2023 Centuries: May-July [Updated 1/27/23]

Here are noteworthy century rides mostly in the NorCal area.

MAY
6 Saturday. Delta Century. 100-, 67-, and 26-mile routes. $65-$45. Very flat rides starting in Woodbridge tour the Sacramento Delta. Registration should open in January is open.

6 Sunday. Wine Country Century. 100-, 63- and 34-mile routes. $110-$80. A club fave and great food. It always sells out so register early. Limited to 2,500. Registration is open.

6 Saturday. Mr. Frog’s Wild Ride. 55-, 43- and 21-mile routes. $75-$40. A challenging hilly ride out of Murphys including Sheep Ranch Road. Registration is open.

7 Sunday. Grizzly Peak Century. 100-, 75-, and 50-mile routes. And a 60-mile gravel route. $90. Limit of 1,000 riders. Registration opens mid-January is not yet open.

13? Sunday. I Care Classic. 100-, 62-, 32- and 10-mile routes. $95-?. Riding in the Santa Clara Valley between San Jose and Gilroy. Run by the Almaden Lions Club. Registration is open.

20? Saturday. Davis Double. 200 miles, period. Limited to 500 riders. Registration opens March 1.

21 Sunday. Strawberry Fields Forever. 102-, 64-, and 30-mile routes. Out of Watsonville and into the Santa Cruz Mountains. Registration not yet open.

19-21 Friday to Sunday. Cycle Oregon (Gravel). 66 & 61-mile, or 34 & 26-mile days. $400. Cycle Oregon is offering a two-day gravel trip. Limited to 500. Registration opens January 24 is open.

27-28? Saturday-Sunday. The Art of Survival Century. 100-, 60-, 38-mile road routes & 74-, 54-mile gravel routes. $75-$25. Rides near the Oregon border in NW California. Registration is open.

JUNE
3 Saturday. Gold Country Challenge. 100-, 74-, 54-, and 35-mile road routes; also 42- and 62-mile mixed terrain routes. $80-$60. Registration is open.

3 Saturday. Ojai Valley Century. 128-, 102-, 67-, and 35-mile routes. $90-$60. A bit further south in Ventura County in the Ojai Valley out to Santa Barbara and back. Registration is open.

4 Sunday. Sequoia Century. 101-, 76-, and 59-mile routes. $125-95. A venerable century going from the Midpeninsula over the Coast Range to coastside and back. Will Stage Road be repaired and open by June?

17? Saturday. Mile High 100. 108-, 56- and 33-mile routes. Rides around Lake Almanor near Chester, CA and Lassen. No information yet.

17 Saturday. Climb to Kaiser. $125. 155- and 99-mile routes. The hardest climb in California: 15,000 vertical gain. Registration is open.

17 Sunday to 24 Sunday. Sierra to the Sea. 420 miles over 8 days. $1,500. Limit of 90 riders. Registration opens January 18.

24? Saturday. Alta Alpina Challenge. No information yet.

24 Saturday. Giro Bello. 100-, 63- and 35-miles routes. Similar to the Wine Country Century and in the same area. No information yet.

JULY
15? Saturday. Fall River Century. 200k, 100k-, 100-, and 25-mile routes. Beautiful ride east of Mt. Shasta. Limit of 500 riders. No information yet.

15 Saturday. Death Ride. $139. 103 miles. Monitor, Ebbetts, and Pacific Grade summit for 14,000 vertical gain. Registration is open.

29 Saturday. Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge. Registration opens February 1. No information yet.

2022: Parting Glances, part 2

There were some club rides in 2022 that I found especially enjoyable and I hope we shall do them again this year. And there were a few rides I didn’t get to do last year and that I desperately want to do this year, Allah willing, and I’ll address those in a separate post.

Tony’s 2022 favs, in no particular order.

Stage Road and Coastside. These roads are wellworn and no surprise—they’re beautiful, scenic, and mostly quiet. Who doesn’t love riding down the San Mateo coast along Highway One? If there is no fog or rain, the views of the Pacific are borderline astonishing accompanied by the redolent salt air. And despite being so close to SillyCon Valley, the tiny town of Pescadero and Stage Road are usually untrafficked and quiet allowing you to ride in pastoral serenity undisturbed by the mishegoss just over the hills. And I and many Spokers have ridden it many times. But what made this ride a breakthrough for me last year was that we did it without starting in either Half Moon Bay or Palo Alto, which would have made it a 60-mile day. Instead the Davids’ innovation was to start it in Pescadero making it only a 31-mile loop and without a big climb over the Coast range. I finally understood the meaning of “eat dessert first” and how impatience can be a virtue.

New Speedway Boogie (Patterson and Altamont Passes). The club doesn’t go up Altamont very often. It is infamous more for the daily logjammed commute on Highway 580 than for its beauty. But beautiful it is when you go there at the right time. Hit it in winter or early spring when the as-yet undeveloped hills are intensely green and you’ll experience what it used to be like decades ago when all of the land east of Livermore was pristine: no cars, lonely country roads, and grassland hills with oak trees. In 2022 we went up Patterson and took the California Aqueduct bikeway north to Altamont Pass for the return. Right at the turnaround point there is Valero minimart with—among many other things—coffee, fried chicken, a taqueria, a Subway, and a Wienerschnitzel! And the views at the top of both passes can’t be beat!

Velo Love Ride. I’m an unadulterated proponent of this ride, which until 2022 Roger and I were the only Spokers who had done it. It’s a beautiful winter ride around the Sutter Buttes not too far from the Oroville Dam, a slightly long drive from the Bay Area. Chico Velo offered this supported century at the oddest time of the year, early February when it is likely to be rained out and at the very least would proffer up challenging weather. It’s been on hiatus for a few years but not for us: we go up there every year as long as it isn’t raining. It’s dead-flat for 60 miles with only one small hill. The loop takes in the rice fields, ag land, and many fruit and nut orchards, which often are starting to bloom around Valentine’s Day, the traditional weekend to do this ride. It can be cold and since it’s during the rainy season it can be wet. But the real challenge of the ride can be wind since you’re completely exposed for much of the ride. But other than the start town of Gridley and midway hitting Sutter the ride is completely rural and devoid of traffic. In 2022 David Goldsmith decided to join us and we got to gape at all the flowering orchards this time. Maybe you’ll join us in 2023?

Old La Honda and Tunitas Creek. Also no surprise here since these roads are so well-trodden as to be posterchildren for Northern California riding. But I hadn’t done them in quite a while (because there was a time when I did these roads ALL the time and burned out on them). But this time was special because the Loma Mar Store finally reopened after about a yearslong remodel and it’s now an even better place for a midride stop. Their new restaurant is a welcome change from Arcangeli Store in Pescadero. Loma Mar’s food and coffee are excellent and the new owners are a peach. We also took our time on this ride and turned it into a day-long jaunt! Taking a long—even if unnecessary—break at the Bike Hut just to chat and look at the birds made it a special day. That’s something we don’t often do: stop to take a break just because we could!

SLO Wildflower. This is a century that I have known about for ages. But like many of you I never did it because the drive to the Paso Robles area is long enough to be a deterrent. The San Luis Obispo Bicycling Club also usually mounts this event the same weekend as the Chico Wildflower and/or the Primavera. The latter is a mere hop, skip, and a jump away in Fremont making it the lazy person’s default century and the former was for many years the club spring century must-do with hordes of Spokers driving up to Chico to make it a default getaway weekend. So when David Goldsmith and Roger Sayre suggested this ride I gave it a pass until my husband’s eyes twinkled at the prospect of riding someplace different for a change. When Adrienne, a former member who now lives near Paso, enthusiastically offered to host a barbecue at her place, the deal was signed, sealed, and delivered! It all turned out to be a fabulous weekend with almost 30 Spokers making the trip. The weather cooperated with a beautifully sunny, if chilly, morning. Although I had ridden in this area about 30 years ago, it was a welcome rediscovery as the Wildflower route is amazingly beautiful, quiet, and even had decent pavement! Oak woodland in California in its unspoiled state is charming and inviting during spring. Those who did the full hundred-mile route had to endure some the worst county roads in California for about 15 miles. But those of us who did the 80- or 50-mile route escaped that and had a totally perfect day. That won’t be a problem in 2023 since SLOBC has axed the one hundred mile route due to the disappearance of the wildflowers along the long route due to climage change. Just maybe we’ll go back in 2023?

Alpine Dam. This is another club fav, which in a previous incarnation was called the Evil Stepsisters ride when it was offered annually on the same day as the Cinderella Century, which is for women/girls only. You can climb Tam and descend to Alpine Dam or come from Fairfax to the Dam and then climb up the Seven Sisters to Tam and down. This ride was planned to be done clockwise, which I like less because then one has to descend the Seven Sisters. That descent is almost a straight line down to the Dam so either you go very fast or you ride the brakes. I prefer to climb up through Fairfax, which is less trafficked than Pan Toll, and go up the Seven Sisters. Fortuitously Jeff and Mark decided at the last minute to invert the loop, so we ended up riding it counterclockwise! This is another ride that I had done to death when I lived in SF. But after a twenty-year hiatus revisiting this old ride reminded me of why I used to ride it so often: it’s beautiful and challenging.

Cavedale. This was a discovery for me. I had never done Cavedale before and probably for a good reason: until now it was a wretched, pothole-ridden example of why riding in Sonoma county is a blessing and a curse: the scenery can be so enticing yet the road quality is akin to what one would find in an undeveloped country. It also intersects with Trinity, which often is heavily trafficked. But we fortuitiously chose a day to climb this steep road when it was being repaved to a glassy sheen thanks to none other than PG&E. For most of the climb it was beautiful, fresh asphalt as smooth as can be; the last third hadn’t been reconstructed yet and we got to taste what it had been like for the past 30 years or so. The views of the Sonoma Valley are robust and breathtaking making stops a must even if you don’t have to catch your breath.

But what made all of these rides so pleasurable? It wasn’t just the road quality, the weather, or the scenery—it was the company. Riding with fellow Spokers who enjoy riding in Northern California as much as I do, having idle yet memorable conversations with Spokerati, sharing a midride meal, and building memories of fun days on two wheels. That’s what made these rides my faves for 2022!