I recently did some recreational cyclocrossing. What's that? It's a term coined by our very own -d to describe a road/dirt ride with potential dismounts and a bit of adventure. For a while now, I've wanted to ride Alpine Road in Portola Valley, CA. It used to be paved road which was eventually closed off to traffic and maintenance was ceased. It was used in the past as a good way for road cyclists to get up into the hills while avoiding traffic. There are some pics on Ray Hosler's website of famous local cyclists like Jobst Brandt and Tom Ritchey riding it in the 80's. Also, it was part of a hill climb time trail series back in 1996. However, there's not a ton of current information. Time for reconnaisance.
The road starts out as a graded gravel road. Nice riding. Steep in places. We had a two weeks of rainless weather so I thought it would be pretty good, but there was still peanut butter style mud in the shadows.
Eventually after some switchbacks, you get to this sign. You can go beyond it and around a small gate.
But don't bother. The vegetation is so thick and overgrown, you have to take the side trail which is steep, root strewn single track. Great mountain biking, impossible road biking (be prepared to walk it so bring your mountain bike shoes), challenging on a cross bike, but do-able.
Apparently, it was once attempted in a pickup truck, and here it lies.
You pop out on Page Mill road, where a right turn takes you west towards the Pacific ocean, and a left turn takes you back down to Palo Alto and the Santa Clara Valley.
If you're on a mountain bike, don't bother to take the road. Take Montebello Trail instead which should dump you out at Stevens Creek Reservoir.
If you take the road down, there's a water spigot outside Foothills park where you can top off. Because of this, I only carried one bottle on the ride.
In conclusion - if you've got something just a little knobbier than a road bike, you should do this ride. It's low on traffic, high on nature and scenery and a damn fine way to spend a weekend day.