SONOMA TO MONTEREY

Trip report and pictures from the bicycle trip from Sonoma to Monterey, June-July 2001. Click on any picture to see a full sized version.

Friday
Start: San Diego
End: Santa Rosa
Transportation:
  Automobile, Airplane, Bus
It took two trips to get Bill, LeAnne, and me to the airport with our bicycles and gear. We each had a bike packed in a full size bike box and a duffle bag large enough to hold a whole person. Thanks to Deborah, we managed to get us and all our gear shuttled in time for our afternoon flight to Oakland.

A friendly passenger on the flight had a stack of free-drink coupons that were expiring the next day, and he was trying to get rid of them all. We did our best to help him out, and the flight went surprisingly quickly.

Once in Oakland, we muscled our bags and boxes to the pick up spot for the shuttle to Santa Rosa where we sould start our ride. Despite arriving with a Greyhound-sized bus, the driver seemed to think all our stuff wouldn't fit in the cargo hatches. "Not on *my* coach" he said, and then discovered a completely empty compartment that held all three bikes and bags with no fuss.

A two hour drive brought us to our hotel in Santa Rosa. We walked down the block for some dinner and then returned to sleep.

Saturday
Start: Santa Rosa
Time: 9:40 a.m.
End: Duncans Mill
Time: 6:15 p.m.
Miles: 49
Cycling Time: 3 hrs 59 min
Avg Speed Cycling: 12.3 mph
Avg Speed Incl Rests: 5.7 mph
We spent a while reassembling our bikes, taking all our gear out of our duffle bags, and loading it onto the bikes. That done, we were on our way ... for a quarter of a mile to a local coffee house for breakfast. After that, we were on our way ... really this time. We headed north towards Healdsburg, a little town in Sonoma's wine country. Along the way, we met up with a local cyclist out for a ride who gave us a tip on a better route. We followed him for a little while, until LeAnne's pedal fell off as she rode. And she hadn't even had her first sip of wine for the day.


The travelers 1/4 mile into the trip
We arrived at our first wine tasting stop at 11:00 a.m. and spent the next few hours riding and stopping at wineries all over the area. At Belvedere, we bought a bottle of wine and drank about half of it in their picnic area with sandwiches we'd purchased earlier in Healdsburg. It was a pleasant sunny day and quite scenic.

The wineries we stopped at, and their notable wines (in my opinion) were: Foppiano (1998 Pinot Noir), Seghesio (1998 "Ommaggio"), Everett Ridge (1998 Zinfandel), Belvedere (1999 Russian River Valley Chardonay), Rochioli (none), Davis Bynum (1999 Bynum/Moshin Pinot Noir), and Korbel (Le Premier).

We rode past about as many wineries as we stopped at, but we *did* want to remember the events of the day -- and stay out of the hospital.


Bill and LeAnne at the first winery
From Korbel, we rode along the Russian River to our campground, stopping once to pick up some groceries for a light snack, which we ate in camp with the leftover Belvedere wine. Casini Ranch campground was similar to many State campgrounds but was much pricier at $48 for the three of us. We made camp and used the coin laundry at the campground, the one convenience absent at State campgrounds.

Sunday
Start: Duncans Mill
Time: 9:25 a.m.
End: Point Reyes
Time: 5:45 p.m.
Miles: 55
Cycling Time: 4 hrs 37 min
Avg Speed Cycling: 11.9 mph
Avg Speed Incl Rests: 6.6 mph
The thing about bike touring and food is that you never want to go back to the restaurant you passed a few miles back when you find out there isn't any place better. Sometimes you end up stopping at the first place you see when you get into a town. That's what we did for breakfast in Bodega Bay.


Our first view of the coast, north of Bodega Bay
We'd eaten the remains of our snacks in camp before leaving, and then we continued riding along the beautiful Russian River all the way to the coast. When we got to Bodega Bay, we stopped at a nice little restaurant and had an unremakable breakfast. Had we wanted BBQ oysters, we could have stopped at any number of places, but as it turns out, we ate at the only breakfast place in the area, so it turned out to be the right choice.

From there we rode inland for a while, stopping briefly in the town of Tomales. The sides of the road were thickly lined with wild blackberry bushes. They were filled with thorns, but sadly, no fruit yet. We were careful to keep our tires off the thorns. When we got back to the "coast", it was across Tomales Bay from Point Reyes. We rode along the perimeter of the bay for the afternoon, up and down some modest hills, keeping the nice view of the bay on our right.

In Point Reyes Station, we stopped at the Pine Cone Diner -- again the first place we saw. This time we were rewarded as the food was terrific. The potato sald that came with my sandwich tasted remarkably like my Aunt Gale's, and hers is the best.

Leaving the diner, I had a minor mishap as I tried to navigate around a stopped car. I couldn't get my foot out of my pedal in time to stop, so I had an extremely low speed crash into the ground. Nothing was damaged except my ego. In fact, I only mention it so I won't be accused of selective memory loss.

From there we climbed a long steep hill inland and descended the other side into Samuel P. Taylor State Park. The hill was slightly off our route, but saved us a few miles. A tree-lined bike path along a river took us the few miles further to the campground. We spent an hour doing our chores (pitch tent, unpack, shower, wash clothes in sink, hang clothes) and then ate a quick dinner/snack before turning in.

Monday
Start: Point Reyes
Time: 9:20 a.m.
End: Half Moon Bay
Time: 7:25 p.m.
Miles: 62
Cycling Time: 5 hrs 54 min
Avg Speed Cycling: 10.5 mph
Avg Speed Incl Rests: 6.1 mph
We had planned to stop for breakfast in Lagunitas a few miles from camp. As a sympathetic fellow bicyclist told us miles later, "there's no there there". The next town had no food either. The next had a cafe that didn't open until Thursday, and to make matters worse, we took a wrong turn getting back to the highway. Finally, as the day began to get hot, we ran into the bicyclist I mentioned and he told us to follow him. He led us to Bubba's Diner where we had a delicious breakfast at around noon.

By the time we hit Sausalito, it was hot enough that we agreed to stop for ice cream as soon as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. The Bubba's bicyclist gave us a tip on a better way to get into San Francisco than the route we were planning to follow. Another bicyclist we saw gave us a different tip. We ended up taking a different way from all of those, due to missing a turn, but the Golden Gate Bridge is hard to miss and we wound up in the right place anyway, without really going out of our way at all.


Bill crossing the Golden Gate Bridge
The bridge was so crowded with pedestrians that we rode little faster than a walk. That gave us a chance to admire the view, which was grand, it being a sunny day. Despite the ease with which we got on the bridge, the exit was a bit of a mystery because there were different paths open depending on the day and time. With only a little backtracking, we managed to make our way into the City.

Unlike the morning, the afternoon was cold, and had we not been hungry, we probably would have forgotten all about ice cream. Also unlike the morning, we didn't miss any turns in the afternoon, even the one in Daly City that both Bill and I missed two years ago and Ricky and I missed a few years before that. I guess it was lucky that the easily missed turn and the ice cream store were at the same intersection.

We climbed a big hill out of Pacifica and were rewarded with a spectacular view of the coast below. Despite the ice cream, we needed refueling; it had been a long day. After passing through a few little towns with no good dinner prospects, we finally found El Gran Amigo, a cheap but really good burrito stand right on the coast highway. It really hit the spot, and was just a few miles short of our campground in Half Moon Bay.

We arrived just in time for hot showers, which had been installed for the first time at that campground only one week earlier. Bill and I stayed there two years too soon on our last trip. As we made camp, we were slightly humbled by a Dutch couple on their very last day of a nine-week bicycle trip from Virgina.

Tuesday
Start: Half Moon Bay
Time: 9:00 a.m.
End: Sunset Beach
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Miles: 68
Cycling Time: 5 hrs 30 min
Avg Speed Cycling: 12.8 mph
Avg Speed Incl Rests: 7.2 mph
The day started quite well. After a quick stop for breakfast in Half Moon Bay, we were under way. It was 35+ miles to the next services, and in those miles we rode up some moderate hills and saw lots of good sunny coastal scenery. Along the way, we crossed the Santa Cruz County line and encountered the most smoothly paved portion of the entire trip.


Our camp at Sunset Beach was right next to a strawberry farm
We stopped for a snack in Davenport, which is a three building town along the coast. We met up with Walt, a fellow bike tourist who we met at the Half Moon Bay campground. We rode with him into Santa Cruz and had dinner with him in Aptos, our last stop before camp. Walt is an artist, one of 26 granite sculptors in North America. He was traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles and stopped for the night at Sunset Beach campground, the same place we stayed.

Wednesday
Start: Sunset Beach
Time: 9:05 a.m.
End: Monterey
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Miles: 34
Cycling Time: 2 hrs 55 min
Avg Speed Cycling: 11.7 mph
Avg Speed Incl Rests: 6.3 mph
Bill got another flat before breakfast, which we didn't eat until after riding through twelve miles of strawberry fields. After breakfast, we rode through about ten more miles of artichoke fields. The last ten miles of the day, into Monterey, were along a route that kept us mostly away from the coast, so there wasn't much scenery.


Bill and LeAnne riding through an artichoke field
Part of the route was along a bike path through Sand City. At every street we had to ride between closely spaced posts to exit and enter the path, and it was one of these posts that leapt in front of LeAnne and knocked her and her bike to the ground. She nursed her bumped elbow into Monterey where we checked into our motel. We purposefully planned a motel night in Monterey, so we could do laundry, see the town, and sleep in real beds. We spent a few hours at the amazing Montery Aquarium and had dinner in downtown Monterey.

Thursday & Friday
Start: Monterey
End: San Diego
Transportation:
  Automobile, Train
In the morning, LeAnne's injury was no better, so she had it examined at a local urgent care. The verdict was a hairline fracture, so I'm sorry to report, we were done riding for the week.

We spent the day in a rental car seeing the sights of Carmel and Big Sur and had a terrific dinner in San Luis Obispo, our final destination.


View from a scenic overlook in Big Sur
We caught our train two days early and rolled down the coast to San Diego. Fortunately, Deborah was available to shuttle LeAnne and her bike home from the San Diego train station, and Bill and I rode the ten miles from downtown to Pacific Beach, negating the need for two trips.

All things considered, it wasn't a bad vacation. The cycling, weather, scenery, food, wine, and company were all good, and it was a lot better than working. LeAnne might feel otherwise.