Riding the Trails in Bend, Oregon

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Known for its cycling environment, the Sunriver resort in Oregon is only a short distance from Bend. We drove out there early in the morning and obtained a map and directions from a woman at the tourist information office. She advised a circular  trail past the golf course, around the airport, with a detour to the marina (pictured above), and then a ride along the Deschutes River, and back through an area of houses and condos. This was a pretty ride of  about eight miles on a lovely clear morning, We had lunch at the Sunriver Brewing Company, where the food wasn’t very exciting. After lunch we decided to ride some more of the trails, but as we started out, we found the paths clogged with people riding carelessly in big groups. Putting the bikes back in the car, we headed back to Bend, glad that we had done the most interesting trail early in the morning.

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We were staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in The Old Mill District of Bend, a spectacular  use of the old sawmill property that formerly existed in this area. This is now a shopping center and a riverfront park with upscale dining spots, stores, and hotels. That afternoon we parked on the same level as the stores, pulled out our bikes and rode on the paved paths on both sides of the river. Crossing a bridge, we met a man who had grown up in Bend and worked for the sawmill. A chatty fellow, he gave us a lot of information on the history of the area and the changes made there. Cruising this pleasant area on our bikes, we added about four more miles to our mileage total for the day. The excellent hotel and this location made for a memorable stay. I would recommend this particular Hilton Hotel to anyone.

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Some Thoughts on our Rides in Napa and Livermore

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The Grapes are Hanging Heavy on the Vine

Napa

I have not posted in a while because we have not ridden in new areas, but now I do have some comments to make about some of our rides. Last week we did our Yountville to Rutherford to Silverado  and back to Yountville on Yountville Crossroad ride. It was a lovely ride through the ripening vineyards. The only problem was the rough surfaces of some  of the roads. We had to observe where we were placing our wheels on several roads but especially on  Rutherford Road. Although the ride was still fun, the road surfaces do add an element of danger.

The week before that we met some friends for lunch at the CIA at Copia. We parked in the lot by Starbucks at Redwood Road. We then rode the Vine Trail to Yountville for coffee and then back to Redwood Road where we continued down Solano Ave. and made a left turn behind the Chablis Hotel to get briefly on the trail that runs across Napa. I have mentioned before that I don’t like this trail because it runs through some unattractive areas of Napa,  and it crosses several busy streets. We rode this trail just until we crossed over  Highway 29 on the bridge and then turned right on California Street. We rode in the bike lane down California St.,  turning  left on E. St. with a partial right on Hayes, a left on Yount St., a right on Yajome, and then a left on Vallejo which leads to Soscol Ave. Riding straight across Soscol, we turned right into the parking lot from River Terrace and then wound around behind the Oxbow Market to the parking lot of  Copia. Since the  ride across Napa was mostly on a bike boulevard it was easy  and fun with a nice view of some old Napa houses that have been beautifully restored. After lunch we reversed our trip across Napa to return to our car. Since the cross Napa ride is only about three miles, it was easy to do after a filling lunch.

Livermore

A few weeks ago we rode the Arroyo Mocho Trail in Livermore. The last time we rode it in the late winter or early spring, there were several flooded spots. To our dismay, this time we discovered that the rains have left severe damage in many areas, particularly between Stanley Blvd. and Livermore St. When we reached  the first underpass near Stanley Blvd., we hesitated. A homeless man told us to ride on through because he sees cyclists do it all the time. We should have known better than to have listened. We started down the trail but soon dismounted and then had to slog our way through thick sand. A couple more times we had to cross through sand and debris. My husband commented that the ride was like Omaha Beach without the gunfire. The ride down Concannon was the usual fun downhill coast, but we knew to turn right on Murdell Ln. because that section of the Isabel Ave, Trail is out. Where Murdell hits E. Stanley, it is possible to ride the Isabel Ave. Trail back to the beginning of the Arroyo Mocho at Jack London Blvd. Livermore needs to signpost their trails with better warning signs. Now there are signs only right at the obstacles. They are not sufficient!

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Roaming the Napa Valley

spring flowers

A couple of weeks ago, we spent four days in the Napa Valley to celebrate our 59th wedding anniversary. Although Calistoga is not the most centrally located town, we chose to stay there at the Stevenson Manor Best Western because this hotel is a bargain for this pricey area. It is not luxurious, but it is certainly attractive, clean, and comfortable with constant work going on to upgrade it. The breakfast is a bit above average for an accommodation of this level, and we were pleased to find the other guests to be a friendly bunch.

We did four bicycle rides during this stay which we were fortunate occurred within a break in the rainy weather that we have had this year. These rides were ones that we have done before and that I have written about on this site. Our longest ride was from Yountville to downtown Napa, and I just want to mention this ride because we found the bike path that runs from just south of Trancas Street diagonally across Napa to be one that we would recommend against using. It crosses several busy streets without four-way stops, and it runs through neighborhoods that are not particularly appealing. It does, however, end in downtown Napa, where we cycled to the new CIA restaurant at Copia, a pleasant place with memorable food. Coming back we used a bike boulevard that started at the end of this path and followed that across a good part of Napa through some interesting old neighborhoods along quiet attractive streets. When this bike boulevard ended, we just sort of used our instincts to return to  the wonderful Vine Trail that runs back to Yountville. Most streets in Napa are bicycle friendly.

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Patio at Ottimo

As always in the Napa Valley, we ate very well. In Yountville, there is a new restaurant called Ottimo across from Bottega, where the salads are served in jars and the panini are small and extraordinary. It is wonderful to sit out under the olive trees after a bicycle ride and enjoy the beauty of this area; I find it easy to pretend that I am in Italy. We ate two lunches at this spot.

Another restaurant that we truly enjoyed was the St. Helena Bistro, a small place on St. Helena’s main street that has an eclectic menu. We especially enjoyed the crispy calamari and the salmon tacos. And on our last night, we ate at Veraison,  a fairly new place on the main street  in Calistoga. We were seated in the window where we could watch the passing scene and savor our moules frites.

All in all, I would say that if you do not have the wherewithal for a trip to Europe, a trip to the Napa Valley is a good substitute. Despite lots of traffic, it is a pretty, relaxing place to roam and to linger over excellent food.

Washouts on Livermore Bike Trails

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Last Monday, we rode on the Arroyo Mocho Trail in Livermore and planned to complete our riding circuit on the Isabel Avenue Trail. However, although we had a satisfying ride, we came across many obstacles. I had expected this underpass beneath Stanley Blvd. to be flooded, but we found many places along the Arroyo Mocho that were signposted and in bad condition. Some of the underpasses such as this one could be avoided by taking an alternate route and crossing a street at a signal. But there were other areas that we simply had to slog through. All of these places were signposted on the spot, but there were no signs at the beginning or end of the Arrroyo Mocho. And the signs that were placed on the trail were put in the middle, making it hard to ride around them in the areas where one could ride. It seems to me that the Livermore Recreation and Park district should also have information and alerts regarding the trails on their web site.

Monday was a cold but clear day, and it was beautiful riding in one of California’s up and coming wine producing regions. The Livermore Valley isn’t exactly the Napa Valley yet, but it has its own beauty and many wineries for those so inclined to visit. When we turned onto the trail that runs along Concannon Avenue, the sky was a clear blue with a few puffy white clouds hanging above the hillside vineyards, making us feel at peace with our sometimes overwhelming world.

However, we had another surprise awaiting us when we reached the end of Concannon, ready to turn onto the Isabel Avenue trail to circle back to our car. A good part of the trail has been leveled along with the bike lane on the road. We managed to push our way through the mud to reach the bike lane on the edge of Isabel, Hwy. 84. The shoulder or bike lane is wide there, and we felt comfortable riding it, but it did have a lot of gravel and debris in it. It needs a good sweeping.

When we start out on these bike rides, particularly at this time of year, we are never sure what to expect. Sometimes it is surprises thrown out by mother nature, many times inconsiderate people on the trails, and occasionally a malfunction in one of our bikes. But as in life, the unexpected can make things more interesting and enhance our memories.

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Rides in the Victoria BC Area

Victoria's Inner Harbour

Victoria’s Inner Harbour

Having checked into our favorite Victoria Hotel, the Grand Pacific on Belleville St., we had a quick lunch and set out to ride along the harbor front and on Dallas Road with its beautiful waterfront views. Although the traffic is fairly heavy, there is a decent bike lane  and we always ride with flashing red lights on the back of our bikes when we are riding on streets. We rode for a few miles and then retraced our route back to Cook St. from which we zigzagged through a number of streets to return to the hotel. Some of these streets were choked with traffic, so the ride back was a bit dangerous, but I do love riding down pretty residential streets.

Near Sidney BC

Near Sidney BC

The next morning, we set out to ride on the Lochside Trail from a few miles south of Sidney to Schwartz Bay. Although we have not done it all at once, we have covered most of the  Lochside Trail at one time or another, except for the part to Schwartz Bay. On this bright sunny day, it was a pleasure to pedal along the Sidney Channel. Reaching Sidney, we stopped for coffee at the Toast Cafe on Fifth St. As we left the cafe, we asked an elderly gentleman cyclist how to wend our way through the streets of Sidney to reach the route to Schwartz Bay. He patiently outlined two different routes that it is possible to take. He even told us where to go for lunch in Schwartz Bay, although the location of that place proved more elusive than his very clear explanation of the routes. We reached Schwartz Bay in good time and then set out up and down several fairly formidable hills to find the Stonehouse Pub. in Canoe Cove. One thing that didn’t help is that we were hearing Canoe Cove as Conoco, reminiscent of the service stations that we remembered from when we were children. Finally a young woman with a stroller told us to make three right turns to reach the pub, and this worked out. We had a satisfying pub lunch and an enjoyable conversation with a couple of fellow cyclists about our age, who asked us if we had a death wish because we were not wearing the recommended bright yellow jackets. The ride back proved easier than we had expected, and we stopped again at the Toast Cafe where I had a delicious concoction called a Nanaimo bar. Our whole trip added up to about eighteen miles.

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Our third ride in Victoria was a disappointment. We wanted to ride a segment of the Galloping Goose Trail that we had not ridden before, so we picked an area where parking was indicated on a map that we had, the Atkins Ave. parking lot. Turning right out of the lot we found some challenging hills, but we went on until we reached a part of the trail that was gravel. Our bikes were not doing well on this, so we turned around and went the other direction. There were lots of hills that way too and nothing too interesting, so after about ten miles we gave up. We drove across to Hwy. 17 where we had lunch at  Bill Mattick’s Restaurant at the Cordova Bay Golf Course, a spot where we have eaten several times. After lunch we did a few miles on the Lochside Trail. However, we will tackle the Galloping Goose again next time we are in Victoria. Once before we did a pleasant ride on this trail, but it is confusing to pick out a section to ride.

Victoria is high on my list of favorite cities, and I hated to leave it. When we visited Munro’s bookstore on Government St., I discovered a book of rides around Victoria that I will try to buy before we visit there again.

Parliament Buildings at Night

Parliament Buildings at Night

The Truckee River Cycling Trail

The Truckee River

This was the third ride of the ones we did in Tahoe, and while it was not my favorite it was a good ride with wonderful river views. We had a bit of trouble finding the access area for the path in Tahoe City, but after asking, we discovered that coming from the south on Hwy. 89, one must turn left on Fairway Drive. Then to the right there is ample free parking. There is a bridge over the river at this point and to the left is the trail toward Squaw Valley.

The path itself is paved, with some rough patches, and while it is mostly level it does have some steep spots that require caution. There were not too many rafts on the river the day that we rode the path, but I understand that it can become quite busy at times. We did see one raft with a dog contentedly swimming beside it. On our return trip, the dog was in the raft.

Much to the disappointment of our grandson, we turned around just before the path headed toward Squaw Valley, believing that the path would become steep. Later when we drove into Squaw Valley for lunch, we discovered that the path running along the side of the road did not look difficult at all. Next time we will definitely do the Squaw Valley portion.

All of our Tahoe rides were good. We had the pleasure of our grandson’s company, made possible because we were able to get 3 Dahon bikes in our car. And I love smelling the mountain air with the fragrance of sun-warmed trees and earth as I ride .  It is a restoring experience.

Please click here to see  a video of this ride.