Here’s a sneak-peek of this year’s Climate Ride California 2013 from our talented route planner and logistics master. Ride Director Blake Holiday tells us about Day 3 – the 100-mile Century Ride along Northern California’s remote coast from Mendocino to the Russian River.

When we designed Climate Ride California in 2010, we thought it would be a big challenge to include an optional century day. But during route research, we found two awesome campgrounds about 100 miles apart – connected by an incredible stretch of road along the Pacific Ocean. And we couldn’t resist… 

Today’s route is a full day along California’s North Coast and takes us from our camp at Caspar Beach, just north of Mendocino, 102 miles south to the mouth of the Russian River. It’s an incredible ride and with our expert road support, it’s a perfect opportunity to go for a first century or add a new one to your list. It’s actually 96 miles between campsites (don’t worry, we worked it out so you’ll still get 100 miles!), so if you’re not riding the full century, you’ll be shuttling at some point.

Usually about 60-70% of riders try for the century, and we’ll shuttle everyone else, so don’t worry – we’ll take great care of everyone today! If you’re unsure about whether you can do it or not, I’d say give it a shot and see how the day goes. You can always shuttle later if you have to. And please, listen to the leaders during the day today. 

I’ve helped lots of people complete century rides over the years, and here are a few things I’ve learned. There’s a little more than 4,000 ft of elevation gain over the whole day, so it’s challenging, but doable. Your legs will really start to feel it near the end. Be sure to eat something every 45 minutes or so – that’s the key to keeping yourself energized all day. Be sure to hydrate (at least a bottle of water an hour plus more water with electrolytes) and keep reapplying sunscreen. Try to change positions often to avoid soreness, and don’t stop for longer than about 20-25 minutes, otherwise your muscles will start to lock up.

Now, what’s the day like? After a hearty hot breakfast in camp at Caspar Beach, we’ll start out early (think first light) on Highway 1 heading south. After about 3.3 miles of Highway 1’s wide shoulder, we turn right and ride through the Marin Headlands and into the picturesque, Victorian town of Mendocino. If you have time, there’s a great coffee place to stop in for a quick break.

Heading on from there, it’s about 30 miles to the first Water Stop in the tiny town of Manchester. We’ll have the usual supplies like water and snacks to keep yourself fueled for today’s big ride. Definitely keep eating and drinking fluids all day. From Manchester, we pass through several small villages – like Point Arena and Anchor Bay. It’s an incredibly scenic ride, so be sure to pull over and take lots of pictures. The road gets a bit narrow through this section, but visibility is good and traffic is usually light.
At Mile 53.5, we hit the coastal town of Gualala, the first shuttle point. Today we’re on a bit of a schedule because of logistics and timing. There are only so many hours of daylight, so we would appreciate relying on the guidance of our expert guides when it comes to what’s happening on the route. All riders have to pass through Gualala by 1:30 pm to stay on track. We’ll be stopping riders in Gualala who arrive after 1:30 pm and shuttling them ahead. Riding on from Gualala after 1:30 pm isn’t an option.

Then, it’s 11 miles to the second shuttle at the Stewarts Point store. I love this place. It’s a terrific family-run general store with great goodies and some nice steps in the front to hang out if you’re waiting for a van for the shorter option. 

We’ll be organizing the shuttles from Stewarts Point. Please be patient – we have to make sure everyone has arrived there before we can send shuttles into camp. If you’re not shuttling and going for the century, it’s 37.2 miles from here to camp! South of Gualala we’ll pass historic Fort Ross – built in the 1830s, it’s the most-southern Russian settlement in California. Fort Ross is the last Water Stop of the day. We’ll have a mechanic parked there with extra water and snacks, so stock up for the final 20 miles! It’s especially important to eat something at this last stop.

The road past Fort Ross is stunning. It meanders along rugged cliffs and there are two pretty tough climbs before we reach the town of Jenner at the mouth of the Russian River. Both climbs start from nearly sea level and climb up to about 500 feet above the crashing waves. It’s narrow and curvy, so watch your downhill speed please! There’s a really tight turn on the second downhill, so again, be sure to slow down and pump your brakes. Also there are about eight cattle guards in this section, so please be careful.
Once we reach Jenner (don’t blink!), it’s 7 miles of mostly flat riding to Moscow Road at Mile 95.2. Here you can decide if you’d like to get a full century, or if you’d like to cut off the last 5 miles and head straight to camp. To achieve the century, continue straight here and it’ll take you on a flat loop around the Russian River to Rio Dell for a total of 102 miles. If you’re just *done*, you can turn right at Moscow Road and the camp is half a mile up on the left. Of course, if you’ve come this far, I’d say make it a hundred! The last loop isn’t difficult and it’s essentially flat. 

At camp, let’s all greet the century riders with congratulations and applause. My favorite part of this day is seeing everyone who pedaled so hard ride triumphantly into camp! So that’s Day 3, the Climate Ride Century…it’s quite an adventure. So ride safely out there everyone, and have fun! 

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