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Great Outdoors
Great Bicycling In Somona Country
Less than an hour north of San Francisco is some of the best bicycle riding in Northern California: flower-lined country roads that pass organic farms and under towering redwoods, quaint lanes past vineyards and wineries, and winding routes that follow the gentle Russian River to the wild Pacific coastline.

 

Sonoma County is synonymous with good riding. With 2,250 kilometer/1,400 miles of lightly traveled secondary roads and a growing system of off-road bike trails, Sonoma County appeals to a wide variety of riders. Whether you are a dedicated cyclist attacking mountain passes or a weekend pedaler eager to sip wine and cycle through the vines, Sonoma County can provide you the perfect track. It's no wonder Bicycling Magazine listed the area one of "The 7 Greatest Rides on Earth."

Sonoma County is also home to an avid cycling community epitomized by star resident and professional cyclist Levi Leipheimer. Serious bicyclists come to train as well as to compete. Sonoma County was the starting line (and Stage 1 finish) for the Amgen Tour of California, May 13.

HERE'S HOW TO EXPLORE SONOMA COUNTY BY BICYCLE:

Challenge & Train

Two challenging rides in the county are the Kings Ridge-Tin Barn Road ride near Cazadero and Coleman Valley Road near Occidental. The Kings Ridge ride, favored by pro racer Levi Leipheimer, is a challenging, hilly course. It is considered one of the most beautiful, fulfilling bike rides in the world. The Coleman Valley ride is a landmark climb in Northern California and was featured in this year's Amgen Tour of California.

The Sonoma Coast 60-kilometer/40-mile ride is best done in the early morning before the motorists hit Highway One. It includes a couple of challenging hills. A good starting place is the town of Occidental through Monte Rio and Duncans Mills along Highway 116 to the fishing village of Bodega Bay.

The Geysers 80-kilometer/50-mile loop (1,000 meters/3,500 feet of climb) is very remote, with no services and very challenging terrain between Geyserville and Cloverdale. Fit, experienced riders only.

Sip & Cycle
Come for one of the popular wine-tasting rides, known as "sip and cycle," where you can stop along the way every mile or so to taste wines at one of the more than 300 local Sonoma County wineries. There are ideal places along the way to linger with a picnic of fresh wine country produce, breads, pasta, olive oil, fruit, cheese and chocolates.

The West Dry Creek Road near Healdsburg is a picturesque ride with a few rolling hills through vineyards and country roads. Many of the wineries are only minutes apart. Another great route is Red Winery Road in the Alexander Valley between Healdsburg and Geyserville. This is a quiet, peaceful, flat and virtually traffic free area with beautiful oak dotted hills and miles of vineyards.

Bring the Whole Family
Explore the many paths as you pedal through Armstrong Redwoods under the giant trees in a truly tranquil and peaceful setting.

The Joe Rodota Trail, a segment of the West County Trail, is paved and runs between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. It's built on a former railroad right-of-way; several bridges have been constructed over the old trestles. The trail is especially popular in the spring with the vivid blooming of the wildflowers. It is an excellent place for bird watching year-round.

The West County Trail between the towns of Sebastopol and Forestville is a paved path and relatively flat with a few gentle climbs. An unpaved horseback riding trail runs parallel. The West County Trail and the Joe Rodota Trail offer beautiful farm and agricultural views.

Leisure & Moderate Trails

The leisurely 32-kilometer/20-mile Sonoma Valley ride explores the scenic Valley of the Moon. Begin at the Sonoma Plaza, ride past the historic General Vallejo home and continue on back roads through the town of Glen Ellen to the Jack London State Historic Park. The winding roads and gentle climbs allow you to soak in the beautiful views of lush greenery, vineyards, streams and oak trees.

Starting and ending in Petaluma, the 48-kilometer/30-mile Spring Hill-Chileno Valley ride is a pleasant tour of the dairy lands along the border between Sonoma and Marin Counties. Much of this trail is on quiet back roads and is very scenic; some sections offer moderate to fairly serious climbs.
These companies offer bicycle rentals or tours:

Getaway Adventures & Rentals
2228 Northpoint Parkway
Santa Rosa, CA 95407
(707) 568-3040
www.getawayadventures.com
Bike rentals or guided personalized tours; gourmet lunches available.

Rincon Cyclery
4927 Sonoma Hwy # H Santa Rosa, CA 95409
(707) 538-0868
www.rinconcyclery.com
Located just blocks away from excellent riding sites - Spring Lake Park, Howarth Park and Annadel Park. Staff will help you find the right bike and the right trail or road to ride on.

Other good places for cycling information:
Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition
PO Box 3088 Santa Rosa CA 95402-3088
(707) 545ยท0153
info@bikesonoma.org
www.bikesonoma.org

The coalition also has a bicycle map online, or available for purchase a printed map: http://bikesonoma.org/map.html

Santa Rosa Cycling Club
P.O. Box 6008
Santa Rosa, CA 95407
www.srcc.com
Excellent site for group events and rides.

For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit www.sonomacounty.com or call (800) 576-6662.
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