Wine Country Trip: Part 4 Biking
August 28, 2010
Alright, this 4 part series on my trip to wine country is finally coming to a close. You can catch the other pieces, by clicking below:
Day One: Sonoma, Wine Country Bikes
Wine Country Bikes is located a couple of blocks outside downtown Healdsburg. They rent Trek bikes with a variety of options from Hybrid/fitness style Trek 7200 to high end Trek Madone road bikes for those wanting to feel like Lance Armstrong for the day. I knew our day riding in Sonoma would be the longer and hillier of our routes, and decided to go with their Trek 2.1 Road bikes. These bikes were nicely equipped with a computer to track mileage, time and speed, a back rack and expanding trunk bag big enough to hold a bottle of wine, or pair of shoes, a jacket or lunch – or a combination of the above. They’d also swapped out the standard pedals for a set of Shimano SPD Sport clips. A couple of spare tubes and a multi tool completed the package.
Well, not quite….the rental also includes free roadside service within the area shown on their guide maps. Which proved to be a good thing.
Wine Country Bikes location in Healdsburg gives you the option of heading south towards Windsor/Graton/Sebastopol for a much more challenging hilly route, west out River Road towards the coast, or north through Dry Creek Valley. We choose to head north, creating a 26 mile route through somewhat rolling terrain (a bit over 1000ft elevation gain/loss). The shop suggested that with winery stops, lunch etc this would make a good days ride.
We rode a quick tour of Healdsburg then west to pick up the southern end of West Dry Creek Road (which parallels Dry Creek Road). The shop had warned us the only place to pick up lunch would be the Dry Creek General Store, requiring a quick mile across Lambert Bridge Road (and the actual Dry Creek) then back after grabbing our lunch to go. The plan was to continue onward with the lunches, picnicking at either Preston or Bella. The plan got slightly altered when in a bit of deja vu to our Ride for the Arts experience, my husband got a rear flat.
Appreciating things close to home and heart…
April 13, 2010
From reading this blog, you’d think I lived in Chicago. There was a post about bike riding along their lakefront trail, a streetscape post, another streetscape post, and yet another streetscape post. Fact is I live in a suburb of Milwaukee – another city with a great lakefront along beautiful Lake Michigan. This weekend my son (one of the things closest to my heart) and I took advantage of a gorgeous spring day to ride along Milwaukee’s Oak Leaf Trail in the section from the Summerfest grounds, around Lakefront Park and north to Bradford Beach.
First stop was a cruise around Lakefront Park which brought us to the back-side of the now empty Henry Maier Festival Park, aka Summerfest grounds. So odd to see this empty – but the Harley stage and the Miller Lite stage brought a smile to my face – honoring these two icons of our proud city.
Moving onward, the smart (read, sneaky) Mom in me knew that in order to make *my* goal of riding 10 miles that we needed to take the occasional break. Which we did, first stopping at the park in front of Discovery World to play some tunes – on the bench and the pebble waterfall, a quick pause on the promenade by the art museum to watch a couple of spear fishers and finally a stop to check out the kite shop in Veteran’s Park.
McKinley Beach caused us to wonder, how crazy you have to be to be swimming in Lake Michigan in early April. While Bradford Beach brought another hint of summer, and that beach’s strong volleyball tradition.
We enjoyed our stop at what appears to be a new fitness area. I got a kick out of showing the guy you see struggling on the yellow apparatus how an assisted chin-up machine works – I did a couple of sets of squats, assisted chin-ups and back extensions, while my competitive gymnast son gave the p-bars a work-out.
After we left the fitness area, kiddo asked me if he’d ridden 1.5 miles yet. I fessed up and told him, he’d ridden almost five miles. Which led him to proclaim he was going to ride 10 miles this day. We made several laps around Lakefront Park in order to accomplish this goal. What fascinated me was how often he stood to ride, or assumed the bent over determine pose of acceleration. Made me realize the fun of riding as a child – and maybe understand a little the draw of single speeds. Not that I’m going *there* anytime soon – but I get how they might re-connect with the childhood joy of riding.
Once we accomplished the goal of 10 miles, we headed back to the car. With the kiddo telling me his next goal is 15 miles, and then 20. Meanwhile, I was reminded of what a great city I am privileged to live in! Not to mention I am blessed with one great kiddo!
Newborn, Natchez, Noshing, Nashville, November
December 6, 2009
Our family had a little something extra to be thankful for this year – my new nephew Jack Stephen. Jack is the first child of my brother. He’s named in memory of my Dad, Jack, and in honor of his maternal grandfather, Stephen. My brother was a confirmed bachelor who hit the jackpot in his mid-40’s when he met his wife, Gina. Smart, fun, beautiful with an incredible family to boot. Really none of us could have asked for more. So, this year for Thanksgiving, we loaded up the car, put the bikes on the rack and set out on the 10 hour drive to celebrate with Jeff and Gina’s family and new son down in Nashville. And celebrate we did.
Gina’s Aunt is a great hostess and great cook. As with many great cooks, they have friends who are equally good cooks adding to the fun. What a feast we had – a foodie’s heaven! Two turkeys, one oven roasted, one smoked, two kinds of stuffing – including Gina’s family recipe of an italian sausage and bread stuffing that was almost addicting.
More and more food kept appearing on the tables….a couple of different sweet potatoes, the most amazing layered jello salad, several versions of cranberries, I loved the cranberry ginger chutney. Wines of the day were Pine Ridge Chenin/Vognier, Edna Valley Chardonnay, and Ponzi Pinot Noir. Blue Moon Honey Moon was available for the beer lovers. A bottle of Woodford Reserve was around. (any guesses what hubby and I were responsible for bringing). I forgot to get a picture of the dessert table – but it was equally impressive – two kinds of pumpkin pie, pecan pies. All so yummy.
Thank goodness with all that eating, we’d brought the bikes. Got in several good rides. A couple around Nashville in the Oak Hill/Belmont areas. But the most memorable was a ride along the Natchez Trace. Beautiful and challenging with the continual rolling hills.
Discovered that I’m a bit of a wimp riding over this famous bridge over Hwy 96. Heading out I stayed a decent distance from the edge. Coming back, a crosswind had blown up, and I was scared to death. Rode at almost the center of the road. Even once we got across and I got off the bike to take these pictures I never was able to stand next to the rail. Just a bit too freaked out.
The nice weather also provided an opportunity for a walk around Radner Lake.
Ended the weekend with a celebration of Mom’s birthday. A great trip, wonderful meeting Jack and spending time with family. Enough to wear a guy out!
October 18, 2009
This weekend brought a couple of unrelated incidents that made me realize how my mental image of myself has, or maybe more accurately, is changing. Hubby and I were down in Chicago celebrating our 10th Anniversary. First up was a surprise trip to the spa for a massage and facial. When the massage therapist asked me if there were any areas in particular for her to focus on, I caught myself saying, “Well, I have a tendency to hold tension in my traps and my IT bands really need work”. Say what….
After the massage as I was waiting for the facial technician in the “relaxation” room, it hit me that I really was relaxing, fully comfortable in the robe they had supplied. That I hadn’t had to ask for a larger robe, or sit there in one that didn’t quite close – or worst of all, sized up by the receptionist at check-in and offered to swap out the usual robe for a plus sized one. Instead I was perfectly comfortable sitting there waiting in the normal robe, which actually felt large, wrapped over completely in front. Such a nice feeling, couldn’t help but smile.
Then again none of this really should have surprised me. Hell, we’d brought our bikes on this trip; planning to take advantage of Chicago’s Lakeshore trail and a promise of sunny not too cool weather. That would never have happened 15 months and 65 pounds ago. Yet as I’ve made these changes to healthier foods, healthier eating, regular exercise, gone down several clothing sizes; I’ve never really thought about the changes to my mindset to the way I thought about myself, the boxes I put myself into.
But this weekend, I realized that I think of myself as a bit of an athlete. That being active is not something I do, it is something I am. And that while my weight loss journey is not over (35 pounds to go), I have taken great strides forward, I have changed not only my body, but my mind.
Which leads to this morning’s ride. The trail along Lake Michigan is a gem. One enjoyed by a wide variety of people. Sure there were plenty of people out for a casual stroll, but for the most part on this Sunday morning the path was populated by other athletes – folks out for a serious work out. Some passed us, plenty we passed. It felt good, I felt strong. We rode 32 miles on the trail – a loop north to Foster Avenuse and south to about a mile past the Science and Industry Museum. But best of all, I felt like I belonged.