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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 Jack’s 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. Rhonwyn’s 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. That’s 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 couldn’t 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 Post’s 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 Rhonwyn’s outstanding planning and leadership skills.

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!