Friday, March 11, 2011


First week in a new city always turns into a binge of sorts. I did this in Montana, too — spent nearly every free moment of my first week in town combing the nearby woods for fun new places to ride my bike. (Here in the Bay area, I'm also on the lookout for fun places to run.) If I was floored by my first look at options in Missoula, I'm completely incredulous about the Bay area. There is a lot out there. A LOT. It makes sense — heavily populated areas tend to spur a lot of trail development. Wilderness junkies would turn their noses up, but it is a great playground for bicycles.

For my Friday ride, I took a cue from a commenter (thanks, MattC!) and headed to Woodside to check out the Purisima Creek Redwoods region. It was a pretty simple plan — climb 1,800 feet of redwood-shaded pavement to the Skyline ridge, drop 1,800 feet of steep muddy doubletrack down to the sea side of the peninsula, climb back up to the ridge on insanely-steep-I'm-about-to-tip-over-but-at-least-I'm-maintaining-2.5 mph trail, loop through some of the muddy techy singletrack in the El Corte de Madera Creek area, then race the sunset home because I didn't bring lights and this loop will take a lot longer than I anticipated.

OK, that wasn't really the plan because I didn't even have a plan when I set out under a bright afternoon sun in the town of Woodside. But that is what happened. I had to stop many times to study my map because there were so many intersections and so many trail possibilities. The redwoods were gorgeous, the air smelled strongly of sweet grass and mulch, and I was loving the chunky roller coaster riding on the Madera trails. (The route was more technical than I anticipated, resulting in a couple close calls and one crash where I endoed over a mud puddle and punched a tree as I flew through the air.) But for the most part, it was a Zen ride — strenuous and quiet. After I veered off the Kings Mountain Road, I didn't see a single other person (besides an occasional car on the road) in three hours of riding. Not one. I know it was a Friday afternoon in March, but seriously, this is a region of 7.4 million people. Where are all the bikers? My theory: There are just more than enough trails to go around.

I was home late for dinner and a run, again — late enough (and exhausted enough) that we agreed to cancel the run. Beat has been very sweet about my biking binge this week, but I did feel quite guilty about it (I imagine this is how some spouses feel when they come home late from a night of bar hopping.) But it turned out to be a great ride — 24 miles and 5,000 feet of climbing on highly variable terrain (everything from smooth wide pavement to narrow, root-choked, side-sloping singletrack.) You know it's been a good ride when you come home covered in mud and blood.

There's a map of this ride and elevation info at this link.

Are there any more commenters in the Bay area have some good suggestions for bike and/or running routes? MattC's route turned out fantastic, so I'm hoping to get some more good ideas. Thanks in advance!