It was a springlike day today, and I was enjoying the feeling of gliding along in the warm sun on my bike. I had visited the library and done some shopping at Trader Joe’s in Danville. But as I left Danville on Iron Horse Trail, I saw a commotion up ahead. There was a man with a dog on one side of the path, and on the other side a cluster of people looking down. As I slowly rode by, I could see an older woman on her back on the path, and a man was talking on a cell phone giving their location. The woman still had a bike helmet on, and her eyes looked alert, but her legs were drawn up under her in an odd fashion. I rode on by because there were plenty of helpful people around. But I have wondered just what happened and how she is all day. This did not happen at one of the crossings; it was in the middle of a section of the trail. Since local news is not reported as completely as it used to be, I will probably never know the full story. But this sight is another reminder of the necessity to exercise caution on the trail, both for ourselves and for others.
On the Monday holiday this week, we loaded up our bikes and headed for Napa Valley. We have several rides of about ten miles that we do there, and afterwards there are great restaurants to visit. Although it would be nice to be able to do some of the 50 plus mile rides that the spandex groups do, those are beyond our abilities now, and to be honest, probably always were. We are not athletic people, but we do love the outdoors and we like to exercise.
This last Monday, we parked on Washington Street in Calistoga and followed the Washington Street bike path to Dunaweal Lane, which led us up to the Silverado Trail, where beautiful views of vineyards and wineries lie along the way.
Turning right on the Silverado Trail, we went south until we reached Larkmead Lane, a pleasant country road through the vineyards.
From Larkmead Lane, we turned right onto Hwy. 29, which has a good wide shoulder here and proceeded back to Dunaweal and down the bike path to our car, a pleasant ride of about 10 miles. Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, the CIA, was our next stop, and as always, it was a great one.
Another Calistoga ride can start from the same spot but head north along Cedar St. to the Cedar St. bike path until you reach Mitzi Drive, where you will turn right, continuing to a right turning onto Debbie Drive, left on Denise where you will follow another short path around to Centennial Circle, going in a circle until you come to Grant St. Turn right on Grant and then left on Lake which you follow until you make a right turn at a confusing intersection on to the Silverado Trail. Be sure that you are on the Silverado Trail, a road that has a nice wide shoulder and great views. You can then follow the Silverado Trail to Dunaweal Lane back to the Washington St. path. One time we stopped at the Solbar at the Solage resort in Calistoga for a marvelous lunch, sitting outside in the sun even though it was February.
We did a third ride of about ten miles last fall. Parking in Yountville along Washington St., we headed up Washington until we came to the V in the road, where we followed Yount St. to Yount Mill Road, which ends at Hwy. 29. We turned right on 29 and rode the ample shoulder until we stopped at Oakville Grocery for coffee.
From there we turned around and proceeded south on Hwy. 29 back to Yountville, where we enjoyed a superb lunch at Hurleys.
Often on Saturday, we set off for a local farmers’ market to fill up on fruit and vegetables for a few days. We have several markets to choose from in the summer and two or three in the winter. Yesterday, we left from city park in Walnut Creek, rode Iron Horse Trail to the East Canal Trail and then out to the market at Shadelands, a medium-sized market with organic offerings as well as regular produce. From there we rode up the hill, through the bike tunnel under Ygnacio Valley Road, and along the Ygnacio Canal Trail, returning to the city park, a distance of about 14 miles. It was a lovely day, with many trees starting to bloom, the canals full of water, and the hills covered with bright green.
One quibble I have about this farmers’ market is the fact that there is no bike rack available. Since this market is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente which constantly airs commercials about improving one’s health through good eating and exercise as well as using their services, one would expect them to accommodate people out in the fresh air on their bicycles. In fact, many places need to provide bicycle racks. We often have to improvise by locking our bikes to a pole or to a bench, or sometimes simply to each other.
As often happens on a bike ride, this particular ride was not without incident. As I was riding across a street, my recently replaced bike saddle suddenly tipped backwards. Fortunately, I managed to dismount without falling. Of course, we did not have a wrench with us. But as luck would have it, a kindly man working in his yard, which backed onto the canal, fetched a wrench for us, and my husband was able to fix the seat. We thanked him profusely and were on our way again in a fairly short period of time. Now on our expeditions, we will carry a wrench with us as well as a pump.
Today my husband and I rode from the Park and Ride at Sycamore Valley Road to Blackhawk Plaza. The ride out is slightly uphill, but the bike lane is wide, and today when we started it seemed almost springlike. Everything is green after all the rain, and the little creek alongside part of the road was running with more water than we usually see around here. Blackhawk Plaza has a good new bookstore now and many fine places to eat. Today we ate at the Mexican restaurant Coa and had a delicious meal. My husband had rock shrimp tacos, and I had a machaca beef enchilada. But the really memorable part of the meal was the dessert which the two of us shared, churros, a kind of Mexican doughnut, in this case freshly made and oozing with flavor. Blackhawk makes a desirable destination. Coming back, one simply sits on the bike and coasts downhill, a satisfying ten mile roundtrip ride.