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:

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