PREVIEW: Experience some of the Bay Area’s best climbs at the Silicon Valley Gran Fondo
Starting in the heart of Silicon Valley, the ride takes cyclists up into the Santa Cruz Hills in the shadows of Giant Redwoods, stunning coastal views, and some of the Bay Area’s Bucket List climbs
Palo Alto, CA, the epicenter of west coast tech industry, home to the likes of Apple, Facebook, Google, Adobe, Pinterest and Pay Pal.
It’s also the home to Silicon’s Valley’s very own Gran Fondo - RBC GranFondo Silicon Valley - hosted at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley Hotel on Sunday June 23, 2018. Just west of the tech valley are the Santa Cruz mountains which boasts some the of best Bay Area road cycling climbs.
The houses in Woodside and Palo Alto cost like 10 million dollars! It’s not because these houses are on the doorstep of the tech giants, oh no, it’s because these towns are on the edge of a cycling paradise and very famous to those in the know.
The roads north of Santa Cruz need to be ridden, even the names evoke a certain appeal; West Alpine, Tunitas Creek Road, Old La Honda, Kings Mountain Road, East Zayante and China Grade.
There’s two carefully designed routes on offer, the Presto Fondo is 62 miles with 5,600 feet of climbing, ideally suited to those who want a challenge whilst enjoying the stunning views. The GranFondo is 75 miles and packs in 7,000 feet of climbing, more suited to those looking to give their endurance and climbing skills a real test and enjoy more of the incredible climbing on offer.
Everyone will get to enjoy a mass start, peloton rollout through the neutralized section and 7 miles of relatively flat riding in the valley as a warmup, before letting their legs loose! Up in the mountains riders will enjoy full intersection priority, thanks to local law enforcement.
The first climb is the five mile climb of Sand Hill, it’s used locally for uphill time trials and climbs out of the valley. The average is only 1% and the maximum gradient is 6%, a nice warmup. Alas, the climbing has only really begun as you continue up into the mountains.
16 miles in after Adobe Corner, the climb takes on a super cool Alpine feel, with half a dozen switchbacks over the next 6 miles it contains 1,591 feet of climbing at an average of 7%. This is the famous Kings Mountain Road, a true Bay Area Bucket List climb.
You’ll be rewarded with stunning views down to the valley below at El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve whilst enjoying the well placed first feed station after 28 miles.
Preconceptions of multi-lane highways with congested traffic fade quickly when scenic, single lane roads are discovered. Twisty, off cambered bends, dive off the side of the hillside… the roads are non-uniformed making it all the more fun
After all that climbing and you’ll enjoy a respite, a super, but technical, descent down to La Honda over 17 miles through cool shaded Redwood forests.
It’s here the Presto Fondo riders will turn west, through Bellvale towards the San Gregario beaches.
Gran Fondo riders continue straight on for a short distance before turning hard right to start the climb up Haskins Hill from Sam McDonald Country Park. With its wide sweeping bends, the steeper 1.5 mile climb has an average of 7%. From here it’s a 10 mile downhill technical roller coaster ride all the way to Pescadero, as the stunning views to the Pacific beaches reveal themselves after 40 miles of cycling. It’s also the location of the well placed second feed station for Gran Fondo riders.
It’s here you’ll turn north onto Stage Road for stunning views of the coastline as you head towards San Gregorio on undulating roads over bridges and meet up with the Presto Fondo riders too. The Coastal roads will leave you open mouthed in amazement, there’s a short stretch along Highway 1.
With every bend there’s a breath taking view, that’s seemingly too beautiful to be true. A stretch of tarmac that for the most part is a downward roller coaster of a ride, hugging the coastal cliff.
Turning right up Tunitas Creek Road (another famous Bay Area Bucket List climb) signifies around 50 miles completed for the Gran Fondo riders and 40 miles for the Presto Fondo, and another well placed feed station, not far from the famous Bike Hut. The climb up Tunitas Creek is over 9 miles and 1,200 feet through an epic redwood forest at an average of 4%, with gradients no higher than 6%. A very quiet road, with little or no vehicle traffic, offers contemplative solace amongst the towering redwoods to help offset any negative thoughts your legs may be having. Tunitas Creek Road was famously used during Stage Three of the 2010 Tour of California.
Topping out at over 2,000 feet, amazing views will come into view, both Presto and Gran Fondo riders will have the reward of knowing it’s all downhill for 15 miles back to the start for a cold beer or soft drink, hot food and feel good vibes! All included in your entry fee.
They’ll also be complimentary hospitality from premium sponsors at the Celebration Plaza back at Four Seasons Silicon Valley Hotel.
All riders will be fully supported throughout the ride with medical and mechanical back up. They’ll be 4 aid stations on course for the Gran Fondo riders and 3 aid stations on route for Presto Fondo riders providing a range of top nutritional food and hydration too.
Having finished the ride you can grab your ride time and enjoy the finish line festivities including a beer garden, live DJ and an awards ceremony too.
All participants will enjoy a Premium swag bag too.
For more information please visit: https://www.rbcgranfondo.com/silicon-valley
For travel information including flights and hotels, please visit https://www.rbcgranfondo.com/silicon-valley/travel
To register now, please visit: https://ccnbikes.com/#!/events/rbc-granfondo-silicon-valley
Explore the Gran Fondo: https://www.rbcgranfondo.com/silicon-valley/the-ride/granfondo
Explore the Presto Fondo: https://www.rbcgranfondo.com/silicon-valley/the-ride/presto