Monday, January 2, 2012

Santa Cruz 3-day Trip by Bikes: Part 3--Eureka Canyon Road

Eureka Canyon RoadEureka Canyon Road We woke up around 8AM in the morning in Santa Cruz after riding here from San Jose and spending a great day watching the ocean and chilling. Today we are riding back to San Jose, but not the way we came. Soquel-San Jose Road can be an exhilarating descent, but riding up on it may not be as fun. Today our plan was to ride west first through towns of Capitola, Aptos, and Corralitos, then up Eureka Canyon Road to the ridge and continue on Highland Way back to rejoin Summit Road. This will add about 17 miles to our trip and make it a 52-mile ride. With our haul, this is not easy, but the gradient on all the climbs today should be pretty gentle.

Eureka Canyon Road
We started our return by getting a breakfast at Dharmas restaurant--for the third time in two days we ate at that restaurant. On this occasion M ordered a vegan breakfast burrito and I got a "Greek" tofu scramble, which meant addition of lots of olives and mushroom. It was very good. We rode through some beautiful and quaint small towns beginning with Capitola. After riding through downtown Capitola we got on Park Blvd and then a right on McGregor road right on the side of Highway 1. Then we crossed Highway 1 and ended up on Soquel Drive. We rode through Aptos next and continued on Soquel Dr for a while. We turned north on Freedom Ave and began a very gentle climb. The fork on Hames brought a couple of short but steep pitches, and off the layers for both of us. Before Hames took us into Corralitos there was a small section of gentle descent, which dropped us at the intersection of Eureka Canyon Road and Blake. From here we would go up till the ridge for approximately 10 miles.

Bike and view

SequenceEureka Canyon Road is a winding, shaded, fairly well-paved and mostly narrow road. At times there is only one lane. The grade is very gentle. We were able to chat almost all the way up and I was riding mostly on my big chain ring. The road is lined with different kinds of beautiful tall trees and we were constantly greeted by birds and squirrels. For most of the time our view didn't go much beyond the canyon and the creek running beside the road. As we climbed higher views of the canyon below and the surrounding hills emerged. Toward the top near the junction with Highland Way the pavement is not as good (but still very good) and the road is more exposed. On this cold but clear day, sun was a much welcomed sight to warm us up a bit.

Red VW busWe got to Highland and rode on the ridge for a good half a dozen miles. There was no significant climbs, but some gentle rollers. The road has a mixture of forest and wide vista of the canyons, mountains, and even a glimpse of the ocean below. Highland eventually turned into Summit Road. After taking a break at the Highland Market, we got to Old Santa Cruz Hwy and began the descent down to San Jose. The trip downhill is pretty fast, and we rode fast on back on the Los Gatos Creek Trail. About a mile away from the train station I hit a tack on the pavement and had to fix the flat. Good thing it was so close to the destination so i didn't have to ride with low pressure for long. We were both very tired from the trip and napped on the Amtrak ride home. It was a fun Christmas trip!
Los Gatos Creek Trail on the way back

Here again, is the slideshow for the whole trip:

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