Jobst Riders vs. Gazos Creek Road
Gazos Creek Wins By a Landslide
Date: April 18, 1982
Riders: Jobst Brandt, Jim Westby, Ray Hosler, Ted Mock, Tom Ritchey, Dave Faust, Marc Brandt (Jobst's nephew), Tim Louis, Frank ?, Tom Sullivan, Jan Causey, Unknown rider.
Route: Starting in Palo Alto, California: Up Alpine Road; south on Skyline Boulevard to Highway 9, down to Highway 236; up China Grade; down Johansen Road; down Gazos Creek Road; Cloverdale Road north; up Pescadero Road to Highway 84 and return home; 90 miles.
Weather: Clear, warm.
Tire/Mechanical Failure: Ted - flat; Jobst - flat; Dave - broken rear derailleur; Marc - bent rear wheel.
A raindrop isn't a potent force, but when it marshals its diminutive form into a heavy rain, it can be deadly. Man's creations become Tinker Toys in a deluge. Tall redwoods uproot and crash downstream with boulders.
This winter the Santa Cruz Mountains felt the fury of the raindrop army, and Jobst Riders suffered the results of a wet season on their sacred ground.
Riders gathered at Jobst's house for a fair-weather ride. Jan arrived without Peter, her boyfriend [and later husband], who was home in bed. Tom Ritchey waited for us on Skyline, hoping his pregnant wife, Katie, wouldn't deliver while he was away.
Stung by a bee
A rider on his first Jobst Ride stood next to his bike, with its distinctive fat aluminum tubes, as Jobst and others burst outside onto the front lawn. Jobst looked at rider's shiny fat-tube bike and bellowed, "It looks like your bike was stung by a bee!"
Jobst took a photo of everyone standing on the front porch, and then we were off. Right after crossing the railroad tracks on Alma, a police cruiser behind us blared, "Stay to the right of the road!" But everyone was intent on crossing El Camino Real. We blasted across to Stanford Shopping Center.
The ride went without incident until the upper reaches of Alpine Road, where we saw the first evidence of winter's heavy rains. A large section of road had collapsed, as though from an earthquake. We dismounted and walked our bikes across the sinkhole.
After assembling at the intersection of Page Mill Road and Skyline Boulevard, where Tom Ritchey joined us, we headed south on Skyline. We stopped at the fire station to tank up on water. At Highway 9. Tom Sullivan, the mystery rider, and Frank turned left back to the valley, and Jan was long gone already.
Jobst began his usual furious descent, with everyone else going for the draft on a 40 mph joy ride. We had the good fortune of riding on Hwy 236 free of traffic. The road was closed to repair a landslide, but passable on bikes. Just before China Grade, Jobst amazed everyone by dismounting and carrying his bike up the side of a hill. We thought we could beat Jobst, so we picked up the pace and raced around the curve. Jobst won handily, much to our chagrin.
As we climbed China Grade, the Pacific Ocean and a vast redwood forest came into view. The greens and blues painted an unforgettable tapestry on this warm, sunny Spring day.
We rode to nearly the end of China Grade before heading left down Johansen's, an old logging road [now part of Big Basin State Park]. Considering the heavy rains, it was in good shape. Ted flatted. I stayed to help while the other riders went ahead. We met the group at Gazos Creek Road, where Jobst was busily straightening Marc's bent wheel, and Jim was nursing a sore knee from a fall.
[Gazos Creek Road is a steep dirt road linking Big Basin park with Cloverdale Road. It's a favorite route for today's mountain bike rider, but in 1982 the only riders who took it were Jobst and friends.]
Gazos Creek Road washed out
What followed can only be described as a nightmare vision of Nature's fury unleashed. The road vanished, replaced by a raging creek and downed redwoods. If not for the creek, we would never have known where to go. In the brief rideable section, Dave bent his rear derailleur roller wheels when a stick jammed them. It didn't matter at this point that he couldn't ride, because we walked the next mile, picking our way through fallen trees. We scrambled over logs and boulders, wondering if we would ever reach a rideable road.
After a while we came to a clearing and took a break. Jobst and Tom noticed Dave's difficulties. When Dave said his bike was broken, Tom looked concerned, having built Dave's bike. He became visibly relieved when he found out it was just the derailleur.
Jobst and Tom set to fixing Dave's derailleur. Tom grabbed a couple of large rocks and pounded on the roller cages. Using the tools of cave men, they operated on a highly refined piece of steel manufactured halfway around the world. They fixed it well enough that Dave could grind out a turn or two on his cranks.
Jobst walked to an inviting pool of water and looked down. "I see a couple of newts," he said. Marc went over to investigate, coaxing the newts into activity. "Don't worry," Jobst said, "they have to come up for air."
[Speaking of newts. On one ride Jobst put a newt into the water bottle of Nikola Farac-Ban or "Bike Barb," a well-known San Francisco rider. The Barb was not amused.]
More scrambling followed, Ted dropping his bike down a steep cliff when he made a bad choice in the tangle of trees. We used our bikes as crutches, clambering log to log. We reached a beautiful waterfall formed by flooding. I saw a tiny red snake and a centipede.
At the final gate, the road finally became a road, but our travails weren't over. We had to cross the raging Gazos Creek where a bridge had washed out. We walked across the creek and then ran into a herd of bleating sheep. On the flat section before Cloverdale Road we tried to avoid huge mud holes, but to no avail.
Soon we were covered in mud. Dave struggled along, as riders pushed him. At Cloverdale Road, Dave found a ride to Loma Mar, where we'd meet again and Jobst would make more permanent repairs. After chowing down in Loma Mar we headed up Pescadero Road and home.