Woodside to the sea

You know what I love about road biking? How much distance and elevation it enables me to cover during relatively small efforts. Some days, I like a good challenge. Others, I simply want to cover miles, view new scenery, and taste different air. Today I had errands in Palo Alto, so I decided to head to Woodside and point my road bike west. I had three hours, so today's goal was "what can I see in three hours?"

I rode up and over Skyline Ridge and down Tunitas Creek Road, a thin ribbon of pavement wending through the redwoods. The weather was almost unrealistically perfect. I was wearing a thin long-sleeved shirt and a pair of tights, and I was comfortable during both the climb and the descent — never hot nor cold. After seven miles of mostly coasting on a smooth surface amid a temperature equilibrium, I began to have a strange sensation that I wasn't even there — that I was somehow distant from this place, sitting on a stationary bicycle and watching tree trunks stream by on a movie screen.

That is, until I neared Highway 1. I could smell the honey sweetness of mustard fields in bloom, and taste pungent sea salt wafting on a light breeze. The sun emerged from a thin veil of clouds and cast the hillsides in rich light. I rode along the highway until my watch read 1:22, and then turned to find an overlook on the cliffs above the Pacific.

I found a place hidden in plain sight by a rusty old gate and a rough gravel entry. I sat and ate an Odwalla Bar, slowly so I could better taste the infusion of salt and savory ocean air. Waves crashed into the shoreline a hundred feet below the cliffs, distant enough to sound like purring. I watched a solo walker stroll barefoot across the sand. The baby blue Pacific yawned over the horizon, fading imperceptibly into the similarly blue sky. It was a peaceful place, and it made me feel happy, enough so that I could have laid there all day. It seemed strange that I ran a quick errand, rode my bike for ninety minutes, and somehow ended up here. So close and yet a world away.

Still, I only had three hours and a long way to climb, so I set back out toward the mountains. Up and up and up toward the crest of Skyline, then back to Woodside. It didn't seem like all that much work, which is why it was pleasantly surprising to upload my ride stats find out I rode 35 miles with 5,500 feet of climbing. That kind of distance and elevation would take me the better part of a day to cover on foot, but the road bike makes it too easy. It almost feels like cheating — if it wasn't so wonderful. 


  1. Alec McLaughlin4:00 AM

    I have found it near impossible to get on anything but my road bikes since switching to road and track bikes three years ago from cross coutnry mountain biking. The speed and effeciency of a geared road bike is a mastermind of invention. This blog has me desiring to get back to Homer, Ak and my school bus and buy a snow bike. Inspirational overflow this blog is.

  2. Tom C8:36 AM

    It is like another world over there on the San Mateo Coast especially on a weekday. There have been constant fights to stop any development over there.

    For more beautiful scenery and solitude on a weekday, try the Lobitos creek rd. and Lobitos Cutoff rd. which breaks off of Tunitas creek rd., and the Pescadero creek road, Stage rd. Hwy 84 loop. Weekends are kinda too busy over there with cars, motorcycles, and bikes

  3. Glad you finally got to ride Tunitas Ck...I found it late last year and WHAT A FUN piece of road that is...both ways! Going back up and over and then down Kings Mt Rd back into Woodside is an awesome way to end a ride!

  4. I miss the West Coast. Alaska, California, Oregon, all of it.

  5. Durango Joe10:26 AM

    I've read as you slowly overcame your reservations about road bikes, now as I secretly predicted you're slowly getting the bug. Looking into my crystal ball, I predict before too long you'll be doing group road rides, drafting, running circular pacelines, and even, as befits your diesel engine, making solo attacks to jack up the average speed and make the non-diesels work hard to chase you down.

  6. Tunitas!! Jealous...I can't wait til summer when I can do weekday rides too.

  7. Tunitas!! Jealous...I can't wait til summer when I can do weekday rides too.

  8. Durango Joe1:41 PM

    And if it feels like cheating, shift up a couple of gears and go faster.....

  9. Leah — as we gain daylight perhaps we can meet in Woodside after your done with work on a weekday. I'd wouldn't mind planning weekday rides near the city, either.

    Durango Joe — I really do enjoy road biking, but my mindset is really that of a tourist. I love covering ground in beautiful places. I'm afraid to go fast — evidenced by my <20 mph downhill speeds. I have the same reservations with running. I don't fail to run fast because I lack heart, but because I lack balance. But perhaps someday. Perhaps.

  10. or Skeggs, if it dries out! I could drive to work and drive down right after. Definitely possible with the later days...and a light. Have fun this weekend!

  11. That's one of my favorite loops although we usually go up old lahonda/pescadero then have lunch in pescadero and climb back up Tunitas Creek....beautiful pictures!


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