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Cycling

Bicycle Meanderings ~
Cycling Sonoma County Backroads

Aug 1, 2018

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By Brian Borchers

With great weather heading into fall, it’s the perfect time to get out on your bike. Living here in Sonoma County we are blessed with many different choices. Depending on your mood you can pick from rolling vineyards, steep climbs or twisty coastal roads. One thing I also take into consideration is the location of the ride.

Needless to say Sunday afternoon is not the day to take Hwy 1, nor is West Dry Creek Road on Passport wine tasting weekend. If you are fortunate enough to pick the right road on the right day it can be like a powder day (you snow-folk get my reference).

So picking your time and place is important. Cycling is the fountain of youth. No matter your age, you can get out and revitalize. If you have not ridden in a long time, start with the West County Trail bike path that starts in Santa Rosa and ends in Forestville. It follows an old rail bed and is very scenic. It has lots of attractions to give you a break.

I also recommend picking up the map put out by the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. It shows all the roads color coded by levels of traffic. There are many nice loops off to enjoy.

One thing I hear a lot from my non-cycling friends is “you’re crazy” or “the roads are too narrow”or my favorite… “why would you do that?” And the answer is yes, yes and yes!

But the narrower the road, usually means the less traveled and the slower the vehicles. One thing that people don’t realize is a cyclist can usually hear a car long before we can see them(except for a Prius or Leaf, they are sneaky).

So if the narrow roads do not bother you, check out West DryCreek toDry Creek road. This ride should be done early in the day due to all the wineries in the region and lack of shoulder.

I recommend starting in Healdsburg and heading out Westside Road to West Dry Creek Road. This is the cream of the ride. It rolls along an oak shaded country road. Then take either Lambert Bridge or Yoakim Bridge over to Dry Creek Road.

Keep in mind Dry Creek is the road to Lake Sonoma. The afternoons and evenings are busy with boaters going home and the mornings have the reverse commute. It can be very busy on weekends, but it does have a generous bike lane.

The ride finishes back in Healdsburg with routes ranging roughly from 12-20 miles. If you are stuck with only having a weekend afternoon time to ride I always recommend staying away from the river valley and the coast.

I have been exploring the region west of Sebastopol and south of Hwy 12. There are more organic farms than wineries so traffic is much lighter and seems to be a bit more compassionate toward cyclists. This area is hilly and has no shoulders or bike lanes. Cyclists with intermediate experience will finding it challenging, the more advanced cyclist just need to do higher mileage.

I found Burnside Road to be the highlight so far. Once on top you can see the whole Sonoma Valley and the ocean from one vantage point. Then it is a thrilling descent to Bloomfield Road. Then meander your way back to Sebastopol.

Remember to be safe and predictable. We all live here, we all drive here. Always remember to be aware, stay single file and be curious. Pulling into a driveway to let traffic by costs very little, and might save your life.

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