Valley of the Moon Century

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

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Today’s century starts in Napa and meanders through the gorgeous vineyards to the south and highlights some challenging climbs around Sonoma Valley aka “Valley of the Moon” to the west. The valley is located in southeastern Sonoma County between the Mayacamas Mountains and Sonoma Mountains. The major climbs of the day includes Mt Veeder Rd, east Dry Creek Rd “the backside of Trinity Rd”, Sonoma Mountain Rd, Bennett Valley Rd and finishes with a steep climb up Trinity Grade back to Dry Creek.

We begin on Redwood Rd and take Browns Valley Rd to Thompson Ave for a 16 miles south loop around the beautiful vineyards and wineries around the Carneros region of Sonoma County.

The short rolling climbs on Las Amigas Rd and Duhig Rd have outstanding scenic views of the acres and acres of grapevines growing along the valley floor and lining the hillsides.

The flats on Dealy Ln take us to the very short hill on Henry Rd and drop us down to Buhman Rd for the return into Napa on Browns Valley Rd.

Redwood Rd from the intersection at Browns Valley is a quiet back road with minimal traffic and great pavement; the gentle grade on this road goes 2.6 miles through the gorgeous wooded canyon along Redwood Creek.

At the point where Redwood Rd veers to the left at the red farm house, we continue straight on Mt Veeder Rd for the 4.2 mile climb up to the summit at Wing Canyon. The upper sections of this road have steeper grades of 9-10% and maxes out at around 12% as you near the top. Take a moment to enjoy the mountains views before heading down the very bumpy road to Dry Creek Rd.

At the bottom of Mt Veeder Rd, we hang a left for the climb up the east side of Dry Creek Rd; it’s a beautiful wooded 2.5 miles up to the vineyards at Trinity Rd with an average grade of 8.3%.

We cross into Sonoma County on Trinity Rd for the twisty steep 3+ miles descent down to CA-12/Sonoma Hwy heading south to the Valley of the Moon.

CA-12/Sonoma Hwy is a very busy road with lots of traffic with little to no shoulder area; it’s a fast 5.1 flat miles along the many vineyards of this valley through the small towns of Agua Caliente, Fetter Hot Springs and Boyes Hot Springs. “The Springs” draws many vacationers and tourists to the surrounding hotels and spas.

We cut through on Boyes Blvd to go north on Arnold Dr; this flat road goes pass the Sonoma Golf Club up to the towns of Eldridge and Glen Ellen.

The climb up London Ranch Rd in Glen Ellen takes us to our lunch stop at the Jack London State Historic Park. The parking lot area near the Visitors Center has picnic tables with water and restrooms.

We exit the park and drop back down to Warm Springs Rd for the next climb up Sonoma Mountain Rd. This road stair steps for 3 miles up to the summit near the Somona Mountain Zen Center. This less traveled road has wonderful scenery of the surrounding oaks and meadows, rolling vineyards and distant mountain vistas.

The first mile up to Waldrue Heights has steep grades of 8-13%, this is followed by a short descent and another mile climb with gradient ranges of 6-7% with steeper pitches of 10-11%. The road eventually levels out a bit as you roll pass the ranches and vineyards into the stunning redwoods.

We head south on Pressley Rd for the next 2.9 miles down to Crane Creek Park; the descent has amazing views of Sonoma Mountains and Valley! Robert Ranch Rd drops us out onto Petaluma Hill Rd.

We stay on Pleasant Hill Rd for the next flat 7.4 miles from the outskirts of Cotati to Santa Rosa; this road has expansive views of the open meadows, vineyards and surrounding hills. A little jog through Santa Rosa on Aston and Brookwood takes us along the backside of the Sonoma County Fairgrounds out to Bennett Valley Rd. It’s gotten very toasty out here so we opt to make a quick stop at a Subway on Farmer Ln for water & ice before the long stretch up Bennett Valley.

Bennett Valley Rd heads SE for 10.1 miles of flat to gentle rolling terrain through Taylor and Bennett Mountains with views of the growing grapevines. This is also a busy connector road between Santa Rosa and the Valley of the Moon, so be attentive and watch and listen for traffic!

The descent on Bennett Valley brings us back to Warm Springs Rd and Arnold Dr. The short half mile stretch on CA-12 takes us to the final climb of the day on Trinity Grade. Trinity Grade is a steep 3+ mile climb up to the top just pass Cavedale Rd with steady double digit grades ranging from 12-16%!

At the top, Trinity Rd levels out along the hillside and winds out and around the trees to the valley below. The road quickly tilts downwards and it’s a twisty descent on smooth pavement with lots of tight turns-many have crashed on this road in the Terrible Two double century. Better to be cautious, soft pedal the steep corkscrew section and enjoy the rest of the fun downhill on Dry Creek Rd. At the bridge crossing over the creek, the road gradually descends mildly to the intersection at Mt Veeder Rd. 

We continue straight on Dry Creek Rd for the next 8.5 miles out to Napa Valley. I always like to stop right before the long descent to check out the iron sculptures of the dinosaurs and monkeys on the right hand side of the road. The huge T-Rex welcomes everyone who passes by with a big roar!

The last few flat miles goes along the valley into Napa and brings us back to the Park N Ride lot off Solano Ave.

This ride explores the beautiful back roads around the Valley of the Moon with challenging climbs, dramatic mountain views and scenic vistas! Come enjoy it for yourself and bring a friend!

Garmin Stats:
102.34 Miles with 8606′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1556′
Max grade: 16%

Weather: Great! Overcast, humid misty morning skies turning to brilliant sunshine in the afternoon. Temps ranged from the high 50’s to the high 90’s with mild SW winds.

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Find a way, not an excuse.
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2 Comments

  1. Great riding in the Santa Rosa/Sonoma/Napa area. We hit these roads quite often and it’s no surprise that more than a few pro riders live and train there. Really enjoying the fotos!

    Thanks-looking forward to do more riding around Sonoma County soon!

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  2. Hi,

    Sorry I missed you guys on Saturday, when I was descending the Olema Hill. I recognized you just as we were even across, but I was a little concerned about the one lane issue up ahead, and it was too late to say HI.

    Diane told me about your RV, and you are living every cyclists dream.

    Hope you were able to see some Elephant Seals at Chimney Rock!

    Stay in touch.

    Best, Bill Stephens.

    Bill, It was great to be able to talk a few with Diane-we definitely need to get together!
    No elephant seals at Chimney Rock that day.
    Hope to see you soon. Nancy

    _____

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