If I had a nickel for the number of times Aaron and I have asked ourselves that question mid-ride, I'd probably have at least a dollar. But, alas, we managed to insert our unprepared bodies (and minds) into that situation yesterday, on a 50 mile EPIC through northern Sonoma County. Now, don't get me wrong--it was a beautiful ride, through low-traffic, high view back roads, with a crew from Rivendell that couldn't have been better riding partners--but as we were slogging up the last 5 miles on an 18% grade at 6:30pm, maintaining that positive, grateful perspective was a challenge. That said, neither of us are particularly sore this a.m., and we're already talking about going back for seconds. Check out the photos for now, but stay tuned for a video to be posted soon! (Note: This is a loop from a private home, so if one was to drive & park, I would suggest Cazadero or somewhere along Kings Ridge)
Start--mile 4.5, Meyers Grade Road, between Jenner and Fort Ross. Mellow rollers at the top of a ridge. Views of the Pacific, redwoods, and hills to the East. Meyers Grade becomes Fort Ross Rd for a short stint, then Fort Ross turns West toward the coast, and the straight road becomes Seaview. The rollers become more, well, rolling now, longer and steeper. The road changes names one more time (Hauser Bridge) and descends down to what I think is Cazadero Creek, or some other tributary of the Russian River. At this point, the climb begins in earnest, and at the next T, turn right to continue on Kings Ridge Road. Wow. The kind of road cyclists dream about. Almost no traffic, winding between two valleys, with views of Mt. Saint Helena, and quiet farmlands. We paused at the top to take a few photos, and for Vaughn to terrorize some poor cows. Don't be alarmed--they had their revenge in the form of an intimidating "mama" cow who stood her ground and threatened to charge, and, later, a herd that broke out of their pasture and ran along the road for 1/4 mile, forcing us to stop and watch! Kings Ridge eventually decends steeply to Cazadero, in a forest of redwoods. We stopped in Cazadero at the General Store for fuel, then proceeded up the final climb on Fort Ross Road. I'm estimating, but the grade was 10-18% for almost 5 miles, with one short break in the middle. I reminded myself not to pray for a change of my circumstances, but the strength to deal with them (thanks Daya Mata!)--I believe it worked, because somehow, I found some adrenaline in the last mile and sped up (well, probably from 5 mph to 8 mph, for perspective!) to Meyers Grade, where we completed the loop. Total riding time: 4 hours 15 minutes.