Solvang Bike Tour by Bob Cameron
April 5-9, 2006
The genesis of the Solvang Bike Tour was the movie Sideways and
the creative imagination of our leader, Rhonwyn Curtis-Nicholson.
In the movie, hunky womanizer Jack and geeky teacher Miles plan
a hedonistic weekend in the Solvang/Buellton area just before Jacks
wedding. During this hedonistic interval, the two men eat well,
played golf and consumed wine and verbally rhapsodized about wine.
And, oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that both men engaged in
various levels of romance. Rhonwyns plan was to recreate the
movie Sideways as a bicycle tour. As such, Rhonwyn selected the
same hotel (Days Inn) and many of the same wineries and restaurants
that were in the movie. Rhonwyn wisely left the romantic issues
to the individual participants. Instead, Rhonwyn selected bike routes
that went through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the
nation. Thats no kidding, no fooling.
Most of the 15 participants drove the 250 miles between San Diego
and the Solvang/Buellton area on Wednesday, April 5th. The drive
itself was an event, where the weather fluctuated among sunny, drizzle,
moderate rain and torrential down pour. By the time we reached the
Solvang/Buellton area, however, all precipitation ended and never
reappeared during the entire outing.
On Wednesday night the group had dinner at the Hitching Post Restaurant
where Jack and Miles met a beautiful waitress/graduate student named
Maya. We found the food to be very good but no beautiful waitress.
The next morning, we had a light breakfast at the hotel and then
biked 17 miles to Lompoc for lunch at the Budget Café. The
food was reasonably priced, ample and fortified us for what was
to come. What was to come was some of the most beautiful scenery
that can be imagined. Rolling green hills were covered in places
with very dark green oak trees. Some of the other hillsides were
covered with brilliant yellow flowers and there were, of course,
the geometric patterns of the various vineyards. The jewel in the
crown was the Santa Ynez River that twists and turns its way through
the valley. Our French born Knickerbiker, Guy Laronche told Rhonwyn
that the scenery reminded him of the Bordeaux Country in France.
Besides enjoying the splendor of nature, the first day of bicycling
was supposed to take us to three wineries: Sanford, Lafond and Mosby.
Most of the group couldnt find Sanford. I, on the other hand,
found Sanford but not Lafond. Sanford was a strange little place
that could only be reached by rather long gravel drive way. On the
outside, the building was definitely on the dumpy side but what
a surprise in the inside. The patrons were all well dressed yuppies
who appeared to be very knowledgeable about wine. More important
was the stunning lady who was pouring the wine. She had a décolletage
to die for. Well so much for the wine or is it whine? Essentially
everyone made it to the last winery, Mosby. The wine at Mosby was
good but the manager/guide was definitely an alpha female. All in
all, the group had a wonderful day and will be telling stories about
this adventure for a long time to come.
The scenery during the second biking day, Friday, was as spectacular
as the first day. However, the second day had the additional benefit
of interesting animals such as horses, miniature horses, cattle
and even a longhorn steer and a buffalo.
The bicycling group visited four wineries on the second day. The
first winery was Fess Parker. Here the owner and namesake of the
winery was the famous TV actor who played both Davy Crockett and
Daniel Boone. In the movie Sideways, it was at the Fess Parker Winery
(with a different name) where a distraught Miles poured a spit bucket
over his head when he discovered that the book he worked so long
and hard on would never be published. No one in our group tried
to reenact this scene. We next bicycled to the Curtis Winery. This
was a pleasant place with huge oak trees and outside picnic tables.
The group secretly purchased a hooded shirt and cap that were emblazoned
with the words Curtis Winery. At a later date, these items were
presented to our leader whose maiden was Rhonwyn Curtis. Then came
the most imposing Winery, Firestone. The owner is a relative of
the tire baron, Harvey Firestone. It was at Firestone that we had
an outdoor picnic. The food consisted of delicious sandwiches that
were purchased much earlier in the ride at Los Olivos. The building,
gardens and views were superior to any of the other wineries that
we visited. In the movie Sideways, Jack met and was immediately
smitten with a lissome Oriental- America gal named
Stephanie. Jack and Stephanie had a not so secret tryst among the
barrels of aging wine. Again, no one in the group tried to reenact
this scene. The fourth and last winery was Rusack. On the way to
Rusack, we lost a number of our bicyclists when they took a wrong
turn. But what the hay, everybody made it back to the hotel and
everybody had a terrific time.
The Vintners Festival was on Saturday. Although it was a
$75 option, this yearly classic provided all the vintage wine and
gourmet food that anyone could possibly want. To me, the piece de
résistance was the Hitching Posts small cubes of braised
top sirloin served with little slices of French bread.
On the final day Sunday, there was an optional bike ride to the
beautiful Nojoqui Falls. Getting to the falls required the bikers
to negotiate a very long hill that never seemed to end. However,
the lovely waterfall and the dream like return trip made it all
worthwhile. At the end, essentially all of the participants felt
that the Solvang outing was a premier event and they were a very
appreciative of Rhonwyns outstanding planning and leadership
The 15 Sideways participants were:
Rhonwyn and Nick
Susan and Merle
Rhonda and Nathan
Guy and Caroldine
David and Karen
Ron and Marty
Rhonwyn received considerable assistance from Bob in both the ride
planning and the execution. (ed.)
Congratulations! Great tour! May you lead many more!