Pretty Sights and Rolling Hills on Skyline Boulevard

January 9, 2021
24.66 miles
Skyline Boulevard

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get in a proper ride yesterday, since my uncle wanted to take me to see the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco night lights instead. (Not that this was a bad thing—the Golden Gate Bridge is really pretty. Plus, I still managed about ten miles on the local Stevens Creek Trail in the afternoon before we left.)

Sunset over mist in San Francisco Bay Golden Gate Bridge at dusk Golden Gate Bridge at night
The San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge at various times and exposures during twilight. (full resolution: left, center, right)

Today, I decided to go to Skyline Boulevard, probably one of the more well-known roads around here; apparently, it’s pretty popular with motorcyclists was well. Due to a rather late lunch, I didn’t manage to actually start my ride until almost 3:00 pm, so I really only had two hours until sunset. Because of this, I didn’t quite hit the mileage I was aiming for, but that’s okay; I had a great time anyway.

I can see why this road is so popular with cyclists and motorcyclists alike (and hikers…there are a few nice trails in the area, too). It’s situated at the top of a ridge, and it has fantastic scenery throughout. I think I may actually come back here to hike after I’ve returned the rental bike.

A sunset over a mountain ridge, covered with trees A tree-lined valley, seen from a high vantage point Night lights, probably of Santa Clara County
Skyline Boulevard is lined with great scenic views of the Bay Area. Okay, arguably the ones looking west aren’t actually part of the San Francisco Bay Area. (full resolution: left, center, right)

There were a few fun mishaps during the ride. In fact, my chain jumped off the chainring twice! Also, I need to get better at clipping in and out of the pedals; I had a light fall once and nearly fell a couple of other times because I was slow with getting my feet into and out of the pedals. (The time I fell was definitely my fault for trying to clip in while in the biggest gear possible and going uphill.)

Skyline Boulevard (also just called Route 35, less poetically) is kind of hilly; you’re usually either climbing or descending. Despite only traveling about 25 miles, I clocked in 2,417 feet of elevation gain, which is actually more than I usually do even on rides that are twice the length.

The flip side of all the climbing is that there are true descents! This was my first time really doing a long, twisting descent on a road bike. My highest average speed for a segment on Strava was just north of 25 mph, and Apple Workouts estimates that my fastest mile split was 22.8 mph, which are quite fast numbers for me personally, though probably not for a seasoned cyclist. (Hm, come think of it, I also remember a few scary nighttime descents in Pittsburgh.) I was a little scared to push myself to go any faster.

A problem with this: I did not realize just how cold it would be in the shade doing a fast descent in the winter when the sun is setting. I should really get gloves and some warmer cycling clothing.

Me and bike on a bridge Me in front of tree-lined valley Bicycle against a telephone pole
Pictures of yours truly and his wonderful rental bike. Yes, I’ve started growing lax with my bike photography standards. (full resolution: left, center, right)

Also, I should learn to bring a printed map of places I go. There was no reception in the parking lot where I parked my car. This was probably also the first time in months that I’ve done a >20 mile ride without wearing padded bike shorts. This is because my legs are still a little beat up from my fall a few days ago, and lycra doesn’t exactly have the best ventilation. It was honestly fine, which is expected, since I didn’t spend that much time (a little under two hours) in the saddle.