Archive for June, 2009

7

Newport Beach – Back Bay, San Joaquin Hills & Corona Del Mar Loop (Kéan Coffee stop included!)


Low 70s and sunny today..perfect day for a ride around Newport. Decided to plot out a route that would give some flat scenery for a few miles of warm up before hitting the climbing for about a thousand feet of gain followed by dropping back down to the coast for some more scenic riding. While a relatively short loop at 23 miles, the thousand feet of climbing ensures a decent workout. I would especially recommend this loop to those unfamiliar with Newport/Corona del Mar – it will give you a nice introduction to the area.

This ride starts at the intersection of Eastbluff Dr & Back Bay Dr, right off of Jamboree. There is ample street parking here, so it makes for a good starting point. Also, the starting point qualifies as rather scenic:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Back Bay Dr borders the Newport Bay Ecological Preserve and is quite popular with runners and cyclists due to minimal traffic…and chances are, you will be passing cars versus cars passing you:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

If any officer is reading this, I never cycle above 15mph on this road (this is where I insert the “angel with a halo” smiley). With that disclaimer out of the way…

So, this road is also rather unique in another regard:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Don’t see too many roads marked that way! After a few miles of very scenic riding, you will hit San Joaquin Hills Rd on your left. You may want to choose to keep going straight along Back Bay to the end of that road (a few miles later)…you’ll get to see the rest of the bay and get some more flat warm up miles in…then double back to the intersection. Once you do turn onto San Joaquin, you immediately start climbing:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

San Joaquin only gains about 550 feet in 4 miles, so it is not that hard. The only tough section is about 2 miles in where you hit a 7-9% section…but that lasts for less than a mile. The first stretch is not all that scenic, passing near to Fashion Island (a semi-upscale, outdoor mall), but the shoulders are wide so it’s no big deal. After passing MacArthur (practically a freeway), it starts getting a bit more scenic. You pass a lawn bowling club on your right:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Can’t say I’ve seen a lawn bowling club before on any ride. This is Newport Beach though, so I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me :p Looking up the road from this point:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Still a well-traveled, somewhat high speed road, but the shoulder is huge (and you get a painted bike lane shortly ahead). Finish that tougher part of the climb and you are rewarded with views of all the expensive hillside houses:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Just before hitting the 4 mile mark, turn right onto Ridge Park Rd and cross Newport Coast Dr. Now the fun starts! While only about a mile long, this climb nets you almost 500 feet of elevation gain with an average grade of about 9%. Additionally, the first fifth is about 12%. No wonder I had to shift down so far. Just after passing Vista Ridge Rd on the right, you will see a small park on your left. This is a nice place to stop for a little refueling while taking in a view of the surroundings. Cute park:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Free views of the 73 freeway included:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

And towards the coast (was a bit hazy out that way today):

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Continuing on, time for descending! Vista Ridge makes for a nice descent with lots of greenery and some views along to your left:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

Found myself hitting 43mph on the part right after that photo..but be warned that this is a pretty short descent and you will have to scrub all that speed before arriving at Newport Coast Dr. Newport Coast is also not a bad descent. Sweeping curves, but more traffic. Nice at about 30mph.

Finally getting out to the coast in Corona del Mar, this was a perfect beach day:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

There were a few people out:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

And a little detour over to the bay front walking path on Balboa Island:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

This little island is a worthwhile detour if you’ve never been. If you have been, you may just want to skip this part as the crowds and traffic can be insane.

Finally, heading back inland and you hop on the bike path that skirts the other side of the bay:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling
From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

23 miles and I am back to the car. Headed over to Kéan Coffee and got a very tasty Turkish latte:

From 2009-06-27 – Newport Back Bay Cycling

That is cardamom you see sprinkled on the top. It adds a very nice smell without impacting the flavor. Very tasty! Also, this place is right along the route, and has outdoor seating, so you could easily stop by on the ride versus after the ride…either way it makes for a great stop.

The route map:

01

2nd Street in Belmont Shore (Long Beach) gets some sweet shared lanes!


Ok, so not a ride report (but hopefully I’ll have a new one up soon!), but a welcome development. Coming back to Belmont Shore (Long Beach), I see this:

From 2009-06-25 – Belmont Shore – 2nd Street – New Bike Lanes!
From 2009-06-25 – Belmont Shore – 2nd Street – New Bike Lanes!

What is this all about? Oh, this:

From 2009-06-25 – Belmont Shore – 2nd Street – New Bike Lanes!
From 2009-06-25 – Belmont Shore – 2nd Street – New Bike Lanes!

Cool looking lanes and definitely distinct enough to make drivers notice. Of course, half the time traffic is so thick that it will slow you down on your bike, but that’s another story…

Cool to see; here’s hoping they paint some more around Long Beach!

Edit: I wonder if this will be slick in the rain..

12

Glendora Mountain Rd, Glendora Ridge Rd & Mt Baldy Rd (to the Ski Lifts!)


Just like the last post, this is another ride that I did over a month ago. And, also just like the last post, I wanted to get this up before I forgot all of the details! This ride was done on May 1st with my mom and was my second time riding these roads..but the first time making it all the way up to the ski lifts!

We parked on Grand Avenue just north of Sierra Madre Avenue in a nice residential neighborhood. Heading east along Sierra Madre, we got some mostly flat warmup for a couple of miles before heading north on Glendora Mountain Road. Note that this left turn looks like every other left turn in the area – keep an eye out for it. A mile later (with some minor climbing) and we round the bridge/bend that is the real start to the climb. The next 4 miles give you some solid, consistent climbing. Not steep by any means, but a rather consistent 6% grade that affords some beautiful views. The day was rather overcast, but the view looking back down toward the switchbacks we had just climbed was still great:

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

And one of the many sweeping curves you will encounter along Glendora Mountain Road (of course, there are many tighter curves as well!):

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

A little farther and you get to a nice ridge line with views of the mountains on your left and views of the valley on your right. This photo is actually from my earlier ride up here (the rest of the photos will be a mix of this ride and my previous ride…if it is sunny in the pic, it was from my first ride!):

From 2009-03-26 – Palos Verdes Cycling, Glendora Mountain Road Cycling

The last stretch before hitting the maintenance shed (which is right before the turnoff onto Glendora Ridge Road):

From 2009-03-26 – Palos Verdes Cycling, Glendora Mountain Road Cycling

This is the classic ride/time trial – see how fast you can go from the bridge at the bottom to the maintenance shed. Just about 8 miles long. I need to ride this one again and actually time myself for this portion. And the curve at the maintenance shed:

From 2009-03-26 – Palos Verdes Cycling, Glendora Mountain Road Cycling

At this point, you have already gained just over 2,000 ft in climbing. Less than half a mile later (and with a small descent thrown in) and you hit Glendora Ridge Road (peel off to the right for this one..it is the first paved turnoff you will see). This road is the epitome of scenic. One lane road meandering along a ridge with some 10,000 ft peaks serving as a backdrop:

From 2009-03-26 – Palos Verdes Cycling, Glendora Mountain Road Cycling

Seriously, this is pretty tough to top:

From 2009-03-26 – Palos Verdes Cycling, Glendora Mountain Road Cycling

And one more along the same stretch:

From 2009-03-26 – Palos Verdes Cycling, Glendora Mountain Road Cycling

In case it isn’t obvious, this stretch is one of my all-time favorites. A few miles on and the climbing gets a little more consistent once again (but pretty shallow all things considered):

From 2009-03-26 – Palos Verdes Cycling, Glendora Mountain Road Cycling

Looking back from a turnout:

From 2009-03-26 – Palos Verdes Cycling, Glendora Mountain Road Cycling

Also, I should mention that this is a number of miles in on Glendora Ridge Road and I can count on my hands the number of vehicles that have passed. Truly a road that you will have to yourself.

And finally, the high point of Glendora Ridge Road:

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

All the way up to 4527 ft. Not bad at all so far! So, what next? How about 500 ft of descending?

From 2009-03-26 – Palos Verdes Cycling, Glendora Mountain Road Cycling

Wonderful, fast (although a bit short-lived) descent:

From 2009-03-26 – Palos Verdes Cycling, Glendora Mountain Road Cycling

Ah yes, Mt Baldy Rd. And the town of Mt Baldy Village. This town is quite small, but quaint, and offers a couple of restaurants and lodges. We will get back to that later, however. For now, we continue on up. Shortly north of the village, we take a well deserved break along the river and refuel a bit:

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

Back on the bikes, and some more climbing. Some strong climbing indeed – the grade, the elevation and the previous 20 miles all combine to make this rather tough. Pass by the turnoff for Icehouse Canyon and we pass by an important marker:

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

5000 ft! Sweet! And just 3 more miles..

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

3 more miles of over 9% climbing with lots of 15% sections. This would be tough enough on fresh legs…but, after thousands of feet of climbing already and over 20 miles, you will notice it! And finally, at the ski lift parking lot looking down:

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

Amazingly, the clouds started to clear just as we finished the climb. Perfect timing. And one happy mom (I think she was rather pleased to have finished such an epic ride!):

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

And relishing the fact that she did not have any more 15% climbing to do!

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

Cruise back down to the Village…well, actually, not the most fun descent. With such steep pitches and sharp curves, I had to stop multiple times to let the brakes/wheels cool down a bit. Didn’t really enjoy that. But, we made it back down to Mt Baldy Village and stopped by Mt Baldy Lodge for a truly tasty meal:

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

A juicy burger and salty fries taste so good after hours of hard riding. So, after this much needed stop, we head back to Glendora Ridge Road to head back towards the car. While being mostly downhill, this did mean some minor climbs as well. At least they were rather scenic:

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

And some flowers in bloom as well:

From 2009-05-01 – Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt Baldy Ski Lift Cycling with Mom

Hitting Glendora Mountain Road, the descent is quite fun. A bit more traffic, and some semi-tight curves, but otherwise a great descent! Finally back to the car, we headed over to Sierra Madre and grabbed a beer on the patio of Lucky Baldwin’s. Cool place. And a great wrap up to the ride.

Anyway, this is a classic SoCal climb. If you live in the LA area, or visit out here and have access to a bike, this is a must-do ride. The last part to the ski lifts is not essential..but, if you enjoy some punishment, is a must!

The route map:

6400 ft of climbing according to mapmyride. 10,000 or so according to my garmin. So, probably around 8000 in reality…not a bad climb! And, if you are only interested in the climb from the village to the ski lifts, here you go:

Pretty steep! And finally, the pictures from my first ride up (without the village to ski lifts climb) can be viewed here and the pictures from the ride all the way to the ski lifts with my mom can be viewed here.

4

San Mateo County – La Honda, San Gregorio, Pescadero, Loma Mar Cycling


This ride was a few months ago (April 11, to be exact), but I wanted to get an entry in while a few of the details still existed in memory!

For my grandmother’s birthday this year, my mom and I traveled to the Bay Area to celebrate this occasion and reconnect a bit with family. It was a very nice visit that even included a trip up to Santa Rosa to visit Russian River Brewing Co (sweet place and incredible beers). And, possibly even more important than awesome beer, this trip included some cycling. My uncle lives in La Honda and is very much into cycling as well (he also came down and did the Solvang Century with my mom and me). La Honda is west of San Jose and less than 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The city itself, while quite small, is somewhat famous for having been the residence of Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Additionally, Neil Young currently lives in the general area and the La Honda Winery has started producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese wines (have no idea if they are any good!). La Honda is a very rural, but very scenic town. Basically, an old-school residential area with only a couple of commercial buildings (Apple Jack’s Inn, most notably…and the reviews seem quite good on the place). So, with that bit on La Honda, the ride!

Starting from La Honda, we headed west on 84/La Honda Rd. From La Honda, this is basically a shallow grade descent. The shoulder varied from good to minimal, but with minimal traffic (at least when we were riding) it was not a problem. This section was quite scenic with tons of green growth on both sides and beautiful houses tucked into the hillside and along the meandering creek. And slightly chilly too…but not quite chilly enough to put on the arm warmers (well, for me at least). Anyway, 8 miles in and we hit the tiny town of San Gregorio (population is an impressive 287 people). Notably, the intersection of 84 and Stage Road in San Gregorio plays host to the San Gregorio General Store. This place is awesome. All at once, it is a general store, bar, live music venue and historic site (operating since 1889!). And they get so many cyclists they even have a sign asking cyclists to remove their shoes before entering. How many places have you seen a sign like that?

So, after a brief stop at the store, we head south on Stage Road, a wonderfully scenic road. A slight descent and then we finally start climbing. Sweet. The climbs along this road are nothing epic, but fun and incredibly scenic:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Clouds threatened the entire time..

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Luckily, we didn’t get rained on! A bit farther on, and the top of the ascent of the second hill and my mom is still smiling:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

I think she is enjoying the ride! Such green countryside:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Just a few hundred feet later and we are descending into an incredibly scenic, lush valley:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Finishing that descent, we wind around a bend and encounter a rather unique residence:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

A couple more miles and we are in Pescadero. Small (like all the towns along this ride), scenic and definitely worth visiting. The downtown part of Pescadero along Stage Road has a couple of great stores. One is basically a general store that has some incredible fresh-baked breads. The other is part general store and part restaurant with some very welcome coffee and, apparently, excellent stone oven pizzas. That, and a beautiful, expansive garden/outdoor eating area. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of these places..but I am sure it would not be too difficult to figure out given the small size of the town! Great town to visit and cycle through! Heading back out, we head through the residential area of Pescadero..quite scenic (and the clouds were finally starting to lessen!):

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Slightly farther and the cyclists gather for a short break for pictures and whatnot:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Finally, we push on along Pescadero Creek Road and start some climbing. Beginning at 100 ft elevation or so, we climb up along Pescadero Creek at a very slight grade, pass through Loma Mar before starting some decent climbing through San Mateo County Memorial Park. This climbing continues, slightly stronger, after the park, before finally peaking at almost 1100 ft where we hit Sam McDonald County Park. From here, the descent is awesome! The turns are never too tight, allowing for some high speeds, and the road surface is excellent. Great descent down to San Gregorio Creek while being shrouded by redwoods. Awesome!

To finish, we head back to La Honda via a great one-lane back-road (Redwood Dr). After passing by Reflection Lake (quite scenic!) I decide to throw in a touch more climbing to round out the ride. This last bit is short, gets some semi-steep climbing in and gives you a nice overview of the residences in La Honda. If you enjoy a few hundred extra feet of punishment, throw this in. If not, after the lake, go left instead of right!

The route:

While this route doesn’t have the epic climbing of some of my previous routes, it is a great ride with some nice climbs. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend it!

Thank you Bobby for a perfect tour of the area! I can’t wait to cycle in the area again!

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