2017 Centuries and Gran Fondos

black Cannondale road bike


Less than one month to go and 2016 will be one for the books, yet it’s not too early to be thinking about next year and the Next Big Ride. Many cycling clubs don’t yet have information available about their centuries and even if they do, registration has yet to open and details are currently a bit sparse. But at least you can peruse the calendar and figure out those weekends you’re going to dedicate to a hundred-miler. Although 2016 was an El Nino year, other than January when rain was near epic it actually wasn’t too wet. Training for an early century in winter wasn’t that hard. This year is forecast to be a La Niña year, which tends to have normal precipitation. We may be able to enjoy even more riding days in 2017 without having to pull on rain gear! These are the usual suspects up to early June 2017. Most rides from June on have little or no information up yet. A follow up post will highlight the centuries of the latter half of 2017.


1 Sunday. Resolution Ride. This is Different Spokes’s own ride up Mt. Diablo on New Year’s Day.  If you’re already semi-fit or at least willing to suffer, it’s a great way to start off the New Year. Open to anyone and no fee! If it’s not raining, it will be a mosh pit at the summit—Valley Spokesmen, Grizzly Peak Cyclists, and Diablo Cyclists all respect this day and have club runs to the summit.

21 Saturday. Tour of Palm Springs. $75. Registration is open. 10/25/50/100-mile routes. Down south typically receives much less rain than we do, so this one is a safe bet for dry riding. But if it’s dry, there will a huge crowd. A few brave Spokes have driven south for this one.


12 Sunday. Velo-Love Ride. $50. Registration is open. 40/60/100-mile routes. Chico Velo annually celebrates Valentines Day with the Velo-Love Ride. V-Day falls on a Tuesday, so Sunday February 12 is the closest weekend date. Because it starts in Gridley, which is close to Yuba City, the drive is even less than going to the Chico Wildflower. Nice tour of the rice fields and Sutter Buttes in the Sacramento Valley. The post-ride meal is really good too! A small and friendly ride.

25 Saturday. Pedaling Paths To Independence. $45. Registration is open. 25 or 65-mile routes. This is a pretty easy metric in the Valley that is a benefit for the Community Center for the Blind. It’s cheap too at $45. Mostly flat so it’s not too demanding (unless the wind is blowing.) Starts in Linden, east of Stockton.


11 Saturday. Solvang Century. $125 online/$115 mail in. Registration is open. 50, 70, or 100-mile routes. This is an extremely popular Southern California ride starting in Solvang. It’s about a six-hour drive from San Francisco so it’s close enough for us. It regularly attracts 5,000+ riders. Consequently lodging at the last minute is scarce; book early or plan on sleeping far away. One year we couldn’t get a room any closer than Santa Barbara. Perhaps SCOR, the organizer, has heard some of the criticism because this year the enormous registration fee will include the bbq lunch at the end that they used to charge separately for. The rest stop goodies have in the past been merely perfunctory (think:they loaded up at Costco).


1 Saturday. Tierra Bella. $60 until 1/16/17. Registration is open. 35, 63, 100, and 123-mile routes. Cap of 2,000 riders. A club fav and it’s close by to, in Gilroy. Great roads that are not suburbanized yet. Post-ride meal is pretty good too.

8 Saturday. Bike Around The Buttes. $49 online/$56 mail in. Registration is open. 18, 40, or 100-mile routes. Starts in Sutter just west of Yuba City. If you didn’t make it to the Velo-Love Ride, this ride covers similar territory at a warmer and drier time of the year.

8 Saturday. Cinderella Classic & Challenge. $58. Registration opens Jan. 4. 65 or 85 mile-routes. Limit of 2,500 riders and they always sell out in advance. Starts in Pleasanton. Valley Spokesmen’s 41st annual women/girl only ride. Classic roads of Contra Costa County, which is rapidly being suburbanized. Male Spokers may want to do our Evil Stepsisters ride in lieu, or you could volunteer to work the event and support women cyclists!

8 Saturday. SLOBC Wildflower Century. $75 before 1/21/17. Registration is open. 46, 64, 76, and 99-mile routes. Starts in Creston. SLOBC also puts on the Lighthouse Century later in the year. Great roads in Central California. The Wildflower takes place the same weekend as the Eroica, so you can do both!

9 Sunday. Eroica California Gran Fondo. $150 before 3/31/17. 40, 73, 87 or 127-mile routes. Starts in Paso Robles. Ride mixed surface roads in Central California on your vintage steel bike. That would be…almost no one in Different Spokes. But you can always troll EBay for a classic bike although they are no longer cheap due to the Eroica! The original Eroica in Tuscany makes a lot of sense but these knockoffs in disparate locations such as California and Japan seem, well, forced, shall we say. But the dirt roads are truly awesome!

15 Saturday. Sierra Century. $64 before 4/1/17. 41, 65, 69, or 102-mile-routes. Starts in Plymouth. Scenic Gold Country route with the well-known Slug Gulch climb.

22 Saturday. Sea Otter Gran Fondo. $110 before 4/3/17. 51 or 92-mile road routes. Also offering a 22-mile mtb route or a 32-mile gravel route for $90.

23 Sunday. Primavera Century. $65 if before 12/31/16. Registration is open. 25, 63, 85, or 102-mile routes. Starts in Fremont, but is not BARTable because Sunday service starts too late to make any of the rides except the 25-mile.

29 Saturday. Mount Hamilton Challenge. $20? 125 miles. Pedalera BC hasn’t yet announced the 2017 Mount Hamilton Challenge but there is little doubt they will offer it again. It’s dirt cheap because you bring all your own food to be sagged for you. Starting in Santa Clara riders roll up Hamilton and down the back side and back.

29 Saturday. Motherlode Century. $75? 35, 66. 81, or 95-mile routes. This is another one that isn’t up yet. Unlike the venerable Mt. Hamilton Challenge, the Motherlode is of recent origin so perhaps it is already defunct. Last year registration opened on Jan. 1, so we’ll know shortly. This ride starts in Coloma in El Dorado County. It’s a longer drive than the Mt. Hamilton Challenge but it is a traditional century and won’t have to schlep your own food.

30 Sunday. Chico Wildflower Century. $75 before 1/31/17. Registration is open. 12, 30, 60, 65, 100, and 125-mile routes. This is a club favorite. A group usually arranges to have dinner together the night before. Booking lodging requires advance planning! If you can take Monday off from work, so much the better because you will almost certainly be whipped after the ride and the excellent post-ride dinner; driving back right after is just a chore.


6 Saturday. Wine Country Century. Fee? 35, 65, 100 and 125-mile routes. Registration opens 2/1/17 and it will sell out in a matter of days. If you want to ride this one, do not delay. This ride is great for tandems, and the food is excellent. In various years the rest stops have offered make-your-own burritos and fresh coffee—now these folks understand cyclists!

7 Sunday. Delta Century. $45? 25, 62 and 100-mile routes. No information yet but registration is supposed to open this month. Last year the cap was 500. Starts in Lodi. If you’re looking for a flat century, this is it: the century has a total elevation gain of 37 feet!

7 Sunday. Grizzly Peak Century. Fee not yet announced; registration not yet open. 76, 102 or 110-mile road routes; 78 or 100-mile mixed terrain routes. Capped at 1,000 riders. Starts in Moraga. The GPC is most definitely not a flat route–it’s a climber’s ride. This one always sells out, so don’t wait too long after registration opens, which I am guessing will be around the New Year. Last year the GPC featured a mixed surface option; this year there are two mixed surface rides. See you there!

20 Saturday. Davis Double. Fee? Registration opens 3/1/17. There is only one route: 200 miles, baby! Starts in Davis.

21 Sunday. Strawberry Fields Forever. $65 before 3/16/17. 30, 61, and 101-mile routes. Limit of 1,200 riders. Registration opens 1/1/17. Starts in Watsonville and takes in the Santa Cruz mountains.


4 Sunday. Sequoia Century. Fee unknown. 100 and 120-mile routes. No information yet at the Western Wheelers site but this one always takes place. Route changes every year but starts at Foothill College and goes over to the coast and back.