Santa Cruz, CA: Fremont Peak 

Skirt the Santa Cruz beachfront before escaping to blissfully quiet farm roads and a winding canyon climb to Fremont Peak.

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Author: RaphaContinental
Date: 30 Dec 2008 10:17:16 AM
Activity: Bicycling
State: California (CA)
Distance: 113.56 mi  (Change units)
Difficulty: 9 / 10
Tags: California, Rapha Continental, Santa Cruz
Rating: Unrated   Rate it

Departing from the Kind Grind coffee shop in Santa Cruz harbor, this century-plus kicks off with a 4-mile spin along the Pacific. After rolling out of Santa Cruz proper, the route detours along Seacliff State Beach before climbing up a bluff and out to rural roads outside of town.

After 39 miles, the route turns onto Old Stage Road, delving into Vierra Canyon for 3 miles before bypassing a road gate and transitioning to a hard-packed dirt road for a snaking climb through grassy pastures. The fire road descends fast into a sandy-brown valley through sweeping bends. Keep your arms loose but your grip firm and use caution: many of the straightaways are washboarded and many of the turns are slightly washed-out.

At the bottom, the route promptly u-turns onto San Juan Canyon Road, a bottom-of-the valley run-in to the base Fremont Peak. Gaining 3,000 feet over 11 miles, Fremont is stiff and unrelenting; false flats and premature descents will test your will before the final pine-covered push to the summit. At the top, distant valley views stretch out in every direction. Soak it in and head back down a bobsled-style descent full of camber and twist; a good line-picking test for even the most experienced cyclists.

After spinning through San Juan Batista (where a local bakery offers a sweet pit stop option), the route tracks northwest through more farm fields towards the base of Mount Madonna and another 2,000 (or so) feet of climbing spread over 15 miles of tree-covered slopes. Zip down the backside and cool-down with caution on the bustling streets of Santa Cruz.

-Mapped by The Rapha Continental

TO TRAILHEAD: This route departs from Kind Grind, a coffee shop on the corner of East Cliff Drive and Fifth St. (on the edge of Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor).

Position Format: Datum:

Fremont Peak

Distance: 113.56 mi Points: 2227
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
# Distance Instruction Distance to next
1 0.00 mi Start - Head east on E. Cliff Dr. Then go 0.12 mi
2 0.12 mi Turn Right - Continue on E. Cliff Dr. Then go 0.71 mi
3 0.83 mi Turn Right - Continue on E. Cliff Dr. Then go 0.09 mi
4 0.92 mi Turn Left - Continue on E. Cliff Dr. Then go 1.64 mi
5 2.56 mi Turn Right - Opal Cliff Dr. Then go 0.71 mi
6 3.27 mi Turn Right - Cliff Dr. Then go 0.40 mi
7 3.66 mi Turn Right - Esplanade Then go 0.18 mi
8 3.84 mi Straight - Monterey Ave. Then go 0.20 mi
9 4.04 mi Turn Right - Park Ave. Then go 0.89 mi
10 4.93 mi Turn Right - McGregor Dr. Then go 1.73 mi
11 6.66 mi Turn Left - Sea Ridge Rd. Then go 0.02 mi
12 6.68 mi Turn Right - State Park Dr. heading down toward Seacliff State Beach Then go 0.14 mi
13 6.82 mi Straight - Continue downhill on Las Olas Dr. Then go 0.29 mi
14 7.11 mi Turn Left - Turn off Las Olas and ride along the beach Then go 0.57 mi
15 7.68 mi Turn Right - Turn onto Rio Del Mar Blvd. Then go 0.57 mi
16 8.25 mi Turn Right - Sumner Ave. Then go 1.75 mi
17 10.00 mi Turn Left - Seascape Blvd. Then go 0.79 mi
18 10.79 mi Turn Right - San Andreas Rd. Then go 0.81 mi
19 11.60 mi Straight - Continue on San Andreas Rd. Then go 5.70 mi
20 17.30 mi Turn Left - Beach Rd. Then go 0.20 mi
21 17.50 mi Turn Right - Thurwacher Rd. Then go 0.28 mi
22 17.77 mi Straight - Continue on McGowan Rd. Then go 0.81 mi
23 18.58 mi Turn Left - Trafton Rd. Then go 2.59 mi
24 21.17 mi Turn Right - Salinas Rd. Then go 0.29 mi
25 21.46 mi Bear Left - Turn off Salinas, bearing onto Elkhorn Rd. Then go 0.99 mi
26 22.45 mi Turn Right - Continue on Elkhorn Rd. Then go 6.99 mi
27 29.44 mi Turn Left - Castroville Blvd. Then go 2.99 mi
28 32.43 mi Turn Right - San Miguel Canyon Rd. Then go 0.50 mi
29 32.93 mi Turn Left - Moro Rd. Then go 1.92 mi
30 34.85 mi Turn Right - Heading towards US 101 Then go 0.03 mi
31 34.87 mi Turn Left - US-101/El Camino Real N. Then go 0.40 mi
32 35.28 mi Turn Right - Crazy Horse Canyon Rd. Then go 4.10 mi
33 39.37 mi Turn Left - Old Stage Rd.; bypass gate onto dirt road Then go 7.89 mi
34 47.26 mi Turn Right - Mission Vineyard Rd. Then go 0.02 mi
35 47.28 mi Turn Right - San Juan Canyon Rd./The Alameda (heading toward Fremont State Park Then go 10.96 mi
36 58.24 mi U-Turn - Head back down San Juan Canyon Rd./The Alameda Then go 10.94 mi
37 69.19 mi Turn Left - Mission Vineyard Rd. Then go 0.02 mi
38 69.20 mi Turn Right - The Alameda Then go 0.59 mi
39 69.79 mi Straight - Continue on 3rd St./Donner St. Then go 0.70 mi
40 70.49 mi Turn Left - 1st St./San Juan Highway Then go 1.94 mi
41 72.43 mi Turn Left - Anzar Rd. Then go 3.86 mi
42 76.30 mi Bear Right - Continue on Anzar Rd. Then go 0.39 mi
43 76.69 mi Bear Right - Continue on Aromitas Rd. Then go 1.29 mi
44 77.98 mi Turn Left - Quarry Rd. Then go 0.46 mi
45 78.43 mi Turn Right - Rogge Ln. Then go 0.91 mi
46 79.35 mi Turn Left - CA-129/Riverside Rd. Then go 3.83 mi
47 83.18 mi Straight - Carlton Rd. Then go 0.60 mi
48 83.78 mi Turn Right - Thompson Rd. Then go 0.66 mi
49 84.44 mi Turn Right - Thompson Rd. Then go 0.40 mi
50 84.83 mi Turn Left - Thompson Rd. Then go 0.10 mi
51 84.93 mi Turn Right - Carlton Rd. Then go 1.75 mi
52 86.68 mi Straight - Casserly Rd. Then go 2.10 mi
53 88.78 mi Bear Right - Mt. Madonna Rd. Then go 1.36 mi
54 90.15 mi Turn Left - Hazel Dell Rd. Then go 3.68 mi
55 93.83 mi Straight - Continue on Browns Valley Rd. Then go 3.03 mi
56 96.86 mi Turn Right - Continue on Browns Valley Rd. Then go 0.34 mi
57 97.20 mi Straight - Hames Rd. Then go 0.19 mi
58 97.38 mi Turn Right - Hames Rd. Then go 0.53 mi
59 97.92 mi Turn Left - Hames Rd. Then go 0.77 mi
60 98.68 mi Turn Right - Pleasant Valley Rd. Then go 0.05 mi
61 98.73 mi Turn Left - Hames Rd. Then go 0.62 mi
62 99.35 mi Bear Right - Freedom Blvd. Then go 0.11 mi
63 99.46 mi Turn Right - Day Valley Rd. Then go 2.41 mi
64 101.87 mi Sharp Right - Valencia School Rd. Then go 1.52 mi
65 103.38 mi Straight - Continue on Trout Gulch Rd. Then go 2.30 mi
66 105.68 mi Turn Right - Soquel Dr. Then go 2.35 mi
67 108.03 mi Turn Left - Park Ave. Then go 1.39 mi
68 109.42 mi Turn Left - Monterey Ave. Then go 0.20 mi
69 109.61 mi Straight - Esplanade Then go 0.18 mi
70 109.79 mi Turn Left - Cliff Dr./Opal Cliff Dr. Then go 0.40 mi
71 110.19 mi Turn Left - Opal Cliff Dr. Then go 0.71 mi
72 110.90 mi Turn Left - E Cliff Dr. Then go 1.64 mi
73 112.54 mi Turn Right - E. Cliff Dr. Then go 0.08 mi
74 112.62 mi Turn Left - E. Cliff Dr. Then go 0.72 mi
75 113.34 mi Turn Right - 7th Ave. Then go 0.06 mi
76 113.40 mi Turn Left - Bonnie St. Then go 0.09 mi
77 113.49 mi Turn Left - 5th Ave. Then go 0.07 mi
78 113.56 mi Stop - Kind Grind

Points of Interest

The Kind Grind

Location: 36.963086, -122.000202
This route starts and finishes at the Kind Grind, a beachfront coffee shop on 5th Avenue and East Cliff Drive. Fuel up on a cup of French Roast and a homemade pastry before clipping in and rolling out for a long day in the saddle.

Rio Del Mar Boulevard

Location: 36.968581, -121.903653
Prepare for a brief jolt of climbing out of Seacliff State Beach on Rio Del Mar Boulevard. From here, the route continues southeast along the shore, soon escaping to quiet farm roads. © Rapha

Farmland Pacelining

Location: 36.884015, -121.759243
The route beelines through rural roads outside Watsonville. A generous shoulder lends plenty of room for pacelines. © Rapha

Elkhorn Rollers

Location: 36.850402, -121.752505
Heading south on Elkhorn Road, the route soon picks up a series of persistent (and sometimes steep) rollers. © Rapha

Elkhorn Superette

Location: 36.806794, -121.722636
This road side pit stop offers an opportunity to top-off supplies before the successive climbs up Old Stage and Fremont. © Rapha

Old Stage Gate

Location: 36.805776, -121.561631
Three miles into Old Stage, you'll have to bypass a gate (the rest of the road is closed to cars). Continuing on, the road turns to hard-pack dirt, and begins a snaking ridge climb through grassy pastures. © Rapha

Dirt Road Climb

Location: 36.812652, -121.537113
Compared to Fremont, Old Stage is a short climb, but its got a bit of bite nonetheless. © Rapha

Dropping Down Old Stage

Location: 36.821559, -121.535558
The fire road descent down Old Stage is a series of mostly broad sweeping turns on washboard hard pack. Use caution in the corners, though; most are washed out. © Rapha

Freemont Peak

Location: 36.763676, -121.492224
Before the final push to Fremont, the road opens up to reveal views of the surrounding countryside. © Rapha

Fremont Pines

Location: 36.757316, -121.502953
You'll know you're getting close to the top when you hit the pines that line Fremont's climactic slopes.

The Final Push

Location: 36.756353, -121.502008
Working it up the final push to the Fremont Summit: the final mile averages 7.4 percent.

Descending Fremont

Location: 36.764157, -121.487031
On the way down Fremont's twisting descent, many roads have a banked, camber feel. Pick a fast line, but use caution on blind corners.

San Juan Bakery and Grocery

Location: 36.844890, -121.537564

Anzar Dirt

Location: 36.875441, -121.556270
Expect bit of rideable dirt on Anzar Road.

Mount Madonna

Location: 36.975267, -121.742249
As the route heads into the western foothills of Mount Madonna, the final stretch of climbing resumes. Another 2,000 feet of intermittent climbing are spread over the next 15 miles.

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