Road Cycling Napa, California
Will Ross, October 8, 2011
In August, I linked up with a group of Clif Bar employees on a fundraising ride for their Climate Ride California. After meeting at the Clif-owned Velo Vino tasting room in St. Helena, we rolled out at 9am into the Napa hills. Fortunately we were gifted with support vehicles and edible treats to keep us going over the 60-mile loop.
Including the loop at the southern end of the route, the ride is 62 miles and includes over 5000ft/1500m of vertical ascent. Heading clockwise from St. Helena and Velo Vino, much of the metrage is in the first 15 miles. If you want to take on this distance, but want to have the option of breaking the day down by 10 miles or so, note down the through road which is an extension of Chiles Pope Valley Road. This will take you along part of the loop section, giving you further options on your ride back to town. Missing out the loop is also possible and will shave off 7 miles and 250m climbing from your day.
If you can muscle at least 50 miles riding then try to get down Pope Canyon. The heat can be searing here in the summer months but Lake Berryessa is well worth seeing, and even more worth jumping into. You’ll find plenty of access points along the western shore to refresh yourself in the crystal blue. For some alcoholic refreshment further south of the lake visit Nichelini Winery. The tasting room is open every Saturday and Sunday between the hours of 11am and 5pm, or by private appointment.
For driving instructions, lodging and dining in the area, visit sthelena.com.