Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sip 'N Cycle- Sonoma County: Days 1-4


Don't forget to elevate in the Zoot compression knickers!

Sip 'N Cycle Days 1 to 4

Our trip to Northern California was one part race, six parts super cycle vacation! Seriously, outside of maybe Italy or France, this is a dream vacation for a cycling duo. James and I made this trip a Christmas/Birthday gift to each other. We're all about the "experience" gifts rather than "things" (unless those "things" are carbon fiber, right?) 
Home base was a quaint 1 bedroom cottage 5 blocks from Healdsburg town square. Our location was money! Not the best for the race, but for everything else, it could not have possibly been better... Amazing riding, eating and exploring right out the front door. Only, no Versus, so we had to watch the Tour de France on the laptop. 
The Wattage Cottage (I found it here on VRBO)
Tour watching (squinting). Andy's arms looked like pieces of yarn on our "big scree"

The first couple of days we did things to get ready for and race Vineman 70.3. But afterwards our days were basically this: Coffee, Tour de France, 3 to 5 hour bike ride, explore the town, hit a Winery or 2 for a tasting, eat an amazing dinner. Sleep. Repeat! We ended up riding our bikes every day we were in Healdsburg, so I'm doing a little day-by-day to a) remember it and b) give you some ideas in case you ever make Vineman your own stay-n-traincation post race. We also did a little (very little) running & swimming, but I'm not including those...Basically, if you ever want to do a trip like this, I am planning it out for you! 

Day 1: Warm It Up! 
 (20 miles) : Just a little out and back from Healdsburg town center to Chalk Hill road. Descend into the Alexander Valley and turn around.
The quickie
This is just your warm up for the week to come. Spin out the legs, open 'em up a bit. For us, we also made sure our race bikes were ready to go for Vineman 70.3. Nothin' crazy- don't want to leave your race in the vineyard the day before!
Rolling through the first of thousands of Vineyards we'd see over the week
Passing by Soda Rock Winery

Eat! (There was no "Sip" the night before the race)
We opted to keep it simple and picked up big salads with bbq chicken (with all kinds of deliciousness inside like roasted brussels sprouts & potatoes) from Big John's Gourmet Market. Big John's is a great spot to stock your fridge or stop in for a meal.
Plentiful & Colorful salad from Big John's Gourmet Market

Day 2
 (56 miles): Race Day! So the bike ride was the Vineman 70.3 bike course. Guerneville to Windsor.
This course is fabulous, but I can't imaging actually doing this exact ride for training as it is point to point. but you could make it a nice 65-70 ish miler by starting/ending in Windsor and making River Road an out 'n back
Tearin' it up (or not) on the Vineman course
Vineman 70.3 race map
Sip and Eat
Post race we met up with a big fun crew at Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA. It was awesome to spend some quality time with Laura/Steve, Jordan/Rich, Brandy, Heather/Mike, Hailey/Mark, JP, Sarah, Christine, and other fun folks. Beer and pizza all around. They have James' favorite IPAs in the country so this was a must-stop. The only difficult situation was that Sunday happens to be all-day happy hour and live music (which is awesome if you have a small group!) but made it tough to get tables and hear each other.

Day 3
 (30 miles): Recovery Ride- "Fitch the Bitch" (8 miles) and Dry Creek Loop (22 miles).
Ftich the bitch, Flying Goat, Dry Creek Loop

We wanted to explore the town hill- Fitch Mountain- for a nice view and possible running route. We got neither the view or the running. Fitch mountain is windy (as in turn-y not gusty), technical, poorly paved, and offers  no view, just a gate, barring your entry to the top. There was quite a bit of traffic on the tiny road and also several stray animals. Proceed with caution! Still, a nice adventure. After the Fitch Mountain (just 4 miles up & 4 miles back= 8 miles) escapade, we regrouped with an americano & high protein mini ginger muffin at Flying Goat Coffee in Healdsburg.
American & twitter check at Flying Goat Coffee
From Flying goat, we headed east on Dry Creek Road. Dry Creek Road is peppered with wineries and has some traffic, but offers a nice shoulder for most of the way. The terrain is gently rolling and perfect for a recovery ride or wine tour adventure. On your right, you will pass the Dry Creek General Store, a perfect stop for a picnic lunch (we didn't. it was only a recovery ride after all). Turn left on Yoakim Brigde road after 9 miles. Yoakim has, you guessed it, a bridge! and leads you straight through the grapes to West Dry Creek Road where you hang a left. West Dry Creek is a "must ride" for anyone. It is not technical or hilly, but it is a beautiful, low-traffic, tiny, vineyard road. We had grapes to our right and left and a perfectly fake looking blue sky to our left. Ride West Dry Creek until you hit Westside road. Hang a left, and head back to reality. The Dry Creek loop is one I recommend for ANYONE. Cyclists and non cyclists alike, you'll feel like you went somewhere, but you won't be smashed. Its do-able for all. AND, you could probably stop at more than 20 wineries on the way if you were so inclined.

Sip and Eat! 
Team Small

Me & Miss Fancy Pants! at Ferrari Carano
We opted to go home, shower, and then hit Ferrari Carano and Truett Hurst to meet up with Heather and Mike. Truett Hurst gets a huge double thumbs up from us. Great Zins and great winemakers, and adirondack chairs on the banks of Dry Creek.
Rose by the River at Truett-Hurst

Followed by appetizers & a cocktail at Spoonbar a hip little local hotel restaurant/bar with one of the longest and most intricate cocktail menus I've ever seen.
Spoonbar's indoor/outdoor thing they got going on
Morrocan Salad Plate at Spoonbar
And an interesting, but very tasty vegan meal at Cafe Gratitude in Healdsburg, CA

Day 4 
(49.5 miles) Healdsburg- Alexander Valley Road - Route 128-Calistoga - Petrified Forest Road- Mark West Springs Rd- Old Redwood Highway

We decided on another mellow ride with a climb or two to wake us back up. The first 25 miles of this ride are nice 'n easy as you wind out of the Alexander Valley and then head up to Calistoga. There is a short warm-up climb to get the legs pumping.  But watch out! As soon as you turn onto Petrified Forest Road, you are greeted with a 2-mile climb that gets a bit steep in some sections.After the climb, descend Petrified Forest road. Be careful! There was a lot more traffic on this road than I ancticipated, little or no shoulder, and when there was a shoulder, there was often gravel coating the shoulder. Also, seemed to be a lot of big trucks taking this route. It's not unrideable, but definitely use caution. Once you get back to Mark West Springs, it mellows out a bit and then the Old Redwood Highway is a straight shot back to Healdsburg.

Sip and Eat! 
Bear Republic Brewery for "lunch"
James' lunch of Racer 5 IPA at Bear Republic Brew Co.
Healdsburg Farmers Market
Local blackberries at Healdsburg Farmers Market

Hop Kiln Winery for a tasting
Walking into Hop Kiln
Hawley Tasting Room (on Healdsburg Square)
Tasting at Hawley. We bought the Viognier which I loved
Dinner at Willie's Seafood


That was the first few days and we were just warming up. Stay tuned for part 2 of Sonoma Sip 'N Cycle: Big Rides & Big Reds :) 


marian said...

thank you! this trip is going on my list!

Miss Erosion said...

what an amazing trip!

MissFancyPants said...

Great post! I am actually working on my beer/wine post today :) We had such a good time hanging with you two - Truett Hurst was AMAZING!

Jennifer said...

wow, I live here and haven't done half of the riding in wine country that you just did! LOVE riding Dry Creek, that's a good one. I'm taking notes, thanks for sharing all your routes! Glad you had a great time and congrats on a solid finish at Vineman!

Terrish B said...

I just love you Beth... Thanks for sharing and making me smile :) I feel like I just took my own vacation :)

SixTwoThree said...

Great pics! Love the top one of Team Small the best - not that it's a contest - ha, ha!

Jill Costantino said...

What a fun "traincation" for you guys! I think my man would enjoy this MINUS the cycling!

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

Plain awesomeness. Your post makes me feel like I was there. That trip is on my list. Cheers.