Sunday, March 05, 2017

Showers Pass

Updated March 5, 2017

Distance: 75.26 miles
Climbing: 12,506 feet
Difficulty: Epic
Start: Freshwater

Miles of gravel roads like this await your exploration.

This is another Humboldt County classic training ride. It has approximately 40 miles of gravel roads. Many of these gravel roads have steep climbs which can reach 18% in many places. This route follows a clockwise direction. Some locals like to do it in a counterclockwise direction, but I think this makes it harder. By doing it in a clockwise direction you can do the last hard climb on pavement rather than on gravel. After 10,000 feet of climbing, the pavement seems much easier.

The best bike for the ride is a cyclocross bike or mountain bike set up with fat knobby tires and plenty of gears. I would recommend a compact crankset with a mountain bike cassette or a triple crankset. A standard road bike with a 53/39 crankset would make the ride nearly impossible, but I'm sure it could be done. Make sure to take lots of food and water. I would recommend at least 3 large waterbottles and/or a hydration pack. During the summer you could encounter 90 plus degree days and even 3 waterbottles may not be enough. This ride inspired the name of the clothing brand Showers Pass, which makes high quality outerwear.

The ride starts at "Three Corners" and heads up to Kneeland Airport and beyond. Once you get beyond the Kneeland Airport there is hardly any traffic. You could also drive up to the Kneeland Airport and start there, saving 26 miles or so. The ride starts in the redwoods but you are soon riding through open oak woodland and Douglas fir forests with magnificent views. The land is all privately owned and used for cattle grazing. During the ride you will likely see a lot of wildlife, especially deer.

  • 0- Start at Three Corners and head east on Kneeland Road. To get there take Myrtle Avenue from downtown Eureka for approximately 4.5 miles. You can park your car in the gravel parking lot on the south side of Kneeland road near its intersection with Myrtle Avenue.
  • 3- Freshwater Park. This is the start of the Kneeland Hillclimb.
  • 7.6- Kneeland Post Office. This is the end of the Kneeland Hillclimb. A fast time is less than 30 minutes from Freshwater Park. Continue climbing.
  • 9.25- Bear right at the intersection heading for the Airport.
  • 11.9- Kneeland School. There is a water fountain near the playground.
  • 12- Continue straight at the Barry Rd intersection.
  • 12.3- Turn left onto Mountain View Rd.
  • 13.2- Kneeland Airport. You could park here and cut 26 miles off the ride.
  • 14.23- Cattle Guard and start of gravel. Be cautious on the descent because there are steep grades.
  • 20.4- Continue strait at the Jack Shaw Rd. intersection.
  • 22.75- Bear right at the Butte Creek Rd. intersection.
  • 23.88- Turn left on Showers Pass Rd. (Note: if you are tired you can go straight to the Kneeland Rd. via Lone Star Jct. and then turn right to go back to Kneeland, which cuts significant mileage. However, you have not truly done the Showers Pass ride unless you complete the second loop.)
  • 30.25- Go right towards Bridgeville at the Kelly Rd. intersection.
  • 31.6- Continue straight (lower road) at the Gorden Rd. intersection (poorly marked).
  • 33.4- Bear right at the Stapp Rd. intersection.
  • 35.95- Bear right over bridge.
  • 37.8- Bear left at the Dairy Ridge Rd intersection (unmarked).
  • 42- Turn right at the Kneeland Rd intersection.

    You are closer to Bridgeville than Kneeland at this point.

  • 42.9- Continue straight at the Redwood House Rd. intersection.
  • 51.5- Continue straight at the intersection with Lone Star Jct.
  • 54- CAUTION- over the next few miles you may encounter dogs at the ranch houses.
  • 62.9- Continue straight towards Kneeland and retrace you path back to Three Corners. If you parked at the airport you need to turn right here.
  • 75.26 Three Corners. Congratulations, you have completed one of the most difficult rides in the area.
Here is a link to a printable route sheet
More photos here:

Lone Star Junction Alternative

The more popular alternative is to just do the Mountain View Road portion of the ride counterclockwise starting from Freshwater Park.  This is the route for the annual Banana Slug Training ride hosted by the Redwood Coast Mountainbike Association.  Don't underestimate the difficulty of this shorter ride which is 41.9 miles and over 8,800 feet of climbing.  The last long climb on Mountain View Road has steep gravel pitches.

Here is a link to the Strava Segment:

YouTube Video:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Introduction and 2017 Updates

I'm finally updating my blog fellow bike nerds.  I plan to review every post and update all the rides.  There appear to be some broken links and missing info.  I'm also playing with my new Birthday present, a GoPro Hero Session 5 camera. 

I will be adding some out of the area rides.  These won't be listed in the ride list because it will dilute the local list and become too long.  They will be linked by clicking on the Start Location under Ride Categories.


10 Mile River Fatbike Beach Ride, Fort Bragg, Cailifornia

Distance: 15 miles round trip
Climbing: Very Little
Difficulty: Easy
Start:  Glass Beach Parking Lot, Elm Street, Fort Bragg, CA
Sand: Hard and Fast
Beach Slope: Flat
Beachcombing:  Good

This is one of the longest and best beach rides in Mendocino County, California.  You can start anywhere along the "Old Haul Road."  I like to camp at MacKerricher State Park and ride from there.  If you want to ride the whole bike path, start at the Glass Beach parking lot off Elm Street in Fort Bragg.  You will have 4 miles of paved bike path and then 3.5 miles of beach before you reach 10 Mile River.  Along the way you can see the historic haul route that Union Lumber Company used to haul logs from 10 Mile River to their mill in Fort Bragg and enjoy the ride over the historic Pudding Creek Trestle.  This is a great mulit-use trail that is very family friendly.  It was first constructed as a railroad in 1916 and used until 1949 when it was converted to a truck road.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Kneeland Hill Climb

Distance: 4.63 miles one-way
Climbing: 2132 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Start: Freshwater

Every January 1st local riders gather at Three Corners to race up Kneeland. To some it is a race and test of their fitness. For others it is a local tradition not to be missed like the Tour of the Unknown Coast. January 1st can also be a simple test of will power because Kneeland has been covered in rain, snow, or tree branches like in 2006.

As far as I know there is no official list of fast times. A ride under 30 minutes is considered fast. The best information I have is from a Times Standard article from around 1988 or 1989 from the 4th of July Stage Race. One of the stages climbed Kneeland with the following top three times:

Chris Hinshaw, 23:25
Jim Allen, 24:38
Scott Winfield, 25:57

Chris Hinshaw was a world class triathalete who won major triathalons in the late 1980's. For example, in 1985 he was second to Scott Tinley in the Ironman World Championships. It is unknown whether 23:25 has ever been beaten officially or unofficially. It will take a world class athlete to beat this time!
During the "10 Annual" Kneeland Hillclimb, October 25, 1992, David Anderson won in 26.36, followed by Wes Thornton (26:42), Tom Herron (27:24), Mike Clark (27:31), John Bergenske (28:00), and Bob Beede (29:29), with the remainder of the riders over 30 minutes.
During the 1993 Fourth of July Stage Race, stage 5 was the Kneeland Hillclimb. Jim Allen was 1st in 25:24, followed by Wes Thornton (26:33), John Bergenske (29:01), Luke Mason (29:12), and Randy Mason (29:33)
During the Fourth of July Bicycle Race Brad Taylor won the Kneeland stage in 24:53, with Damon Kluck second, and Dave Anderson third (Times-Standard, July 5, 1994, page D3).

I have given Kneeland a moderate rating because of its short distance. However, climbing is not everyone's "cup of tea" so it is not an easy ride. The ride starts every January 1st at 9:00 AM at Three Corners. To get there travel approximately 4.5 miles on Myrtle Avenue from downtown Eureka. Once everyone is gathered the ride proceeds 3 miles east on the Freshwater/Kneeland Road to the start of the climb. The climb officially starts once you pass Freshwater Park where the County Road Maintenance facility access road intersects Kneeland Road. There is a small white road sign on the right side of the road where the road begins to climb. Start your timer here. The ride ends at the Kneeland Post Office.

For recent times, here is a link to the Strava Segment

Here is a YouTube video showing the descent.  The big reward for climbing Kneeland.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

South Spit Humboldt Bay Fatbike Ride

Distance: You Choose
Climbing: Very Little
Difficulty: Easy
Start:  South Spit Humboldt Bay near Loleta
Sand: Hard and Fast
Beach Slope: Flat
Beachcombing:  Excellent

This is my favorite fatbike beach ride in Humboldt County.  The Eel River is 196 miles long.  all the winter storm debris dumps out on the beach near its mouth.  There is an amazing assortment of driftwood and debris.  The beach is 8.5 miles from the south jetty to the mouth of the Eel River.  I recommend riding from the base of Table Bluff at the parking lot to the mouth of the Eel River and back along the inland double track. This creates an 8.5 mile loop with a lot of variety.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Banana Slug #2 Butler Valley Winter Training Ride 2017

Fantastic sunny day after days of rain.  We had a great turnout and some very fast times.  For results and more information about the Banana Slug series click Here

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Samoa Beach to Mad River Fatbike Ride

Distance: You Choose
Climbing: Very Little
Difficulty: Easy
Start: Samoa
Sand:  Hard and Fast
Beach Slope: Flat

Humboldt County has many great beaches, which are perfect for exploring.  I've explored nearly all of them on my fatbike.  The dunes and beach change every day like the tide so you never know what will wash up or wash away!

The longest stretch of beach is 15 miles from the Mad River to the north jetty of Humboldt Bay.  There are several places to start a fatbike ride and no way to get lost.  My favorite ride is from Samoa to the Mad River and back because I see the fewest number of people and I usually get a nice tailwind back to Samoa.  Pick you distance, starting point, and direction depending on the tide and wind.


Wednesday, February 01, 2017