The annual “Mountain Charlie Challenge” pledge ride the big fund raisers for the schools in my town, Scotts Valley, CA, through the Scotts Valley Educational Fund (SVEF).
The event offers you a choice of 100K or 50K routes. Both rides start and end at Skypark in Scotts Valley. The 100K Metric Century (62 miles) climbs to the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains via Mountain Charlie Road, winds through wineries and beautiful redwoods, then travels through Corralitos, Aptos, Santa Cruz then up Branciforte Road for the return to Scotts Valley.
The 50K Half Century (32 miles) has less challenging climbs and travels through the redwoods, has a rest top at a vineyard, continues on to Aptos and returns to Scotts Valley.
Both routes offer beautiful scenery, ride support, lunch and refreshments. The rides are followed by a family luncheon at Skypark with great music.
The ride takes place Saturday, April 24, 2010. Registration check-in starts at 7:00 a.m. for both routes. The 100K mass start is at 8:00 a.m. with a second start at 8:15 a.m. for the 50k.
Trivia: “Mountain Charlie” is not a mountain, but the nickname of Charles Henry McKiernan (Think “Grizzly Adams”). Charlie was one of the earliest European residents of the Santa Cruz summit area. He’s most famous for surviving an attack by a California brown bear in 1854. The grizzly crushed his skull, but another hunter got help for Mountain Charlie, and he would eventually marry the woman who nursed him back to health. California grizzlies were extinct in the Santa Cruz mountains within 40 years, and extinct from the state (and the world) by 1920.
Mountain Charlie cut a track from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz; the portion from a bit north of the summit down to Scotts Valley would become the McKiernan Toll Road, and his cabin at the summit became a stage coach stop. The 7 mile portion of that road which still exists is now “Mountain Charlie Road” — a rough, steep, poorly maintained single lane road that roughly parallels Highway 17 from north of Scotts Valley, across the summit (where it crosses Highway 17) and down to Old Santa Cruz Highway.
Ascending on Mt Charlie Road (like the SVEF Mountain Charlie Challenge) is a pretty decent ride; the road is so bumpy that descending isn’t too fun. Here’s what the road looks like from my bike: