Distance: 50 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 8000 ft
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. I’ll offer easier options in the same neighborhood in Adding Rides.
(To see an interactive version of the map/elevation profile, click on the ride name, upper left, wait for the new map to load, then click on the “full screen” icon, upper right.)
(Elevation profile is for the outbound ride only.)
Let’s make sure you know what you’re in for. Total elevation gain on the ride: 8000 ft. Elevation gain in the first 5.6 miles of climbing: 2540 ft. Pitch on the first big climb: average 10%, peaking at 16%. Throughout the first 15 miles, 10% pitches are routine. The good news is, once you summit the third divide at 15 miles, it’s a 9-mile descent to Hwy 1, and coming back is comparatively easy, with gentler pitches than those on the ride out. The road surface is moment to moment—one moment glassy, the next poor. It’s glassy in the first 2 miles, which means you get a heavenly, blistering 10% descent as a capper to the ride. There’s a sewer-line repavement strip along much of the route which is usually your best bet for escaping the worst of the roughness.
Start in Boonville, a quirky, friendly village with a curious history. Ride Mountain View Rd. to Manchester on Highway 1. Ride back. You’ll see a car every mile or two, but the sense of isolation is delicious.
A pleasant way to make the ride easier is to overnight in Point Arena just down Highway 1 from your intersection to the south, a charming, Cape Cod-ish throwback of a fishing town with a lighthouse and inexpensive lodging, then ride back on Mountain View Rd. the next day. I recommend the Wharfmaster’s Inn.
When you’re in the Boonville area and want to ride to the sea, you have three choices. Mountain View Rd. is much the hardest. Far easier is Philo-Greenwood Rd, which heads west from Hwy 128 just north of Philo. There you’ll do a moderate (7%) 4-mile climb at the beginning and be done working. It’s a little more developed that Mt. View, so the road surface is better, and a little lower, so the greenery is more oaky than piney. All round, a mellower, less adventuresome ride. It hits Hwy 1 at Elk, which makes it easier if you’re heading north toward Mendocino.
A grand loop would be to ride out Philo-Greenwood, ride south down Hwy 1 to Mountain View, then back to Boonville on MVR. This loop is harder in the other direction.
The third route to the sea is Hwy 128, whose western half is part of the Mendocino/Comptche Ride. Ordinarily I steer clear of highways, but 128 is a highway in name only. It’s a wide, glassy two-lane road without shoulder but with plenty of room for cars to pass, and it is spectacularly pretty and interesting of contour from one end (Hwy 1) to the other (Hwy 101). It would be a perfect bike road were it not for the traffic, which isn’t horrific but is a issue—I estimate one car per minute. Much of it has a rumble-strip centerline so cars can’t cut the blind corners, which I like. Hwy 128 from Boonville to Hwy 1 is next to flat, so the easiest loop to the sea would be out Philo-Greenwood, up Hwy1, and back up 128.
Ukiah-Boonville Rd. just south of Boonville (unsigned at the Boonville end) is a big, fast, wide two-lane through fairly barren country. It’s moderately well-trafficked, and the road contour is designed for 50-60 mph (the motorcyclists must love it), but it’s got some nice stuff in it. It’s not flat, and it’s mainly unshaded, so don’t do it on a hot summer afternoon.
When you’re at the Hwy 1 end of Mountain View, you’re a stone’s throw north of a real rarity: a Northern California coastal road that runs north and south and thus isn’t a killer climb. It’s Ten Mile Rd. (take Eureka Hill Rd. out of Pt. Arena), and it’s pleasant but not great riding, with surprisingly dull scenery.