Slug Gulch Road is a 5.4 mile 1300 feet climb that begins at Mile 77 on the Classic Century and Double Metric Century routes and at Mile 24 on the 69er Challenge route. The most difficult part of the climb is the first 1 1/2 miles which include grades of up to 15 percent near the start and around the one mile point. After the first 1 1/2 miles, the road grade becomes more moderate and varied in the single digit range for about another mile. At about mile 2.5 of the road, the road takes a short steep hairpin turn after which the rest of the climb is moderate and increasingly gentle and even flat near the end. Riders who reach the Rest Stop at Indian Diggings School at the end of the climb are awarded the Slug Gulch Pin. Despite its name, the road includes several ranches, residences, and wineries as well as many scenic vistas and usually at least a few curious and supportive spectators.
Yes, there is a relatively short bypass route. Instead of proceeding up Slug Gulch Road, a rider may continue on Perry Creek Road to Fairplay Road, turn left on Fairplay Road, and then turn right on Omo Ranch Road to resume the Classic Century route. This bypass is only 2.1 miles long but still includes a few significant hill climbs. The bypass is part of the 41er Tour route. Taking this bypass will reduce the Classic Century route by 10.6 miles. Riders who reach the base of Slug Gulch Road after 2:30 PM will be directed to take this bypass.
The climb up Rams Horn Grade begins at Mile 43 on the Metric Century, Classic Century, and Double Metric Century routes about a half mile northeast of Volcano on Rams Horn Grade Road. The 800 foot climb is about 2.5 miles long on a curvy and mostly shaded route with an average and fairly consistent grade of 8 percent. The climb ends at Daffodil Hill where there is a Water Stop.
The four routes have been designed to avoid highways as much as practically possible and to incorporate highway travel only where there is a generous shoulder upon which to ride. The state highway segments are as follows:
The Metric Century route is wholly within Amador County. The Classic Century, Double Metric Century, 69er Challenge, and 41er Tour routes enter El Dorado County at Mile 64 of the Classic Century route where Tyler Road crosses the South Fork of the Consumnes River just before the intersection with Bridgeport School Road. The Classic Century and 41er Tour routes reenter Amador County at Mile 93 of the Classic Century route where Mt. Aukum Road crosses the Consumnes River just before River Pines. The Double Metric Century route reenters Amador County where Omo Ranch Road crosses the river just before the intersection with SR 88 at Mile 92.
The website of the Oakstone Winery,which is located on Slug Gulch Road, offers the following history of the road's name:
"Like almost all of California's gold rush, the truth is clouded by countless retellings of oral history, but the prevailing version is that a prospector was poking around an old river bed at about the 3000 foot elevation of southern El Dorado County when he first came across a piece of gold the size of (pick one) a man's thumb, or a man's fist. Gold comes in dust, flakes, nuggets and slugs, with slugs this size being very desirable, indeed (the $50 gold piece of the late 1800's was known colloquially as a "slug" as well). The name was applied to the name of the mine that was developed at the site, and then to the road that led from the settlement in Fair Play to the mine."
Rather than use a plain and obscure-looking slug of gold for its logo, the Sierra Century founders decided to adopt instead a friendly, athletic version of the shell-less terrestrial gastropod mollusk commonly known as a slug. Some local residents have suggested that the logo is more like a metaphor or icon for how fast most century riders move up Slug Gulch Road.
After the payment of event expenses, the remaining funds are used for Sacramento Wheelmen club expenses and for donations to various bicycle-related nonprofit organizations and causes, including the American River Parkway Foundation, the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, and the Bicycle Kitchen.
Despite the club's name, about one-third of the 450 members of the Sacramento Wheelmen are women and many women have been and currently are club officers and ride leaders. Some members who prefer a more neutral term to refer to club members use such terms as wheelies, wheelers, wheelpeople, wheel men and women, and wheelfolks. For more information about the club go to www.sacwheelmen.org