Daniel Nickel // Big Epic

As has been my tradition in previous Epics I rode to the start of the ride. I pulled in to the Target parking lot around 5:20 am. Grabbed the first selfie and headed out. The first section up to Alpine is one I was quite familiar with, and used to ride quite frequently a few years ago. I quickly made it to the creek crossing on Stevens Canyon Trail, and while I tried to walk across on some branches in the creek, I promptly put my whole foot into the water. At that point there wasn’t any use in trying to keep dry and so I sloshed through the creek and onto the muddy bank on the other side. A great way to start the morning, cold wet feet.

I kept pushing up the climb toward Page Mill, and made it to the parking lot just before Alpine. My feet were soaking wet, and the temperature was still pretty cold. I was losing feeling in my toes, so I stopped and rung out my socks and then kept going. I grabbed a selfie at the start of the Alpine decent, and headed out.

The trail down was a lot more washed out and damaged than I expected, even in the roughest spot where I did expect there to be damage, it was worse than I remembered. Overall it was a bumpy uncomfortable ride down.

I pushed on into Woodside, and then onto Canada Road. Since it was Saturday there was still some traffic, but being early-ish it wasn’t too bad. The rest of the ride up toward Sneath was pretty uneventful, other than a couple of small mistakes in navigation, and my confusion about the GPS track that indicated there was a bike trail next to the road in one section, when on the ground everything was fenced off, so I took Skyline for the couple blocks where there was suppose to be a trail.

I have done the decent down Sneath before, but never climbed up on that side. It wasn’t too bad, but the decent on the other side was so much faster than I was expecting. I just wish the traffic light to cross Highway 1 would have been faster.

The costal trail was pretty busy today, and I had lots of pedestrians to contend with between crossing the highway and the Pacifica Taco Bell, where I stopped off for something to eat. The bars and food I brought with me just weren’t sounding too good, and I needed something with a bit more substance.

After a few minutes eating I headed back out toward the Planet of the Apes climb, which I’d heard about but had never done. It was pretty cool, the scenery that is, the weather was starting to heat up. A few hikers lower down, but only one or two toward the top.

Then it was down and back to the costal trail with lots of pedestrians and golf carts at the Ritz. In the sections of dirt costal trail there were lots and lots of big washouts, some of them nearly sink holes to the center of the earth. It was not super fun. At least I had kind of a cross wind, and not a head wind though. I guess the little things are what matter.

I made it to the gate entrance for the Cowell-Purisima trail, but the gate was closed and locked. I did a quick search and found that Cowell-Purisima was scheduled to be closed on the 15th. Some hikers offered to help me lift my bike over the 5 foot gate, but I figured if it was locked on this side, it would probably be locked on the other side, and lifting it over by myself wasn’t the best idea. Plus the preserve was actually closed, so I probably shouldn’t break in. I just went out to the entrance of Cowell Ranch and took Highway 1 to meet back up with the route.

It wasn’t long before I made it to the bike hut, where I refilled my bottles. The next climb I had somehow never done before, and at the beginning it seemed like no big deal, but it is no joke. There was quite a bit of traffic today, in addition to there being a couple groups of cyclists climbing up to Skyline at the same time as me. I passed a few, they passed me back. Eventually I got to Skyline, and what I have to say is my least favorite part of the route. I always dread riding on Skyline. I’ve been passed with too little space every time I ride on it. I always worry that someone in a sports car is going to cut a corner in the wrong lane, or buzz me too close when there is no shoulder. Thankfully I didn’t have any bad run-ins this time, though there were plenty of people that passed too close for comfort. I did make it down to Alice’s just in time to see the result of a motorcycle and car accident. It looked like it had just happened as I was coming down the hill. A crowd of people were flocking out of the Trading Post, and someone was just starting to try and direct traffic around the scene.

I was thankful that the drivers coming from that direction were a bit more cautious, for the first few miles anyway.

I was thankful to get off Skyline and back onto the trails. They went by pretty quickly, though I did walk a section, just because it was a bit too steep and technical for me that late in the ride. I grabbed a selfie in front of that big rock, and before I knew it I was rolling down Page Mill with the car traffic. Then onto Foothill, and back to Target parking lot. A selfie to round out the day, and then my additional miles to ride back home.