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El Sombroso via Hicks - February 28, 2010

Distance: 36.4 miles Ascent: 4,665 feet Moving time: 3:59 hours

The recent rains let up yesterday and today was very nice, especially for February. In spite of the great weather, my Sunday crew didn't make it today for an assortment of reasons, so I had to ride alone. I intended to get an early start, but I dilly-dallied and delayed until about 2:00. I headed off not really knowing where I was going. I thought many of the trails would still be pretty wet due to the recent rains, so I headed in the direction of usually dry trails in Los Gatos.

I rode to Los Gatos and was feeling good so I headed up Kennedy Road. Rather than turning up the trail like usual, I stayed on the road and headed down Kennedy and then Shannon. I turned right on Shannon and headed into the hills. This was a nice ride through was is currently a very green valley. All the grass is growing, there is lots of moss on the trees and some of the fruit trees are already blooming. There was running water in the gullies on the sides of the road. There was a reasonable but manageable hill up to the Guadalupe Reservoir dam but the real hill is past the end of the reservoir as I headed up to Jacques Ridge. I held a slow and steady pace, but somehow I broke a spoke near the top (too much torque??).

I took a short breather and snack break at the Jacques Ridge trailhead for Woods Road and El Sombroso. I met a girl at the trailhead who has just started riding in this area and suggested some local trails for her to try. I was soon on my way up the hill. All of the normally dry gullies heading down the hill were now small streams, each fed by small waterfalls as the water quickly made its way downhill. I snapped pictures at some of the nicer waterfalls just to capture the novelty. I felt like I was struggling a bit on the steeper part of the climb to the summit. I guess the ride up Hicks used a bit more energy than I thought. The numbers suggested that I was about as fast (or slow) as usual for this climb, but I didn't feel strong.

As I was going up, I noticed that I was running behind schedule. There was no turning back at this point, so I had to keep pushing forward. At the top, I quickly put on arm warmers and a jacket and headed down before I completely lost the light of the setting sun. In the interest of time and visibility, I headed down Limekiln and Lower Priest Rock. I got to the bottom as the sun set, so I popped on my headlight and rear blinky and headed back on Alma Bridge and Los Gatos Creek. I got back well after I should have. I had to accept an appropriately stern "talking to" from my wife about being back so long after dark and not calling sooner. However, I was able to get in a long ride on a new route (Hicks) on a nice day. Too bad the others couldn't make it.

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