Northern California Climbs Bicycle Tour
Stage 1: Mill Valley to Occidental
Stage 1 is a rolling "promenade" to get your legs prepared for the days to come. We depart from Mill Valley, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and work our way north through the grasslands and rolling hills of northern Marin and southern Sonoma counties. With 63 miles of gentle grades, the total elevation climb is nominal compared to the rest of the tour. The feed zone is a quaint little grocery/diner in the tiny town of Valley Ford. The final push is a short climb through the redwoods of the Bohemian Highway, to a hilltop finish in Occidental.
Stage 2: Occidental to Healdsburg
Stage 2 starts out with short climbs over two of the prettiest roads in the area: Green Valley and Mays Canyon. These little climbs will be useful in getting the legs ready for the notorious Sweetwater Springs Road. Although the climb is only about 2 miles long, it gains more than 1,000 feet in elevation with grades up to 17%. After this, the next couple of climbs will seem like mole hills! One of these "mole hills" is a popular route with the local cyclists, called Chalk Hill. We end our 57 mile (and approximately 2500 feet of climbing) ride in the swank little town of Healdsburg.
Stage 3: Healdsburg to Boonville
On Stage 3 we head into the mountains for the first big challenge of the tour. Known by local cyclists simply as "The Geysers", the road offers the largest vertical gain in the region. Challenging, remote, and spectacular, the road climbs relentlessly away from the valley, reaching the summit at 2700 feet. Continuing our sojourn north we end the day in the Anderson Valley at the small town of Boonville. At a total of 66 miles with about 4500 feet of climbing, this is truly a climbing stage.
Stage 4: Boonville Loop
The Queen Stage of the tour, Stage 4 is a loop ride of 75 miles, with 5500 feet of climbing. Beginning and ending in Boonville, the route takes in Orr Springs Road, one of the most remote and challenging climbs in California. After attaining its 2500-foot summit in 6 miles, the road plunges down to Montgomery Woods State Reserve – site of some of the tallest redwood trees on earth. At the little town of Comptche, the route heads back beneath the redwoods of Anderson Valley to Boonville. Since this route starts and ends in Boonville, this stage can be taken as a rest day.
Stage 5: Boonville to Sea Ranch
Although today's stage is only 52 miles with a "mere" 3700 feet of climbing, challenges await. The tiny Mountain View road climbs steeply into the Coastal Range – attaining two summits of 2400 feet in just 11 miles – then drops all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The route then rolls south along the water's edge on the scenic Highway 1. Today's destination is the dramatic Sea Ranch Lodge, where every room has a spectacular view of the ocean.
Stage 6: Sea Ranch to Bodega Bay
After yesterday's relatively easy stage, today we are back to climbing! We ride 60 miles and climb 4500 feet as we turn east and head back into the coastal range. First up is steep and shady Skaggs Spring Road, then over the famous ridgetop ride of King Ridge Road, made popular by Levi Leipheimer's GranFondo. Then it's back down into the redwoods and through the Bohemian Highway where we pick up Coleman Valley Road, with a grand view of the Pacific Ocean from its 1,100-foot summit. Then it's a quick descent back down to Highway 1 and into Bodega Bay where we spend the night at the Bodega Bay Lodge.
Stage 7: Bodega Bay to Mill Valley
This is the final climbing stage of the tour. The first part of the 66 miles is relatively flat on Highway 1, until Bolinas where we attain the coastal ridgetop once again. Emerging from the redwoods, the ridgetop views of the Pacific to the west and San Francisco Bay to the east are jaw-dropping. Topping off this spectacular stage is a climb up Mt. Tamalpias (Mt. Tam to the locals), probably the most popular of climbs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mt Tam's summit at 2500 feet provides the greatest view of the entire San Francisco Bay. Tonight we celebrate in Mill Valley, on the waters of Richardson Bay.
Stage 8: Mill Valley Loop
Today is a victory lap for the riders. We will be celebrating the conquering of five major peaks in Sonoma County in this cool down while regaling each other of your feats of cycling prowess and strength. Well done!