Undiscovered California Road Bike Tour
This impressive California journey rivals the Rockies, the Alps and maybe even the Pyrenees.
We will be traversing the jagged coastal mountains of Sonoma and Mendocino counties. We pop out on the coast several times during the week, but our real focus will be on the hilly (understatement) ribbon roads that crisscross the coastal range.
First we'll cruise by some of the most beautiful vineyards of California then we'll ride through forests of towering redwoods. We'll climb a narrow twisting farm road past oaks and madrones, only to plummet down to the magnificent Pacific coast with a tailwind at our backs. It's no wonder Greg Lemond used to rent a house in the area to train for the Tour de France.
These routes see minimal traffic and serve up maximum pleasure. None of it comes easy though. The 45-75 mile days may not seem too hard on paper, but add four to six thousand feet of climbing per day on roads that can tip up towards 20% and you'll soon feel the burn. It hurts, but in a good way! Call us at 800-845-2453 for all the details!
After meeting at the bike shop in Santa Rosa, we will shuttle north to Hopland right on the Russian River in Mendocino County. We’ll begin with a warm up along the East Side Road through beautiful vineyard lands. Then we will cross the valley into Ukiah for our first Category I climb of the trip. Orr Springs Road takes us west and up through rolling oak woodlands and then drops us into our first view of California’s magnificent Redwoods. We’ll make our way to the Anderson Valley, the home of excellent wineries and a brewpub. Our goal is Boonville, a tiny farming town that once had its own dialect, developed by school children over 100 years ago. TOTAL MILEAGE: 75 miles
This is a short, hard, satisfying day. We immediately head west, and up again, toward the coast on the hilly and beautiful Mountain View Road to Route One and our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. A short ride down the coast will get us to Gualala, a small and beautiful town. The name Gualala comes from a Kashaya Pomo phrase which means “where the water flows down.” The Gualala River heads out to the Pacific right near town. We will arrive in the early afternoon and will have time for a few activities, including a walk on the beach or a tour of a winery in one of the state’s newest viticultural areas. After, we will return to our wonderful accommodations and another great restaurant for refueling and relaxing. TOTAL MILEAGE: 42 miles with 3,600 feet of climbing
In his book, Bob Roll called today’s ride “the Himalayas.” He should know, as he trained here for years on the 7-11 and Motorola teams. After an easy cruise down the coast, we turn left on the Annapolis Road, past redwoods and vineyards, before hitting the hardest stretch of the whole week: the Skagg Springs Road. The first half of the ride rolls over a tiny meandering road through oaks and redwoods. Then the road widens to get around Lake Sonoma and includes some beautiful views. You may need to stretch out your jeans tonight with your newly enlarged and now massive thigh muscles. The final descent of the day takes us to the north end of the Dry Creek Valley, home to some of the world’s great Zinfandels. Ten short miles down valley is the town of Healdsburg, with a vibrant town square and tons of restaurants. We’ll stay at a hotel a block from the square, where you can lounge by the pool or check out the town. TOTAL MILEAGE: 65 miles with 5,500 feet of climbing
Our pal Scot Nicol dares you to find a better road ride in the world, “King’s Ridge has it all, hard climbs, fun twisty descents, coastal tailwinds, a few miles of mellow dirt road, all topped off by massive spectacular top-of-the-world views.” Mention King’s to a local and you’ll get a respectful nod. It’s that good. We begin with a shuttle over to Duncan Mills and warm up along the Austin Creek drainage. Then the real ride begins. One magazine editor calls this ride “God’s cycling theme park” and another said “without a doubt, the most beautiful road I have ever ridden.” We finish the ride with a gorgeous downwind coastal cruise into the town of Bodega Bay for our final night of feasting. TOTAL MILEAGE: 70 miles, with 5,500 feet of climbing
Our final ride delivers an extra dose of epic scenery. The day starts with a climb above Bodega Head on the challenging Bay Hill Road, then we go through the town of Bodega Bay (where Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was filmed) and into the tiny berg of Freestone. After picking up a baked treat at the incredible Wildflour Bakery, we’ll climb up to Occidental before giving our thighs one last workout on the spectacular Coleman Valley Road, a knife edge ridge on a road oriented east-west, unlike the ridges we have been traversing. Views of Pt. Reyes, Mt. Diablo, Mt. Tamalpais, Bolinas Ridge and Bodega Head are all visible, before we plummet back down to the shore, the finale of this great week of riding. TOTAL MILEAGE: 30 miles
Accommodations may be changed due to availability. Itineraries are subject to change due to weather, road conditions, rider safety, and other factors which may affect the logistics of the trip. Low gears and at least 23c tires are recommended for this trip. Although there is a lot of climbing, super lightweight tires are not appropriate.
Overall Rating: Moderate to Advanced
Physical Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
Altitude: 0 - 4,000 feet
For travel logistics and a packing list, please download the complete trip itinerary.