Lake Double Metric has been an April classic for many years. Unfortunately, a recently applied layer of
gravel on Western Mine Road has rendered that route too hazardous for a club
ride. In an attempt to equal the
challenge and adventure of the CLDM, I mapped the Three County Mixed Terrain
Ride. With more than 10,000 feet of
elevation gain over 120 miles of less traveled roads in Sonoma, Lake and
Mendocino counties, riders agreed that this route is a worthy substitute for
at 8am in Healdsburg with half a dozen riders and two spare tires. Riders included "Marshall" Marc, "SRCC" Carl, "24
Hour" Paul, "Stanford" Jeff, and "Competitive Cyclist" Sam (and of course, "Never Forget" Ride Leader Sarah). Even at that early
hour, the wind was already blowing hard from the north, but our route tacked to
the east along Anderson Valley Road and we were soon protected from the weather
as we started up Geysers Road. At the
summit, the wind seemed to come from all directions and threatened to catch our
wheels on the descents. Sheltered once
again in the trees along Big Sulphur Creek Canyon, we dodged potholes and
startled a group of young pigs foraging on the side of the road.
riders joined the group at the north end of Geysers Road, “cherry pickers”
Darrin and Richard in proper SRCC attire, just in time for an eight mile stretch along Highway
101. Here we put our strongest riders out in
front to battle with the headwind. This
was the site of the only flat of the entire ride – the ride leader picked up a huge
shard of glass in the debris fields on the shoulder of the highway.
we turned off the highway toward Hopland and stopped to fill bottles and
stomachs at the Sanel Valley Market at Mile 50 – this store proved to be an oasis
of junk food and more to keep the endurance cyclist going. After refueling, we continued east on CA 175
for a short distance, then turned off onto Old Toll Road, where the “adventure”
segment of the route began.
At first, Old
Toll Road is badly paved, but it soon turns to gravel and climbs for about nine
miles at a gentle grade to the summit of the ridge. With heavy tree cover and few opportunities
for a view, the traveler loses perspective of time and distance as the road
curves endlessly upwards. Once over the
summit, the vista opens to reveal scrub-covered hills and occasional glimpses
of Clear Lake and beyond. The descent is
much shorter than the climb, with less elevation lost than gained, and asphalt
reappears at the bottom.
rider joined the group briefly on Old Toll Road and Hopland Grade – a club
member named Alan Neal, who lives in Lakeport and was very pleased to have a
club ride pass through his territory.
solid ground, we negotiated a few turns to reach CA 175 once again, this time
traveling westward up to the top of the ridge we had just crossed on the gravel
road. This effort was rewarded with silk
smooth pavement down toward Hopland – as gratifying as this descent was, we interrupted
the trip in order to gaze at a wildfire burning on a hillside to the north of
once again, we stopped at the Sanel Valley Market for a second time before
tackling the last 35 miles of the journey.
Most of the climbing was behind us, but legs were tired and temperatures
were pushing 80 degrees. We’d figured
that we’d have a tailwind on the way home, but the winds were actually from the
east as we started up Mountain House Road.
The beautiful scenery took our minds off our fatigue, and soon we
reached 128 and the final leg of the journey through Cloverdale and back to
As a final
gift of “wild” adventure, we spotted a Western Diamondback slithering along
Dutcher Creek Road – the snake eyed us warily as we slowed to take a look. After that encounter, it was downhill and
tailwinds all the way home!