When I was packing up to drive cross-country from Louisiana to California, a friend told me: “Don’t pass up a gas station in the desert, no matter how expensive it is.” Great advice, especially since we skipped the interstate highways and drove the smaller highways instead. We filled our tank up with gas at twice the normal price with smiles on our faces, and never ran out of gas.
For cyclists riding the backroads, the advice would be: “Don’t pass up a water stop on the backroads, even if you’re on a sweet descent.” Even though our route started in town, today’s ride required the discipline of a Girl Scout to not run out of water on a warm day.
The route was simple: up Old La Honda to the ridge on Skyline, down almost to sea level at La Honda, then back up to Skyline on West Alpine, then shooting back down Page Mill Road to the valley. 33 miles, 4,000 feet elevation gain.
But a simple map doesn’t tell the water story. After the first few miles, there’s no free water until after almost all of the 4000 feet of climbing is done. And who wants to pull over and pay for bottled water when you have over a full bottle left and you’re going 30 mph?
So you fly past the little store in La Honda and start the big climb. A nice grade in the cool redwoods, then a much steeper grade still in the trees, followed by the steepest sections in the sun. By the time you get to the top at Russian Ridge your head is pounding and your bottle is empty. There’s a bathroom (not that you need it since you’re dehydrated) but still no water.
Then you remember: the secret water fountain on Page Mill. It’s just on the side of the road, not near a trailhead or parking lot, or any other sensible place. But you know where it is. And even though it’s in the middle of an awesome descent, and you don’t have much climbing left to do, you stop. And drink, like a good Girl Scout. This time, at least.
Where were you when *you* ran out of water?