Although there are several more significant climbs ahead, for the most part now, we’re riding along the ridgeline, with views off one side or the other. At one point, the road tiptoes along a spine of ridge just a few feet wider than the narrow road. There are panoramic views off both sides of the road at once: to the west, out over the far, blue Pacific, and to the east, spanning rank on rank of empty, serried hills. Sometimes we’re riding through woods of redwood, oak, and bay laurel, and sometimes we’re crossing open meadows of waving grass. Every inch of this ride is beautiful, but up on the ridgeline, the vistas are so stunning, so transcendent, even the most hardened hammerheads slow down and gaze in awe. This is it: purest bike heaven. This is why we ride.
In addition to all the buffed-out climbing one does on King Ridge, there are also a number of exciting descents. If one were to ride this road in the opposite direction, a cyclometer would record 1500’ of elevation gain, and for us that translates into 1500’ of twisting, slinky fun.
Eventually (at mile 25.6), King Ridge ends at a junction with Hauser Bridge Road and Tin Barn Road. We're going left on Hauser Bridge. Over the next 22 miles, the road we’re on will change names from Hauser Bridge to Seaview to Fort Ross to Meyer’s Grade without really making any turns. It’s all good stuff though, whatever it’s called. Hauser goes downhill the way elevator shafts do: a wild, corkscrew, one-mile white-knuckle tumble down the rabbit hole, culminating in a 20% plunge to a one-lane, iron-grate bridge over the Gualala River. (It was here that Alexi Grewal rolled a sew-up off the rim in the Coors Classic, prompting his colorful assessment of the conditions.) Pavement on this descent ranges from mediocre to dreadful, so you really have to treat it with respect. An authentic 20% pitch with loose gravel, potholes, and tree roots buckling the pavement is a serious piece of work.
After the bridge, we have to climb back out of the canyon into which we just dropped...a steep pitch of 1.7 miles, followed by five miles of more moderate ups and downs (mostly ups) along Seaview, where we hardly view the sea at all. The only place to refill water bottles in the 40 miles between Cazadero and Jenner is at the Fort Ross elementary school on Seaview, just beyond the Timber Cove Road junction... don’t miss it. At mile 36, we arrive at a junction with Fort Ross Road, coming up from the coast. Half a mile later, the other portion of Fort Ross turns left, while we continue straight south on Meyers Grade. This is the point where the shortcut from Cazadero on Fort Ross rejoins the basic route.
Throughout the climbs on Hauser and Seaview, we’ve been riding in the trees—close-up scenery without any panoramas—but once we hit Fort Ross Road and Meyers Grade, we emerge onto a ridge above the ocean with views to forever. This is almost as wonderful as King Ridge. It’s not as long—only five miles, as opposed to 16—but it makes up for it with silky-smooth pavement and stunning views. On a clear day, you can look all the way down the coast to Tomales Bay and to Mt. Tam in the far distance. But you may forget to notice the view, once you begin the hair-raising, 16% downhill to Hwy 1.