At my friend Alex’s going away party last weekend, too far into the night, we decided that one last ride together needed to happen. Originally, this was going to be a morning ride of Mt Tam, but evolved into a ride from Stanford where he formerly worked. Without much thought (or knowledge of the rides throughout the peninsula), I agreed to his proposed loop including Page Mill and Tunitas Creek. With the simple description “it will kill us. i promise”, how could I say no?
Could you say ‘no’ to this man?
We met a couple former colleagues of Alex at Stanford and headed out. As we start the gradual climb up Page Mill, I don’t quite appreciate how exactly this ride is going to kill us. It’s not until I hear Alex behind me: “we’re only a fifth of the way up, right?” followed by a discussion of what percentage of the total elevation has been covered to that point and so on… Just accept it. Let the burn set in.
One after another, false peak after false peak gave that glimmer of hope followed by another stretch of demoralizing climb. Eventually Alex and the other two riders regrouped at a water spigot just before the last steep section. “Just carry your speed into the hill, it’ll get you most of the way” they say. I carry quite a bit of speed, but the grace of heavily used late-90s components is lost on this hill as the chain doesn’t seem to be interested in down shifting. At which point I grind to a halt as the others cruise by me. This is probably a sign. I’m pretty oblivious though, so onward I go, sluggishly.
At the top of Page Mill, Alex’s friend head back to work and the rest of the ride it’s just Alex and I. Descending through the trees is beautiful and reminds me of the coastal range in Oregon. A bit of rain and a few uncertainties in direction on Alex’s part, we open up into the valley to San Gregorio with beautiful sunshine and brilliantly green hillsides. Gorgeous:
Looking back in the direction we’d just come
At San Gregorio I know my legs are going to need something, so we stop and grab Gatorade and Clif Bars for some calories. The initial climb up Tunitas Creek doesn’t seem as brutal as Page Mill, but eventually the mid-section defeats me. Stopping part way up, I need to refuel and rest for a minute. A while later, I stop to relieve myself on the quiet roadside. This is something magical, because all of a sudden I get a burst of energy that pushes me through the last tough section and through the rest of the climb.
Where Tunitas Creek meets Skyline, Alex gives me the options: drop down into King’s Creek or up a “short” section and down 84. I can tell Alex wants the last bit of climb, so up we go. It’s about this point that I start to truly question our friendship, but I can’t fault Alex too much for his sketchy memory for distances and elevations. Descending back to Stanford was frigid, but I survived. A quick stop to grab the things we’d stashed in a friend’s office on campus and a short sprint to the Caltrain to avoid an extra hour wait, we had completed our loop (strava here!). To finish it off, there’s quite nothing like a warm Sam Adams recovery beer.
Victory! (sponsored by Stanford Materials Science and Engineering)