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Monday, February 20, 2006

President's Day Ride

I wanted to see if there was any snow left on Skyline, two days after a once a decade snowfall in the Bay Area. I climbed Pierce Road and Highway 9 with no trouble, seeing no other cyclists except a mountain biker on Pierce Road who turned off towards the reservoir. The amount of car traffic was considerable, however, indicating that many folks had the same idea I did. The weather was warm, prompting thoughts that the snow might all be gone already.

A left turn on Skyline Blvd brought further climbing and the temperature rapidly dropped under the shade of pine trees. I stopped at an open space to check out the visibility --- unfortunately, it was not clear to the coast --- a light haze filled the air and I could not see the Big Sur coastline hidden in the clouds.

As I approached Castle Rock State Park, I started seeing patches of residual ice on the roadside. The road surface became sandy and grimy and quite wet. As I approached Castle Rock, I observed that the parking lot was full. Sure enough, there were kids throwing snowballs at each other! The tree branches above me were still laden with snow, the melting of which caused droplets of water to fall on the road (and on me). There was a crackling in the air as pieces of ice broke off from the snow clumps and landed onto the road. I stopped for a couple of pictures and then moved on.

Past Castle Rock, the road began a rapid descent, but out of the corner of my eye, I could see that the Christmas Tree farm along Skyline was inundated with snow in its open spots. The descent on Skyline is normally enjoyable and fast, but with the road surface dark and wet, I did not want to risk running over any black-ice and kept my speed down. About a mile from the Black road intersection all traces of ice and snow went away and I could relax again and enjoy the open scenery all around me.

Past Black road, Skyline Blvd becomes a one lane road that has relatively light traffic but many blind corners, which I took prudently despite the lack of motor-traffic since Castle Rock. The reason for this lack of traffic became apparently when I ran up to a "Road Closed" sign. It looked like a minor bit of construction, so I walked my bike around the sign and through the construction. The construction was muddy, and some small stones got wedged in between my brakes and the rim, but a bit of extra water and a stick used as a scraper solved that problem.

Except for an unusual amount of traffic down Bear Creek road, the rest of the ride was uneventful.

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