One of the things I was most excited about on this trip was the opportunity to bike my way around Napa and Sonoma. Because of our schedules, I did two separate rentals. One in Sonoma and one in Napa. This gave me an opportunity to try out a couple of different kinds of bikes. I searched on-line, read reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor and decided to rent through Wine Country Bikes in the Sonoma town of Healdsburg, and Napa Valley Bikes Tours in Yountville. Both shops provided maps and excellent guidance and suggestions. Highly recommend either. Napa Valley Bikes tours has a sister shop in the city of Sonoma (called, guess.......yep, Sonoma Valley Bike Tours). However, because we were staying at Korbel, Healdsburg was both closer, and in the area I wanted to ride.
Day One: Sonoma, Wine Country Bikes
Well, not quite....the rental also includes free roadside service within the area shown on their guide maps. Which proved to be a good thing.
Wine Country Bikes location in Healdsburg gives you the option of heading south towards Windsor/Graton/Sebastopol for a much more challenging hilly route, west out River Road towards the coast, or north through Dry Creek Valley. We choose to head north, creating a 26 mile route through somewhat rolling terrain (a bit over 1000ft elevation gain/loss). The shop suggested that with winery stops, lunch etc this would make a good days ride.
We rode a quick tour of Healdsburg then west to pick up the southern end of West Dry Creek Road (which parallels Dry Creek Road). The shop had warned us the only place to pick up lunch would be the Dry Creek General Store, requiring a quick mile across Lambert Bridge Road (and the actual Dry Creek) then back after grabbing our lunch to go. The plan was to continue onward with the lunches, picnicking at either Preston or Bella. The plan got slightly altered when in a bit of deja vu to our Ride for the Arts experience, my husband got a rear flat.
We aired up the tire, and it immediately went flat again. Neither of us are adept bike mechanics, so decided that rather than waste time and add frustration, we'd take advantage of that roadside service. They were out quickly with a new bike - actually just pulled the rear tire off that one and swapped it out and off we went. Cute metal sculptures at the corner of West Dry Creek and Lambert Bridge.
At the north end of Dry Creek Valley we stopped at Ferrari Carano, having been told I shouldn't miss the gardens. Thought we'd picnic here, but signs said no picnicking. Did take advantage of the chance to try their wines, then headed next door to Dutcher Crossing winery. So glad we did. This small independent (not nationally distributed) winery is owned by a woman from La Cross, WI. Has an old time bicycle as its logo. Provides a lovely, scenic picnic space. And has great wines - we even joined their wine club.
Still not sure where the whole day went. Never did make it to Preston, or back over to Quivra to tour their gardens. Next time.
Day Two: Napa, Napa Valley Bike Tours
As the name implies, this company leads a lot of tours. The carry Specialized bikes, a brand I am fond of - now owning both a road bike (Dolce) and hybrid/all trail bike (Ariel). The napa terrain along Rt 29 and Silverado trail is much flatter than Sonoma. For this day, we went with Sirruis, Specialized hybrid/fitness model. The shop also rents road bikes (Roubaix and Dolce models), full suspension MTB, tandems, and electric bikes. The women on the yellow bike on the right of the picture above is on one of the electric bikes - her husband rented a regular bike. And they were already arguing as they pulled out. That might have been a pair to follow. NOT.
Our main Napa ride was an easy 16 mile loop from Rutherford across to Silverado Trail down to Yountville to look around, have lunch, then back up Rt. 29. Just enjoying the scenery and leisurely riding. Did make a fortuitous stop at Bottega to see if we could get reservations.Open Table said they were booked - sometimes doing things in person pays benefits. Dinner here was my favorite of the trip.
We kept the bikes over night - which allowed us to do some early morning riding around the vineyards at property at BV. Such fun. Riding over the dirt, discovering the grape vine covered pergola in the picture at the top of the post. Seeing the workers put up netting to keep the geese out of the vineyards. One of the highlights of the trip.
Fortunately, for this rental we did not need to use Napa Valley's roadside assistance! They do offer it free within a fairly large area around their shop. Even telling us we didn't need tubes or tools, because all we had to do was call them. As mentioned before, both shops provided excellent maps and advice, helped fit the bikes, supplied the pedals to match our bike shoes, and of course, helmets and locks. Great companies, great bikes, really nice people.
Can't wait for my next trip out there. Will be much more bike riding next go round!