Second Tandem Tour - Napa and Sonoma, California
Some of you may remember a thread I posted here a few months back relating my experiences on my first tandem tour with my wife in the San Juan Islands:
At the time, we had planned another self-supported tandem tour through Napa and Sonoma counties, based on the Wine Country Tour from Lonely Planet Cycling USA West Coast. A couple of things we learned on the San Juan Islands trip is that my wife is not interested in dragging around all of our stuff on the bike, nor being limited to the tiny capacity of four panniers or a trailer. Nor was she interested in serious climbing. So a self-supported tour through wine country was out of the question, especially considering there were some very serious climbs over the ridges between adjacent valleys.
We had already put in vacation requests and made reservations for accomodations along the way, so we decided to continue with the trip. Instead of a self-supported bike tour, we changed it to a car trip, with a tandem bike on the roof rack. That way we could drive with all of our stuff from one destination to the next, and reserve the tandem for leisurely day trip loop rides for sightseeing. At that made all the difference!
For our revised itinerary, we consulted the book Wine Country Bike Rides by Lena Emmery for suggestions of good loops, cross-checking against the Sonoma County Bike Map to avoid rides with step climbs.
In the end, we ended up taking three day trips on the tandem over the course of our nine day trip. We had intended to take a fourth trip on our last day, but I came down with a cold, so we drove home early instead. Each ride was roughly 15 to 20 miles long, usually along flat or gently undulating roads in the Russian River Valley and Napa Valley. The scenery was lovely, surrounded as we were by lovely vineyards covered in ripe grapes, dotted with beautiful wineries. We started each ride around noon, stopping for picnic lunches and visits to wineries. I was the designated driver on our tandem team, so my stoker could sample some of the tasty offerings. By the third day trip, my wife was even up for a 5% 0.8 mile climb up Rutherford Hill to the Rutherford Hill Winery.
So the excellent news is that despite the rather less than fully successful tour the first time out, we have discovered that under the right circumstances, my wife really does enjoy tandeming with me. She actually excited for our next tandem trip!