I rode a section of Calistoga Road out of Santa Rosa last year that scared me. It was steep and windy (i.e. twisty, not breezy) and I didn't know how long it would last or if I would be able to last that long. Friday I was driving down it and saw a sign that said 11% GRADE.
I thought about the ride I'm doing on May 9 (Tour of the Unknown Coast). Everybody talks about the dreaded "Wall" at mile 80-something, reportedly a grade of 18 - 22%. I began to feel really unprepared for something like this, though there are steep pitches here and there that don't have handy signs to tell you how steep they are, so it's possible I've done little pieces of hills that were that steep. I had some climbing planned for the Yountville ride on Saturday: Yountville / Pope Valley - Ink Grade Loop
But I needed more. Lisa talked me out of doing Calistoga Rd again (it's steep, windy, narrow, and has not much shoulder) by offering intriguing alternatives, a strategy that works well on dogs too. They said they would meet me in Dillon Beach so I did this route one-way (and I was very, very done when I got to Dillon Beach). Made it up the big hills (maybe some 18% bits in them? If I did the math right) but on the last small hill my legs couldn't take any more lactic acid and I had to walk for awhile. Santa Rosa to Dillon Beach
Here's a photo I found of some crazy person riding Coleman Valley Rd. from the opposite direction I took. Hard to say if it's better or worse that way, I just didn't think coming down it that I'd want to be going up.
Incredibly beautiful views and scenery. Paid my first visit to the little town of Occidental, which seems to be a place you have to want to go quite deliberately because it isn't really on the way to anything (but the next lovely, windy stretch of forest road).
I also learned a very valuable cycling lesson. Before I left, I decided to enclose everything that would be in my back jersey pockets in ziploc bags. In the past I've apologetically handed the clerk at some gas station mart a warm soggy dollar bill, gingerly offering it by its corner. I had my wallet and cellphone in one baggy and all my snacks (including my chocolate marshmallow egg that the easter bunny brought) in another baggy. At one pit stop I leaned over and my whole *sealed* baggy of precious food fell out, landing with a splash, right into the bowl. Yes, that sort of bowl. I fished it out, rinsed it off thoroughly and as discretely as possible, and carried on with all my Clif Bars and marshmallow egg undefiled. Carry on then.