A Valentine’s Day Bicycle Outing

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For Californians, we have had a hard winter, so now in the middle of February, it is a pleasure to observe the resiliency of Mother Nature, the emerging blossoms and even the oft troublesome (for those of us with allergies) mustard weed. In the Napa Valley, where the Napa River has historically been prone to cause problems, we were not surprised to see the river at a high level as well as all the creeks running with water like rivers, and full ditches and rivulets everywhere. But all of this rain has turned the landscape green and lovely.  We were a little bit worried about mudslides or washouts on the roads, but we did not have any trouble.

We did our usual Yount Mill Road, Hwy. 29,  Oakville Crossroad,  Silverado Trail and back to Yountville Crossroad with one deviation, recommended by a pleasant woman in the Yountville tourist advice center. We took Finnell Road off of Yountville Cross to come back into town. It was a gorgeous short detour with vineyards growing right up to the road and attractive houses along the way. This kind of pretty, quiet country road is a cyclist’s dream.

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Having finished our ride, we headed for downtown Napa where we had reservations for lunch at the CIA at Copia, a new restaurant that has opened at the Copia facility next to the Oxbow Market. The interior is contemporary and spacious, and the service and food were both good. I had the lamb sirloin tartine for my main course, and it was outstanding. With the pots de crème dessert, I felt that my lunch was the perfect complement to a lovely day.

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A Halloween Jaunt

Diablo Valley Farmers' Market

Diablo Valley Farmers’ Market

Yesterday, a warm October day, we chose to ride to the Walnut Creek Farmers’ Market at North Wiget Lane and Mitchell Drive, where the action included a Halloween parade plus other activities for the children. The parking lot was as full as we have ever seen it, and the stalls were doing a thriving business. We were thankful to be on our bikes because of the parking situation, but of course we are always thankful to be on our bikes. We found some good produce, and I even got some cooking advice from a young woman waiting in line in front of us about roasting turnips and watermelon radishes. Tonight we will find out if her advice was good.

View of Walnut Creek

View of Walnut Creek

We had ridden from downtown Walnut Creek along Ironhorse Trail to the east Contra Costa Canal Trail. After we left the market, we continued along the canal trail to the base of Lime Ridge where the trail climbs up to give one a beautiful view over Walnut Creek. The trail then meanders past the Boundary Oak Golf Course and along the Ygnacio Canal Trail. We have ridden this trail many times, and while it is picturesque, it does cross a lot of streets and some of the crossings are not well designed. They have always required some sharp turns, but yesterday we discovered a new obstacle. Green gates have been installed to take the place of the posts that were formerly on the trail. These gates in some cases take up more than half of the entries to the path and make riding more dangerous, especially if one were to meet someone going the opposite direction. These gates are definitely  a liability for cyclists on this trail, and I regret that I did not take a picture of one of them.

Coming off the Ygnacio Trail, we cut through Heather Farms Park and cycled back to downtown Walnut Creek, where we enjoyed some of the marvelous small plates at Va de Vi Restaurant. Eating there, I usually come home with ideas to incorporate into my own cooking.

Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway

I was really looking forward to this ride, but when we found our way to  Rood Bridge Park, west of Portland, Oregon, where the bikeway was supposed to start, we looked for a path in vain. Finally, I convinced my husband that it was on the road, but when we started on the road, the shoulder soon disappeared. Returning to the parking lot, we spoke with an older lady who told us that the only separate pathway was between Banks and Vernonia. We followed some of the scenic bikeway in the car, and it was indeed beautiful, but it did not have any shoulder in most places, and the shoulder was exceedingly narrow in the rest. Also we did not see many cyclists, maybe two, a sign that it is not used the way the roads and paths are in our own San Ramon Valley. In addition, although the roads are quiet in some places, they are heavily traveled in others, a perilous situation.

Banks Vernonia Trail

Banks Vernonia Trail

We decided to drive to Banks to do that part of the bikeway, a decision that turned out to be a good one and helped redeem the day for us. We ate a satisfying lunch at the quaint but busy little Banks Cafe and then set out on the trail. The trail head was easy to find and had good parking. The path is good with forested views and views that open up to fields and farms at times. We rode up the trail about six miles until it really began to climb and then retraced our way to the beginning.This was a pleasant ride but one that I would not go out of my way to do.

Countryside Viewed from Trail

Countryside Viewed from Trail

Biking on Lopez Island

From Fisherman Bay Road

From Fisherman Bay Road

Lopez Island in Washington State’s San Juan group of islands is a delightful place to cycle, eat, stay, and just be. It is a return to a gentler America where there are no crowds or traffic, and everyone waves at you whether you are on a bicycle or even in a car. It has water, forests, and a well-groomed small village with good shops. Catching a ferry with one minute to spare, an experience I don’t want to repeat, we reached the Edenwild Inn about eight o’clock in the evening and were warmly welcomed by the innkeeper, Anthony. He immediately set a table for us in their wonderful farm to table restaurant.

The next morning Anthony gave us advice on cycling routes that worked out well for us. We followed Fisherman Road, turned off at the sign for Otis Perkins Park, and then rode along the peninsula on a flat road that gave us breathtaking views of the bay and the channel. Most of the hills on the island were of the type that one can easily pedal up having a head start from the previous downhill.

View from Peninsula

View from Peninsula

The next day again following Anthony’s instructions, we followed Fisherman Bay Road to Airport Road and then to Shark Reef Road, where we parked the bikes and did a short hike to the bay.

Shark Bay

Shark Bay

Riding on the island is great fun, but the roads are narrow without much shoulder so it is necessary to stay well to the right, and it is important to add to one’s visibility with a good light on the back of the bike.

After three days, it was difficult to leave the island, its beauty, and the generous hospitality of innkeepers, Anthony and his wife Crystal.

Cycling in Golden Gate Park

The Dutch Windmill

The Dutch Windmill

In July on my 75th birthday, my husband and I drove to Golden Gate Park, where we parked the car by the Dutch windmill and then rode our bikes up to the De Young Museum to see the Richard Diebenkorn exhibit.  We followed John F. Kennedy Drive up to the museum and then came back to the car by Martin Luther King  Jr. Rd. because this route is easier than riding in the reverse order. JFK Drive is not as uphill as MLK Rd.

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On the way up, we made a brief stop at the buffalo enclosure.

We parked our bikes in front of the De Young, where we joined the crowds visiting the Richard Diebenkorn exhibit.

The De Young Museum

The De Young Museum

After gliding downhill back to our car, we packed up our Dahon bikes and drove to SF’s other fine arts museum, the Palace of the Legion of Honor. We ate lunch in the café there and then wandered through the permanent collection before our 2 pm admission to the Impressionists on the Water exhibit. What a fine exhibit this is and what a treasure this museum is for the City of San Francisco!

Palace of the Legion of Honor

Palace of the Legion of Honor

View from the Palace of the Legion of Honor

View from the Palace of the Legion of Honor

Please click here to go to YouTube to see a video of our ride in Golden Gate Park.