Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Today is the start of our spring cycling week around Santa Barbara County from Buellton, CA. This route goes along the valley for a out and back climb up to the summit of Tepusquet Rd followed by a more challenging climb on Cat Canyon Rd up to Gato Ridge. The loop ends with a third climb up through the gorgeous vineyards around Solomon Hills on Palmer Rd.
This ride begins from the small town of Sisquoc at the corner of Foxen Canyon Rd and Palmer Rd. We exit town and head east on Foxen Canyon Rd towards the open farmlands and Hanson Aggregates.
Foxen Canyon continues along Sisquoc valley through the beautiful vineyards with dramatic views of dark rain clouds looming over the Sierra Madre Mountains. We do get a few light sprinkles but it ends as quickly as it started-it’s still a glorious morning!
We head north on Tepusquet Rd for the Sisquoc River crossing on the fairly new Tepusquet Bridge; this 700 foot bridge was completed back in 2010, it replaced a dirt road that was unusable during the rainy season and connects Tepusquet and Santa Maria Mesa roads with Foxen Canyon Rd.
The climb up Tepusquet Rd begins at the intersection with Santa Maria Mesa Rd at the Kenneth Volk Vineyards. The gentle 4-5% grades leads up to a small ranching community at Tepusquet Canyon with fantastic views of the chaparral covered Las Coches Mountain in the Sierra Madre Range.
The flat to rolling terrain continues to gently climb through the open upper valley towards the woodlands at Ruiz Canyon.
The two lane road becomes a single lane as it winds its way up through the ranching community to Colson Canyon.
Tepusquet Rd continues through the shaded canyon with views of Tepusquet Peak in the far distance.
At mile marker 6.1, the road tilts up to 6-8% grades as we pass a small hidden residential community with cute mail boxes.
The road continues climbing through the wooded canyon with ranch homes and hillside vines.
At mile marker 9.55, the road weaves up around the canyon with increased grades of 8-10%.
Tepusquet summit is at mile marker 10.7 at Blazing Saddle Dr.
The descent on Tepusquet Rd has gentle sweeping turns with some straightaways. The road drops back down into the open valley with scenic views of the valley vineyards and pastoral farmlands.
We cross the Tepusquet Bridge to Foxen Canyon and make our way back to Sisquoc.
We head south on Palmer Rd with great views of the rolling green Solomon Hills, expansive agricultural fields and active oil drilling rigs.
Cat Canyon Rd is occupied by ERG Resources, a productive oil field in the Solomon Hills of central Santa Barbara County. The flat to rolling terrain on Cat Canyon runs SE through the vast oil fields, drilling rigs and pipelines through the canyon.
The road continues for a few miles through cattle ranches and pastoral lands.
The steep climb up to Gato Ridge begins after crossing the cattle guard at mile 32.3. CAUTION-round cattle rails, cross with steady speed and keep your wheels straight!
The road becomes a narrow single lane road with blind curves and steadily climbs for 1.2 miles with grades of 12-14% up to the summit.
Stop along the way up Gato Ridge to enjoy the stunning valley views!
The summit is at mile marker 5.19 at the oil tank batteries. CAUTION-watch for the second round cattle rail crossing!
The 3.9 miles descent on Cat Canyon Rd drops down towards Howard Canyon into the open valley with acreage vineyards and a few ranches.
At the end of Cat Canyon Rd we continue north on US-101 for the next 3.3 miles. The ride along this section of US-101 is not so bad; it has a wide shoulder area with rumble strips, very little debris and fabulous views of the hillside vineyards around Solomon Hills.
We exit US-101 at Palmer Rd and head north through the gorgeous vineyards surrounding the green Solomon Hills.
There is a 0.8 mile climb up through the hills with gradient ranges of 8-10%.
We descend Palmer Rd and return along the flats back to our start in Sisquoc.
This is a wonderful route through quiet back roads with minimal to no traffic and gorgeous scenic views! You get a bit of oil wells, cows, miles of vineyards, shaded canyons, challenging climbs and beautiful countryside scenery. Come on out and ride it!
47.11 Miles with 3346′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1972′
Max grade: 14%
Terrain: Rolling with a few steep climbs
Weather: Partly cloudy with some afternoon sun. Temps ranged from the low 40’s to the low 70’s. NW winds with 59% humidity.
Follow this route for today’s ride: