08/19/02 - The Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge
As a veteran of many Death Rides, I figured the Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge would be a "cinch." I mean, if I could tackle Ebbett's, Monitor and Carson passes&how hard could Jamison Creek be? I was to soon find out.
The day started off in typical Santa Cruz fashion&cold, drippy, wet weather. I kept believing the sun would eventually shine and warm me up, but by the top of every ridge, my hopes would be shattered and my toes still cold.
Gordon Martine (my partner in all the crazy things I do) and I tackled the century route. The early morning climbs up Eureka Canyon, Summit Road and Bear Creek Road to Boulder Creek had nice steady climbing with minimal descent to get us bone-chilling cold, that was to come later in the day. After the Boulder Creek rest stop, we continued a long climb to the top of Big Basin State Park followed by the descent to Jameson Canyon. This is when the REAL fun began.
I was shaking so hard from the cold descent that I totally missed the arrow marking the turn up Jamison Creek. I never miss route markings. I just sailed right past it down to Boulder Creek. It is at this time that Gordon knows we have passed the turn and pulls out the route map to verify the fact. I began thinking at this time, "we could just head down Hwy 9 to Santa Cruz and be done with this fun adventure, but Gordon insisted that we turn the bikes around and we began climbing back up the mountain to the turn-off we missed. That was a long two miles.
The start of Jamison Creek is nothing to really write home about. It started gradual and easy&for about 200 yards. Then, the fun begins. For the next 4 miles, the roads never lets up. I am talking about no recovery and steep hairpin turns that will make any legs scream. I started to compare it to any of the mountain passes at the Death Ride and decided I would rather do Monitor instead of this horrible climb. When I got to the top, the lunch stop was waiting for us. Thank goodness for the volunteer who had hot chocolate and a warm place to sit down. They even had Tour De France videos playing. Hey, could I stay here for the rest of the ride?!
I decided to bite the bullet and start heading down the long descent into Santa Cruz. Talk about cold. I was shaking so hard on my bike, it was hard to hold it upright. I was never so happy to see Santa Cruz as I was coming out of the mountains and passing UCSC and to see civilization again.
At the last rest stop, I hate handfuls of chocolate chips, nuts, M&M's and raisins. Just enough sugar to get my back to Aptos and the end of the ride. An after ride meal of burrittos, salad and ice-cream (the food of the gods) made the day almost seem bearable.
The Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge rates right up there with some of "the best rides you can do to challenge yourself." It will certainly be on the ride calendar for next year.