The Best Laid Plans . . . Gang Aft Agley (Burns)

20151231_114310[1]The last couple of years, we have done a morning ride on New Year’s Eve  day, followed by lunch at an elegant restaurant. Usually four of the eight of us ride, and the other four shop,  drink coffee, or just mosey around. This year we decided on a ride from Yountville to Rutherford and back along the  Silverado Trail. Way before Christmas, I made a reservation for our family at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville, and the evening of  December 30th we loaded our three folding bikes into the car along with helmets and other equipment.

To my dismay the next morning, just as I was getting ready to go out the door for our excursion, my husband came in saying that one bike had a flat tire. Now we are not mechanics, so we do not deal with flats ourselves, and at 8:30 in the morning bike shops are not open. So I called one son to tell him what had happened and say that I would join the shopping  contingent. However, the other son came up with the brilliant idea that he would ride to Oakville Grocery, where we always stop for coffee and I would be dropped off there by the shoppers. Then he would give me his bike, and he would walk back to Yountville, while I finished the ride with my husband and grandson. It was the flexibility of our Dahon bikes that made this exchange of bikes possible because if it were not for the easily adjustable seat height, my son and I could never ride the same bike. And actually this crazy plan worked out quite well with everyone showing up back at the parking lot at Vintage 1870 about five minutes before our 12:30 reservation.

20151231_124312[1]

After our brisk ride in the cold December morning, it felt good to enter the cozy environment of Bistro Jeanty and enjoy such tasty tidbits as duck foie gras mousse with brioche and daube de bouef. We all savored our sumptuous meal and then headed home for a relaxing New Year’s Eve in our own homes.

 

 

Advertisements

Sidelined by an Injury

Four and one half weeks ago I was pushing my cart in the market in a hurry to get home when I slipped on a peach or nectarine on the floor. I went down hard on my weak knee, previously hurt by a jump from a rock when I was in a park with my grandson. Although that knee has not ever fully healed from the torn ligament, I have been able to do almost anything I want, except that I cannot race up and down stairs.

This last fall was directly on my kneecap, and did it hurt by the time I arrived home. In the next few days, I was able to do most chores around the house, to cook (cooking is considered my most important skill by my family), and to take a shower. However, sitting down and rising up again as well as walking was excruciatingly painful. And when I put my leg up on the sofa or the bed, I had to lift it with my hands. Gradually, I was able to start doing more things, such as watering my flowers, walking without limping, and eventually driving.

Yesterday, I began to feel like myself again, going for a short ride to the Danville Farmers’ Market on my bicycle. It was great to feel the soft breeze on my skin as my husband and I traversed Danville Blvd. and to propel myself forward with each turn of the pedals. I had missed the joy of being out on the road, talking to people, and doing chores. I was jealous each time my husband had set out without me but actually glad that he was able to get out. Cycling has become our passion and our way of life, and at our time of life a gift that we cherish.

A Ride Around Sonoma

 

 

Route Map

Route Map

Last Monday, since both our son and our grandson were free, we took our Dahons to Sonoma where we parked behind the plaza in the large parking lot. It was a pleasant day for January, so we weren’t burdened by too many layers of clothing. The day before this expedition, my husband and I spent some time on Google laying out the route. The street view on Google is wonderful for determining how wide a road is and whether it has a bike lane or generous shoulder. Although you cannot tell how much traffic there is, you can make an educated guess based on the how the neighborhood looks.

We started in the park behind the plaza where there is a bicycle path that eventually turns into Lovall Valley Rd. At the end of Lovall Valley Road, we turned right on E. 7th St. which we followed through an area of lovely homes until we turned right on Denmark St., a narrow road with no real shoulders but very little traffic. Denmark St. ends at a path by Sonoma High School which we took to the right until we hit W. MacArthur St., a slightly busy street with a bike lane. Crossing over Hwy. 12, we followed MacArthur until we turned right on 5th St. W. ;  then it was left at Curtin St. and right on W. 7th St. until we turned left on Oregon St. From Oregon, we turned left on Sonoma Creek Path and then left on Riverside Dr., with an immediate left on Petaluma Ave. Petaluma was the only street that really alarmed me. The shoulder was narrow, and the traffic was heavy and fast moving. Fortunately we were only on this street for a short time, but I was relieved to exit to the right onto Arnold Dr., not the most scenic but possessed of a nice bike lane. Turning right on Verano, we reached Maxwell Park located across the street from the Sonoma City Trail, which led through a meadow, past General Vallejo’s historic home, and back to our starting point. This circular trip is a little over nine miles, not a challenging ride but a level interesting one around a most attractive town that still retains a small town atmosphere with some rural areas and lot of lovely greenery.

To cap our day off, we ate lunch at The Girl and the Fig on the plaza, a real restaurant for foodies. Their menu is appealing and original with many French inspired dishes. The service is friendly without being overwhelming, and the atmosphere though noisy is pleasant. Don’t go without making a reservation.

After a brief visit to a couple of stores, which in our family always includes any available bookstore, we headed back to the busy SF Bay Area.

Bike Racks–A Christmas Greeting

bike racksWe have had a wonderful year of cycling, and having the good fortune to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are able to continue cycling throughout the winter. Of course since we are enjoying a much needed rainy winter, we are having to dodge the storms a bit, but we don’t mind getting a little wet once in a while. On a recent ride in the Napa Valley with our grandson we all got soaked, but we had brought extra clothes with us, so after the ride we were able to change and look almost elegant for a wonderful lunch at Bottega in Yountville.

Happy Holidays to all cyclists and cyclist supporters!

A Bike Tour of UC Davis

UC Davis Water Tower

UC Davis Water Tower

Last Saturday, we took our Dahon bikes to UC Davis to explore the campus with our grandson who is a junior in high school. Since I replaced my original Dahon a few years ago, we have one extra that our grandson sometimes rides. One of the advantages of these bikes is that the seat is easily adjustable so people of different heights may ride them. We can get three bikes plus three people in our little Toyota Matrix. But on Saturday there were four of us, so we took two cars.

We parked without difficulty in one of the many lots that are free on Saturday. After unfolding our bikes, we pedaled to the Welcome Center where a helpful young woman gave us a campus map and pointed out some places to us. Davis is a very bicycle friendly campus, and we visited most of it on this warm early November day. The block-like architecture of the buildings leaves something to be desired, but the many trees give the campus a woodsy, appealing look. We stopped often to check our campus map and just before lunchtime we rode along Putah Creek in the arboretum area of the campus. This part of the ride was challenging because of the many pedestrians and the poor condition of the trails, including one which was closed, causing some backtracking.

California natives garden UC Davis Arboretum

California natives garden
UC Davis Arboretum

Since lunch is always an important part of our expeditions, I had looked up some restaurants in downtown Davis before we left. Everyone liked the sound of Bistro 33, located in the old city hall, so we set off down Old Davis Rd., turning right on 1st Street. Although 1st St. is one of those streets where cars are supposed to share the lane with cyclists, this street is a narrow dangerous street to ride on. However, we made it safely to F St. and found the restaurant easily. The food was delicious and the waiter was accommodating, but the kitchen was unable to handle the large number of orders that was flowing in on this busy day. We waited nearly an hour for our lunch to arrive after we had placed our orders.

To return to the campus, we chose to ride along 3rd St., a pleasant leafy street lined with all sorts of establishments catering to students. After browsing through the campus bookstore and having coffee in the student union, we headed back home. Our grandson liked the campus and assured us it would be on his application list next year.

I have warm memories of going by school bus to Davis picnic days when I was in high school. However, I did not consider it when I went off to college. My father had attended UC Berkeley, and I was told that was where I was to go. I have never regretted this decision, but I have always thought that Davis would be a good school to attend. I recommended Davis to each of our sons, but they too chose Berkeley. And our younger son, once told me if I wanted to have one of my kids attend Davis, I should adopt a Davis student.

 

Livermore’s Isabel Ave. Trail Open—Sort of

This post is a plea for the City of Livermore and other cities to post information about their trails on their web sites. The Isabel Ave. Trail has been closed for months while the work on widening Isabel Ave. (Hwy. 84) has been carried on. We have been parking next to a nearby park when we wanted to ride the Stanley Blvd. Trail to Pleasanton. Yesterday  finding no info on the internet, we decided to turn on to Jack London Blvd. to check out the trail again.

Lo and behold it was open at Jack London Blvd., with no warning signs. However, when we approached the junction with the Arroyo Mocho Trail, we saw a chain link fence ahead. There was a small space where it was possible to walk a bicycle through, and some other cyclists told us that we could get through to Stanley Blvd.  They failed to alert us, however, to obstacles ahead. There are a couple of patches of gravel and other debris that required us to walk our bikes, and there are also two rather dangerous lips where the level of the trail changes. But we did get through all right, and coming back we were ready to exercise caution at these places.

The Stanley Blvd. Trail now is a good one, and with the poppies in bloom alongside it, we had a pleasant ride yesterday.

IMG00201-20140322-1337

Livermore’s Stanley Blvd. Trail

The Diablo Valley Farmers Market

The Bustling Market

The Bustling Market

Yesterday we headed out to the Diablo Valley Farmers Market at North Wiget Lane and Mitchell Drive. Open all year, this market has grown into a fine collection of stalls with lots of reasonably priced organic produce.  Both sellers and buyers are friendly and polite, making for a pleasant shopping experience. This morning, we enjoyed some almond croissants (probably the best I have ever tasted) from the large bakery located near the back of the market. I think that this bakery is located in San Francisco, but I am unsure of the name.

Bakery

Bakery

As is our practice, we traveled to this market on our Dahons taking the Iron Horse Trail from downtown Walnut Creek and turning right on to the east Canal Trail. Despite the scarcity of rain this winter, the canal had quite a bit of water running through it. Another surprise was the new paving that we discovered  as we headed east on this previously rough path. After our stop at the market, we proceeded toward Mt. Diablo and turned right to climb the trail that becomes the Ygnacio Canal Trail.

View of Walnut Creek from the high point of the trail

View of Walnut Creek from the high point of the trail

Tunnel under Ygnacio Valley Road

Tunnel under Ygnacio Valley Road

The views from the top are spectacular in every season. We always talk with other cyclists huffing and puffing their way up as well as hikers heading out into the open space.  At the end of the ride along the ridge, there is a funky corrugated metal tunnel leading under Ygnacio Valley Road and then a pleasant down slope past the Boundary Oaks Golf Course and back along the small Ygnacio Canal full of ducks happily sailing by. Cutting through Heather Farms Park, we pedal our way back to Walnut Creek and a lunch at our favorite restaurant Va De Vi, where the service and the food are always first class.