Tuesday, July 9, 2013
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We’re in Napa-today’s century begins from Lake Hennessey for a counter clockwise loop out to Lake Berryessa on Berryessa Knoxville Rd. From Pope Canyon, the long 37 miles stretch of remote road on Knoxville Rd and Morgan Valley Rd leads to the mid-point at Lower Lake. The return south begins on Siegler Canyon Rd for the steep climb on Loch Lomond Rd up to Cobb Mountain and down to Middletown. The last 30 miles goes along Butts Canyon and Pope Valley Rd into Pope Valley with Chiles Pope Valley Rd descending from the valley down to Lake Hennessey.
The beautiful vision of early morning mist rising above the lake is a glorious way to start the day-it’s going to be great!
From Lake Hennessey, we head east on CA-128/Sage Canyon Rd on the south end of Greeg Mountain; this road runs through the canyon and winds along Sage Creek for a short 5-8% climb up towards Nichelini Winery. The road levels out for a short bit and goes through the hillside vineyards under a canopy of trees and quickly drops down to the junction at Turtle Rock.
We continue north on Berryessa Knoxville Rd out to Lake Berryessa for the next 13 miles to the intersection at Pope Canyon Rd. The climb from Capell Cove up to the ridge opens up to spectacular views of the lake! There is a huge Osprey nest on top of a transmission tower; I’m able to catch a shot of the raptor bring back a fish to its chick-AWESOME!
The flat to rolling climbs on this road continues pass Spanish Flat out to the day use areas at Oak Shores and to lake crossing to Pope Canyon Rd. BTW, I did notice a porta-potty in the parking lot next to the Spanish Flat Country Store.
At the parking lot off Pope Canyon; there is another Osprey nest with a chick-I get a shot of the adult Osprey and the body of the chick-GREAT!
At this intersection, the long stretch on Knoxville Rd begins; it’s about 13.4 miles up to the summit with no facilities; the last chance to get water is at Eticuera Day-Use area, it’s right after the last bridge crossing over the lake.
Knoxville Rd becomes a single lane road as it snakes around the dry creek bed of Eticuera Creek on flat to gentle rolling terrain between Blue Ridge and Cedar Roughs. The overall condition of this road is very rough even though some sections have been patched up.
This road meanders through the open and remote landscape surrounding Knoxville Wildlife Area; dry grasslands and oak woodlands, chaparral covered mountains, steep rolling hills, dense pines and cypress.
The road tilts up at mile marker 31.25 with steep 10-12% grades and decreases to gentler 3-5% grades before climbing to grades of 8-10%. The last section up towards the summit at mile marker 33.0 hits 13-15% grades! There is no shade-this is one HOT climb! Knoxville Rd levels out at the top towards the metal tunnel which is the only shaded place to cool down.
The road becomes Morgan Valley Rd as you cross the county line into Lake County. The 13.9 miles along this valley has full sun exposure with little to no shade-be prepared! There are several long rolling climbs followed one blasting descent-don’t be fooled, there’s one more hill with 9-13% grades before the gentle drop to our lunch stop at Lower Lake.
We continue west on CA-29 to Siegler Canyon Rd; it’s a pretty 4 miles stretch of road that follows Siegler Canyon Creek up to Siegler Springs Rd. The climb begins with 4-5 % grades and eases up to 2-3% under the shaded areas and increases to grades of 6-9% as you approach the junction at Big Canyon.
Loch Lomond Rd is a steep mile climb with gradient ranges of 9-13% all the way up to the summit. From the top, we continue on rolling terrain along the wooded forest through the many resorts and camps around Siegler Mountain at Loch Lomond.
We head south on CA-175 through the towns of Adams, Hobergs, Cobb and Whispering Pines before making the smooth fast 7+ miles descent down Cobb Mountain to the bottom at Collayom Valley.
At Middletown, we take Wardlaw St and cross the Historic St Helena Creek Bridge to St Helena Creek Rd; this is a nice detour from staying on busy CA-29. Butts Canyon Rd heads SE along Collayom Valley on flat terrain out to Detert Reservoir and through the vineyards of the Langtry Winery and Estate. The road descend Butts Canyon and crosses the county line into Napa.
The one climb from Snell Valley Rd up to the top of the canyon has gradient ranges of 9-11%.
The road becomes Pope Valley Rd on the drop to other side of the valley; the descending rolling terrain runs through Pope Valley with views of the open grasslands, farms and ranches, the Historic Hubcap Ranch and of course the rolling hillside vineyards!
We pass through the town of Pope Valley and continue SE on Chiles Pope Valley Rd; the one short climb will take you up and over to the open grasslands and vineyards between Recreation Flat and Baldy Mountain. The road conditions for at least the next 4+ miles are pretty bad with very rough pavement and potholes.
Once you pass the last hillside vineyard, the road begins to drop down along Chiles Creek with smooth sweeping turns all the way down the western edge of Greeg Mountain to Lake Hennessey-it’s a fun gorgeous descent!
WOW-we had a fabulous day of riding! Overall, there was little to no traffic for much of the route. This ride is loaded with climbing for the first 65 miles and gently winds down for the last 30 miles back to the start. There’s a lot to see and enjoy on this route; the beautiful lakes and mountains, Ospreys, Bald Eagles, snakes, lots of deer, flocks of wild turkeys, open grasslands, pines and cypress and vineyards galore!
If you can’t stand the heat, the best time to ride out here would be during the fall to late spring when the temperatures are more tolerable. In either case, you would need to bring some food and lots of water to keep yourself hydrated.
This century route is part of the Knoxville Fall Classic Double. Are you ready for a challenge? Bring some friends, your climbing legs and enjoy the remote back roads around Napa-you’ll love it!
110.51 Miles with 8333′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 2940′
Max grade: 15%
Weather: FANTASTIC! Sunny and HOT with mild SW winds. Temps ranged from the high 50’s to the mid 100’s
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
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Follow this route for today’s ride:
Beautiful shots Nancy. Wish I had been there. I like the raptor landing in the nest, the shadow shot of you and Michael (kind of romantic) and the last one. I hope to ride with you guys in a month or so. I am still getting my knee back in shape. I am only up to 60 miles so far…
Brian, Contact me whenever you’re ready and we’ll make plans to meet up for a ride out this way or around the Peninsula. Take care, Nancy
PS-I can only assume you didn’t do the Death Ride last weekend 😦 Get better soon!