The Ultimate Sunday Bike Ride: Woodside to Pescadero
A Peninsula classic, this ride combines challenging climbs, fast descents, superb scenery, and some great views for ride you won't soon forget. The 58-plus miles and nearly 6,000 feet of vertical should earn you a well deserved afternoon on the couch. Our start point is downtown Woodside, which is easily accessible a mere mile west of I-280 on Hwy 84. Our map shows a five-mile warm-up, bowtie-shaped route around the green start dot– something to consider as the initial climb up Old La Honda Rd. (a Cat. 2) puts your legs to an immediate test otherwise. The warm-up also affords an excellent sampling of how Larry (Ellison) and the other one percenters adequately meet their housing needs.
Departing from Roberts Market, we'll head south on Mountain Home Road, soon merging with Portola Road. At three miles, we begin our climb in earnest as we turn right onto Old La Honda Road, rumored to be the most ridden segment on the cycling website Strava (ridden 48,691 times by 6,859 people as of this writing). At the bridge it's three miles and 1,295 feet up to Skyline Boulevard, and as you wind through the redwoods, you may ponder how difficult this 8.1% grade, narrow former stagecoach route must have been to climb for horse and wagon team.
At the Skyline junction we'll cross the Highway 35 and continue for a sweet downhill in a series of European-like switchbacks to the intersection with Highway 84 (mile 8). There's a decent shoulder for the most part on the highway but keep an eye out for fast traffic as we'll make a left turn (mile 12) onto Pescadero Road. A short (but steep) climb through Sam McDowell County Park takes us to the launch point of our final descent into Pescadero, where we'll make a right turn onto Stage Road.
This is a great spot to water up and grab a bite to eat; out back at the Norris Market there is a restroom and picnic tables. After taking on fuel, we'll mosey up Stage Road, heading North for some very scenic rollers, with only three short bumps to test your legs. After crossing Highway 84, Stage Road meets Highway 1 at mile 44, and here we make a quick sprint up to a right turn onto Tunitas Creek Road. The longest climb of day starts innocently enough up the ravine, and you'll be tempted to make a stop at the much appreciated Bike Hut, which is well stocked with water, snacks, bike tools, and supplies. Run on the honor system, the Hut recently add a port-a-potty to its menu of services.
Tunitas Creek Road is one of those Bay Area bucket list climbs, covering the 1,818 feet vertical in 8.5 miles with an average gradient of 4.1%. The quiet road, with little vehicle traffic, offers contemplative solace amongst the towering redwoods to help offset any negative thoughts your legs may be telegraphing to your brain. If any arise, just quote Jens Voigt and say "Shut Up Legs!"
Fortunately the bulk of the climbing is finished before intersecting Skyline Boulevard, allowing for some recovery time before the making final descent down Kings Mountain Road. At the bottom, make a left onto Highway 84 at the stop sign for the short run back into Woodside. Slap yourself on the back a few times for a ride well ridden.
Should you want company or perhaps rub elbows with an angel investor, each Sunday, the Over the Hill Bike Club leads a ride at 9 am from the front door of Roberts Market in Woodside that usually starts with a climb up Old La Honda.