Solvang: Los Alamos-Harris Grade Loop

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

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It’s another glorious day here in Solvang; we’re set to do a 71 mile counter-clockwise loop out to Los Alamos via Foxen Canyon & Alisos Canyon. A climb up Harris Grade will take us over the Purisima Hills south to Lompoc. The return includes a short climb up CA-1 south to the beautiful Santa Rosa Rd.

We begin the ride by heading north on Alamo Pintado Rd; it’s a nice flat 4.9 miles stretch of road that passes through apple orchards, a miniature horse farm and vineyards.

The slight jog around the streets of Los Olivos takes us out to CA 154; cross with caution and watch for traffic! We stay on CA 154 north to the turn off at Zaca Station Rd.

Zaca Station Rd is a quiet 3.1 mile less traveled road that runs through the valley with views of the Solomon Hills to the west and distant views of the San Rafael Mountains to the northeast. The open green meadows are dotted with grazing cattle along with some gorgeous displays of yellow wildflowers. You’ll pass acres of vineyards and even a few oil drilling rigs.

We continue on Foxen Canyon Rd for the next 5.9 miles through what is known as the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. This canyon is home to over 10 different accomplished wine makers that create world-class varietal wines in California.

You’ll also see a lot of cattle grazing and roaming the open pastoral lands throughout this canyon. The one short climb takes you up to Zaca Mesa Winery with fabulous views of the open range. The descent takes you along the valley floor through the many vineyards and vast open green spaces.

We head SW on Alisos Canyon Rd for 6.5 miles through farmlands, horse ranches and miles and miles of vineyards. Some sections of the road are lined with old growth oak trees with hanging moss and lavender colored wildflowers blanketing the gentle slopes of the rolling green hills.

Alisos Canyon Rd ends at the intersection with Hwy 101. We continue on Carrari-it’s a very bumpy side road that parallels the highway along the vineyards; it will lead you into the town of Los Alamos. Our lunch stop is at the Subway/Chevron Station on Bell St.

We stay on Bell St and continue west on CA 135 for the next flat 8.9 miles through the rich farmlands and vineyards in the area. We ride along a section of road that is lined with stunningly beautiful wild purple lupines-it’s absolutely gorgeous! I’m happy to be able to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us!

The temps just shot up to the 80’s here; it’s very sunny and warm-I love California weather! The turn on Harris Grade Rd cuts through the open maze of agricultural fields up to the Purisima Hills. The first short climb offers stunning views of the valley’s rich agricultural crops-WOW!

The climb up to the summit of Harris Grade is about 1.2 miles with gradient ranges of 5-8%; the majority of the road has full sun exposure with very little shade. The summit offers fantastic city views of Lompoc and the surrounding San Antonio Valley and Purisima Hills.

The rolling descent takes you down to Purisima Rd along the NE edge of Lompoc’s residential neighborhood. It eventually takes you out to the flat farmlands and orchards on CA 246. We cross the dry Santa Ynez River and continue south on CA-1 for the short climb up to Santa Rosa Rd.

We head east on Santa Rosa Rd for the next 17 miles. We were on this road yesterday heading west to CA-1. The scenery hasn’t changed a bit! The rolling terrain cuts through the agricultural fields, orchards and miles of vineyards between the Santa Rosa and Santa Rita Hills.

Santa Rosa Rd ends where Avenue of Flags begins-at the bridge crossing the Santa Ynez River. We enter Buellton and head east on CA 246 and make a brief stop to check out the ostriches at OstrichLand-there’s a lot of them out there. The short climb up CA 246 brings us back to the start at Kronborg Inn.

Today was another wonderful day of riding around the small towns surrounding the valleys and canyons of Santa Barbara’s Wine Country! Life is great as long as we remember to get out and live it!

We had dinner at The Mandarin Touch Restaurant in Solvang and ate lots of vegetables. We ordered Tofu with Snow Peas and Black Mushrooms, Stir-Fried String Beans with Garlic and Chicken Fried Rice. We were given a complimentary appetizer of Fried Won-ton Skins with Sweet & Sour Sauce & Yellow Mustard. It was all pretty tasty and filling.

Garmin Stats:
76.42 Miles with 3889′ of elevation gain
Max Elevation: 1310′
Avg grade: 2%
Max grade: 10%

Weather: Fantastic! Sunny with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the low 50’s to the mid 80’s. SW Winds

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Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.
~ Howard Thurman.
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