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California Wine Country

by Pamela Blalock


Susan Lowery and I took a trip to Northern California at the end of April. Susan has loads of vacation time, and I offered to join her for one of her monthly trips. We chose the area because we knew the riding would be challenging and scenic and thought the weather would be reasonable.

John and I had ridden through parts of Napa and Sonoma when we did the Terrible Two a couple of years ago. We both fell in love with the area and decided it would be great to come back and do some touring or less intense day rides. Of course now I am left wanting even more, and John is quite envious after hearing my descriptions of the climbs and descents and seeing the pictures, so we will go back again.

The pictures don't remotely do it justice. The wildflowers were incredible, but I kept waiting for better light and in the end came back with very few shots. And I must have been too breathless (both from the climbing and incredible views) of King's Ridge to take many shots. But hopefully you'll enjoy the few pictures I did take.

Susan ordered a series of route sheets from Adventure Velo. We also had Krebs Bicycle Touring maps. These are great maps showing loads of roads for cycling, with the very important arrows indications for climbs and descents. A single arrow corresponds to 3-5%, two arrows is 6-8%, and three is 9%+. Simply pulling out the maps and connecting a series of roads with three arrows on them will get you a nice scenic tour, but it was nice to have some descriptions and options for shortcuts of the pre-planned rides we got from Adventure Velo. Bill Oetinger, the man behind Adventure Velo has done a spectacular job of putting together lots of different routes, with detailed cue sheets, descriptions, course profiles, maps, and options for longer or shorter rides. I definitely recommend checking out his site.

Susan brought along her Air Friday, packed in a Samsonite Suitcase. I brought my Co-Motion Express, a single bike with S&S couplers, which packs into a 26"X26"X10" suitcase. This bike was actually a prototype used mainly for display at shows, which I got for a good deal last fall. This is my second trip with it and it has performed quite well. It is great travelling incognito, if you will. We rented a station wagon, and managed to carry both bikes, their cases, and our suitcases with clothing. If we had planned our first and last nights at the same place, we could have left the bike cases, but they were small enough that we could fit everything, so it worked out fine!