The Wine Country tour, May 2002. (by Ken King)
In early May, a dozen Knickerbikers rode for five glorious days in Napa and Sonoma County. Joining Marge Cooper on her trip were Ralph Peterson, Rona Djedda, Nadine and Al Gillogly, Chris Audette, Hans Leenhouts, Martha Way, Ron Proulx, Jeff Gianformaggio, Guy Vaughn, and Ken King.
After a wine and cheese get-together in Santa Rosa on the evening
of May 5th, and a good night’s sleep, we awoke to cloudless skies
and perfect temperatures to start our tour of Northern California’s
Wine Country. Everyone rode down to quaint Sonoma for lunch, passing
through Glen Ellen, where Jack London settled down about 90 years
ago. London was first attracted to the Sonoma Valley by its magnificent
natural landscape, a unique combination of high hills, fields and
streams, and beautiful forests. "When I first came here, tired of
cities and people, I settled down on a little farm ... 130 acres of
the most beautiful, primitive land to be found in California." We
agree with his assessment.
People rode various routes to our ultimate destination that day, Yountville. Energetic ones rode (and walked!) over Trinity Grade into Napa Valley. It was pretty much traffic-free, and for good reason: it was STEEP! The Jacuzzi at the Yountville Inn was a welcome therapy.
Our ride Tuesday was completely within flat Napa Valley with lunch in St. Helena and day’s end at Calistoga. Some folks took the loop out to Lake Hennessey while others enjoyed wine-tasting at some of the dozens of wineries on our route. The whole valley is filled with perfectly groomed vineyards, edged with blooming roses. The grapes are green and about the size of pinheads this time of year, but the ambiance is all about wine. Wednesday’s ride was another short trip over to Healdsburg, but most riders opted for one of two little traffic-free loops in order to see some out-of-the-way sights, like a petrified forest and a VERY old valley oak. After our traditional wine and cheese pre-dinner party in Marge’s room (where the famous scarf was NOT awarded, since yesterday’s recipient couldn’t remember where he had stashed it!), we had a nice dinner and prepared for tomorrow’s ride.
The next leg was Marge’s “favorite day” on the tour, and it was clear why; we cruised down alongside of the Russian River to the ocean, stopping for lunch at Korbel Champagne Cellars and taking a short tour of the landmark house and garden there. The destination was at “River’s End” where the Russian River meets the Pacific. Our rooms had little pot-bellied stoves and knotty pine walls! We enjoyed our gourmet meal perched on the edge of the river watching the sun set over the ocean.
On Friday, we FLEW from the mouth of the Russian River down to Bodega Bay with marvelous tailwinds! From there, we turned inland, checking out the school-house made famous in Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and having lunch in Sebastopol. From there it was a short ride back to Santa Rosa, completing our loop. All of the grateful riders gave Marge a thank-you gift of an apron, some coasters and an over mitt, all of which will remind her of this magnificent tour. Thanks, Marge! We loved it!