Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ride the West - Day 12, Cloverdale California to Petaluma California

What a great day! It started out slightly cool, but not enough to warrant any extra clothing. The sun was out without any fog getting in the way. Finally, I was able to cycle in the bare essentials: a jersey, shorts, socks and shoes. The day warmed up nicely, but not to a point of being hot. We started out the day cycling through the vineyards of the Russian River area of Sonoma County.

Hazy leaving Cloverdale

We were blessed with a 30 mile run through the back roads of a beautiful countryside, laced with wineries everywhere. The grapes on the vines were at the point of being ready for harvest. We tasted some of them from the vines nearby the road. They were small, sweeter than I thought they would be and with a seed in each. The deep blue-purple color contrasted the green of the leaves and was reminiscent of what you would find in an old painting. You could tell that the vines were ready to give up their seasonal yield to make that magical elixir: wine.

Leo trying to sample a wine, before its time

We rode with various people today, taking turns talking with one another, while admiring the scenery. Today, it was spectacular. California is a truly lovely place, at least so far. The coastal areas, the redwoods, the grassy hills and the vineyards are like a special blessing had been bestowed upon the region.

This winery is over 100 years old

Along the ride, Joe, Baltimore Mark and I generally kept together, and for the last half of the ride, we were inseparable. In the first half, Joe and I did a side visit to the Kormel vineyard, where they are famous mostly for champagne. I tried the pinot noir and the port and Joe tried the champagne. We could only have a sip as we were still riding for the day. The wine was mediocre at best.

The Kormel Winery

After the SAG, Mark, Joe and I passed through the small towns of Guerneville, Monte Rio, Occidental, Freestone and Valley Ford. We stopped at the Union Hotel in Occidental, where we were treated to freshly baked sticky buns.

Enjoying sticky buns

As the 3 of us rode on, Joe noticed one of his favorite wineries, Joseph Phelps, and so we stopped and took a look around. The wines seem to have won many awards, although we didn't venture to have a taste. I might look at their wines when I get back home.

Mark and Joe outside of the Joseph Phelps Winery

After we left the final winery, Joe, Mark and I caught up to Tracey (he also rides a Roark) and Char. We decided that this was a good opportunity to ride with them, so we spent the last 20 miles cycling and chatting. We were almost the last ones to arrive this day, and we were happy about that. We spent 2 hours off the bike during today's ride, just sightseeing. It was another great day.

Typical vineyard sight

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

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