Millie’s Wild Ride: December 1, 2011 by Bryan Shaner (with help from Millie Kitchin and Ray Persico)Sheila| December 9, 2011 8:35 am
As we pulled into the parking lot on Summit Road, Millie and Angel didn’t look like they were planning on actually getting on their bicycles and riding. You couldn’t blame them: it was cold and although the worst of the wind had blown through the night before, it was still gusting pretty strongly. We knew there were power outages probably from trees falling across power lines, but the sun was out and my body really needed those endorphins. So with some reluctance Millie donned her garb and led us down Soquel San Jose Road.
It was cold, but the wind wasn’t too bad and there was only an occasional branch to dodge. We stopped at Casalegno’s Market to get warm. The locals told us we shouldn’t be out riding in the mountains today, but they were heading out to pick wild mushrooms. Heck, if they were headed out into the mountains, so could we, so we headed down Laurel Glen. Maybe the locals were right. There was a lot more debris on the road, and then Ray got a flat. As we stood around watching Ray, we looked up and saw the trees whipping around in the wind and started to get a little spooked. Then as we got started a fellow in a car told us that the road ahead (Branciforte) was closed. We weren’t ready to turn back and call it a day, so we decided to venture on and see how closed it was. Sure enough, there was a tree at a 45 degree angle resting against a power line, and even though the tree seemed to be pretty well supported, it wasn’t until two PG&E workers sauntered up the road directly under the tree and told us we could go through (at our own risk) that we threw caution to the wind (which was still pretty strong) and ventured on. The tree had only fallen half an hour ago, so there had been enough car traffic earlier to knock the worst of the fallen branches out of the way along Branciforte.
The road was more cluttered as we turned up Granite Creek, and the sound of cracking tree limbs got us up that goat in record time. As we pulled into Scotts Valley, once again luck was on our side. Starbucks had been closed due to an power outage, but opened up just as we were trying to figure out somewhere else to go to get warm. After a nice long time warming up inside and out, I was very tempted to call my wife and see if she wanted to drive over to Scotts Valley for a little shopping, and by the way, would you bring the bike rack. But by this time our small band had formed that type of bond that comes with facing adversity together, and desertion was not an option. I wasn’t looking forward to Mt. Charlie but had no idea how hard it was going to be to get there.
The wind decided to stop gusting and start blowing steadily – right in our faces. We took turns drafting on Glenwood, but I was still so tired by the time we got to the turn off that I just shifted down into my 32 and hoped my legs would keep moving. Things seemed to be going pretty well up Mt. Charlie until we heard the unmistakable sound of a chainsaw. And sure enough, around the next turn we saw a huge tree blocking the road. But the fellow with the chainsaw was making pretty quick work of the tree, and in not too many minutes we had an opening large enough to carry our bikes through. The trip back on Summit was uneventful except for some pretty strong cross winds here and there. But we lingered a bit after getting back to our cars maybe just to celebrate the fact that we had all survived Millie’s Wild Ride.