Northern California - Bike Tour recommendations
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I'm hoping my buddy doesn't read this, as he does occasionally frequent this forum as well, but we're planning a bachelor party for the guy and needed some ideas from the knowledgeable folks here.
We'd like to do a two-day bike tour at a very beginner level (as my friend and I are the only semi-serious cyclists in the group of around 8-10 people). Here are some of the parameters:
- Saturday/Sunday around late Feb, early March
- Probably under 100 miles total for the two days
- Locations preferably within 100 miles of the SF Bay Area
- Reasonably flat
- Paved roads/trails preferred, as not all of us have MTBs available
- Not too much car traffic, beginners probably wouldn't feel comfortable around busy streets
Other than that, we haven't planned much yet. We were thinking some sort of destination riding could be in order, with either packed lunches or a stop at a restaurant along the way. We just plan to get a decent motel room for the night before heading out again the next day.
I'm not very familiar with popular long distance riding areas around here or in the Vicinity (Monterey, Carmel, Napa, etc...) so I thought I'd come to the greatest cycling resource that I know of.
I would greatly appreciate any trip advice/insight you guys could provide! :thumb:
12-03-08, 08:40 PM
Remember that winter is the rainy season in California (though last year March was pretty dry). You need to be pretty flexible if that is the only time you can travel. In general, the rain is heaviest north or San Francisco and near the mountains. Monterey is probably good choice. Also places like Paso Robles or Solvang or Santa Barbara (may not be within 100 miles, though).
The Tour of California bike race is in February. How about picking a town along the route and riding out to watch the race? You will probably have to book your hotels early.
I would definitely go up to wine country. Maybe stay in Healdsburg? There are some great rides with wonderful scenery and fun wine tasting along the way. And there will be some cool bars and restaurants so that you guys can go out at night. Plus it is a popular event for bachelorette parties, so you guys might make some friends along the way (the single ones only, of course)!
12-04-08, 07:04 AM
My recommendation, also Napa. Credit card camping, unloaded except for warm stuff for at night. A few of you maybe have bikes that can carry a set of panniers. Fast people carry stuff for slow people, to make it more even. Healdsburg is too far, unless you are driving halfway.
Day one. Start the ride from Pleasant Hill BART station. Ride to Napa (about 35 miles). From there, how much further north do you want to go? 50 miles sounds good for a buch of guys who have never done it. Maybe St. Helena as your destination. To get to Napa ...
Take BART with your bikes to Pleasant Hill or Concord BART stations. Martinez is about 5 miles north. The ride from Martinez to Crockett along the strait is difficult but has some spectular views. Franklin Canyon Road is easier. Use the bike lane on the Carquinez Bridge to get over to Solano County.
From Valejo to Napa, you have to follow a major highway for a short distance to Napa, but there are good shoulders. From Napa north you ride on a minor road called the Silverado Trail. Silverado trail is heavily used by bicyclists, offers bike lanes, and has many wineries.
If you are ambitious, go on to Calistoga and return by Sonoma. But that would push you well over 100 miles. The climb from Calistoga over to Sonoma County is very beautiful, but not easy.
Terrific suggestions thus far guys. I really appreciate it. I will start looking into some of these things.
12-04-08, 11:55 AM
Very cool idea. Beats the heck out of pretty much every bachelor party I've ever been involved with.
I agree that the Napa area sounds good for what you're after. Based on the parameters you set, I'd suggest starting and ending in the town of Napa. Do an advance run to fscout out a place to park the cars overnight. I doubt if finding a place will be a problem. Of course, once you are there, you can scout out some of the great rides in the area, too . . . . :thumb:
I like the "credit card camping" idea. I'd suggest in Calistoga - roughly 25 flat miles away. Plenty of great scenery, wineries for wine tasting (be sure to use the spit cups), places to stop and eat (everything from burgers to expensive-high brow), etc., along the way. If some of you want to get more riding in at the end of the first day, there are lots of pretty roads around Calistoga. You can even do the mud bath/steam bath thing in Calistoga. (Hint: if you've never done a mud bath before, expect to be finding mud in the darndest places for a week afterwards:eek:.)
You can ride up via Hwy 29, ride back via Silverado Trail for a little variety. Both can be trafficky, but there shoulders make it okay - several event rides a year use 'em both. Be very careful about railroad tracks - there are a couple of incredibly sharply angled crossings on 29 that will eat your front wheel and ruin your day - don't recall any on Silverado Trail, but I could be wrong.
If you'd rather camp (and the weather permits), Bothe-Napa State Park is close to Calistoga and is very pretty. Also, the fairgrounds in Calistoga permits campling - at least it used to.
Definitely have some panniers along so you can haul the wine you buy at the wineries along the way to enjoy that evening. I mean, it is a bachelor party, after all.
12-04-08, 01:21 PM
Another fun mini-tour, depending on the weather, is SF to Samuel P Taylor. Though that would involve camping, and the lodging in that area (Olema, Pt Reyes Station) is all quite pricey. The ride is about 40 miles though and well suite for beginners, despite some busy riding on Sir Francis Drake. On the way back you could take Lucas Valley Rd. and catch the ferry at Larkspur for a 30~ mile return.
I like the credit card idea, but it definitely requires more gear (room for at least a change of clothes, toilet kit, something to wear at night, etc.). It also forces you to keep riding if it rains. My Healdsburg idea was to DRIVE there with the bikes, check into a hotel or B&B, and then use that town as your base for the weekend. Unless the party includes all serious athletes, people will likely appreciate finishing the riding, then taking a shower and changing and going out for dinner and drinks. This is based on my read that the OP's group will include at least some folks who don't cycle regularly and probably won't want to do a riding-only trip.
12-04-08, 04:48 PM
Carmel Valley offers lots of lodging and food options and good rides. Down Hwy. 1 and back, 17-Mile Drive, up Carmel Valley Road to Cachagua Road and back. Los Laureles Grade for a tough climb and a great descent.
My personal choice would be Santa Cruz, however. Easy access from the SF area, and you might time it for the Amgen stage that finishes in Santa Cruz. Nice rides up the coast, out to Corralitos, and all over in the mountains. Get a Krebs map at your local lbs and follow the little squiggly lines.
12-04-08, 04:56 PM
When do the strippers come?
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