Difficulty– Very strenuous
Elevation Gain– Total elevation gain: 2000′ with an 800′ climb over Harris Grade.
Combining the Santa Ynez, Lompoc, and Los Alamos valleys, this century ride provides an ultimate ride for those who want to experience the heart of Santa Barbara County. Almost all of the riding is on the more uncrowded country roads for which this part of the county is famous. If you want to test your fitness this is the ride on which you’ll want to do it.
Following the Santa Ynez River on Santa Rosa Road to Lompoc, the route continues through Lompoc to La Purisima Mission, climbs over Harris Grade and into the Los Alamos Valley, then cuts across Highway 101 to Alisos Canyon and from there into Foxen Canyon. Be sure to bring plenty of food and/or money for food stops and reserve at least 6 hours for the entire loop.
From Mattei’s Tavern follow Highway 154 west for 200 yards to Ballard Canyon Road. Turn left and climb the 200′ rise that takes you into Ballard Canyon. Follow this downhill for 5 miles, then turn right at the intersection with Chalk Hill and climb another 200′ rise and drop into the narrow lower end of Ballard Canyon. It is 2 miles of very pretty countryside to Highway 246.
Turn right, ride .7 miles into Buellton, crossing Highway 101 and turning left at the major intersection onto Santa Rosa Road. This heads south, paralleling Highway 101 for .8 miles then curves right and follows the Santa Ynez River through farmland for 17 miles to Highway 1. Santa Rosa County Park is halfway along this road and is a convenient first rest stop.
Turn right on Highway 1 and drop gradually 1.5 miles into the Lompoc Valley, turn right again and ride 1.8 miles to Mission La Purisima, a second potential rest stop. From here ride 1.1 miles west to Rucker Road. Turn right and follow this for 2.7 miles through housing tracts and chaparral, climbing 200′ in the process, to Harris Grade. Harris Grade is the crux, a 600′ gain over 2 miles with most of it in the last mile, but the ride down into the Los Alamos Valley is spectacular, especially when the grass is green and the wildflowers are in blossom.
Turn right on Highway 135 and ride 8 miles through the picturesque and little-known Los Alamos Valley to Highway 101 and Los Alamos proper, a good third rest stop. Cross under Highway 101 and ride for 2.2 miles on the frontage road to Alisos Canyon, turn left and ride 6.5 miles up the gradually rising canyon and down into Foxen Canyon. From this point it is 10.3 miles back to Mattei’s Tavern on this road with one tough 400′ elevation gain just beyond Zaca Mesa Winery and one last 300′ gain just after you turn left on Foxen Canyon Road.