Sam and I have been talking about going on a BikePacking trip ever since I moved back to the West Coast. Life threw me a bone and work brought me out to the beautiful city of Santa Cruz for two months. Since Sam lives in Santa Cruz it didn't take long for us to plan a trip.
Sam rode a full suspension Santa Cruz Nomad. Josh had a hard tail On One. I had All City Macho Man cyclocross set up. We all pretty much had the same bag set up.
Less than a mile from the car we were quickly greeted with a notorious Bay Area climb called Monte Bello which was one hell of a way to start the day. My cyclocross bike flew up the road giving me the opportunity to shoot some photos of the guys and taunt the road bikers. It's always a good feeling when you can pace with a road cyclist when your fully loaded down with gear.
Monte Bello Rd in Cupertino starts at Stevens Canyon and climbs for 5.3 miles. Monte Bello climbs up to 1940 feet with an average grade of 6.9% (elev. gain/dist) and walls steep as 16%. The road is a dead end for cars but cyclists have the option to take the fire roads to Black Mountain and continue on single track to Page Mill Road.
Monte Bello means "Beautiful Mountains" in Italian.
Stats on Monte Bellow from Stanford University can be found here.
This is me stoked to be on my first legit BikePacking trip.
My set up was light and nimble. Check out my detailed post on my bikepacking rig here.
Sam and Josh ran into BMX legend Chris Rothe on the way up Monte Bello. Karl was one of the pioneers of Flatland and it was an honor to meet him.
"Black Mountain is a summit on Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains of west Santa Clara County, California, south of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, and west of Cupertino. It is located on the border between Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve and Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, with the summit located in the former. "
Elevation : 2812 ft (857 m)
Monte Bello O.S.P. offers a handful of incredible fire roads and single track. Some of the routes we took were : Old Ranch, Bella Vista, Stevens Creek Nature Trail, Ridge Trail and Saratoga Gap.
Sam has been the master planner and navigator for these trips linking us up with some incredible routes. Sam is also a proud owner of the droopiest Revelate handle bar bag ever! Hahaha.
The views on the Ridge Trail were breathtaking.
"The preserve's grasslands include California poppy, checker mallow, purple owl's-clover, bluedicks, and blue-eyed grass. Large mammals in the preserve include coyote, bobcat, deer, badger and mountain lions. Common raptors include red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, and American kestrels, and less commonly, rough-legged hawks, prairie falcons, merlins, and golden eagles can be seen during fall and spring migratory seasons. Monte Bello hosts a wide variety of owl species, including great horned, barn, pygmy, long-eared, western screech, and northern saw-whet. "
Download the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve map here.
Open hands. Open mind.
Castle Rock Trail Camp is 2.6 miles from the main parking lot via Saratoga Gap.
The camp features 20 sites at a first come first serve basis. There are currently no fires allowed in the campsites. Pitted toilets and running water available.
Pro Tip : To the right of this gate at Castle Rock is the Los Altos Rod and Gun Club. When open you can go in and purchase Sodas, Candy, Chips and a bunch of other junk food!
This is where we parted ways. Sam and Josh had another day of riding bikes while I made my way through Big Basin and Jamison Creek back home. I will never forget this trip. With my first BikePacking trip under my belt it would be an understatement to say that I am hooked. Huge shout out to Sam and Josh for such an incredible adventure.