Crawlin' up, flyin' down
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Democratic Peoples' Republic of Berkeley
Bikes: 1967 Paramount, 1982-ish Ron Cooper,1986 De Rosa Professional, 1978 Eisentraut "A," 1961 BianchiCompetizione, 1994 Trek 520, 199? Burley Bossa Nova, early-1970s Cinelli Speciale Corsa
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Using DiabloScott's Tour of the Napa Valley route sheet, both the Mt. Veeder/Dry Creek loop and the Sage Canyon/Pope Valley/Ink Grade loop are very pretty. You might also cobble your own ride taking parts of these and putting them together, such as:
Go up Mt. Veeder (south to north) - the climb starts easy, gets harder, then a twisty descent - gorgeous road;
Go down Oakville Grade (follow the map to Dry Creek Road but go straight instead of turning onto Dry Creek - it's a very steep descent so be careful);
Turn left at Hwy 29 - in 100 yards or so, the Oakville Grocery on the right is a great place to grab lunch;
Use the map to find and go up Sage Canyon - gentle climb;
Veer right to stay on Hwy 128 instead of veering left onto Chiles and Pope Valley Road - climbing, but not hard - pretty;
Turn left onto Lower Chiles Valley (the map above does not show this connection, but it's there - I've done it) - pretty, fun downhill;
Turn left onto Chiles & Pope Valley Rd (you are now going in the reverse direction shown on the map) - more pretty downhill;
Veer right back onto Sage Canyon/Hwy 128;
When you get to Silverado Trail, make your way back to where you started. Silverado Trail is gently rolling and has a goodly amount of fast traffic and lots of wineries, but also has good shoulders (easily wide enough to ride two abreast) 98% percent of the time and adequate shoulders the rest of the way. It also often has noticeable to kind-of-annoying wind coming out of the south in the afternoon.
This is just one possibility. About the only thing I would not do in the area is go up Oakville Grade (meaning east to west) - almost exactly one mile of incredibly nasty, exposed-to-the-sun seriously double-digit climbing. Did it once, don't plan on ever doing it again. Seriously, the flat parts of that mile are 13-14% - it gets up to 20% on the ramps. No, thank you. Of course, some people actually like that sort of thing . . . .
Oh, I also would avoid Hwy 29 north of Yountville after about noon - combination of too narrow and too much traffic visiting too many wineries. South of Yountville, there is a frontage road to keep yoiu safe, although as of last May or so it was a pretty rough surface.
Have a great time. It is a beautiful area to ride in.
"I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney