Biking Lake Berryessa and Clear Lake

Camp at Shady Acres

Over this last weekend I participated in a 3-day bike tour from Lake Berryessa to Clear Lake and back. It was my unfortunate luck that the ride coincided with some of the hottest days of the year so far, but most of the rest of the aspects of the ride were great.

I met up with the group on Thursday afternoon at Pleasure Cove Resort on the south end of Lake Berryessa. We had 3 sites in an RV section (so we had access to electricity), our RV neighbors were quiet, and we found reasonably level spots for our tents. The downside was we were a long ways from a bathroom, poor excuse that it was. Since all of the resorts around Lake Berryessa had their long-term leases conclude a couple of years ago, many of the resorts closed. In fact, I believe there are currently only two that have camping facilities.

After dinner, we visited a bit, getting acquainted (there were 5 of us), and then hit the sack early anticipating a good workout the next day. I was up before 6 am, had a big breakfast, and then broke camp and packed everything up. We finally rolled out on our bikes about 8:30 am.

We started with a short climb, and then did rollers along the west shore of Berryessa. We stopped for a break at Pope Creek bridge, and then continued riding up Knoxville/Berryessa road in a gradual climb. We encountered only a few cars on this road, so it was quite enjoyable. Around the 40 mile mark the climbing got steeper, with the temperature in the low 90s. Given the miles already ridden, and the temperature, a couple of these climbs were really tough. After finally cresting the summit, we had a downhill dash to another little climb before rolling into Lower Lake and Shaw’s Shady Acres. My odometer registered 63 miles, and the route sheet said total climbing was 5,000 feet.

Shady Acres, indeed! This place looked like it was built in the 50’s and hasn’t been maintained since. The bathroom/showers were decrepit (but at least they were within easy walking distance). And, it was noisy because highway 53 was just up the bank from our site (ear plugs helped, but did not completely stop the traffic noise).

I slept well enough, I guess, because after breakfast as we rolled out for the ride around Clear Lake, I felt reasonably good. That quickly changed to huffing and puffing, though, because there were 2 or 3 good climbs before our first rest stop at Clear Lake State Park. After the rest stop it was pretty flat around the west and north sides of the lake. Lunch was at Keeling Park in Nice.

After lunch, we baked in the heat heading east along the north shore, and then hit a killer climb on Sulphur Bank Road. See this link about Sulphur Bank Mine. We finally rolled back into the campsite with 68 miles on the odometer. Shower, dinner, hit the sack and try to sleep—I was really tired.

Sunday we headed back to Lake Berryessa via Pope Valley road. Temperatures climbed into the high 90s. I was tired, and every little hill required me to shift into my lowest gears. The steeper hills were really hard. I guzzled liquids until I felt bloated, and I still felt on the edge of heat exhaustion. At 53 miles, I called it a day, 17 miles short of the finish. Maybe I could have ridden the rest of the way, but I wouldn’t have liked it, and my friend seemed to be suffering a bit more, so I think it was best to call it.

I’m glad I did this ride, although I won’t repeat it. The accomodations were just too poor. Perhaps I’m just not a camping kind of guy anymore.

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