Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mill Creek Road, Healdsburg.

Last night I had the opportunity to do a short ride from our house on Limerick Lane. Not wanting to go too far, I rode through downtown Healdsburg and onto Westside Road and then turned right onto Mill Creek Road.

Mill Creek Road is a dead end to cars that goes several miles into the hills West of Healdsburg. I had been up a mile or two when we were looking for property, but never taken the opportunity to ride to the end on my bike. The Sonoma County Bike Coaltion map listed the summit at 1320 feet, so I figured it would be a perfect workout.

The hill starts steep, 7-8 percent grades for a mile or so, then settles into a rolling uphill with many intermediate descents. You quickly leave the grape fields and go along a stream surrounded by Redwood Trees. It reminds me a lot of going up Steven's Canyon Road in Cupertino.

There are many houses tucked in the trees - people who clearly value a bit of privacy by living up here, but I had no problems with the few cars that were driving up the road. In fact, several miles up a guy in a truck pulled up next to me just as I was heading up a steeper pitch and asked if I needed a ride.

I stopped and chatted with him a bit, asking where the finish was. He said "About a mile but the next bit is REALLY steep. The road ends at address 10,000, you are at 8700 now. Good luck!"

He wasn't kidding. This next part did not remind me of Steven's Canyon - it reminded me of Redwood Gulch. 15-18% grade for the better part of a mile. A real grunter, right outside my door! A great find!

I did take the requisite picture at the top.

mill creek rd

I was going to stop on the way down and try to get a photo of the steep bit, but I came off of it with so much speed that I didn't want to stop. The descent is tricky, the road is narrow so you need to be careful lest there be a car around a blind corner. The steep section is very twisty so I basically rode the brakes the whole way. And the pavement is pretty chopped up. And of course, since there are intermediate descents on the way up, there are intermediate climbs on the way down.

Check it out sometime. And please be mindful of the residents, hold your pee until you get to the bottom and use the bathroom at Mill Creek Winery.

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