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Saratoga Gap - September 5, 2010

Distance: 29.6 miles Ascent: 3,814 feet Moving time: 3:23 hours

Everyone seemed to be feeling good, so we did Saratoga Gap the long way. We started on the Cupertino side and rode around Stevens Creek Reservoir and up Stevens Canyon Road as our warm up. We dropped down a gear or two to tackle Redwood Gulch and then held a steady pace up Highway 9 to the trailhead. Redwood Gulch has a few steep parts with up to a 20% grade, but the Highway 9 climb was a more moderate 7% grade. Normally, we would be pretty beat by the time we hit the trailhead, but everyone seemed to have paced themselves properly and still had plenty of energy. We met a guy riding an Intense at the trailhead. We didn't ride with him, but we saw him several times throughout the rest of the day.

After a quick refuel, we hit the trail with a bit of energy. We cruised along the singletrack through the forest at a pretty good pace and skipped some of the more common stops, quickly regrouping when we got to the first bench and again at the stone bench. The weather was great and the views of the Pacific were outstanding. We headed down Long Ridge, passing a ranger sitting in the back of his truck at the small flat area about mid-way down the hill. I said "Hi" and kept going. We headed out Bay Area Ridge Trail (BART) to the Christmas Tree Farm. After a short discussion, we decided to try the service road that runs parallel to Skyline rather than climbing up and up on BART before dropping down to Horseshoe Lake. Afterwards, we all agreed this was much easier and was the right choice for today.

From the Skyline Ridge parking lot, we crossed Skyline and headed down Skid Road and then back up to Canyon Trail. From there, it was a fast and fun ride down the trail to the trailhead and then down the road and back to our starting point. We topped off the ride with a nice cold beer, which really hit the spot! We all agreed this was a great ride.

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