Saturday, May 17, 2014
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Today’s metric century begins with a challenging steep climb up Mix Canyon Rd followed by a shorter climb up west Cantelow Rd; there is an elevation gain of over 2900′ within the first 17 miles! The rest of the route meanders along the flat agricultural farmlands and orchards around Solano County to Winters. The return to Vacaville includes the beautiful long flat rolling stretch on Pleasants Valley Rd.
We exit Pena Adobe Park onto Rivera Rd and crossover I-80 onto Cherry Glen Rd.
The turn onto Pleasants Valley Rd takes us along Vaca Valley with beautiful views of the open farm and ranch lands, orchards and nurseries.
The rolling climb leads us out through the valley to the open hillside meadows with fabulous views of the Vaca Mountains.
Mix Canyon Rd comes at mile 5.7 on this route; I’m not even quite sure my legs had enough warm up miles but here we are! I only have one strategy for getting up steep climbs and that’s to keep pedaling and focus on moving forward.
Mix Canyon Rd is a single lane road that runs 4.7 miles up through the canyon along Mount Vaca to the summit at Blue Ridge. The pavement ends right at the edge of the Solano and Napa County line.
The first half mile on Mix Canyon Rd takes us through a ranching community with a horse ranch, alpaca farm and a hillside vineyard.
The road narrows as it climbs through the shaded woodlands with 7-9% grades along Ulatis Creek to Twin Fawn Trails at mile marker 1.4.
Mix Canyon continues up along the creek for another mile with 8-10% grades to the scattering of homes at the other end of Twin Fawn Trails.
At mile marker 2.4, the gradient increases dramatically and steadily climbs for the next mile with steep grades of 10-13% up to the second switchback at the pink house.
From this point, there is no relief in sight; the road continues snaking around the mountain with some pretty awesome views! It goes on for another 0.6 mile with 12-15% grades up to the next switchback at the colored guard rails.
The climb on Mix Canyon doesn’t let up; it steadily claws up to the top of the ridge for the remaining 0.7 mile with grades of 16-17% along with a couple of pitches reaching 19%!
The road does ease up with lesser grades of 7-9% for a short 1/10th of mile from under the tree to the summit.
Mix Canyon is an overly steep technical descent on a narrow road with many blind turns-proceed with caution! It only improves when you exit the wooded canyon to the open valley.
We continue on north on Pleasants Valley Rd for the next 1.3 miles to Cantelow Rd.
Cantelow Rd begins on flat terrain along a white picket fence lined road between two ranches.
The climb to the upper guard rail at the summit is 0.8 mile with an average grade of 9.3%.
The road winds up around English Hills with great views of the valley below!
The descent on Cantelow Rd is actually pretty fun; it drops down gently along the lower ridge with fabulous valley views!
We stay on Cantelow Rd to the eastern end at Timm Rd to Midway Rd. The run along Midway Rd has a small series of little rollers that lead out to the flat farm and ranch country towards the I-505 underpass.
We make a brief stop at Oates’ Country Store for a couple of cold drinks and a bag of salty chips.
Midway Rd continues east through the small town of Hartley pass the Midway Paintball Facility and a couple of RV Parks towards Dixon.
This part of the route jogs around the flat farm lands, orchards, canals and agricultural fields around Solano County on N Meridian and Silveyville Rd.
We continue around the valley farms and orchards on Pitt School Rd to Sievers and Stevenson Bridge Rd.
We head west on Putah Creek Rd with fantastic views of the rich expansive agricultural valley.
Putah Creek Rd goes on for 7.1 flat miles through the acres of olive groves and orchards.
We stay on Putah Creek Rd to the I-505 underpass and cross the Winters Bridge over Putah Creek into the town of Winters for lunch at Steady Eddy’s on Main St.
After lunch, we exit Winters and continue west on Putah Creek Rd for the next 5 miles. The road weaves around the orchard fields to the outer valley with new growth nut trees.
Putah Creek Rd continues pass the Putah Diversion Dam and rolls along Putah Creek with gorgeous views of the blue waters at Lake Solano and the tree-lined ridge around English Hills.
We head south on Pleasants Valley Rd for the next 11.6 miles through Vaca Valley. The first few miles take us along the farms and ranches with great views of the surrounding hills and mountains.
The road goes on though horse country with acreage ranches, paddocks and open pastures.
The short rolling climb takes us up and over to yellow and purple wildflower covered hillsides.
Pleasants Valley Rd continues through the open meadows to the small farms and ranches to the south end at Cherry Glen Rd. Cherry Glen leads us back over I-80 to Pena Adobe Park.
This ride is front loaded with climbing and has plenty of scenic flat miles on the back-end to stretch your legs out around the valley. Mix Canyon Rd is one of those climbs that would be on my list under the class of “did it once is enough.” It’s not only unnecessarily steep but it’s also a very nasty descent that requires much caution. That being said, if you have the urge to climb it-bring your climbing legs, low gears and friends to share the pain!
62.86 Miles with 3822′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 2490′
Max grade: 19%
Terrain: Extremely hilly the first 17 miles followed by flat-rolling terrain
Weather: Sunny and warm with temps ranging from 60F to an afternoon high of 98F. SW winds with 68% humidity.
Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile
Follow this route for today’s ride:
Thanks for posting this ride! I did the exact same route today and it was a rewarding ride; the agricultural scenery was much different from what I am used to in the Palo Alto area. I’m happy to say that I made it up all the way to the top of Mix Canyon without stopping. -Yoshi
Yoshi, Congrats on getting up to the top of Mix Canyon, it’s a bear of a climb! Glad you enjoyed the route and the country back roads. It’s always good to be able to get out and ride around the different parts of the Bay Area!