27 September, 2009

Redwood Valley & Snow Camp Rd

I hit the road early to avoid traffic on HWY 299. I don't get passed often but they're going 65mph. The abandoned old 299 is a car free relief for much of the climb.
Old HWY 299

When I reach Lord Ellis Summit (elevation 2,263 ft) I drop the backside to Redwood Valley. Redwood Creek begins here and provides water for the world's tallest trees (JBG: 8.08).

The riding in this valley is a welcome change of pace and scenery. The road surface predictable and the grade leaves me tapping my brakes instead riding them hard. The surroundings feature idyllic grassy hills, a small vineyard, trees other than redwoods, and the creek. Instead of the cool coastal climate, the air is dry and smelling of sun baked dirt and plant.

Redwood Creek
This road knows no end, but my legs are drained from previous rides this week. I turn around at the far end of the valley and climb back to Lord Ellis Summit.

I don't like riding HWY 299, especially the spots with no shoulder. Instead I climb higher on the loose dust/gravel of Snow Camp Road. The minutes pass and I question my ability to continue. My legs feel weak and I'm rationing food and drink.

As I started to curse myself for biting off more than I could chew, a spectacular vista lifted my spirits. From Bald Mountain (3,000+ ft) I could see the distant rocky tops of larger mountains inland. To the west the ocean glimmered beneath the hazy fog 10 miles away.

View from Bald Mountain West

The last hour of the ride my legs opened up and felt solid. Knowing I was about to feast and hydrate also helped. After icing my knees at home I jumped back on a bike to the grocery store.

60 grueling mountain miles with 5,600 feet of climbing in 4 hours and 30 minutes.

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