Aug 01 2010

07.08.10 Touring Sonoma

We enjoyed some Sonoma Wine Country action from July 5th to 12th.  After flying into the Santa Rosa airport we settled right into the Worldmark in Windsor, a complex of beautiful time share condominiums.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the local geography, Windsor is located in Sonoma Valley, which is immediately west of Napa Valley.  For many people, Napa Valley evokes images of the “real” Wine Country, but in my opinion, Sonoma is every bit as authentic and charming.

From a cyclist’s perspective, Sonoma Valley offers a wide variety of terrain.  There’s a range of hills that divides Sonoma and Napa with a couple of highways and some two lane roads that meander across and through them.  The valley itself has a lot of rolling hills.  Other than Highway 101, which runs up the middle of the valley, Sonoma is filled with country roads, rivers, vineyards, and smallish towns.  There seemed to be a lot of cyclists in the area.  I noticed quite a few Specialized riders on the Sonoma side and Trek riders on the Napa side.  That might help some of you bike snobs decide where to stay if you’re in the area. =)

Local Garb

We did a lot of fun things in the week we had.  We visited a couple of wineries, saw the Charles Schulz museum, went to some farmers markets, ate at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America), canoed down the Russian River, and more.  But the highlight of this vacation occurred on Thursday when my entire family + my nephew rented bikes and went for a 25-mile ride from Windsor up to Healdsburg and back. We rented our bikes from the Windsor Bicycle Center.  Mike, the owner, fixed us up with Giant mountain bikes and some helmets.  We hit the road around 12:30 pm. Kyle, my nephew, and Andrew dubbed our group “Team Swagger” and not because of the way we hip hopped along at an average speed of 6 to 8 mph.  Some of the route that Mike sent us on had very little shoulder.  In fact, in some areas the edge of the road dropped off into a ditch.  Team Swagger had to do some attentive riding in order to literally stay on the road.

The Foundation of Team Swagger

We arrived in Healdsburg around 1:45 pm and locked up our bikes at a restaurant called “Ravenous”.  Slow service, but good food and a great outside eating area in back.


We hit the road again around 3:00 pm and headed south out of Healdsburg on Westside Road, a country road with little traffic (good), but an inconsistent shoulder (bad).  We experienced a few rolling hills as the road wound through vineyard after vineyard and passed a winery or two.  It was beautiful.

A Winery Along the Way

Team Swagger faithfully adhered to the “no rider left behind” rule, which tended to be more difficult on the hills and toward the end of the ride.  It was a memorable ride for a number of reasons: 1) I will probably never ride with another group that will want to call itself Team Swagger (ahh, the audaciousness of youth); 2) I will forever have this picture in my head of Karen zipping by Mary and Nicole on a hill and calling out loudly and clearly, “on your left”.  I just had to smile as I thought “Where’d she learn that? Must be hanging out with Uncle Ed too much.”; and finally 3) I will always remember what Mary and Nicole agreed to do to help make my vacation memorable and enjoyable.  Despite Nicole’s sore knee, they both said they had a really good time (and I even think they’re telling the truth!)

On Your Left!

We’re back now, but I had a great time.  Even more than cycling…I LOVE MY FAMILY!


  1. Tailwind

    It was great to read about you and your family enjoying that time together (even better on bikes). We had tried to visit that area once, but it was flooded out; now we know where to go.

    Loved hearing about Karen calling out “On Your Left!” Thanks for sharing that — made my day!

  2. blueneck

    Now that is a great ride, and a great vacation!

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