Saturday, January 19, 2008

Winter Riding

Since my ride from Coalinga, I have only done some short rides. I did not have much to say about them, so I have not written anything for a while. It is not easy to keep an aggressive ride schedule at this time of year for three reasons:

  1. Daylight is very limited this time of year (7am to 5pm).
  2. The temperatures are lower. They are not so cold that riding is not possible, rather it is a nuisance because extra planning required.
  3. We get all our rains this time of year, so the mountain roads can be slick and debris-covered.
It seems like we have been having more continuous days of rain than usual this year. This past weekend was the first time in quite a while that the rain let up for long enough to make biking possible. I was able to explore a couple places that I had not visited before.

On Saturday, I rode up Montebello Road. This was nothing new; I have written about this route a couple times already. What was different was that I did not turn around and ride back down. The road dead-ends at the top, but it continues (inaccessible to cars) as a gravel road for a few miles until it connects to Page Mill Road.

Normally, off-pavement riding is not possible on a road bike, which has very narrow tires. The problem is that the thin, high-pressure tires sink into gravel, get caught in ruts, and cut into soft ground. Mountain bikes have no such problems because their tires are much wider and low-pressure. But I had read that this trail is doable on a road bike, so I thought I would give it a try.

I was also very curious as to where this trail connected to Page Mill Road. I have been on Page Mill dozens of times because it is my standard mid-week ride in the summer. But I was never able to determine where the intersection was on that side.

Riding on the trail turned out to be mostly no problem. There were a couple places where I had to get off and walk. These were mostly steep uphill or steep downhill sections. It was not possible for me to get enough traction to do them safely. There was also one flat section where the gravel was too deep for me to keep the wheels in a straight line.

I discovered why I never saw the intersection with Page Mill Road. The Montebello Road trail stop short of Page Mill, and connects to a private driveway that leads to several private houses. This smooth paved road connects to Page Mill at an electric gate, with several mailboxes next to it. Riding on Page Mill, I always assumed that this was just a housing development. From here, I just descended on Page Mill and uneventfully went home.

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