Solo Point-to-Point Sonoma – Petaluma – Napa – Sonoma Wine Country Tour – 2017

This short summer trip is the first time I am attempting a multi-day solo point-to-point ride.  While I may have a friend or two accompany me for part of a day’s ride, what makes this different is the fact that I am traveling with all the gear I need for a three-day ride.  This includes all my clothing, spare parts and toiletries.  This is not a typical loop where home is always no more than a few dozen miles away.  In this trip, I am far from home and need to be more self-sufficient.  Yes, it is time for me and my credit card.   I am staying in hotels and not camping, so all of the three days worth of gear amounts to about an extra 6 to 7 pounds of weight.  It may not seem like a lot, but it does slow down the ride and add a bit of complexity to technical sections.  I am also using a larger top-post frame pack and an under-seat dry bag.


Day 3 – Napa to Sonoma

Yesterday’s extremely hot slot down the Silverado trail got me thinking that I would start day 3 very early, which I started bright and early with a breakfast at Starbucks.   Those who have been to wine country know that the distance from Napa to Sonoma is actually quite short when you take the major arteries; what fun is that?  Today I started toward Mt. Veeder road and got to see the famous early morning balloon rides as I made my way to the first summit of the day.  These mountain roads have a lot of washouts and landslides so often there was just a single lane road with two stop signs on either end.  After the first summit, the climb up to the Trinity grade was much easier than I had anticipated.  I do use a product called “Hot Shot” that is an anti-cramp neuro-muscular juice which is a cross between pickle juice and spicy turmeric.  Nothing like gargling this stuff as you climb.  It very effectively blocks the nerve overload that causes cramps.   Once I started down the grade, things really got going and I headed up near 95, and that was 10:30 in the AM.  I traveled north along the main highway until Deerfield Ranch where I took a respite for a snack in the shade and got invited in early into the wine cave.

After that was a back country loop called Fawndale and then Warm Springs through Glen Ellen to Arnold Road.  Coming into downtown Sonoma, there was a hubbub of activity due to the normal weekend tourist load and the end of a half marathon in the Sonoma Square.  I could have ended there, but I really love this climb in eastern Sonoma up to Lovell Valley which actually crosses into Napa country.   Robin Williams’ house used to be up there.   After a quick descent back into town I was at my car for a huge icy coffee drink and the drive home—hopefully, without the usual stiff leg cramps from driving without a shower.

The Strava Summary:

day 3

The video of the ride is below, just click on the image:

2017-07-16 18_25_43-Relive 'Day 3 of 3, Napa to Sonoma via Mt Ceeder, Trinity Grade, Warm Springs, L

Here are the pictures from today, click on any of them to see full size:

Day 2 – Petaluma to Napa

Today was a monster day.  Even though I call this a solo point-to-point, today I had two buddies join me for the first half of the ride since the route was an interesting one. The goal today was to cross two mountain ranges and therefore move two valleys east.  Hot was the temperature.  First, we had to cross Sonoma Mountain road, about a 1000 foot climb, earlier in the day so the temps were pleasant.  We even got to see a family of foxes in a vineyard, talk about high-end pest control.

After a rest stop and fuel up in Glen Ellen, we started the infamous Cavedale climb up to the Trinity grade.  Steep, hot and a poor road surface with amazing views all the way to Mt. Tam in Marin are the hallmarks of this 2000 foot climb.

After parting with my buddies I descended into Oakville where I grabbed a quick lunch with the hoards of well-dressed people with high-end cars enjoying a hot and traffic- filled wine tasting day.

I then biked by Silver Oak and Opus One wineries and took a dirt back road through some high-end vineyards.  I was clearly bushwacking in Napa Valley,  not sure I was allowed to get this kind of dirt, but none of the vineyard hands kicked me out.  After that, I intersected with my favorite at Silverado Trail and biked into downtown Napa for an overpriced motor lodge.  Another 60 plus mile day with almost double the climbing of the first day.  Here is the Strava summary.

Here is the video of the route where you can see the two mountain range transits.  Click on the image to launch the video.

Here are probably too many pictures from today.

Day 1 – Sonoma to Petaluma

Today kicked off with an equipment shake out in Sonoma (including me leaving my GPS tracker on the top of my car and had to go back to get it).  The wine country north of San Francisco Bay is basically at a macro level three North – South valleys.  On the East, you have Napa Valley, in the middle, you have Sonoma Valley and on the West, there is the Highway 101 corridor with Petaluma, Santa Rosa and Healdsburg.  The microclimates will really influence the rides.  Close to the Pacific (and the infamous summer fog) the colder and windier it will be.   I started out going west to cross some small hills to get the Petaluma and then I went further west to ride some of the great back country between Petaluma and Point Reyes.  Today’s stage was for the sprinter, no real climbing.  I saw very few wineries, but lots of cattle for both milking and meat.  Petaluma is known for the home of all of those happy cows that make great milk and cheese in the commercial.  Winding back through town I arrived at my luxurious Best Western.

Here is the Strava Summary:

And the video of the route, click on the image below.

 Best pictures include