Last week, Amy and I somewhat spontaneously decided to drive down to Santa Rosa, CA from Portland. We hit out after work on Sunday and landed in Ashland, OR at around 10pm. Ashland is roughly the halfway point and supposedly has nicer weather than Portland. When we were there it was rain/snow mix and generally shitty. My conclusion after being there for 8.5 hours is not positive but hardly substantiated. From there we drove down I5 or rather, THE 5, for a couple hours then took a more direct but slower way west to Santa Rosa. The route was without doubt the twistiest highway I’ve ever driven with 15mph curves aplenty. Good stuff.
We arrived in Santa Rosa at the hotel, checked in, dumped some stuff then went straight to Anadel State park to ride mountain bikes. Every bigger city should have such a place. Miles of single track shared peacefully by walkers, hikers and cyclists. Portland could learn a lot from that place.
The next few days we rode on the road, including the Kings Ridge Gran Fondo route on Tuesday. I believe in rides that have more feet of climbing than they do miles of distance and this one was superlative in every aspect. Overall, the ride is hard. King’s Ridge road quickly transported us from NorCal to Switzerland.
The roads were one lane, twisty and insanely pitched. We had cows for spectators (though they lacked bells, a major distinction in Switzerland), blue sky and sun for a ceiling, and panoramic views of mountains and ocean throughout. And very minimal traffic. Absolutely sensational.
On the 15 mile or so stretch of HWY1 we had a ripping tailwind; easily 25mph. The sea was angry that day my friends, like an old man trying to return soup at a deli. (A bright shiny nickel to whomever identifies the show from whence I stole that line, and who said it.)
Waves crashed heavily on the trademark NorCal rocks, and the tall grass being pummeled by the wind reminded us that our amazing speeds were not (entirely) from super fitness, but from the firm yet sympathizing hand of Momma Nature. To our brief chagrin, we accidentally passed our left turn onto Coleman Valley road (it was not marked by any sign, anywhere). We didn’t realize it until 3 miles later. The ensuing 12 mph slog back into the wind was punishing after some 75 miles, and once we found the turn the climb began with a hostile gradient that quickly became savage. This climb switches back onto itself with no regard for pedestrian, human power, or automatic transmission.
Near the top a few cows grazed on the greenest of grass. Their views, surely unbeknownst to them, were of untouched, undeveloped coastal property the likes of which SoCal would have destroyed decades ago. I’d gladly pay more for the meat or dairy from cows with that kind of happiness. From the top, it’s a nice roll generally downhill into Occidental (one of the better named towns, in my opinion) and then the trip back to Santa Rosa.
Later in the week we camped at a campground a mile and a half up in the hills with huge views of the wineries and rolling topography of Sonoma county.
Below is a pictorial description of the splendors. Enjoy: