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Great Bike Rides in Sonoma County


Great Bike Rides in Sonoma County

By Brian Borges

As the weather warms up and the days get longer, outside starts a calling. There are some many things to do around our county that it is hard to pick one. However, for some there is only one thing that comes to mind: Bike riding. That being said, not everyone has the same idea of what a perfect ride is. The reasons we are called to ride is as different as the people who partake in cycling. Whether it is for fun, adventure, commuting, competition or fitness the where to ride, is as important as when to ride. 

While talking about this to a friend (non cyclist) he was amazed at all the factors that go into picking the perfect ride. After that conversation I began looking at my method. Wow! Do I come with some strings attached. But when it comes to personal safety, a bit of foresight is a good thing. Now taking into consideration that I live in west county, most of my examples will be out here; but you can apply these ideas to your region. 

First off avoid rush hour. If you have to ride during high traffic times avoid thoroughfares – example Westside is better than Eastside, or Harrison Grade is better than Graton.  If you do have to ride on the main roads, take into consideration the sun and the glare on the windshields of the cars that are overtaking you. I know on some winter mornings on River Road the glare is so bad, I cringe for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. 

Another thing to pay attention to is events. Last year I went out early to ride West Dry Creek and was met with unusually high traffic for 8:00 am. Turns out it was Passport Weekend and all the staff were getting to work early. The last thing you want is to share the road with people in a rush. 

The other road users to avoid are the wine tasters, so as a rule if I am riding north of River Road I am done by noon. So enough theory. Let’s get to the specifics. I was asked to come up with articles on great rides around the county.

The criteria that I have set for myself is safety, fun, scenic, and friendly. Also every great ride has to have a bakery/coffee stop or a brewery at the end. So my first choice is Moscow Road. The beauty of this road is low traffic. You start the ride in the town of Monte Rio (one town downstream from Guerneville). I like to park in the parking lot at the corner of Bohemian Highway and River Road. From there you cross the bridge and make a right at the first stop sign. Just after the market on the right is Moscow Road. This is a great ride on a hot day as very little sun get through the canopy. When the road does finally open up you can encounter some head winds late in the afternoon, but with this being an out and back the wind will soon be at your back. 

At the end of Moscow Road, you will find yourself in Duncans Mills. There is no shortage of well-deserved treats. If you still have some miles in you I would recommend turning right on River road. This section has a giant shoulder and unless it is Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you will find very light traffic. So stay on River for about a mile and cross a small bridge. On the left just on the other side of the bridge is Austin Creek Road, a mostly flat country road winding through a deep valley that ends in the town of Cazadero. The main road into Cazadero is smoother, but in Sonoma County a smooth road means fast cars. So I will always opt for the bumpy, less traveled byway. So the first leg of this ride is just over three miles, or about seven miles. If you add the Austin Creek route it is about eight miles one way. So round trip it would be about twenty three miles. 

I hope you enjoy it and be careful out there.