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Local Advice — Don’t Ride Old La Honda Road Saturday Morning

A very popular local climb is Old La Honda Road, in Portola Valley (California). On a Saturday morning, hundreds of riders might ascend the 3.3-mile route in the space of an hour. The road has limited visibility and many turns.

Some years ago, I made myself a rule to never ride Old La Honda on Saturday mornings, but I broke that rule yesterday (Saturday) because of scheduling issues.

Here are just a few of the issues:

  • Groups of 4-8 riders that clog the road, occupying nearly the entire width. Sail around a turn, and there they are. Like today, with one rider fully sideways on the wrong side of the road (as he turned around I guess).
  • Try to pass a motley group of riders uphill, and one is forced far left, entering the danger zone for oncoming traffic. The larger the group, the less aware of surroundings, and other riders approaching.
  • Dimwitted riders can be found 1-3 feet away from the left side of the road, ready to be smashed into as one rounds a turn, by bike or car. This is not funny— I see it all too often. There are also blind spots where riders can be completely hidden even at close range.
  • The sheer volume of riders irritates motorists. Some drivers slow down, but others take dangerous chances, passing on blind turns, accelerating to higher speeds to pass, etc. Watch out especially while descending.

I estimate the accident risk at 10 times higher on Saturday mornings, based on riding OLH hundreds of days. It’s just not worth it. It’s also why I raise the odds in my favor every day I ride with my Lupine bike light on high while descending, and on medium while ascending.

Skyline Blvd is also off-limits from 9am -5pm on weekends— very dangerous.
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