La Honda - Pescadero Loop
This one is a relatively easy ride that's still enough to show you much of what road riding in the Peninsula has to offer. The ride starts from the small mountain village of La Honda on Route 84. That could qualify this ride as starting from the middle of nowhere. Many riders would argue that doing this kind of a ride would make more intuitive sense if you start from and return to Skyline Boulevard rather than an in-between spot like La Honda. While it's true that that would be a more typical route for this type of a Peninsula loop, it would also mean adding another 20 miles to the ride and doubling its total climb. If you have the time and energy for that, it's highly recommended. But, for those times when the available time or physical shape of you or of a ride partner wouldn't allow for that, this ride should fill the need by providing much of the fun in exchange for much less time and exertion.
The Suggested Parking link on your left points to the parking lot of a cluster of shops in La Honda. I always feel uncomfortable suggesting that riders park in the parking lots of any businesses, but the mitigating circumstances in this case are that (1) La Honda is so small that these parking spots can be thought of as being the parking for the village as a whole anyway, (2) there is enough "overflow" parking capacity available on the roadside and in an adjacent clearing here, and (3) I'm not aware of any chronic problem caused by cyclists parking here habitually when starting a ride. (La Honda doesn't lend itself that naturally to being a starting point for many road rides.) Moreover, I'm sure you'll earn your keep for parking there if you stop by after the ride to pick up some drinks or snacks from the restaurant or from the market that's there.
The ride features really only one notable climb. This climb starts as soon as you turn onto Pescadero Road near the beginning of the ride and thankfully only lasts for a mile and a half, because the slope is pretty substantial. The first half of this climb has a grade that fluctuates a little bit, but still hovers around the same 7% average grade that the second half of the climb sticks to much more evenly. The ride has only two other stretches that could qualify as climbs, both of which arrive on Stage Road, past Pescadero, but they don't deserve any serious consideration, because they're both shorter and gentler than this first climb. Those who see that the last eight miles of the ride heads inland along Route 84 might expect this portion to consist of a "climb back up", but the (possibly) surprising fact is that Route 84 is practically flat between La Honda and the coast.
Most of Pescadero Road lacks shoulder space that's usable by cyclists. That's not too much of a concern, though, because Pescadero Road sees only light to moderate traffic. The last 1.5 miles of Pescadero Road traversed on this ride acquires a designated bike lane, though that's little more than the paved shoulder of the road with a bike lane symbol painted on it. Still, it's spacious and smooth. The Stage Road leg of the loop, starting in Pescadero, is the most minor road on this ride. This is a country road that's too narrow to have a center strip but not narrow enough to qualify as a single-lane. But it also happens to include some of the safest parts of this loop for bikers, since it sees very little traffic. Most vehicles you'll be seeing on this road are likely to be groups of motorcyclists doing scenic rides. I probably don't have to point out that the Route 84 portion of the loop starting in San Gregorio will have the heaviest traffic. It's still okay though, because Route 84 also has a reasonably wide (though fluctuating) paved shoulder all the way to La Honda and is quite a wide two-lane road in general. This shoulder is regularly encroached upon by the roadside vegetation, though, which is something that can't be said of the brief, bike-laned portion of Pescadero Road.
Among the highlights of the ride are the four villages along the way. The first of these is La Honda. There isn't too much of La Honda to be seen as you're driving through it on Route 84. The cluster of shops from which this ride starts, the fire station, and the Apple Jack's bar is about it. If you'll have time for a sit-down meal after your ride, I'd try Sullivan's Restaurant, if I were you (which is right where you'll be parking). I haven't eaten a full meal there, but I once tried a slice of chocolate cake there that was big enough to be a challenge to finish even when shared among three people. It was great comfort food. I've also seen a "La Honda Store State Historic Landmark" marked on the map in La Honda, but I've never looked for it.
Next along the way comes Loma Mar. If La Honda doesn't have too much that can be seen from the road, then Loma Mar might be missed if you happen to blink at the wrong moment. The only focal point at Loma Mar that I know of is the Loma Mar Store that's right on Pescadero Road. I have to confess that I've never stopped there myself, though. That store and a handful of homes scattered over a couple of miles of Pescadero Road are all that you'll be seeing of Loma Mar on this ride.
Relatively speaking, Pescadero is the "major metropolis" among the settlements through which this ride passes. On a typical weekend, you'll find many road cyclists stopping here. It's a popular rest and meal stop for motorcyclists and other weekend warriors as well. This doesn't change the fact that the entire "main street" of the town consists of about two blocks, though. Pescadero would also lend itself well to being the starting point of this loop if you'll be coming from the coast side to do this ride. Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero has made a name for itself with its cream of artichoke soup and its good desserts (as well as a full restaurant menu). You'll also find Pescadero Country Store here, which serves a wide variety of food from sandwiches to bar food to restaurant entrees. Their thin-crusted pizzas are also quite good. And if all you're after is some good coffee, you can't do much better than Downtown Local. Their vinyl record collection and the nostalgic curiosities that make up the rest of their decor are worth a look even if you're not interested in any coffee. In addition to these, you'll also find a well-stocked grocery store, and some window shopping opportunities here.
Last among the string of villages on the ride is San Gregorio. This is little more than a single intersection with a "general store and post office" on one side and a defunct (and quite picturesque) old gas/service station on the other. Still, it's a natural rest stop for people on sightseeing drives or bike rides along Route 84 as well as on Highway 1. You're likely to find a bunch of cyclists hanging out in front of the general store in San Gregorio, too, though not to the extent that you will in Pescadero. It's worth pointing out that the general store in San Gregorio features live music on weekends and makes for an excellent opportunity to kick back a little and possibly mingle with fellow cyclists, as well as carrying some possibly unexpected merchandise such as clothing and books.
© Ergin Guney
blog comments powered by Disqus