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Old 04-14-09, 06:07 PM   #1
babybuster
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Need advice for Bay Area start of tour

Hi, I was hoping someone with cycling knowledge of the Bay Area can help me out. I am doing a short tour (SF to SD) with my girlfriend in a few weeks. We are flying into the SF airport, and want to cut south directly, cross west and join up with RT 1 at Half Moon Bay. By the looks of it, this is doable if we take RT 92, or "Half Moon Bay Rd." Has anyone biked this stretch before? My gf has never done any touring, and I don't want to scare her if there's no shoulder, super fast scary traffic or some really brutal grades (there are mountains, so I understand that there will be a climb.) The alternative would be to bike north out of the airport, which looks to be a 10-15 mile detour. Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-14-09, 06:11 PM   #2
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I think I recall riding the 35, and not seeing very much shoulder up to that junction. I stayed on 35 instead of going to Half Moon Bay though. I don't recommend the 35 because it goes over a lot of mountain.
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Old 04-14-09, 06:21 PM   #3
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Hmmmm, you are kind of screwed either way. Personally I would not want to take HWY 92, especially on a weekend. The traffic can be bad, and in some sections it is a true four lane hwy. If you go north and then hit hwy 1 you have to deal with devil's slide, which is steep and very narrow. If it is your GF's first tour I would want to avoid devil's slide, that would not be a good introduction to touring.

You could head to woodside and then take La Honda (hwy 84) or tunitas creek road, but both involve some major climbing. However, it would be a pleasant ride with little traffic. Take a look here for an idea of what the elevation gain would be like http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united...side/686142813
Tunitas would be great, just look at street view....it is an unstriped country road with little to no traffic, but has some 12%+ grades....luckily the redwoods and general beauty of the area might take your mind off the climb.

Post a question in the nor cal forum on this site to get some better info as those guys are more familiar with the peninsula than I am.
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Old 04-14-09, 06:40 PM   #4
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Not sure what your plan is, but I would not ride a bike directly out of SFO. I'd take the BART train over to, oh, Daly City, then head south. Cheap, fast, easy.

If you haven't done so already, I'd pick up the relevant Adventure Cycling maps for that trip. they're pretty good.
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Old 04-14-09, 06:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by babybuster View Post
Hi, I was hoping someone with cycling knowledge of the Bay Area can help me out. I am doing a short tour (SF to SD) with my girlfriend in a few weeks. We are flying into the SF airport, and want to cut south directly, cross west and join up with RT 1 at Half Moon Bay. By the looks of it, this is doable if we take RT 92, or "Half Moon Bay Rd." Has anyone biked this stretch before? My gf has never done any touring, and I don't want to scare her if there's no shoulder, super fast scary traffic or some really brutal grades (there are mountains, so I understand that there will be a climb.) The alternative would be to bike north out of the airport, which looks to be a 10-15 mile detour. Thanks in advance!
92 is an undesirable or unpleasant route, for the reasons already mentioned.

Skyline (35) has some very scenic sections. It is hilly, but there are no really brutal grades.

Tunitas Creek is one option.

Another is Alpine Road (near Russian Ridge -- one of the most scenic trails in the entire Bay Area, which can be accessed just off Skyline, at the beginning of Alpine Road). Windy Hill (just above Skylonda Corners) is right off Skyline, and worth the short hike to the top for the views of the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the SF Bay Area on the other (assuming it isn't fogged in -- it's often but not always above the fog).

If you want a pleasant, scenic ride on quiet roads, why not take it easy and reasonably slowly? You're there to enjoy it, not to race. Some of the most beautiful redwood forests anywhere are right along the road -- Alpine Road down to and through Loma Mar. (This route may, however, involve more climbing than turning off skyline earlier, at Tunitas Creek or one of the other options north of Alpine Road.)

It is also possible to ride from the airport down to Palo Alto or Woodside via Crystal Springs (if you google it, you can find details about the route from the airport to Woodside and Palo Alto).

However, it is quite a climb out of Palo Alto and up to skyline. Arastradero Road is one good option. Unless you ride it at rush hour, it is a pleasant, scenic, fairly quiet ride up to skyline -- beautiful country. But I wouldn't want to push anyone too hard up that hill. If you have the time, and take it easy, it could be a very nice ride.

Old La Honda Road is another option, from Palo Alto up to Skyline. (It is steep, though, and steeper than the other routes (though shorter); and narrow, and it should not be ridden during the morning or evening peak traffic times.) It is a popular road ride for cyclists in Palo Alto, Stanford, and vicinity. More details can be found online.
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Old 04-14-09, 06:47 PM   #6
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BART to Daly City to Hwy 1 would save a lot of hill climbing.

It should be added, though, that those mountains (the coastal mountains, the Santa Cruz Mountains) are nothing like the Sierras or the Rockies. If you look at the high points on Skyline, they aren't anything like the brutally high passes in the higher mountain ranges.

And you would miss some beautful areas if you avoided those mountains.

You could still visit the redwoods at Butano, though, if you wanted to.

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Old 04-14-09, 06:50 PM   #7
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If you rode 92 at a really off (low-traffic) hour, it might be a reasonable option.
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Old 04-14-09, 06:57 PM   #8
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I have flown into SFO many times and started at Half Moon Bay.
SamTrans has an express bus KX out of SFO to downtown Hillsdale Mall
http://www.samtrans.com/pdf/Schedule...X_04-12-09.pdf
Then you switch to the Half Moon Bay 294 bus.
http://www.samtrans.com/pdf/Schedule...4_02-01-09.pdf

The express bus runs runs every half hour -
But the Half Moon bus runs only every hour & 45 minutes.
Also, you should ask where to catch the 294 from the KX driver.
It's pretty easy - just across the street.

I have checked my bike as baggage and schlepped it onto the bus -
I have also shipped my bike to a local bike shop in Half Moon.
The 2nd option is WAAAAAAY easier -
Plus it is there waiting for you.
And since airlines charge a fortune for bikes, now -
It is probably cheaper, too.

I have never ridden Hwy 92 nor do I wish to. From the bus window
I can see that it is narrow, steep, winding, with heavy traffic.

Have fun - J
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Old 04-14-09, 07:06 PM   #9
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Wow, thanks for the great advice. To answer a few questions, I do have the Adventure Cycling maps, as I've used them before in other parts of the country and have found them to be excellent. That's why I'm so eager to get to Hw 1, cause the map will take it from there. So as far as I see it, there are three options:

1. BART to Daly, hit HW 1 and go south.
2. Go south, cross over something like Tunitas or 84, enjoy the redwoods.
3. Take shuttle bus to Half Moon Bay, hit Hw 1, go south.

Option 3 seems pretty appealing, except, we do have more than 2 weeks, and it would be great to see the redwoods (first time in No Cal for both of us). Will there be an opportunity to see them father south on the Adventure Cycling route, or is this it, basically?

Again, thanks so much for all of your help!
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Old 04-14-09, 07:17 PM   #10
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1. would require you to pass devil's slide on hwy 1.
2. is fun but maybe a bad way to start with your girlfriend because of the steepness?
3. sounds like the best idea to me! start on the coast.
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Old 04-14-09, 07:29 PM   #11
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I have ridden from SF to San Diego and it takes less than 2 weeks, even at 50 miles/day with a rest day or two. I usually ride to Laguna Niguel (two days north of San Diego) and it is 9 days of riding without rest days doing about 50 miles/day. Even though I live in SF, I don't ride on Devil's Slide (the area on Hwy 1 between Pacifica and Montara), but get my wife to drop me off just south of Devil's Slide (Montara, about 10 miles north of Half Moon Bay) and ride from there.

If you decide to get your bikes shipped to Half Moon Bay (a good option that I would recommend), instead of heading out the next day, you could spend a day riding around the area to see some of the sights people have mentioned. The ride get less interesting as you head south. The more time you spend north of San Luis Obispo, the more beautiful sights you'll see.

Have a great ride.

Ray
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Old 04-14-09, 07:36 PM   #12
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I agree. Ixnay on 92-ay. The option to Daly City by BART (the local subway) is a simple one. Then it's west for 4 miles on John Daly Blvd to the Pacific Coast Highway and 70 miles moderate riding along the coast to Santa Cruz. The one gnarly part is doing out of Pacifica--a long grade (probably 4-6%, 300-400ft up and then down and about 7 miles--around the Devils Slide--all with no shoulders...But it is not too bad and typical of the PCH in Northern California. Very scenic for much of the way with generous shoulders thereafter.

Another versatile map would be the "South San Francisco Bay & Monterey Bay Areas Bicycle Touring Map" which is one map published by Krebs Cycle Products, P.O. Box 82, Aptos, CA 95001 and available by mail order. This map shows a lot of the roads from the tip of SF at the Golden Gate all the way past Santa Cruz to Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur. It goes about 60 miles inland to cover part of the San Joaquin Valley. It gives an indication of the traffic levels and the steepness (grade). Based on this map I think you will see that there is NO road with less than a 9% grade between SF and Santa Cruz except via 92 or Highway 1 through Pacifica. There is an option to avoid Devils Slide by going south up Skyline Dr from Pacifica and then dropping down on one of the back roads to the coast but I have not done this, preferring to just gut it out...Maybe someone can comment on this possibility.
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Old 04-14-09, 07:54 PM   #13
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Breakfast st the Half Moon Bay Airport - Yummmm!



That will keep you pedaling for a few miles.
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Old 04-14-09, 08:35 PM   #14
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Thanks again for all of your help. I think my best bet is to get to Woodside and take one of the more relaxed climbs, since the area does sound beautiful and we have the time. What would you all say is the best way to get to Woodside from the airport?

Also, any good camping recommendations along the way, before hitting Hw 1?
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Old 04-14-09, 09:46 PM   #15
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Olallaberry pie at the Davenport Cafe.
It's a MUST.
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Old 04-15-09, 11:49 AM   #16
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Thanks again for all of your help. I think my best bet is to get to Woodside and take one of the more relaxed climbs, since the area does sound beautiful and we have the time. What would you all say is the best way to get to Woodside from the airport?

Also, any good camping recommendations along the way, before hitting Hw 1?
Yes, I might be able to give a few tips, since I lived in that area for many years.

You also asked earlier about the redwoods, and whether there were other opportunities to see them further south. The really huge, majestic redwoods are very scarce once you get south of Big Basin Redwoods. You can find them along the route that goes from Skyline down toward Portola Redwoods and Butano State Park (these parks are a bit north of Big Basin Redwoods; the ride to Butano is easier than the ride into Portola). There are some wonderful groves right along that stretch of road -- in the vicinity of Loma Mar. San Mateo County manages some of them. There is also an optional route that departs from the main road near Loma Mar (and reconnects later) that has some beautiful groves.

It's worth stopping for a picnic or a walk or some photography at these groves. They don't come any better.

The redwood trees farther down south are relatively small -- still nice, but not as unusual and breathtaking.

***

Camping: Yes, there are freecamping opportunities, if you like that sort of camping. And there are campgrounds. Butano State Park is not too far out of the way; Portola is another possibility. Both have camping. Both are relatively quiet, unknown, low-key parks. Lots of redwoods, lots of shade. There is also camping near Loma Mar, which is a very charming, small California redwoods town -- it's worth a stop there, just to have a snack and a rest, a sense of the community, and a look at the local bulletin board, and a visit with the store cat.

***

There are some beautiful rides through Woodside. They are considered some of the most scenic rides in the area by local road cyclists. Mountain Home Road is one of them. Steve Jobs used to have a house in this area; there are some beautiful old estates, and it's a good place to enjoy the riding.

Mountain Home Road connects with Sand Hill Road. If you go right on Sand Hill, you soon come to Old La Honda Road. It is a charming little road that goes up the hill to Hwy 35, or Skyline (it hits Skyline near Windy Hill).

Some of the local people do commute to and from work on that road, though. The traffic is never bad (as in bumper-to-bumper, LA kind of bad); but it is not exactly quiet either, during commute hours. It would be much more charming during non-commute hours. It is steep and narrow, but direct and scenic.

There is another good alternative; I'll have to look into the current status of that road, and post later today.

***

You will also be very close to Stanford University. If you are not into rushing through things, and want to see some of the sights, and smell some of the roses [why not? -- there's enough hurrying through life and everything else in the world ("those who are hurrying are already dead" -- old proverb from another culture), and bike touring is an opportunity for something different], a ride through the Stanford campus may worth an hour or two. It's one of the more beautiful university campuses in the world. You can take Alpine Road from there up into the hills very easily, and it is a good route.

(You could take Sand Hill Road down into the campus, and leave the campus by way of Alpine Road, and reconnect with Sand Hill Road via Portola Road, if you want to make this sidetrip. If not, you could just go up Sand Hill Road toward Skyline, rather than down Sand Hill toward Stanford.)

Last edited by Niles H.; 04-17-09 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 04-15-09, 01:25 PM   #17
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I did some checking, and I think your best bet (for the segment from Woodside to Skyline) is probably Old La Honda Road. It may seem steep (at 7.3%, it isn't really that bad), but it is short. Short and sweet. I've ridden other routes, and while some of them are not as steep, they are longer and more drawn-out. You get it over with fairly quickly on Old La Honda Road, even if you walk most of it. And it's a nice walk. There is also more shade than on most of the other roads.

Here is a review:

Old La Honda Road
This narrow, winding road is the easiest and most peaceful way to climb to Skyline or ride to the coast. Access is from Portola Road, less than a mile after it merges with Sand Hill Road. The climb is a 3.5-mile ascent of a narrow, winding road, climbing 1,700 feet [[others cite the climb as 1300 or 1290 feet; they may be using different a different terminus; 1300 seems to be the most often cited elevation gain --Niles]]. Descending the road is tricky, however, and not recommended. Take Hwy. 84 instead. Call 650-328-7411, Palo Alto Bicycles.


There is more at http://www.paloaltoonline.com/cgi/pa...ategory=biking

The evaluations given in these reviews are very good. I agree that descending Old La Honda Road is not so great; but you will be ascending, in which case it is a very good route.

This one is also worth noting:

Canada Road
This mostly flat road (pronounced Kan-ya-da) parallels I-280 for 7.5 miles from Woodside Road to Hwy. 92, past such scenic attractions as the Filoli Estate and the Pulgas Water Temple. Bike lanes accommodate riders for the entire length. On Sundays from April-October the road is closed to auto traffic 9 a.m.-4 p.m. from Edgewood Road to Hwy. 92, creating an ideal refuge for cyclists and in-line skaters. November-March, Sunday closures 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Not closed in bad weather or for major holidays. Call 650-361-1785, San Mateo County Bicycle Sunday Info Line.


Will try to post some other information later that might be useful to you for this trip.

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Old 04-15-09, 02:05 PM   #18
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Suggested start

Here's how I'd start: Arrange a motor shuttle to Half Moon Bay, then head south on Hwy. 1 for an easy first day to Pigeon Point Lighthouse, where I'd book a private room for the two of you at the hostel there. After a soak in the jacuzzi overlooking the ocean, I'd take an easy pedal inland to Pescadero for dinner at Duarte's -- a regional institution. After a bowl of cream of poblano or cream of artichoke soup and a hearty entree, I'd wolf down some olallieberry pie, then cross the street for a bottle of wine or a couple of beers, then roll back to the hostel for a beverage, sunset and a night together.

Trust me, she'll LOVE touring after that. You'll have chances at redwoods and hills aplenty in Big Sur. The trip along Hwy. 1 from HMB to Santa Cruz is very, very nice, and making the trip to Pigeon Point, then Santa Cruz on the first two days is a great way to transition in.

I live nearby, and I've ridden all this stuff. Please don't consider trying to put her on Hwy. 92 or over Devil's Slide. It probably won't kill you, but neither of you will have any fun. Hwy. 1 from HMB south will have good shoulders, moderate traffic and a predictable tailwind through rolling hills, ocean vistas and small farms.

Mark
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Old 04-15-09, 02:46 PM   #19
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Canada Road leads right into Mountain Home Road -- when you get to the intersection of Canada Road and Woodside Road (84), just cross over Woodside Road and bear just a bit to the left, to begin riding Mountain Home Road.

On Mountain Home Road, it's a beautiful ride to Portola Road. Bear left onto Portola Road. Shortly afterwards, Portola Road merges with Sand Hill Road. To the left (toward the bay) is Stanford University (down Sand Hill Road). To the right (toward the hills) is the intersection of Portola Road with Old La Honda Road.

On Old La Honda Road, it is approx. 3.5 miles (maybe a bit less) to Skyline.

Then it's left on Skyline to the intersection with Alpine Road. There are great vistas along here, especially from the top of Windy Hill, and from the Russian Ridge area, just before Alpine Road -- and from segments while riding along Skyline.

***

The rest of the ride (from the airport to Woodside) has some options.

Once you get out of the immediate razzle-dazzle of the terminal area at the airport, it is surprisingly simple.

You want to get out and away from the terminals and onto McDonnell Road. It is a frontage road that parallels the freeway ON THE BAY SIDE. If you go left (southward) on McDonnell, you soon come to some roads that take you across the freeway (101). You can take the first one, or you can keep going (and riding along near the edge of the bay) and take a later one across the freeway. [I just winged it through that area, so I can't give you the absolute best route. I can only say that it is pretty simple. After going under the freeway, and up one of the main streets that go across the freeway, you can get off the main drags (the main streets that are lined with small businesses and shops), and onto parallel side streets that run through residential areas. I'm sure if you called some of the local bike shops, they could tell you the 'best' routes. Usually local cyclists have worked out the quietest and best residential streets for bicyclists, in these sorts of areas. You can find them on local bike maps, or online (in some cases). Or you can just wing it. There are local bicycle coalitions and other groups who could probably help-- but it probably isn't worth the trouble of doing so; it's a brief ride and it's hard to get lost, as long as you head up toward 280 and realize that you will need to be on one of the fairly major roads when you are ready to cross (under) 280.]

It isn't terribly far from the freeway, near the airport, up to Skyline (maybe two or three miles). Basically, you just want to head across the freeway (101) and keep going away from San Francisco Bay, setting course toward the west, and up toward the hills and 280 (Junipero Serra Freeway). Skyline is near 280, in this area, and parallels it (and both of them run approximately parallel to the 101 freeway, in this area at least -- they are just a couple of miles or so to the west). The Crystal Springs Trail system also more-or-less parallels Skyline and 280, and is a bit farther toward the hills -- toward the west, and away from the bay.

Once you get up there, you want to tend left and head southward, toward Crystal Springs Reservoir. There are some long, beautiful bike paths that run along the lakes. The San Andreas Trail and the Sawyer Camp Trail together are sometimes called the Crystal Springs Trail. (These are the scenic, no-cars way to ride south. They are also slower than the some of the direct, cars-included routes. Whether a person wants faster-but-less-scenic or slower-but-more-scenic is up to each....)

From the Sawyer Camp Trail, you continue southward and connect with Canada Road, and follow it to the intersection with Woodside Road (84) -- and then cross over 84 to Mountain Home Road, and proceed as described above.

***

If you want to take these paved bike paths around the lakes, it is best to get some good directions to the trailhead, or have a good map. You could also ask local cyclists and joggers.

Here is a description of the Sawyer Camp Trail, along with directions on how to catch the trailhead at the northern end, and then head south ("The path finally terminates on Hillcrest Boulevard right next to Interstate 280 in western Millbrae."):

Path

Starting from the south, the trail begins in a parking lot located just north of the Crystal Springs Dam. This southern end of the trail located on the east side of Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir and it generally heads north parallel to the long axis (i.e. north-south) of the reservoir. The section of the trail north of reservoir passes by dense groves of trees before heading east on the San Andreas Dam. The last segment of the trail briefly parallels the eastern shore of the San Andreas Lake before the path heads northeast and ascends the Bay Hills. The path finally terminates on Hillcrest Boulevard right next to Interstate 280 in western Millbrae.

Recreation

Some of the most popular recreational activities on the trail include walking, jogging, cycling, and rollerblading. Dogs are not allowed. Much of the trail is marked with a center stripe to minimize conflict with those traveling in opposite directions and distances from the ends of the trail are indicated on signs every half-mile (800 m).

Nature

Virtually all of the trail runs alongside the scenic Crystal Springs Reservoir. It is common to see ducks, deer, and rabbits.


Here is a video of what some of that trail system looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15_Eg...17B05B&index=3

Those lakes are long and beautiful.

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Old 04-15-09, 05:25 PM   #20
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Since you are not familiar with the area, you might not want to be "winging it" right out of the airport, with your girlfriend. So here are some specifics for the ride from the airport.

Find McDonnell (as described above). It's right near the edge of the airport, near the freeway, and is a short ride from the terminals. I've done it from downstairs -- the ground level of the airport. It seems easier from there.

E Millbrae Avenue is the first opportunity to turn right off McDonnell and across the freeway. Cross over 101 here on E Millbrae Avenue -- unless you want to make a very brief sidetrip first to the small park along the bay waterfront, and come back -- it's maybe a block further, past the E Millbrae Avenue turn, and might be a good, pleasant little rest -- you've just escaped the airport. It's a nice, undemanding ride, and might help you both in getting your legs, and maybe making some final adjustments to the bikes before heading into town.

You could also make a short tour along the shoreline of the bay, to however far you want. There is a larger park farther down, and it is easy, level riding.

Then come back from the park(s) and cross over the freeway on E Millbrae Avenue.

After a very short ride on E Millbrae Ave, you will cross Rollins Road, and then a BART Station (on the right) and some BART train tracks. One option would be to continue straight on E Millbrae (this is probably the best option, and is described in a later posting). Another option would be to take the first left (California Drive) after the tracks, and go southward on Califonia Drive for three blocks, and then take a right on Trousdale Drive.

Trousdale can be ridden (approx. two miles) all the way up to and across 280. Across 280, at the very end of Trousdale, look to the left and you will see a path. This path probably connects (after some brief meanders, and a turn north for about 1/4 mile) with the Sawyer Camp Trail (to confirm, you can ask locally). Stay to the left if you come to a fork in the trail, shortly after it starts to swing toward the northwest, shortly after you leave Trousdale. Then connect with the Sawyer Camp Trail, and head westward and then southward on the SCT.

[Otherwise, a certain way of finding the trailhead is to go north briefly (approx. 1/2-1 mile) from the top of Trousdale to Hillcrest Blvd -- you can ride right on the shoulder of 280, if allowed -- or take the available roads in the residential area just to the east of 280, to Hillcrest Blvd -- and catch the trailhead there at Hillcrest (as described in blue above).]

Last edited by Niles H.; 04-17-09 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 04-15-09, 06:08 PM   #21
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I work in Burlingame, home of Trousdale, and I think your girlfriend will kill you if you make her ride up it! If you take paxtonm's plan above, featuring the hottub at the youth hostel, she will love you!

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Old 04-15-09, 10:22 PM   #22
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I have lived on the Peninsula most of my life and I think Nile's suggestions are very well thought out. You really don't want to miss the redwoods between Woodside and the coast - they are gorgeous. Whereas the coast highway from Half Moon Bay down to Pescadero is nothing special, so you won't be missing much. I will just elaborate a little, mostly to reinforce what Niles suggested.

I agree to go out of SFO south on the frontage road south to Millbrae Ave. Go east 1 mile to El Camino Real. At that point you can either drop south a couple blocks and go up Trousdale, a wide 4 lane boulevard, or continue up Millbrae Ave., which is winding but less steep. Either way, you want to end up right near the top of Millbrae Ave (actually 1 block north of it at the intersection of Hillcrest and Skyline Blvd), and cross under 280 to the north entrance to Sawyer Camp Trail.

Sawyer camp trail is 6 miles long and will wind down through the native flora of the area, eventually taking you along Crystal Springs Reservoir - it is very picturesque and natural since it is a protected watershed. When you come out of Sawyer Camp Trail just make a right and go across the dam and ride down Skyline Blvd along the east side of the reservoir about 3 miles to the junction of Hwy 35 (Skyline) and Hwy 92. At this point jog left about 1/2 mile to pick up Canada Rd, which takes you another 7 miles into Woodside. You can stop at Roberts Market in Woodside for something to eat and drink.

After that head down Mountain Home Road as suggested (Where Larry Ellison has his Japanese-styled estate), to Portola Rd. and up and over Old La Honda. This is my favorite route over the hill when loaded down with panniers and if I can do it, anyone can. From there you have many choices, but two that are most attractive:

1) If you want to get over to the coast asap, the best route is to go north a couple of miles to the junction of 84 and Skyline (more good food at Alice's Restaurant) and drop down Hwy 84 to the coast at San Gregorio. Easy downhill riding and nice views all the way. just before the coast highway you will also see the old Stage Rd and store. Stage Road parallels Hw1. If you take it south it will take you into the Pescadero main street where Duarte's Restaurant is. Or you can take the coast road, but there is a lot of fast traffic on it that I find disconcerting late in the day. From pescadero it is also only 5 miles of mostly level riding from there to Butano SP - an outstanding state park campground in a redwood grove. The next morning you can ride out the back way to the coast highway and continue your ride south.

2) If you want to see Big Basin Redwoods, your best bet will be to go south on Skyline Blvd to Hwy 9, then down to Big Basin, rather than taking Hwy 84 over to the coast. It will save a lot of backtracking/climbing later on to get back into Big Basin from the coast. You will travel along the spine of the coast range with outstanding views to both east and west as you travel down Skyline to Hwy 9. Hwy 9 is another mostly downhill, swooping road that takes you down into Boulder Creek and Ben Lomond, and you will want to cut off onto 236 into Big Basin. Beautiful camping, redwoods, creeks, etc. From there you are only a couple of hours from Santa Cruz.

Either way you go, have fun - it will be a beautiful ride.

Last edited by mtnroads; 04-15-09 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 04-16-09, 12:05 PM   #23
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mtnroads,
your route recommendation is definitely a pretty one, but did you read the OP's opening entry? He said "I don't want to scare her if there's no shoulder, super fast scary traffic or some really brutal grades"
Trousdale is brutally steep! It's about a 1200 foot climb, and one section is so steep, I can barely get up it with a 22" low gear, and that's without any panniers/weight! Yes the Sawyer path is a pretty one, I'd recommend it if you can get a cab ride up Trousdale (sorry I'm car free at the moment). Another option is to ride south along the waterfront to Coyote Point in San Mateo, turn west and ride up Crystal Springs Drive which will take you to Skyline Blvd. It is a very gentle climb and half the elevation as Trousdale. Then continue on mtnroad's route.
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Old 04-16-09, 12:32 PM   #24
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"Nothing special" only applies if you're not on the CA coast. I encounter riders who RAVE about the stretch from HMB to Santa Cruz, and I think it's a shame to miss it. It's certainly subjective, but I like the coast, the tailwind, the wide shoulder and the moderate hills over anything in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and I've ridden both -- a lot.

Mark
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Old 04-16-09, 01:43 PM   #25
Niles H.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babybuster View Post
Thanks again for all of your help. I think my best bet is to get to Woodside and take one of the more relaxed climbs, since the area does sound beautiful and we have the time. What would you all say is the best way to get to Woodside from the airport?

Also, any good camping recommendations along the way, before hitting Hw 1?
Hi Babybuster,

As you can see, even people familiar with the area have some different tastes and opinions.

I concur with the view that riding the coast south from HMB to the Pescadero area is not as unique or as desirable for your ride as the redwood forests. It isn't a bad ride on that stretch of Hwy 1, but it is similar to the ride along the coast farther south, toward Santa Cruz and beyond; and you will be riding along the coast for quite a few hours later on, if you are taking the coastal route all the way to SD.

It depends in large part on individual tastes. If you like the openness of the ride by the ocean, and like a lot of it -- to the exclusion of other things -- and dislike deep redwood forests and shade, then taking less of the latter and more of the former makes sense. Personally, I like both, and wouldn't want to have missed the redwoods. The ride further south has plenty of oceanside riding.

***

"What would you all say is the best way to get to Woodside from the airport? "

Mtnroads did an excellent job of describing the routes.

It does seem to me that the simplest way from the airport up to Sawyer Camp Trail is probably to continue straight on E Millbrae Avenue.

You can then either (1) take it all the way to the top, where it hits Skyline, and then go right (northward) for a block to Hillcrest Blvd. This seems like the simplest option.

Then, as described above, take Hillcrest Blvd under 280. The Sawyer Camp Trail begins at the very end of Hillcrest Blvd, on the far side of 280.

Or, (2), you can turn off Millbrae Avenue at various points on the way up, and (by turning right, off Millbrae Avenue) ride over to Hillcrest Blvd and up to 280. Hillcrest does have some very steep (10-11%) sections, but they are short.

Basically, you are just shooting for the top of Hillcrest Blvd, and there are different ways of getting there.

***

Regarding the steepness: these are short hills. You can walk them in reasonably short order. You have some time, and you can enjoy it. You don't have to push yourself or her. It would probably be a good idea to encourage her to be at peace with staying within her own limits, and for both you and her to respect and find peace (or a harmony or a compatibility) with her limits, or her natural, sustainable pace [sustainable in the sense of still enjoyable, not sustainable but near the limits of torture and exhaustion -- each person seems to have a sustainable pace, at which they can ride all day without being too exhausted or too beat at the end of the day, or at the end of several days or weeks. Her sustainable pace is probably somewhat slower than yours. Over and over I hear women saying that the men complain that they are too slow. The women do not like this. If you can get comfortable with her pace, and actually learn to enjoy riding at that pace, it would probably help. And I've heard women also say that they don't like it when the guys ride way ahead. They often feel pressured to ride faster (by the guy, or by their own imagination of what the guy wants or expects, or by his judgements, real or imagined, or by their own self-pressure and self-expectations and judgements), and they find the pressure unpleasant. It detracts from their enjoyment of the trip, the riding, and the day (and the company). If you can get her (and yourself) past all this, and come to some good resolution of it, so you both enjoy riding at her sustainable/enjoyable (all-day) pace, then it seems to me there is a *much* better chance of her truly enjoying the trip].

Hills will be encountered. There is no way to avoid them on this tour. When I began touring, I would always knock myself out going up hills and grades and mountains. When I learned to take them at a sustainable enjoyable (all-day) pace, things turned around for me.

If you and she have to walk up some of these hills, why not? You don't have to pressurize the walking speed either -- somehow when people are on a bike, or even walking up a hill with a bike, there is a habitual tendency to push push push, as if they are in some kind of a race or contest. Whereas when they are out on a walk, they often just walk, without the speed-pressure.

Why not bike in a similar way?

How long does it take, at normal walking speed, to go up a short hill?

"Are you racing?" is a question that someone actually asked me at one point, and it got through to me somewhere along the line, during my touring adventures. What's the hurry? Why not enjoy the scenery, and the in-between places? The beautiful trails and roads? The sunshine, the trees, the companionship and the solitude? It doesn't have to be all about getting to somewhere else...as fast as possible...or meeting some standard or expectation of speed.

Slow and steady gets there just fine, and it is much more sustainable. Some of the best opportunities to meet the beauty of life are in the in-between places, and in a more relaxed frame of mind.

***

There will be some long climbs on Hwy 1 along the Big Sur Coast. Rather than avoiding the climb on Millbrae Avenue or Hillcrest Blvd to 280, or the climb up Old La Honda Road, or all the other climbs on the tour, why not sort out the matter and find a good way of handling it? I felt much better about touring when I revised my approach to and outlook on climbing.

***

Dan Henry's climbing poems may be somewhere on the internet. He came up with some great attitudes about it.

It seems better to go for the greatest beauty in your tours, without being deflected from those routes by too much by avoidance of the climbs -- or being overly controlled and limited by the avoidance.

It would probably add something to touring, for her, if she could come to terms with this, and not be afraid of (or feel incapable of) going over these hills. There is a new sense of freedom and confidence, and removal of limits, that seems to go with this. That's the way it has changed for me. No more dread. And there is a sense of non-avoidance of these things ("hills don't scare me anymore," as someone put it; and it is a good feeling) -- no need to avoid -- a sense of having a newfound ability. She has it -- she may not know it yet -- if she learns the right pace for her, and the right attitude, and a sense of freedom in relationship to these things.

Last edited by Niles H.; 04-17-09 at 01:45 PM.
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