A wet and chilly ride along the Sand Point Loop
With all the east bay rides we had doing lately, it's been a little while since we've
been through dense forest. Now in the middle of the rainy season the woods along Nisene Marks would be dark and
green with that thick musty smell and full flowing rivers. On the outskirts of the park the trail
passes through Hinkley Basin. It's a quick mile, but the prettiest ravine I've ridden through and a spot
I've long had thoughts of checking out again.
It has four stream crossings,
and I don't think I remember that last one being as deep and silty as it was, however.
Historically, the area contains the epicenter for the
Loma Prieta Earthquake
of October 17, 1989 which sent magnitude 7.1 shockwaves throughout the Bay Area.
Click to expand
There is a lot of flat riding on the beginning stretch, as Aptos Creek Road extends inland through the valley, along
smooth roads and over scenic bridges. It's kind of a dreary grey day, which isn't good for pictures, but we had the
park almost to ourselves.
The further you go, the denser and wetter it gets. The Santa Cruz mountains is the home to the famous banana slug,
a bright yellow slug often growing six or eight inches long. They're all over the place, but seemed to be hiding out
Eventually you have to start climbing. It's a long and stable aerobic grade, with one brief ugly spot.
But the top of the climb is marked with a very thoughtfully placed "Top of Incline" sign... how nice!
After the sign there's still climbing, but it's very mellow the rest of the way to Sand Point Overlook
which isn't far from this scene here.
The Aptos Creek fireroad is exceptionally smooth and well constructed.
Here's the view over the forest from the Sand Point Overlook. Hard to see today, but straight out, on the horizon,
is basically the starting point of the ride near downtown Aptos and the Pacific Ocean just beyond.
It's about 9 miles to get to this point.
After a quick and steep ride down West Ridge along Hinckley Basin Fireroad,
Olive Spring winds through a particularly wet, green and rocky canyon of redwoods, mosses and ferns.
There are four stream crossings as you go. The first three aren't so bad...
That last stream though is wide, and about now is probably about as deep as it gets for the year. It's deep, soft
in the middle, and there's no other way to get across... you just have to go for it.
Uh oh... that left foot flying in the air isn't a good sign. Bwaaahaahahahahaa!!
Well anyway, I was just as wet from that, and Kenny would have had a similar picture if he held the camera.
That water is cold, and the air is
cold, and the sun is going down, and we still have 10 miles of road riding to get back to the car. Bhhhrrrrr.
After that last stream crossing was one final steep climb to get onto Olive Springs Road. At that point it's another
10 miles of road riding to get back to the start. Half is on quaint country roads, and the other half is through Aptos.
One of the little joys of biking, especially on a cold evening,
is to have a fresh pair of clean socks to put on afterwards
then go gorge on surfer pizza (Pleasure Pizza on 41st street, a couple blocks before the ocean) before the long drive
back to San Francisco.
(b. February 23, 2003)
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