Mt Veeder Berryessa Century

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

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For today’s century, I’m incorporating the Weds club ride as part of my route; I get to ride with the group and get my weekly hundred miler in too-what’s not to like about that! All I have to do is plan my time and miles accordingly to be able to meet up with everyone at Lake Hennessey by 10 AM for the 45 mile loop out to Lake Berryessa and Pope Valley. The additional 25 early morning miles include a climb up Mt Veeder and the post ride 35 miles adds a climb up Howell Mountain followed by a much steeper climb on Oakville Grade Rd to Dry Creek Rd.

Redwood Rd heads west through the residential neighborhoods of Napa and turns north through the wooded Redwood Canyon; the gentle rolling terrain runs 4.5 miles along Redwood Creek under a gorgeous canopy of trees. It’s a wonderful way to start the day with much peace and calm and helps set the tone for the rest of my ride.

The climb up to the summit of Mt Veeder at Wing Canyon vineyard is 4.2 miles; it’s a stair step climb up through the beautiful Pickle Canyon. The steeper sections have gradient ranges of 9-10% and maxes out at around 12% on the approach to the top. Take a moment to enjoy the dramatic morning views of the surrounding hills and canyons before heading for the bumpy descent down to Dry Creek Rd.

I continue on Oakville Grade Rd for the short climb up to Campbell Flat followed by a fast descent down to Oakville. The views of Napa Valley are just spectacular!


Oakville Cross Rd cuts through the many vineyards and horse ranches of the valley and crosses the Napa River and Conn Creek.


The flat 3 miles on Silverado Trail has fabulous views of the surrounding mountains and vineyards of Napa Valley.

The rolling 3 miles on Sage Canyon Rd/Hwy 128 from Silverado Trail to the Lake Hennessey boat launch area is on nice smooth pavement with wonderful lake views.


While waiting for the arrival of other club members at the parking lot, I take the time to watch a group of men flying their RC planes with pontoons; it’s a pretty cool to see the planes maneuvering high up in the sky!



We begin the club ride on Hwy 128 and head east for the gradual 5-8% climb up Sage Canyon along Sage Creek. The road levels out for about a mile to the intersection at Lower Chiles Valley Rd out through the vineyards followed by a sweeping descent to the junction at Turtle Rock.


We continue north on Berryessa Knoxville Rd for the next 5 miles to the regroup at Spanish Flat. The climb from Capell Cove up to the ridge welcomes you with gorgeous views of Lake Berryessa-the water is amazingly blue! Keep an eye out for the Ospreys and their nests up above the transmission towers.

Sandwiches, snack foods and drinks can be purchased at the Spanish Flat Country Store-be patient, the store is manned by one person doing everything! No restrooms are available here.


We continue on Berryessa Knoxville Rd for the next couple of miles to the lunch stop at Oak Shores Park. We enter through the exit gate at the south end of the main entrance; water and restrooms are available along with fantastic lake views!


The next 6 miles of rolling climbs on Berryessa Knoxville Rd brings us across the bridge to Pope Canyon Rd. There is a huge Osprey nest with chicks perched up atop the transmission tower at the intersection of the roads.

Pope Canyon Rd begins with a steep 8-11% climb followed by a short descent and another climb with grades of 6-8%. The remaining 6+ miles of rolling terrain through the desert like landscape surrounding Cedar Roughs leads us out to the expansive Pope Valley.

We take Pope Valley Cross Rd to Chiles Pope Valley to our next stop at the Pope Valley Store. It’s a great place to stop for snack foods, cold drinks and ice cream!

We return on Chiles Pope Valley Rd for the short half mile climb out to Chiles Valley; the next 3.7 miles of flat rolling terrain takes you pass the many vineyards, ranches, olive groves and grasslands. There is one short climb up pass the last vineyard followed by a fun sweeping descent along Chiles Creek down to Sage Canyon.

I depart from the group at Lake Hennessey and continue on Hwy 128 back out to Silverado Trail for the climb up Howell Mountain Rd.

The climb up Howell Mountain Rd is 4.4 miles with gradient ranges of 4.5-8% and several steeper pitches of 10-13%. The two lane road becomes a single narrow lane as you wind your way up the mountain. Do look around and take in the awesome views of the surrounding mountain and forests!

The sweeping smooth descent on Deer Park Rd is really fun; it drops back down to the valley and crosses Silverado Trail to Hwy 29/St Helena Hwy. The next 7.4 miles on Hwy 29 is really bad; I had no idea road work was being done here or else I would’ve changed the route to avoid the heavy traffic and bad road conditions. Too late now to try and cross traffic-I’m committed and have to keep my focus on the cars beside me and the road ahead of me!

Once I make the turn on Oakville Grade Rd, I can feel the tension from my shoulders roll off my back-WHEW!

The climb up Oakville Grade is a little over a mile long-it’s STEEP! Once you make that first right hand turn, you immediately hit “the wall” with grades of 12-13% up to the gravel pull out area. You get about a 20′ reprieve with easier 9-10% grades and then it kicks up to a steady 16-17% climb! The last quarter-mile up to the top has lesser grades of 9-11%. As I reach the top, I’m wondering why I even added this to the route-only because I’ve never been up the east side, now I never have to do it again!

Anyone out there thinking of training for the Terrible Two and want to get some serious climbing in preparation for Skaggs Springs Rd without going out to Lake Sonoma-this is it! It’s very similar in terrain and steepness; you can even do several out and backs on Oakville Grade to Dry Creek Rd and Trinity Grade!

The 9 mile descent on Dry Creek Rd takes me back down the valley to Napa. I return on Redwood Rd to the Park & Ride lot.

It was a fantastic day to be out on the bike and the weather was perfect! Thanks to Michael for being my private SAG and watching out for my safety! DECIDE, COMMIT, AND SUCCEED! You can do it too!

Thanks to Bob H for leading this ride!

Weds group: ~ 28 people in attendance with 2 tandems

Garmin Stats:
106.62 Miles with 7461′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1301′
Max grade: 17%

Weather: GREAT! Cool overcast morning with temps in the mid 40’s. Sunny, warm & breezy in the afternoon with temps ranging from the high 60’s to the high 80’s. SWS winds.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.  ~Helen Keller


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Follow this route for today’s century:

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