9/21/06: Old La Honda West (29.5 Miles)

I keep hearing about how beautiful Old La Honda is on the other (West) side of Skyline Blvd. I’d never tried it and the sweeping views of the ocean and redwood forests were calling me so I decided to check it out.

First I climbed up Old La Honda (East) in 31:07. I’ve been riding it in 30 minutes or below so I was kind of disappointed with 31 but considering how tired my legs were from my adventure on Montebello earlier in the week, itwasn’t such a bad time. Also, despite riding slow on tired legs I actually felt strong and I think I’ve gotten to the point where Old La Honda isn’t that big of a deal. Sure its a tough climb but I think that I can incorporate into longer rides rather than having it actually be the focus of the ride.

After crossing Skyline Blvd, my breath was taken away by Old La Honda West. The road narrows considerably (and Old La Honda East is barely a two lane road) as it winds through an amazing cathedral of redwood trees. There is no car traffic whatsoever and the quiet atmosphere of the soaring redwoods creates a scene of tranquility that is truly beautiful. Jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, words just don’t do this stretch of road any justice at all. After about a half mile the Redwoods clear to very winding golden hills that are also spectacular. 2.6 miles later, Old La Honda meets back up with Highway 84. The condition of the pavement really wasn’t too bad but the extremely narrow road and the many sharp blind corners do make Old La Honda West semi-dangerous to ride. It was a good thing that no cars were on the road because passing would have been very difficult. Given the total lack of traffic, it was tempting to take the road fast but the difficulty of passing cars really necessitated using my ears to hear cars before I saw them and having the wind drown out the sound of the engines really would have been stupidly dangerous. I didn’t find any views of the ocean, but there is no question that Old La Honda West is definitely one of the most beautiful rodes I’ve ever ridden.

After reaching the intersection of Old La Honda and Highway 84, I climbed 2.5 miles back up to Alice’s Restaurant. This section of Highway 84 is a climb but it really isn’t that tough at all. The Krebs Cycle Map does give it one chevron (<) but I was able to ride most of it at 10-13 mph, with only one short section that required me to get down in to a lower (but still not my lowest) gear. After reaching Skyline I continued on 84 and coasted down to Menlo Park and then back home to Palo Alto.

I rode 29.5 miles in 2 hours and 21 minutes at approximately 12.5 average mph.

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