a long hill. We ride about the same speed, on average, and are well matched in riding abilities. We’re both slow. 🙂

Viewpoint Highway 9 & Highway 35 Intersect

Highway 9 or Big Basin Way and Highway 35 Skyline Boulevard.

This is the view from where Highway 9 or Big Basin Way and Highway 35 Skyline Boulevard. We get back to this intersection later in the week.

Velorambler Wednesday

You can see the marine layer over the distant mountains.

Trying to catch the views off the ridge toward Santa Cruz. If you look close you can see the marine layer over the coastal ridge behind me.

Mossy Tree Alpine Road

Mossy Tree Alpine Road

We missed a turn near Sam McDonald State Park at the bottom of Alpine Road. We should have taken the left, which is Pescadero Creek Road. Instead we went straight ahead on La Honda Road. We stopped at a small market/bar/gathering place and got directions from people we spoke to there. We learned that we were about six miles north of where we thought we were. So we headed South on Stage road. This lead to a small adventure. Stage Road is under construction. The crews were completely removing the asphalt and reconstructing the road bed. According to the men on the crew, there are a lot of natural spring in the area and they create a lot of extra work for the road crews. We learned all this as we waited for the road grader to arrive where we waited. Then we walked out bikes about half a mile in the tire tracks of the grader. The road was so loose from the work they were doing, that only the tire tracks were firm enough for us to push our bike through. About half a mile later we were on hard packed road bed and back on our bikes.

We stopped in the little town of Pescadero and bought a few supplies, for dinner and breakfast at Norm’s Market in Pescadero.


View Larger Map

Every bike touring blog post should have an obligatory picture of food. We at a lot of freeze dried meals. Here’s a picture of one of mine.

Mary Janes Farm Organic

Yes that is really the name.

And here’s a picture of our campground in Butano State Park, another uphill entrance. We bought firewood. Fortunately we were able to get the camp host to deliver it to the campground for us, instead of having to haul it up the hill. This was our campsite.

Butano State Park campground

Butano State Park campground

Near the water faucet I saw the only banana slug I saw on the entire trip.

Banana Slug

Banana Slug mascot of the University of California at Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Banana Slug

Butano Trees

Butano Trees

Here’s the base of the redwood in the image above. You could camp inside the base of this tree, except it’s in the middle of the road.

Base of giant redwood

Base of giant redwood

Thursday August 1, 2013

Thursday we headed down toward the coast for an easier day of riding. Good break from all the climbing.

Butano State Park to New Brighton State Beach

Thursday August 1

The skies were blue the road was beautiful and we were well rested from a good night’s sleep.

Leaving Butano State Park

Leaving Butano State Park

The narrow roads were no problem. I think we were passed by only three cars while we traveled this road to the coast, about half an hour and four miles, almost like heaven.

Cloverdale Road

Cloverdale Road between Butano State Park and Gazos Creek Road

The coast was beautiful, with a strong northerly breeze helping us make good time. This is what the coast looks like right where we came out along Gazos Creek Road.

Pacific Coast along California 1

Pacific Coast along California 1

The coast is not flat. There were some hills to climb, but overall it was an easy day of riding. Here’s Paul cresting the hill. Notice who’s in front? 🙂

Coastal Hill

Coastal Hill

We stopped at a roadside fruit stand. They sold mostly berries, but only had fresh strawberries. This sign said they offered a 10% discount, but we didn’t take advantage of it. We each sat and ate a basket of yummy fresh strawberries.

Bicyclist's discount

Bicyclist’s discount

My cue sheet for this area was a little off. It didn’t account for sections of California 1 where bicyclists are not allowed. We took the scenic route along the coast through Santa Cruz. We stopped for lunch at Pacific Ave Pizza


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Then we meandered along the shoreline until we reached New Brighton State Beach.

New Brighton Beach

New Brighton Beach

New Brighton State Beach Enjoy Your Stay

New Brighton State Beach Enjoy Your Stay

We had our first hiker biker campsite experience here. There were 6 other bicycle tourists in the camp. There were a couple of guys from LA that flew down to San Fransisco then rode 87 miles to the park. There was Ian and Courtney from Vancouver, riding the Pacific Coast Tour. We hope to hear from them when they make it to San Diego, near the end of their trip. Frederick is from Belgium and it wasn’t quite clear where he had been riding. It seemed he came to Colorado, then rode his bicycle to LA, and now he’s headed north along the coast. He was very friendly, but English isn’t his first language. There was one more single rider, out for a 5 day trip by himself. I didn’t catch his name.

Paul & Frederick

Paul & Frederick

We had a great time sharing stories and talking about our adventures on the road. Compared to many of the other bicycle tourists in the campsite, we felt like beginners. A trip of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Friday August 2, 2013

Friday Morning Hiker Biker Camp

Friday Morning Hiker Biker Camp

Friday morning we were the last out of the park. Ian, Courtney and Frederick all planned to stay a second day. We were headed to Big Basin. There would be climbing involved. As Paul would say, and did many times “It is what it is.”.

New Brighton State Beach to Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Friday August 2

If you look close, you can see that we had to double back once, because we got off track. My cue sheet had us traveling California 1, where bicyclists aren’t allowed. We tried to find the most direct route back to Highway 9. Then we had to work our way around the cue sheet. We found our way and started riding up Highway 9.

Along the way we met this local guy “Lucky Lonnie”. Lonnie insisted that we should take a trail that he and several friends had been working on for years. It would keep us off the more heavily traveled highway for a quieter route. The detail we missed was that it isn’t a road, it’s a dirt single track. It may be great on a mountain bike but on a heavy self-contained touring rig, it was a little too challenging for us. We turned back and resumed our ascent up Highway 9 toward Big Basin Road.

Lucky Lonnie & Paul

Lucky Lonnie & Paul

We continued up Highway 9 and the traffic was pretty light. The cars that were there, were courteous and I never really felt endangered. Much of the time we were riding under deep canopy with only occasional bright sunlit spots. Here’s Paul coming out of the shade.

From Shade to Bright Light on Highway 9

From Shade to Bright Light on Highway 9

We stopped in Felton at the New Leaf Market. A local man asked us where we were headed. He told us he worked at Big Basin Redwoods State Park and suggested an alternate route, West Park Ave from Boulder Creek would be less stressful than Highway 236. He explained that it was the old road to the park and eventually rejoined Highway 236.


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We took the advice and it was enjoyable. One of the interesting things we saw was this clock in front of the Kersten’s house. It seems to only be right twice a day. 🙂

Kersten House

Kersten House

Our final night of the tour was spent at Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Big Basin Headquarters

Big Basin Headquarters

One of the great things about traveling by bicycle is that many parks have special campsites set aside for hikers and bikers. Big Basin Redwoods is no exception. Although we were only a few hundred feet from the highway, the site felt secluded and private, because of all the forest. When we arrived we saw this mandala on the ground.

campsite mandala

campsite mandala

Big Basin Campsite

Big Basin Campsite

Saturday August 3, 2013

This was the last day of our tour. We awoke in Big Basin Redwoods State Park and slept in our own beds that night. This was one of the biggest climbing days of the tour. We only traveled about 25 miles but we climbed almost 2800 feet. Compared to early days of this tour it seemed fairly easy. I guess that’s what happens when you ride 5 days in a row.

Big Basin State Park to Los Altos

Saturday August 3

Paul final day of tour

Paul final day of tour

We had an awesome time, and are looking forward to our next tour. The Santa Cruz mountains are a great place to tour and the redwoods are amazing. It was an adventure we won’t soon forget. We rode about 172 miles, 15,000 foot of climb. We averaged 8.4 MPH with a maximum speed around 40 mph. The amount of fun we had was immeasurable. It is what it is.

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