Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mt Charlie...sounds innocent enough...

This past weekend I did a ride I’ve been trying to do all summer. This was the third time my buddy Jerry has scheduled this ride and every time up till now, I’ve had to bail at the last minute.

This time it almost happened again. I woke at about 4am thinking someone had driven their car through my house. Turns out it was thunder...which was soon followed by flashes of lighting and then more thunder. (yes, I know lightning comes first, but I evidently slept through the first bout of lightning and only awoke when the noisy stuff started)

As I lay there for a few minutes, I began to wonder if I was ever going to get to do this ride that I had heard so much about.
I awoke a couple of hours later to wet streets and quiet skies and emailed Jerry to make sure the ride was still on. Yep, definitely was the response that came back almost immediately. Jack called shortly afterwards also to see if we were still riding. Why not I asked? You don’t want to ride a metal bike in a lightning storm???

Soon enough we were all gathered down at Lexington Reservoir near Los Gatos under a perfectly blue sky with temperatures predicted to be in the mid 70’s...we couldn’t ask for a better day to ride.

The ride starts out on some rollers to get the legs warmed up. From there it’s a mild climb for a few miles then some more up and down rollers before you hit San Jose Soquel Rd. This road was amazing. Its 7-8 miles of perfect, big ring, crank as fast as you can, downhill with nice swoopy corners...

Chris took off, I followed and immediately behind me were Troy, Len, Justin and Ken...I think the top speed was 45 mph. Did I mention there’s hardly any traffic and it runs amongst some beautiful redwoods...definitely a perfect road.

After you go through Soquel you come in to Capitola where we stopped for lunch at Gayles Bakery… was packed with people and I soon found out why. The bakery goods they have in the cases looked amazing and the sandwich I had was incredible. Ham and shredded parmesan on a baguette with artichoke!

From the bakery we cruised through Capitola, up through Santa Cruz where we eventually got on Branciforte Rd, up along and eventually over Hwy 17 to Glenwood Dr which eventually connects to the reason for the ride...Mountain Charlie Rd.

You merge from Glenwood onto a narrow, winding, uphill road with some pretty steep sections. I think it was about 1500ft of climbing over 5 miles if I remember correctly. (one of these days I’ll get a bike computer)
Sidenote – Mountain Charlie was the first white settler in the Santa Cruz mountain area. He’s famous for building a toll road from what is now Scott’s Valley to the Summit. Also known as the man with the silver skull for wounds received during a fight with a grizzly - more HERE

From the Summit of Mt Charlie, it’s a pretty awesome downhill back towards Lexington Reservoir. Once we get back on Old Santa Cruz Hwy, it’s about 3 miles of FAST downhill with no cars in front of us. Who knew my legs could get so tired cranking downhill...

There are a couple of short little climbs as we worked our way back to the starting point, but nothing crazy and soon enough we were pulling in to the parking lot and opening beers...what a fantastic ride!!


msj09027 said...

Now that sounds like a lot of fun. I'll have to try that ride out next time.

OldNSlo said...

It was an awesome ride. We're going to try to do it again in late October