Watsonville and the coast

One of the best parts about having a blog is that it lets me be totally lazy when coming up with ride ideas.  I had no clue where I wanted to go yesterday, so I poked around on my own site and came up with this Wind Dancers ride from 2007.   I modified it a bit since I no longer live down near San Jose; I took out the Gilroy loop (reluctantly) and added a return trip via the coast.

I like Shannon Road in Los Gatos a lot; I would have never found it on my own and it’s a perfect way to get over to the New Almaden area.

 

From Shannon, I continued on to Hicks Road, to Camden, to Harry, to McKean — same route as on the Wind Dancers ride.

Immediately after turning onto McKean, I pulled to the side of the road to take a layer off.  While I was putting my sweatshirt in my tailbag, a jeep heading the other direction suddenly slammed on its brakes, popped a U-turn in the middle of the (2-lane) road, and pulled up behind my bike.  I was starting to wonder whether I should be alarmed when the driver approached, said “you look like a nice safe rider!”, and then proceeded to attempt to sell me his R1100RT.

He did an admirable job of trying to sell me the bike (low mileage, local owner, etc) and, to his credit, did not turn irritatingly persistent when I explained that I am the size of a hobbit and that there was no way in this lifetime I was ever riding an R1100RT.   He waved goodbye and headed off again, leaving me to wonder why strange things happen to me on rides.

McKean Road is always a joy and this was no exception.  Almost no traffic, wide open sweepers, great weather.  Blah blah perfect riding blah boring ride report blah.

I stopped at Uvas Reservoir for a stretching break.  Uvas is currently closed to all boating because of the awesomely named “Don’t Move a Mussel!” campaign to stop the spread of quagga and zebra mussels.

From ScienceDaily:

“Zebra mussels were first introduced in the Great Lakes in the late 1980s, hitchhiking their way into North America in the ballast water of ships from the Caspian and Black Seas. Within a few years, zebra mussels had colonized shallow water, beaches, and water intake pipes in layers up to eight inches thick. Although quagga mussels came onto the scene a few years later, they have recently become the dominant species in calm waters of the Great Lakes.

These mussels have permanently changed the ecosystem. Before the mussels invaded, Lake Michigan water was mostly cloudy and millions of tiny microorganisms provided a food base for fish. Because the mussels filter the microorganisms, the waters today are surprisingly clear, allowing light to penetrate to greater depths, which in turn promotes prolific, nuisance algae blooms.

Quagga mussels may be the reason Diporea, a small shrimp-like species that serves as a food source for larger fish, is no longer abundant. The whitefish that feed on Diporea are growing to less than half of their expected size.”

From Watsonville Road, I deviated from the Wind Dancers ride route a bit and headed to one of my very favorite county parks, Chitactac Adams. It’s a great tiny little park with a short walking trail amongst interpretive signs, some petroglyphs, and a nice shaded area to sit and rest a bit alongside the creek.

I was disappointed to see that the petroglyph viewing area on the path was overgrown to the point where you couldn’t actually see the petroglyphs anymore.  That seems suboptimal.

From Chitactac-Adams, it’s a short ride on Watsonville Road to Highway 152, also known as Hecker Pass.  The pass itself isn’t very high (1309′) but the road has great views particularly on the descent into Watsonville.

The scenery is really similar to the Santa Cruz Mountains near my house, but Hecker Pass is much more lightly-trafficked and I enjoy the sweepers here a lot.  There are a couple of hairpin turns (well marked) but for the most part it’s a nice open road.

Hecker Pass to Carlton to Peckham and I was at my lunch destination:  Gizdich Ranch!

The little access road to the farm:

Lunch itself was a turkey sandwich, nothing special, but the olallieberry pie is always worth the trip.  I’m not even a “pie person” and I’ll clearly ride a hundred miles out of my way for Gizdich Ranch pie.  😉

As I was poking around the grounds after lunch, I bumped into a teenaged-looking boy.  I didn’t think anything of it at all until I was putting my Teiz suit back on next to my bike a few minutes later.  “Oh wow, that’s YOUR bike?” I heard, and looked up to see the same guy.  He was super excited and super friendly. “I guess you really can’t judge a book, huh! I saw you earlier and figured you were driving one of the vans out here, but look, you’re on that Ninja!”  He asked a few intelligent questions about the bike, all smiles.  “I figure I’ll get a bike someday,” he said, “and then I’ll put my helmet on with the visor up so I can wink at the ladies and then be all cool and reach up and slowly ratchet the visor down like this, click click click”. He pantomimed leaning back with one arm extended to an imaginary handlebar while the other hand closed an imaginary visor.   He laughed afterwards, not taking himself too seriously.

Have I mentioned that I love motorcycle rides? I mean, c’mon.

From Gizdich, there was a quick stop at the closest gas station, which inexplicably had four cop cars, a cop truck, and two bike cops all parked in front of the pumps.  Most of the vehicles had their lights flashing but, as far as I could tell, there was no actual issue and the policemen were just standing around chit-chatting and blocking most of the pumps.  Hey, whatever.

I tried to get a photo but there was no real way to stealthily photograph a whole gaggle of policemen and my picture just wound up being of the ground.  You’ll just have to trust me.

Back on Carlton Road:

Freedom Road heading west over to Highway 1:

Highway 1 from Aptos to Santa Cruz was a bit of a kerfuffle.  It’s a wide highway at that point and construction seemed to be confusing many of the drivers despite clear lane markings and bright orange signs.  I was lucky enough to be right in front of one of those awesome drivers that never quite looks like they’re going to stop in time to avoid rear-ending you, so that made it an interesting putt up that section of road.

Heading out of Santa Cruz on 1 was much more pleasurable.  Funny, I don’t remember it being this sunny “in real life”; it was pretty foggy along the coast.

I stopped at a small beach access point to put the sweatshirt back on (hooray for microclimates) and got stuck pulling back out onto 1 behind a slow camper.  My rules for Highway 1 are simple: if you go ridiculously slow on 1, I will take a picture and make fun of you on the internet.  Here it is painfully obvious that we are going 40mph when the speed limit is 55mph.

Good lord, people, pull over!  I am the world’s slowest human and am on a 250cc bike.  If I think you’re going too slowly, you’re probably actually moving backwards.

Fortunately there was eventually a passing lane, during which I’m sure I stuck to the safe and legal 55mph limit.

Requisite photo stop at Pescadero State Beach:

Traffic in Half Moon Bay was made interesting by a stalled truck blocking the righthand lane in one of the twisty parts leaving town.  As it’s only a two-lane road, this meant much sitting around waiting for the police to show up and direct traffic.  Since I’m easily entertained, I just took pictures of the surroundings.

Here’s the cop (white car, heading away from me) trying to get through to the stalled truck:

This dude out in the field was chatting on his cell phone.

This florist always looks pretty interesting. I should actually stop some day.

Lemos Farm horse!  This time it’s painted up for an upcoming Half Moon Bay high school reunion.  Apologies for the telephone pole right in the way; I didn’t have a lot of choice about where traffic was going to come to a dead stop again.

From 92, I hopped onto Cañada Road and headed home.  I had a brief moment of excitement on Cañada when, for the first time in my entire history of riding motorcycles, my iPod flew out of the map pouch on my tank bag at about 50mph.  It had been completely velcro’ed up so I have no idea what happened.  Of course I went back for it, even knowing it was dead.  You never leave a soldier behind.

A brief moment of silence (er, literally) for my brave iPod, which has ridden with me for almost 10 years and many many many thousands of miles.

 

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6 Responses to Watsonville and the coast

  1. Love the colors in your shots. Glad to see you’re back on two wheels and riding hard 🙂

  2. Red says:

    I miss taking these random off to nowhere rides.

    And yeah, glad to see you out and about!

    Sad news about your iPod. It reminds me of the time when my entire magnetic map window got ripped off my tank due to heavy winds in east Washington.

  3. Colleen says:

    Hi! Its great to know that you’re getting out and enjoying yourself again. Pictures are worth 1000 words, but I love your commentary <3

  4. Jessica says:

    Love my iPod Shuffle; recommend it as a successor to your fallen comrade.

  5. Les Praisewater says:

    Thanks for this blog entry. I love that route you’ve described over Hecker Pass and up the coast to Half Moon Bay. Especially the section up Hwy 1. There’s something magical about that mellow roll up Hwy 1 with the water on my left. And I’ve never been to Gizdich Ranch. I’ve always gotten my ride pie at Duarte’s, but I’ll try Gizdich the next time I go over Hecker Pass.

  6. Jamie C. says:

    Gizdich Ranch! I loved going to that place. I somehow managed to find my way down there every June for fresh olallieberry pie; never found a good way to pack a whole pie on the back of a KLR, though.

    One of the cycle groups I was in would do a Gizdich pie run every fall for fresh apple pie. While they grow good apples here in Pennsylvania, very few people here have heard of olallieberries…

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