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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Gazos Creek Loop

Only Brooks Sizemore was interested in this ride, so I meet him at the corner of Homestead & Foothill at 9:35am. He was joined by 3 other friends, and we rode together up Redwood Gulch on what turned out to be a surprisingly warm day. At the top of Highway 9, the others said goodbye to us and we proceeded down 9. Traffic was unusually heavy down 9 and 236, and indeed when we arrived at Big Basin State Park HQ there was a massive traffic jam.

We filled up our water bottles, ate some bars, and then proceeded down to Gazos Creek road, the highlight of the ride. It's a wide double-track fire road, and in the summer it gets quite loose and dusty, but it's a nice shaded easy grade with no traffic --- until we got past the second gate and ran into the first of two BMWs driving up the road. I guess it can't be too steep if BMWs can drive up it!

The road then got a little steep and gravelly, and in places my bike fish-tailed around a bit as I hit gravel and sand together --- the toughest part was how rough it was, and there were moments when I started seeing triple because I was being bounced around quite a bit.

I kept waiting for the steep and tough part that I remember from many years ago --- dust that came up to ankle deep so I was forced to walk, but it looks like the road had been regraded and we made it all the way down to the pavement without any need to walk whatsoever. The paved part of Gazos Creek road was really pretty, which surprised me --- I had no recollection of doing it before, having done it last about 10 years ago.

Brooks was hungry and had brought no food, so we headed to Pescadero where there was again another traffic jam and we proceeded to wolf down a loaf of that Garlic-Artichoke bread. After that we headed over to North road, and made an easy climb out of Haskins hill and West Alpine before descending Page Mill road. From the top of West Alpine, we could tell it was getting late in the afternoon as we could see fog coming in from the coast, slowly covering up the coastal hills.

I got home around 5:30pm, making it an elapsed 8 hours. A challenging ride with 82 miles, 8091' of climb, 7 hours saddle time, and interesting scenery. Recommended for those who have decent enough bike handling skills for the 11 miles of unpaved fire road portion of Gazos Creek Road. Folks will tell you that 28mm tires are required, but Brooks had 23mm tires and I only had 25mm tires.

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