Category Archives: Northern California Coast

Comptche to Ukiah

Distance: 29 miles one way
Elevation gain: 3890 ft

(A Best of the Best ride)

There are three routes to get from the Mendocino coast to the Lake Mendocino area of Hwy 101: Hwy 20, Hwy 128, and this one. They couldn’t be more different. Hwy 20, from Fort Bragg to Willits, is gorgeously wooded but a death-trap for bikes, a heavily-trafficked road of blind corners and no shoulder. I’ve never seen a bike on it, for good reason. Hwy 128 and Hwy 253, from Albion through Boonville to Ukiah, a leg of which is part of the Mendocino/Comptche ride, is mostly a mellow, nearly flat cruise through domesticated farmland and riparian redwoods. Our route (called at its west end Comptche-Ukiah Road and at its east end Orr Springs Road, with a name change somewhere in the middle) is a different beast, a dramatic, demanding roller-coaster. It’s one of the best rides in California, constantly serpentining and climbing up and down (it’s never flat) through several kinds of pretty-to-gorgeous terrain on an almost-car-free road (I met perhaps 10 cars) that ranges in size from small two-lane to tiny.

There are two drawbacks that may keep it from being your favorite ride. First, it’s too hard as an out-and-back for all but the hardiest of riders—57 miles and 7310 ft., with 12 miles of demanding climbing. So I’ve mapped it as a one-way ride. In the Adding Miles section below I’ve suggested some possible return routes.

Second, most of the road surface is OK to great, but about 6 miles are in poor shape, and they’re the 6 miles where it hurts you the most: the 2-mile descent at mile 8 and the 4-mile descent at mile 23. In both cases, otherwise ripping descents are turned into jar-fests with lots of braking. Not fun.  If you’re on fat tires it will probably be OK.

Besides 30 miles of exhilarating road contour and beautiful isolation, the route offers two fine perks: Orr Hot Springs, a small, charming Hippy holdover, and Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, a fine stand of old-growth redwoods with a short loop trail.  Each is well-worth an hour’s stop-over.

All but 6 miles of the ride are mellow meandering up and down or blazing descending, but all the hard work is in that 6 miles—a two-mile climb about 2 miles into the ride and a four-mile climb right after Orr Hot Springs. Those two climbs make this one of the hardest 29-mile rides I’ve ever done.

The ride is about as good in the other direction, and through-riders might like to use it to get from Hwy 101 to Hwy 1 and Mendocino, but don’t think that just because it’s going west from the heights of the Coast Range to the ocean it’s all down—it’s 3420 ft of gain going west, only slightly less than the gain going east, and the ups are steep.

There is no water source along the route except a few private houses and Orr Hot Springs, so plan accordingly.

Start in the tiny town of Comptche, which consists of a few houses, a rustic school, a rustic church, and a classic, friendly corner mercantile worth a visit (when it’s open, which in 7/23 was every day but Sunday). Head east on Comptche-Ukiah Road, the only road that isn’t Flynn Creek Road. After a short 2-mile warm-up on rollers, you do a vigorous 2-mile climb on 7-11% pitches. The road surface, recently redone, is glass from Comptche to around Mile 7, then merely good to around Mile 10. You’ll have some town traffic in the first mile or two, but soon the houses and farms end and you should have the road pretty much to yourself for the rest of the ride.

If you’ve ridden the Mendocino/
Comptche ride
route from Hwy 1 to Comptche, you know how drop-dead gorgeous the woods are there. East of Comptche the climate is a little dryer, so instead of redwood rainforest you get oaky woods, but it’s still lovely.

At the fairly noticeable summit the road begins to roll up and down (as I say, the route is never flat) for about 5 miles. You begin hitting short sections of road with poor pavement, but they’re interspersed with sections of new glass, and it never gets troublesome. Then you see a sign that reads “next 2 miles, 10% (down)” and you begin about 2 miles of serious descending, 10-15%, which is one of two compelling arguments against riding the route east to west (the other being the 4-mile climb at the east end).

It isn’t my favorite descent in the world. It’s too steep to be liberating, and the chipseal is just bad enough to shake you up. Big tires and disc brakes may partly obviate this.

At the bottom of the descent you begin a 7-mile stretch of gradually rising rollers, the nearest to flat on the route. The scenery, which was always lovely, gets better as you hit a wetter microclimate, and soon redwoods reappear and you’re in paradisial forest. The road contour is lovely, a gentle meandering up and down and back and forth. Most of this road surface is un-ideal chipseal, but it’s not bad enough to ruin your wa.

When the redwoods reach their peak you hit Montgomery Woods State Natural Preserve (unmissable on your R), a lovely short walking lollipop trail through the best of the trees. Bikes are forbidden, and it’s a bit of a climb to get to the loop of good trees, but you can still stop, sample the ambience, read the historical placards, and use the bathrooms by the entrance.

The road, which was always small, has been getting smaller (the center line is long gone), and right after Montgomery it gets laughably narrow. Enjoy it—it will return to normal two-lane width soon enough.

You may see walkers along the road here, because Montgomery is a mile or two down the road from the route’s other plum, Orr Hot Springs (unmissable on your R). This small but developed hot springs has nothing in common with big operations like Harbin Hot Springs or Wilbur Hot Springs. It’s usually almost deserted, which is good because the hot springs can only handle about 4 people at once, consisting merely of a large roofed barrel and a shallow, rocky puddle. The expansive flower gardens are an unexpected but joyful draw—walking among the blooms is as restorative as the hot water. It’s all very peaceful and solitary. Consider begging for water here, because you have 12 miles of hard, exposed, and potentially hot riding still to do.

Immediately beyond Orr, the route begins its most demanding climb, 4 miles of tough pitches that for the first 2 miles are brutal. Those first two miles are probably never over c. 12%, but they’re also never much below 10%, and it wears on you. After the first two miles it’s just standard hard, 8-10%. To make matters worse, when the climbing starts, the terrain changes, from lush redwood canopy to open, grassy hillsides with the occasional spot of oat-tree shade, so if you’re riding on a summer afternoon expect to be cooked. When I started in Comptche it was 55 degrees—on the big climb it was 95. The good news is that, as the climbing starts, the road surface turns to glass.

At the top of the 4-mile climb, the laborious climbing is done for the ride.

This new rolling grassy landscape lasts until the end of the ride, and it’s really quite rewarding in its way, with a lot of serpentining in the road contour and lots of big vistas in all directions. For the first time in the ride, you can see more than 30 yards of the road ahead of or behind you. At times you can see all the way to the coast behind you, about 40 miles.

Looking west at the road behind you from east of Orr Hot Springs

At mile 21, you start the big descent, 4 miles of spectacular dropping down along the sidehill of a canyon. I had the highest of hopes, but I didn’t like it at all. The road surface is poor, so you find yourself getting seriously beaten up and spending all your time looking for the least jarring lines through the broken pavement, and the pitch is so steep you have to brake constantly and hard to keep from being beaten to death and/or thrown off the road. Again, disc brakes and fat tires may mitigate the worst of this.

Typical terrain for the last 8 miles

Once off the hill, you roll under Hwy 101 and T into North State Street just north of central Ukiah. Here there is nothing but some commercial/ industrial activity, and here I abandon you to look for a way home.

Shortening the ride: You can turn around any time. The first logical turn-around spot is at the first summit—round trip distance 8 miles but it’s a demanding 8 miles.  It’s a very nice descent, with great pavement, good sight lines, and gentle turns that don’t require much braking. East from the summit it rolls for about 5 miles, so you can continue on without a major climbing penalty and turn around at the “Next 2 miles, 10% (down)” sign—round trip 17 miles. Beyond that point, you’ve got a rough and tough 2-mile climb coming back, so continuing is an investment.

Adding miles: Obviously the simplest extension is to turn around and ride back the way you came, which of course doubles the distance and almost exactly doubles the climbing effort. The two major climbs you encounter heading west are both daunting. If you don’t like out-and-backs and are willing to put in a very long day, you can loop the route, and it’s almost all great stuff: from our end point, go south, through Ukiah proper to Boonville-Ukiah Road, take BUR, go R onto Hwy 128, ride 128 to Flynn Creek Rd. and take Flynn Creek Rd. back to Comptche—80 miles, 8340 ft gain (so it’s easier than the out-and-back route, since it’s a little more climbing spread over a lot more miles). All these legs except for the few miles through Ukiah proper are discussed in other Bestrides posts (you can search for them) and are top-quality miles.

If you want to keep the return miles to a minimum but don’t like out-and-backs, there is a mythic road that will take you almost straight back to your starting point: Masonite Road. It takes off from Orr Springs Rd. just outside Ukiah and wanders around until it rejoins Hwy 128 just east of Flynn Creek Rd. It’s 35 miles, 3070 ft, so it’s a much easier ride than Comptche-Ukiah/Orr Springs Rd. in either direction. Here’s a map. My sources tell me it’s officially a “private” road and gated off to cars but bikes are welcome. Google “Masonite Road” for more details. It sounds dreamy, except for one thing: it’s 75% gravel, so it’s not for me.

When in the town of Comptche you’re at the midpoint of our Mendocino/Comptche ride.

Mendocino Coastal

Distance: 26 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 1600 ft

I’m not a fan of cycling Highway 1. The scenery is peerless, but the traffic is often murder and the road profile tends to long, straight, enormous rollers. But in some places there are frontage roads paralleling Hwy 1, and these can be charming, with all the pluses of Hwy 1 and none of the minuses.

One of the best places to explore back roads along Hwy 1 is Mendocino. This ride strings together the best of them, and adds a pleasant climb and a final short jaunt on excellent dirt through prime woodlands. It’s all easy riding, and the scenic riches almost defy description. In a brief 12 miles are packed grand ocean vistas, the world-famous village of Mendocino, the also-world-famous Mendocino Headlands, a delicious State Park with fern canyons and more world-class headlands, some pretty coastal farmland, a sea lion rookery, an adorable lighthouse, a small cove with its own beach and 50’s beach store, and the afore-mentioned woodlands. To tie all this together you ride two short stretches of Hwy 1, both with grand ocean spectacle to the west if the traffic whizzing past you will let you appreciate it.

This is not a life-changing ride but an extremely pleasant one. There are at least 5 spots along this route where getting off the bike and walking is almost mandatory, so take shoes and a lock, or promise yourself you’ll come back in a car.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37941180

(This map has you riding out to the lighthouse in both directions.)

You can cut this ride up any way you like or begin anywhere you like. I’m starting at the southernmost point of the route. Drive a half mile or so south of Mendocino village, across the bridge over Big River and past the Comptche Ukiah Rd turn-off, and turn R onto Road 500B (named after Jedediah 500B, an early explorer and trapper).  Googlemaps and other maps call it Brewery Gulch Road, but it’s clearly signed “Road 500B” at both ends.  Make sure you’re on the Brewery Gulch Road that’s on the west side of Hwy 1—there’s one on the east side too. Parking can be scarce—you might have better luck on the east side of Hwy 1 or on Hwy 1 itself, or just ride from Mendocino village.

Brewery Gulch Road, our first frontage road, is less than a mile long and has a rough road surface, but the sense of being alone on a secret road is intense and it has the best view of the town of Mendocino there is—better than the view all those hikers get pounding around the Mendocino Headlands.

Mendocino village from Road 500B

Quickly Brewery Gulch deadends at Hwy 1 (notice our Mendocino/Comptche ride is directly across the highway). Turn L on Hwy 1 and ride across the bridge to Mendocino, enjoying the views of the Big River estuary if traffic allows. A dreamy way to pass a day is to rent a canoe at the canoe rental place at the mouth of the river and paddle upstream. Take the first L into the village (from Hwy 1 you can’t see the town, but the turn is unmissable) and ride along Main Street, quite possibly the most charming Main Street in the US. There’s a nice public bathroom on the ocean side of the street if you already need one, and a great little museum in the building adjacent to it. Consider taking the time to explore Mendocino’s world-famous vibe (Main Street’s book store, the Gallery Book Store, is my favorite book store anywhere), or just make a note to come back and spend a day.

When Main Street goes R, go with it and ride the 3 or so blocks to Little Lake Road. Turn L (toward the ocean) on LLR, which once out of town becomes Heeser Rd. Heeser, like 500B, is fairly rough riding but the headlands on the ocean side are without peer. You have to get off the bike and walk 50 ft to see them at their best—ideally, walk out onto the fingers of land that jut out into the sea—or once more promise to return if you can’t stop now.

The Mendocino Headlands at sunset

Heeser deadends at Lansing St. Go L and ride Lansing to its deadend on Hwy 1. Go L on Hwy 1. This next leg passes through very pretty forest with some magnificent glimpses of shoreline to the west, but it’s invariably trafficky and can be a white-knuckle experience, especially on the bridge crossings where the shoulder disappears. It’s soon over, as you turn L toward Russian Gulch State Park (clearly signed). You’re crossing traffic here, and the cars are doing 60 mph, so exercise caution.

Twenty feet down your new road, it T’s, and the road goes L into the park or R onto Pt. Cabrillo Drive. We’re eventually heading R/north, but Russian Gulch is a stunning place. It encompasses both a rainforest canyon of redwoods and ferns with an easy walking trail along the creek that will heal any and all psychic wounds, and a chunk of headlands with all the grandeur of those in Mendocino without the hectic multitudes of sight-seers. Once again, make a note to return for a day (there is a fee) and head north on Pt. Cabrillo Drive.

Pt. Cabrillo Drive

Pt. Cabrillo Drive is the second of our frontage roads. It meanders through gentle rollers, past eucalyptus groves, small farms, turkeys, and deer. Midway along it, you pass the turn-off to the Cabrillo Point Lighthouse (or Light Station, as it’s officially called). It’s a half-mile detour, and you’re welcome to ride right to the lighthouse complex, which is extensive. There is the lighthouse itself, not a tall tower (since the land it stands on is high above the water) but a perfectly charming thing that’s still in operation, and lots of outbuildings, many of which—two museums, the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, and others—are open to visitors. The lighthouse has infrequent tours of the lens upstairs, but is mainly a very nice gift shop staffed by a knowledgeable docent. Once again, if you don’t want to stop make a note to return.

Point Cabrillo Light Station and museum

At its north end, Pt. Cabrillo Dr. goes through an unexpected, unmissable hairpin just before it drops to the beach. On the outside of the turn, turn L on S. Caspar Dr., ride about 1/4 mi., and turn R. onto Headlands Point Way (behind a large gate) to Caspar Headlands St. Preserve, an undeveloped but lovely postage stamp of a park sandwiched between residences and the home of Sea Lion Rock, a rookery where the sea lions are almost always on display. You’ll hear them long before you see them.

Caspar Headlands State Preserve, with the rookery on the farthest rock

The preserve is signed (on the gate), but you may think you’re unwelcome because there’s a lot of evidence that the locals would rather you went somewhere else. There is the gate across Headlands Point Way (there’s a person-sized gap for you to walk through), there is a “private drive” sign, and another sign that reads “Moving gate may cause death.” In other words, “Welcome, guests!” Ride 50 yards down Headlands Point Way to the turn-around, then cycle or walk the 50 feet of dirt path to the cliff’s edge. There is a tiny but delightful warren of footpaths along the cliff, and the sea lions are on a rock just offshore (further out at high tide). You should have the place to yourself.

Returning to Pt. Cabrillo Dr., swoop down to Caspar Beach, a throwback to an earlier time with a small RV park and a beach mercantile, with surfboard rentals and pool tables. It’s a cute spot, but there are much better beaches in the Mendocino area, so I recommend you soak up the ambiance and move on.

Approaching Caspar Beach from the north side

At Caspar Beach you’re at sea level. You now climb 720 ft to the turn-around point of the ride. Make the short climb back up to Hwy 1 and go straight across onto what the maps call Caspar Little Lake Road but which is only signed as Rd 409.

The Caspar Beach store

The first 100 yards of 409 are steep, but it’s the only steepness you’ll see on the route. Thereafter it’s a few miles of steady, easy climbing through pleasant but unspectacular greenery until the road turns to dirt. Even if you hate dirt, do not turn around—this is why you’ve climbed the hill. The dirt is glass—better than a lot of pavement—the road is flat, and the trees, while not old-growth, are especially lovely. I liked it so much I came back the next day and rode it again.

The dirt at the end of 409

At around the 12-mile mark, 409 T’s into Little Lake Road, the very same Little Lake Road you were on for 50 yards as you exited Mendocino village (it’s unsigned—there’s a sign that says “Mendocino Woodlands” with an arrow to the left). At this point you have a choice. If you go R on LLR it will descend steadily and drop you smack in the midst of Mendocino village. If you’re a loop person, go for it, but the road surface is poor and I didn’t enjoy it. So I prefer to turn around and re-experience all the lovely stuff on the outbound route a second time. It’s up to you.

Shortening the route: You can choose any segment of the route you like—it’s all good—but I’d recommend the Pt. Cabrillo Dr. leg.

Adding miles: The route takes you by the foot of our Mendocino/Comptche ride.

You can ride south on Hwy 1 to Navarro Ridge Rd (see the Mendocino/ Comptche ride Adding Miles section).

There is little that appeals north of our route. At the turnaround point you can go L on Little Lake Road, but it just leads to a warren of dirt roads and never hooks up with anything of importance. Riding Hwy 1 north toward Fort Bragg isn’t rewarding.

Leggett to the Sea

Distance: 44 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 6030 ft

The position of Bestrides has always been, avoid Highway 1 like the death-trap it is. The traffic is constant, irritable, and staring out to sea, and there’s no room for you.  But all generalizations have their exceptions, and there are stretches of Hwy 1 worth riding:  the Chileno Valley Rd and the Muir Woods loops come to mind.  And this stretch of Hwy 1, the northernmost, while still busy, is more than worth your time.  It’s grand.  It’s a lot of climbing (only about 2 of the 44 miles are anything like flat), and there is only one break in the forest wall, at the turn-around.  But that one break is a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean, the forest wall is often primeval redwoods, and none of the climbing is brutal.  The road contour is perfect for descending—endless serpentining, curvy enough to be exhilarating, not so tight that you’re constantly on your brakes, all beautifully banked for speed.  And of course you can continue on from the turn-around point and ride as much of Hwy 1 as you want to.

There are two flies in this otherwise-blissful ointment.  The first is traffic.  It’s busy.  But it’s less busy than almost any other leg of Hwy 1, because most tourists are interested in the stretch between Fort Bragg and Big Sur.  And it’s nobody’s commuter route, so the drivers are not in a hurry.  The real problem is construction equipment: any wet winter causes damage along Hwy 1, so most summers there’s a steady stream of gravel trucks going to and from the construction site(s).  It’s not as bad as it sounds—there is little shoulder but room to pass—but if it bothers you you might choose to ride in the fall, when the construction is probably complete.  Even so, I did this ride midday on a Monday in July, the road crews were busy, yet I did long stretches of riding the center line in solitude.

The second ointment fly is the road surface.  It ranges from glassy to tooth-rattling chipseal.  When it’s rough, it definitely takes the edge off the descending.  When it’s smooth, there is nothing better.

There are no services on this ride, and a lot of climbing, so plan your water.  Since it’s mostly downhill for the first 18 miles, you can carry extra water without a performance penalty and drop it partway in.

If you prefer loops to out-and-backs, there is a lovely one at the end of Adding Miles.

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Philo-Greenwood Road

Distance: 21 miles one way
Elevation gain: 2835 ft

This is one of seven rides (all detailed in the Adding Miles section of the Mountain View Road ride) that are worth doing around Boonville, a charming little town with good food and an interesting history, so I encourage you to find a place to stay in the area, make a cycling holiday out of it, and do all of them.

This road parallels Mountain View Road, which is 5 miles to the south, and the two are similar.  Both roads are trips through standard coastal pine/redwood forest with a good dose of 8-10% climbing.  This one is less isolated that MVR (a vehicle a mile or more), but it’s prettier and easier and it has a better road surface (though it’s still often poor). It  makes for a shorter loop if you’re returning on Hwy 128, so if I was just doing one of the two I’d go with Philo-Greenwood unless I wanted a) a bigger climbing challenge, c) more Hwy 1 riding, or c) to visit Manchester.   I’ve mapped the ride as one way because I assume you’ll want to return on 128, which is covered in the Mendocino/Comptche ride.  The Philo-Greenwood/Cameron Road/Hwy 128 loop is 42 miles.

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Tin Barn Road/Annapolis Road

Distance: 38-mile loop
Elevation gain: 4845 ft

This is the loop ride directly to the north of the King(‘s) Ridge ride—in fact the two routes share a few miles—so the question arises, how are they different, and which one should you ride?   They’re very similar.  They’re both great rides and serious efforts with much climbing.  Each has one pleasant, tiny town near the beginning of the ride, then you’re totally on your own.  The terrain and landscape are similar for both (pretty coastal hill country).  Tin Barn/Annapolis is further from Santa Rosa, the nearest large population center, so it gets ridden less.   TB/A has more redwoods, the climbing is spread out more, and the road surface is a quantum leap better though still flawed (for the rare good pavement in Sonoma County, see our Occidental Loop ride and Bohemian Highway ride).  TB/A has rhododendrons in the spring, a few miles of pretty, mellow Hwy 1, some totally ridable dirt, by far the better descent, and by far the harder pitch (1 mile of 15-20%).     TB/A, unlike King Ridge, can easily be cut short if you overestimated your resources.  If that sounds like I think TB/A is the better ride, I do.

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Mountain View Road

Distance:  50 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 8000 ft

(Note: all Boonville rides are made better if you can do them during the Mendocino County Fair, a classic old-school rural fair of great charm.)

This is one of seven rides (all detailed in the Adding Miles section below) that are worth doing around Boonville, a charming little town with good food and an interesting history, so I encourage you to find a place to stay in the area, make a cycling holiday out of it, and do all of them.

This ride is tough.  It may be one of the two hardest climbs in Bestrides (the other being Gilbraltar Road).  And the road surface is mostly shaky.   And there are only two rather ordinary “views,” despite the road’s name—the rest of the time, all you can see is the greenery on either side of the road.  The scenery is typical coastal forest—no better, no worse.  So it’s mostly about bragging rights, the sense of adventure, and the two charming towns at either end.  Philo-Greenwood Road just to the north is easier and prettier and has a better surface. Continue reading

Mendocino/Comptche

Distance: 46-mile loop
Elevation gain: 3600 ft

(A Best of the Best ride)

This may be the prettiest wooded ride, mile for mile, in California.  It is, by far, the Bestrides route that has elicited the most “Best ride I’ve ever done!” responses from readers.  And it has the selling point of starting and ending in downtown Mendocino, one of my favorite places.  It climbs and descents up and over a summit among simply perfect piney woods, passes a classic country store, descends gradually along the Navarro River and its stunning riparian redwoods, and ends with a pretty but trafficky leg on Hwy 1 that’s thick with lovely, charming inns and one State Park to stop and explore.  The road surface is glass half the time—on Flynn Creek Road it’s OK too poor, and the western half of Comptche-Ukiah is merely OK.  The climbing is mellow to moderate. It rides equally well in both directions—see Which Way to Go? below for the comparative virtues of the two routes.  I’ve arbitrarily picked the clockwise route to describe. 

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Branscomb Road

Distance:  50 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 3215 ft

(A Best of the Best ride)

This is one of my favorites.  There’s a purity about it, because you begin at one end of a road and ride that road until it ends.  I found it via my favorite ride-finding technique:  I looked at the AAA road map, spotted a thin, wiggly line, and said, “That’s got to be a great ride!”  It’s one of several rides in this list that begin at the California coast and climb straight up, usually through lush ferny coastal rainforest.  In this case, the climb is 7 miles of demanding (often 8-10%) but thoroughly rewarding pitch, after which the road rolls through pretty forests and meadows to the turn-around point in Laytonville on Highway 101.  Along the way you get an huge old lumber mill, a general store that served the mill and still functions, and an exquisite little stand of redwoods in a State Recreation Area.

Part of the joy here is that you’re in on a secret.  Branscomb Rd is almost unknown to cyclists—I’ve never seen another bike on it, and few cars—partly because it leaves Hwy 1 from a point in the middle of nowhere, and partly because until about 2011 it was largely dirt.  Which means the pavement was (in 2011) pristine, and is still mostly good.  Several readers wrote in to complain of logging traffic, but I’ve never seen a logging truck in my several trips up Branscomb, so I think it must have been temporary.

The ride works well in either direction.  If you start from Laytonville you put the climb in the middle of the ride when you’re warmed up.  You also stand a better chance of avoiding the chronic morning fog near the ocean (see Afterthoughts below).  But you put the descent before the climb, which always feels wrong to me. Continue reading

Avenue of the Giants

Distance: 32 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 1780 ft

This is one of the few rides in Bestrides that is easy enough to be easily be done by a non-cyclist on a rental cruiser (for the others, see the list of flat rides in the Best Of the Best page).  Here the appeal is entirely in the scenery—you’re riding through some of the greatest redwood forests left on earth.  It’s not my favorite Redwoods ride—that would be Big Basin (at least before Big Basin burned), which in addition to Redwoods has wonderful climbing and descending—but it’s certainly the ride with the biggest, most awe-inspiring trees.  (There is a list of Redwood rides on the Best of the Best page too.)  It’s in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, but the car traffic isn’t bad—since the Avenue is paralleled by the main highway just a stone’s throw to the west, all through traffic is diverted and you’ll share the road with the few cars hip enough to linger.    If you want to make the ride longer or harder, there is good riding on either end (see Adding Miles). Continue reading