Once again the starting point will be “up in the Sierras” at 7100 feet in Bear Valley! This year's route will be essentially the same as last year, with some minor tweaking and simplifying, just to give the route director something to do!
For those who purchased a bus ticket, we’ll gather Saturday morning in San Jose for the bus ride to Bear Valley. In the afternoon we will open registration at Bear Valley where you will be given your jersey, route sheets, and other material. A welcome reception will be held, followed by a dinner that evening.
Day one has granite outcroppings, lush meadows, very tall pine trees and upper Gold Country byways and vistas seldom seen by the tourist crowds. The initial 45 mile descent from Bear Valley will give you a thrill. This year, we will head away from Sheep Ranch road in favor of a brand new route with less climbing that will allow you to visit the wonderful little towns of Murphys, Angels Camp, San Andreas and Mokelumne Hill. While there are no steep climbs today, the many small uphills will still add up to a noticeable challenge. Be sure to rest, refuel and rehydrate often as you visit our two well placed rest stops and explore the many shops and services available in the towns you will pass through in between. Although the elevation at our destination in Jackson is almost 6,000 feet below Bear Valley, you will still be climbing nearly 5,000 feet today, which means the total descending will be over 11,000 feet in 70+ miles. Ya can't do that in Kansas! See map and links.
Day two travels north from Jackson up to Sutter Creek then out through Ione and through some playful rolling grass and oak studded hills. Pass along the north shore of Camanche Reservoir before navigating “the staircase” on quiet Central Valley agricultural back roads. After lunching at a cool shaded winery, continue west and back in time to our second overnight location, out in the Sacramento River Delta at the Ryde Hotel! Once a hideaway for the rich and famous, this delightfully original art deco speakeasy has 30+ rooms, shady lawns, a swimming pool, patio dining before sunset and a nine hole golf course! See map and links.
Day three has California's last two delta ferryboat crossings, both within the first 10 river levee miles! You'll continue south along the levee into Rio Vista and refuel on a monster donut at the Rio Vista Bakery before you continue southwest into the rolling Montezuma Hills and the SMUD owned high tech wind farm. Don't worry; the head winds usually wait till afternoon! Our route skirts eastern Fairfield, an Air Force base, then into downtown Vacaville before traveling north into the delightfully rural Pleasants Valley and on to Lake Solano Park, same destination as years past, including those wonderful peacocks! 2100 ft gain in 61 miles. See map and links.
Day four route continues west via Hwy 128 and crosses the tour's half way point! It first ascends into the river canyon, climbs past Monticello Dam and then over "Cardiac Hill" in Napa County. You will head north through vineyards and forest into Pope Valley and a new stop at Family Farm on Ink Grade Rd. This will give you a chance to catch your breath during the challenging four mile climb up Ink Grade to the quiet burg of Angwin. Your reward is the amazing descent down into the Napa Valley; it's one of the best! While camping is provided at the Napa Countty Fairgrounds, this might also be a good night for a mid tour hotel room splurge! Dinner tonight is on your own at one of the many great restaurants in downtown Calistoga.See map and links.
Day five heads for the famous Sonoma wine region via delightful back roads then north to the Jimtown Store and into and the world famous Dry Creek Valley. You'll enjoy two winery rest stops today! So after a sample or two, have the Sag van carry your purchases to camp so you can enjoy the Russian River towns of Rio Nido, Guerneville and Monte Rio while marveling at the mighty Sequoia Sempervirons en route to our camp beside the Russian River in Duncans Mills. If you arrive in Guerneville early enough, consider taking a ~5 mile round trip detour to Armstrong Redwoods Park, a great place to eat a picnic lunch or just ride through the majestic trees. There is a non-supported "hard" option available today that tackles the challenging and steep Sweetwater Rd. Option A bypasses the second rest stop and adds ~1000 ft of gain in the same 59 mile distance. See map and links.
Day six has the tour finally reaching the other part of its name sake, the beautiful Pacific Ocean! The route to the coast takes us first to Occidental for a snack or second breakfast at the famous Howards Café. After that, the primary route departs Occidental to the west via the stunning climbs and ridges of Coleman Valley Rd. This road provides spectacular views of the ocean, as long as the fog has pulled back. Turn left at the end of Coleman valley road to imbibe in coastal vistas of "haystacks" and grey sand beaches as you cruise down world famous Hwy. 1 and into Bodega Bay. Culinary options abound today as you continue through rolling fields with dairy cows to cheer you on before the one rest stop in Valley Ford, then either Tomales, along the scenic Tomales Bay in Marshall or finally Point Reyes Station. Or maybe you could try them all before our last overnight, just south of Point Reyes Station in Olema! If you're looking for a shorter route with less climbing, then you might consider the non-supported "option A" which continues south on Bohemian Hwy out of Occidental and past Wildflour Bakery where you can sample many baked goods, including some truly delicious (and monstrous) sticky buns. The main route has 4600 ft of gain in 57 miles, Option A reduces the climbing to 2700 ft and the distance to 43 miles. See map and links.
Day Seven has just 38 miles. The last day's route is fairly easy compared to the first few days. We cruise along Bolinas Bay, stop for coffee in Stinson Beach, then hit the 1500 ft climb over the shoulder of Mount Tamalpias. The fast descent into Mill Valley is followed by the world famous views along the bay in Sausalito. Your first views of the now 75 year old Golden Gate Bridge come into view in Fort Baker, then a short climb, onto the western sidewalk of the Golden Gate Bridge, and south through the city by the bay as you roll the last mile into Golden Gate Park for a delicious catered lunch spread! 4000 ft gain in 38 miles. Total for the tour: 400+ miles & 27,000+ ft gain in seven days of riding!See map and links.
We hope this quick overview is sufficient to entice you to train hard this coming winter and spring so you can join your fellow cyclists on the challenging and rewarding Sierra to the Sea!
This page was last updated on
May 10, 2013
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