Adventure, explore, shred–that’s what the Grasshopper Adventure Series is all about. Less about the race and more about the experience to be had at any of the seven events in this series from January to May each year in Northern California’s Wine Country.
Each one features a different mix of terrain, some heavier on the road than dirt and vice-versa, but all featuring jaw-dropping descents in the mountains just north of San Francisco, hugging the rugged Sonoma and Mendocino County coastlines. Lung busting tests of endurance, with wicked fast singletrack, creek crossings and gear grinding steep pitches are notoriously around every bend in a Grasshopper. This past month’s Super Sweetwater was no different.
With two event options this year, one with mixed terrain and some serious adventure at 70 miles with 9,000 feet of climbing or option two with 100% pavé boasting 78 miles and 7,163 feet worth of ascent, riders were left hurting, but as always, wanting more. Quite simply, the Super Sweetwater was a ton of fun packed into a not-so-huge ride.
What is the Super Sweetwater? Take their Old Caz Grasshopper, then bookend it with the steep side of Sweetwater to the West and the dreaded Fort Ross climb to the East, with a wicked fast descent down Myers Grade onto Hwy 1 and a leg-searing finish atop the infamous Coleman Valley Road. If these names don’t ring a bell, then you need to make a visit to the land of bike plenty. What you end up with is 70-ish miles featuring some of the hardest and most beautiful terrain you can find anywhere in the world–the ultimate Sonoma County adventure loop.
What about the bike setup? Some superb bike handlers can sneak by on their road bikes with 28c tires (hopefully set-up tubeless), but the safe and more comfortable bet is to ride a gravel bike with 30-38c treads. Ultimately, that’s what makes these rides so fun: there is no right bike. Ride what you brung or something like that. There is no better two-wheeled adventure out there.
How about the main goals for the day? The easiest way to score points in this category is to have as much fun and get as muddy as possible.
With MTB legends Geoff Kabush, Katerina Nash, Carl Decker and Barry Wicks in attendance for the 2018 edition, the Super Sweetwater delivers on all fronts.
And what about those rest stops? Filled with Osmo, GU energy gels, an assortment of bars and other snacks for those of us in the back of the pack who like calorie positive adventures, our hearts were filled to their content.
Yeah, there’s still cash prizes for the top three female and male finishers, but the real winners are those stopping for jaw-dropping Pacific Ocean coastline pictures and rolling into the finish line feeling ready for more. More awesome food that is with the right kind of recovery hydration in the form of local Sebastopol-based Woodfour Brewing Company. Of course, all while sharing the memories made on the bike that day and keeping the dirty chamois on for at least a couple extra hours.
Didn’t get enough? The Grasshopper Adventure Series is just heating up, with Lake Sonoma planned for April 21st, Skaggs on May 5th and the grand finale, the King Ridge Dirt Supreme on May 19th. If you’re heading to the Bay Area in the next couple months, these are events you want to check out without a doubt!