Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Today’s club ride meets up at Walnut Park on 4th and E Sts in Petaluma. There is ample street parking with no time limitations. Water and restrooms are available.
We head west on D St to 6th and make a series of turns on Western Ave and Chapman Ln to Eastman Ln. There are several short steep little climbs on Eastman with pitches that max out at 12%. We continue on Middle Two Rock Rd to Eucalyptus Rd. Eucalyptus is very easy to miss; there’s no signage!
We turn on Skillman Ln to Liberty Rd. There are plenty of horse and chicken ranches and egg farms back here.
We hit really bad pavement on Pepper and Jewett Rds. It’s a crash course on riding through huge bumps and potholes. We continue on Stony Point Rd to Railroad Ave. I mistakenly make a wrong turn onto Old Redwood Hwy and a few people follow along with me. We turn around and get back on Railroad Ave heading east. We take a left onto Petaluma Hill Rd and head north for the next 3.5 miles to Crane Canyon Rd. The smell of wild sage is very prominent along this stretch of road.
The first half mile on Crane Canyon Rd is pretty flat. The climbing starts when you see the yellow SLIPPERY WHEN WET and ICY signs. It’s a little over a mile long with gradients ranging from 9-13%. The road does ease up a bit to around 6-8% and kicks back up again at around 12-13% as you near the top. Thereafter, it’s a sweeping fast fun descent on Grange Rd to Bennett Valley Rd.
We continue east on Bennett Valley Rd for the next 5.4 miles. This whole area is surrounded by vineyards and the shades of green are really beautiful. The first mile on Bennett Valley is pretty flat, the climbing starts after you cross Sonoma Mountains Rd. It starts off gently at around 4% for a nice stretch then you reach several sections that hover around 9-10%. The views from the top are simply gorgeous! The descent on Bennett Valley is on super rough pavement under the shade. You really need to watch out for the potholes.
We take a right onto Warm Springs Rd and head SE for the next 2.4 miles. Our lunch stop is at the Glen Ellen Village Market. They have a nice outdoor patio area with picnic tables and benches. There is ample space to park the bikes. You have to walk around the building to get to the front entrance of the market; there is no rear entry or exit. You can order sandwiches or purchase hot/cold deli items. They have a salad bar along with a self service coffee counter. Restrooms are located to the right of the meat counter. You can also get ice from the soda dispenser and water from the nearby sink.
After lunch, we head back on Warm Springs Rd for the challenging climb up Sonoma Mountain Rd. It’s a stair step climb that starts off at 9-10% along with several sections of the road that levels out; that’s followed by long stretches of sustained climbing at 10% with max grade of 14%! Some of that is under the full exposure of the sun and other sections under a canopy of trees. This goes on for 3+ miles. The spectacular scenery is a great distraction to the climb; it’s quiet and quite beautiful here!
Once you cross the section of new pavement with the guardrail (formerly washed out), the road eases up to a grade of about 4-5% as you pass the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center. There are vineyards and old farm/ranches hidden back here. There is a large section of road that is purely loose gravel; proceed with caution! That in turn brings us into a very dark and shaded small redwood forest area; WOW! I continue to descend Sonoma Mountain and realize that I’ve missed the turn on Pressley Rd.
Well, I’ve passed the point of no return. I end up at the other side of Sonoma Mountain Rd at Bennet Valley Rd! I decide to climb up Grange Rd back to Crane Canyon and return on Petaluma Hill Rd from there.
The remainder of the route is pretty flat with a few small rollers. I’m on high alert now, I don’t want to miss any more turns and there’s a lot of them coming up. I do see some interesting sights along the way.
I get back to Walnut Park and Carole is waiting for me. I think I’m the last person to finish the ride!
Thanks to Joan for leading the ride! Hopefully next time I’ll stay on course.
Thanks to Bob L for helping me tighten my SPD pedals!
~25 people in attendance with 1 tandem
My detoured route: 57.9 miles with 3925′ of elevation gain
Weather: FANTASTIC! Morning clouds with overcast skies, turning to brilliant sunshine for the remainder of the day. Temps ranged from the low 60’s to high 80’s