Henry Cowell State Park mountain biking

I’m not much of a mountain biker, but the past few Sunday’s I’ve ventured into Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County. The park’s south entrance on Graham Hill Road is just 2½ miles from my front door, so I ride my bike there. The hiking trails are off-limits to mountain bikers, but bicycles are permitted on Pipeline Road, Rincon Fire Road, Ridge Fire Road, and Powder Mill Fire Road. Although these are called “roads,” motor vehicle use is for authorized State Park vehicles only.

Towering Redwoods

Pipeline Road is a paved multi-use path shared between cyclists, walkers, and equestrians. This road runs from the park’s south entrance on Graham Hill Road in Scotts Valley to the Henry Cowell State Park visitor center near Felton. Brakes and low-gearing are handy for the steep sections at the south end of the road.

Powder Mill Fire Road is a short, wide dirt trail from Pipeline Road uphill to the park campground before ending at the Observation Deck. The observation deck is at the highest point in Henry Cowell and gives spectacular views down the San Lorenzo Valley into Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay.

Ridge Fire Road runs straight down from the observation deck to cross Pipeline Road. Ridge Fire Road between the high point and Pipeline is a steep downhill sand trap with monster water bars. I have difficulty negotiating this trail (i.e. it’s not much fun either up or down) with my inexpert mountain bike skills. Beyond Pipeline Road, Ridge Fire Road continues as a nice, smooth dirt path with some leaf litter before it circles around to connect again with Pipeline Road.

Rincon Fire Road connects with Ridge Fire Road and winds steeply downhill to the San Lorenzo River. Most of this trail is somewhat bumpy dirt, though gravelly sections, steep turns and fallen trees across the trail add interest. Rincon Fire Road crosses the San Lorenzo River — you must carry your bike and ford across the river — where it continues steeply uphill to the park’s southwest entrance on Highway 9.

While the scenery throughout Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is spectacular, for mountain bikers the Rincon Fire Road provides the best views, with close up encounters with redwoods and stunning drop offs into the river valley. The Redwood Cathedral along Rincon Road is beautiful circular arrangement of giant old-growth redwood trees.

To return into Henry Cowell from the Rincon Road parking lot, you can bike up Highway 9 toward Felton to the visitor center entrance, where you can get back to Pipeline Road. To extend your ride, the U-Con trail runs across Santa Cruz’s Pogonip park to connect Rincon Fire Road with UCSC Mountain Bike trails and the spectacular riding in Wilder Ranch State Park along the wild and rocky California coastline.

More information:

International Gwadzilla Blog Week!

In the world of Bicycle Blogs, Gwadzilla is king of the mountain. King Gwadzilla says vote for the Gwadzilla blog at Bloginterviewer.com. I’m glad to give my vote to Gwadzilla! He always posts cool photos and interesting commentary about cycling in Washington, D.C.

Bicycle blog link love

I’ll mention the bicycle blogs that have linked to Cyclelicious over the past week:

Bay Area bicycle news

Traffic demand management is a big deal at major events in San Francisco, where parking is at a premium. When locals go watch the San Francisco Giants play at AT&T Park, many of them take Caltrain and SF Muni right to the stadium. Bike Valet Parking provided by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is also heavily used. See the Streetsblog video of how it works.

Forbes Magazine reports on the how unhealthy our long commutes are. “It’s a lifestyle choice,” says David Rizzo, author of Survive the Drive! How to Beat Freeway Traffic in Southern California. “We put our health second. To have a big house, we’re willing to put up with smog and a big drive. We sacrifice our longevity for short-term gains.”

Warm Planet Bicycles has opened a new bike parking service at the 4th & King Caltrain station in San Francisco. The 1600 square foot facility is provided free to use and has room for up to 100 bicycles. See photos of the new facility in Jym Dyer’s Flickr pool.

Longtime bicycling advocacy Alex Zuckermann died in his Berkeley home on Sunday. He was 86 years old. He founded the East Bay Bicycle Coalition 35 years ago to make the Bay Area more bicycle friendly and continued his advocacy until his death. For insights into his life and spirit, see these old letters from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Caltrain has begun a series of bicycle workshops as a part of the Bicycle Master Plan process. Each bicycle workshop is a one-hour tour at a Caltrain station with staff to discuss bicycle parking, bicycle access to and within the station area, and way-finding. To register, contact Celia Chung at (650) 508-6388 or chungc (at) samtrans.com. The schedule for remaining workshops are.


Station Date / Time Register By
San Jose Diridon Tues 8/14 6 PM 8/9 Thu
Redwood City Wed 8/22 6 PM 8/17 Fri
Palo Alto Wed 8/29 6 PM 8/24 Fri
San Francisco Thur 9/6 6 PM 8/31 Fri
Hillsdale Tues 9/18 5:30 PM 9/13 Thu
Mountain View Thur 9/20 5:30 PM 9/17 Mon
San Mateo Tues 9/25 5:30 PM 9/20 Thu
Sunnyvale Thur 9/27 5:30 PM 9/24 Mon

Bicycle Seattle

The Interstate 5 construction project that begins today in Seattle is projected to create major traffic hassles all the way into Tacoma as 130,000 vehicles per day are re-routed from I-5 onto surface streets. For those who try to avoid or bypass the mess and give bike commuting a try, here are Seattle area bike commute resources:

Heat and hyponatremia

With record heat continuing across the U.S. southern plains, south and southeast, cyclists are reminded to drink plenty of water to counteract the loss of fluid. Remember, though, that it’s possible to drink to much water even in the heat and suffer from water intoxication and hyponatremia. These are potentially lethal conditions, and I’ve seen news reports of athletes and non-athletes who have died from drinking too much water.

Here’s a good article in Today’s Dietician magazine about the effects, causes and risk factors of hyponatremia.

Discovery Channel Goes Off The Air in 2008

Starting off as the United States Postal Service Cycling Team and then turning into Team Discovery Channel, Tailwind Sports had a team to be reckoned with over the past nine Tours de France, winning eight of them (or 88.8%, a B+ by academic standards). However, being unable to pick up a sponsor for the 2008 season means that we will not see the team racing after this year.

It’s a shame to lose a team on such a roll, but it can only be imagined what type of an uphill battle Tailwind Sports had to go through in the search for a new sponsor, especially in light of what happened at this year’s Tour de France.

In other news, the Chicago Cubs, a baseball team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908, will still be around for the 2008 season.