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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bowen Winter Tour Day 2

The advantage of doing a tour near home is that you can take full advantage of all your local knowledge. For instance, when I saw the forecast, I immediately dumped the fender on the tandem and ejected all my rain gear. This allowed us to fit everything into one pannier, which saved us more than 2 pounds of empty pannier.  I'd ditched everything that could be considered a luxury, including my beloved Kindle Paperwhite. Bowen sacrificed bringing his bunny. The disadvantage of doing a tour in the USA is that public transit was scant, and here in California, we're surrounded by mountains, many of which are so steep as to have few equivalents even in the Alps, where grades are limited by winter snow.
Nevertheless, the compensations of California riding are many. We left the hotel around 9:00am, riding along the Pacific Coast bike route, but by the time we turned off onto Freedom Blvd, the day was already starting to warm up, and by the time we got to Corralitos around 11:00am, it was pleasantly warm at 70F. This was an area I was still familiar with, but I elected to let Komoot guide me to reduce climbing and in case it had found a route that was better that what I knew about. The answer was "no", it hadn't magically found a flatter route that was better. The flatter route simply had way more traffic than I would put up with, but with an unknown climb up ahead, I wasn't too unhappy about an easier day.
Once on Mt Madonna, the ride preview of a steep painful climb was confirmed. It was made worse by an exposed approach: I saw the thermometer on my computer reach into the mid 80s. Fortunately, I had brought and was wearing a sweat-band. I'd introduced Bowen to Radio Gaga by playing Singstar Queen on the PS3 with him,  so he entertained me throughout the climb by singing "Radio Gaga." Then he asked me why his GPS watch occasionally would think that we weren't moving even though we were, I told him about GPS satellite signals and the GPS antenna in his watch, he switched the lyrics to "Radio Satellite". Even though I'm as big a Queen fan as they come, I did get a little tired of "Radio Satellite" sung at the top of his lungs by the middle of the climb.

The climb was so tough we had to stop to rest twice, though the second rest stop at a winery turned out to be within a mile of the top! We saw no other cyclists on the road except a woman road biker coming down the road. The same road on the peninsula would probably have been flooded by cyclists as its well connected to a high speed descent on 152 in either direction. Strangely enough, once we reached the top, the sky clouded over and we did the dirt descent on Mt. Madonna road under cloudy skies at least 20F cooler!
The unpaved eastern side of Mt Madonna Road was slick and muddy, forcing me to brake often and stop once in a while to check the rim temperatures, but given the cool day and light load I needn't have bothered. We reached the paved section after about 10 minutes and then after we put on clothing I gave the tandem its head and we barreled down the descent in the high 20s.

Once onto Redwood Retreat road, we finally started seeing other cyclists, including a couple on a tandem but no one stopped to chat or even do much other than wave to us. To be honest, with only one pannier we didn't look like people on a bike tour, just a father and son on a day ride.

The ride into Morgan Hill was a slog, but we found the AirBnB with no problems (though Kelly the owner told us not to let her neighbors know that she was running an AirBnB). She told us we were less than a mile from downtown, so we dumped most of our gear and rode over to Provo which was still serving brunch!

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