Santa Teresa County Park

I worked from home today (in San Jose) and after I finished up for the day decided to try a ride at a place I’d never been before: Santa Teresa County Park. For the tl;dr crowd, it’s a nice park with some singletrack, nice views and at least one nicely technical, rocky trail. It’s worth a trip if you live somewhere in the south bay. I’m not sure I’d recommend it, based on what I rode today, if one had to drive any real distance to get there.

Somewhat embarrassingly, I’ve lived in the SF Bay Area my whole life and in San Jose for almost three years, but I really haven’t explored many of the south bay biking options. Last year I spent quite a few rides exploring the Soquel Demonstration Forest (“the Demo”), and it’s one of my favorite places to ride now, so I know I really need to explore more down here.

I recently came across a site, Bay Area Bike Rides, that details quite a few rides in the Bay Area, including GPS tracks, maps, etc. I picked Santa Teresa based on the details on that site, and found it to be useful.

Getting there was straightforward, although the parking was frustrating. I knew there was a fee to park there, and the park’s site stated that you could self-serve via a machine with credit cards or cash. Once I got there, there was only one machine I could find, and it didn’t take MasterCard, which was the only card I took with me. It also wouldn’t take the various bills I had on me. Luckily (after wasting a few minutes of light), there was a ranger in a truck who told me not to worry about paying, so I set out.

Here’s where embarrassing admission #2 of this post comes in. I’ve had the Edge 705 cycling GPS for a few years now, but I’d never used it to follow someone else’s track before. I set the track as a “course” in Garmin’s parlance, which showed me where the person who created it rode, and I’d be able to compare my ride to his.

Unfortunately, I misread how the ride started and didn’t realize my error until I’d climbed quite a bit of a rocky, technical trail called (appropriately) Rocky Ridge Trail. I pressed on climbing. By the time I got to the top of the trail, which was a challenging climb for a first timer, I realized that there was a fire road leading to that point, which was probably the route I meant to take. (As a quick aside: the site mentioned earlier says this about my accidental climb. “In my opinion, you’d have to be either nuts or masochistic to do it in the opposite direction.” Oops.)

Instead of descending the fire road, I turned around and descended Rocky Ridge, retracing my steps. It was a fun, technical downhill and the vista on the way down was nice.

Once at the bottom, where I started, I talked a bit with a guy on a cyclocross bike who said he rode at Santa Teresa daily. It was getting late but I wanted a little more of a ride, so with some new tips in mind, I climbed the fire road I’d seen earlier. It’s challenging because of its slope, although smooth. Once at the top, a radio antenna on a peak called Coyote Peak, I connected back to the Rocky Ridge trail and took another shot at that downhill. It was even more fun a second time.

It was too late for more, so I got in the truck and went home. I wouldn’t call it an unqualified success based on my missteps, but it was fun and I now have more info to explore more another day. I’d recommend it as a good before or after work ride.