Soda Springs - Short but sweet
25 miles / 4007 ft.
Los Gatos, CA is a teeny idyllic town nestled right up to the Santa Cruz Mountains, and not the usual go-to for the start of a ride. But if you know where to ride.... Fortunately, now you do.
Soda Springs Road is one of the finest out-and-backs you can ever hope for, especially when you toss in Weaver Road for some of the most amazing panoramic views you can get hands down in the state of California. At just over 5 miles with about 2500 ft. of elevation gain, it's also not one to tackle without fueling up at the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company. Take in some espresso, crepes, and people watching, and then get a little gravel grinding under your belt on the Los Gatos Creek Trail before emerging onto Alma Bridge Road. Keep circling the Lexington Reservoir, but be sure not to miss the sharp left onto Soda Springs Road - there is only one small sign marking it and it's easy to miss! Now go up. And up and up. And up. And eventually, you will get to some mailboxes and a gate. Congratz!
When you get to the gate, don't try to hop it, tempting as it may be. Mt. Umunhum has a cool name, but also a missile launch site and a bunch of military people guarding it with guns. So just take in the scene at the top, and head back down, watching out for another sharp left onto Weaver Road. While the temptation to just bomb the descent is definitely strong, the short extra out/back is a hidden diamond and worth it. Don't worry, there's still plenty of bomb worthy descent once you're done.
At the bottom, keep looping all the way around the reservoir until you find yourself back onto Alma Bridge Road. There is a teeeeeny section on Highway 17, but you never have to merge onto the actual highway. Then, grind some gravel back, and you've earned your second helping of coffee and pastries with a 25 miles with 4000 ft of elevation gain ride.