My friend, from work, lets call him David, scheduled this awesome ride up the Montevina road, in Los Gatos, CA.
To David, give any bike, any surface, he will bike through fast. But for me it was going to be my first experience of riding a road bike on dirt and gravel path and to add to it in the ‘DARK’.
Was Anxious!! We started off around 8:15 in the evening, from the Los Gatos downtown, and hit the LG trail (this is the dirt part of trail). I guess around 2 miles of it was all dirt, and gravel.
A small climb, with all gravel on it was the hardest, this gave me my first fall, a real bad one :(. And on getting up on the bike again, I was not able to peddle anymore, as the wheel used to skid on the surface. And I said to myself, how the fuck does this guy ride on this surface, he is nuts!! 🙂
Anyways, had to walk my bike up, and find some traction to get going. After passing through the Alma dam, and up by the Lexington reservoir, we took another dirt trail. Successfully navigating the cracks on the trail, with my skinny tires, I had another great fall. I said to myself, this is going to be either hell or heaven. Hell – if I continue to fall, and Heaven- if I get some mesmerizing views riding up the Montevina road.
We hit the Montevina climb in about 3 miles. Now this road starts with a smaller grade, around 5% but soon turns into a double digit, and the grade never falls below 10% for over 3 miles. At places even going to 15%-18%.
Changing into smaller gear, and keeping a consistent pace, but quite slow compared to David. He was easing through the climb, with his big flashing lights. I just had sort of a twinkle glowing on my handle bar. Anyways, it wasn’t dark yet, so I told him to go at his pace, because I will need to hang around with him on the way back, when it is pitch dark.
Montevina road has long straight stretches of climbs at consistent grade, unlike the windy climbs of Montebello and Red Wood Gulch. I kept my butt on the saddle, saving the extra effort needed at those ‘bitchy’ steep turns.
By the way, the view was awesome. You can see the beautiful valley all lit up by the Los Gatos light. Twinkles and glows everywhere J. It was mesmerizing, indeed!!
Consistent in my pace and cadence I reached to the ‘hair-pin’ point to find a big house in the corner and the street sign saying ‘Surrey’, there was no mention of ‘Montevina’. You find a big left turn and flat road, while a hidden hair-pin right turn, which I totally missed and headed left, feeling the flat road as a cushion to my butt, and desert to my quads. Couple of turns, and I realized I am on the wrong side, so back to the point and figured out the climb up. Now is when the fun starts J. It gets steeper and steeper as you reach the top.
David was by now already at the top, waiting for me. I saw a huge of beam of light coming down towards me. Gave me a little respite, making me feel a little better that the peak is near. Thanks to David who climbed the last steep stretch again with me. Infact, I had to stop for a minute, as my legs were already crying to go the last 100 metres. I stopped, changed the gears, made a little descent to get some momentum, and then climbed all the way, before falling again J.
The third fall was the scariest of all. There was gravel atop, and the wheels just skid so hard, that it was an overturn, humpty-dumpty fall.
But I made it!! First experience of gravel, great one in the dark.
Checkout the Strava stats: http://app.strava.com/activities/58537786
Descent was slow, as we were careful of not getting the bobcats, or deer in our way. It was chilly cold at the top; those who wish to climb should get a windbreaker.
To get some mileage in the ride, we picked up going around the Lexington reservoir, on the Alma Bridge road. This has some rolling hills, but nothing major.
I realized how beautiful the valley is in the night, when its pitch dark all around and you look up to gaze at the stars. It’s freaking awesome!! Feel like having the entire valley to yourself.
BTW my ride back on the dirt trail was pretty good, I kept a neat balance on the gravel surface, keeping the wheels moving, and was purposefully keeping my right foot off the cleat :).
Would love to do these rides once in 15 days or so. Not everyday!! 🙂