This weekend was our wedding anniversary, so I planned us a cycling trip round Wine Country. What could be more romantic?
A cycling weekend round Wine Country… with a small child? The Dude was desperate to come and he’s cute, so we relented but it posed a problem. He can easily cycle 20 miles but we wanted to go a little further and I don’t quite trust him on roads by himself. So with a lot of googling, we found a tandem to rent that would fit us and the trip was on. What could be more romantic?
A cycling weekend round Wine Country with a small child…in the rain? Yep, the forecast was for gallons of rain and that was what we got. So basically we celebrated our wedding anniversary by cycling 60 miles round Wine Country in the pouring rain with a small child on a tandem. We have lived in California long enough that our British attitude to rain has pretty much melted away – we wondered if we were still British enough to press on with our plans in a downpour!
We drove up on Friday night and stayed in a wonderful, very reasonable Airbnb where the lady left us chocolate cupcakes.
We woke on Saturday morning to POURING rain. Chucking it down. Misery. At 8am, Geoffrey from BikePartners.net arrived in a van with our tandem. It was a flipping long beast but kind of awesome. It’s a Bike Friday which means it collapses into two sections which can be fitted into two suitcases and put on airplanes. I’d thought for a long time that it would work well for me and the Dude. So once there was a break in the rain, we got ourselves ready, the Husband assembled his own touring bike and off we went.
We had a slightly shaky intro ride around the neighborhood…
….and then we were off. Our first mile was solidly uphill which was a disaster. We were still very shaky together. The bike was heavy. My little stoker wasn’t stoking very well. So we walked up the hill. In the rain. We walked up a lot of hills in the rain that day. But on the whole, we did pretty well. We got better at starting off. We got better at balancing together. We got a little better at going up hills. We got a lot better at having fun. It was SO much fun to ride a tandem with the Dude. He talked non-stop, we sang a bit, we discussed roadkill, it was just awesome.
The rain was intermittent and eventually dried off for the remainder of the day. We cycling a section of the Husband’s Ironman course including Chalk Hill which was tough on a tandem with a child but we made it to the top and loved the swoop down. We finished with 10 miles or so along Highway 128 which was fairly flat. The clouds lifted slightly and the vineyards were absolutely gorgeous in their Autumn colours. We stopped for lunch at the Jimtown Store and then cruised into Geyserville at about 4pm. We stayed in the same Airbnb that we stayed in the Healdsburg Half so we showered, hunkered down, went out for food and then went to bed.
We woke to more rain than I’ve seen for a long time. It was chucking it down, water was streaming down the driveway to our Airbnb. My heart sank and when our host offered to drive us back to Santa Rosa, I was very VERY tempted. But the Dude wasn’t complaining and the Husband was determined that we should cycle as planned. So at 10am, when the rain stopped, we braved it and set off.
Two miles in, the Husband remarked joyfully that we weren’t getting wet aaaand the heavens opened. We got soaked. We flew into Healdsburg where I’d planned we should stop for drinks and snacks and decided to press on and get this ride done asap. We cycled along the happy stretch of the Healdsburg Half and then continued on Westside Road. The rain eased off and eventually stopped and we had a wonderful hour or so cruising along Westside Road past all the wineries. I took very few photos as we didn’t stop much and I didn’t dare cycle and take photos at the same time on wet roads on a tandem but it was really beautiful. Autumn vines rolling across the hills, clouds scudding across the skies, lovely barns dotting the fields, it was really blissful.
The Dude and I were notably stronger today – we cycled up all the hills, we felt safer and better-balanced, we were a right little team! The Husband was working hard – he was carrying our panniers and I suspect his bike was even heavier than the tandem!
Our final stretch was a delicious few miles of smooth tarmac’d bike-path heading into Santa Rosa. The rain had stopped and it was flat and gorgeous. We cruised into Santa Rosa at about 2pm and dropped our tandem off at the bike rental shop, before getting a lift back to where we’d left the car. Then we ate all the food we could get our hands on.
Cycling a tandem with the Dude was a delight. I think I loved him more on this trip than I have on any trip! It was just so much fun. We talked, we sang, we worked as a team. I knew he was safe behind me. We managed more miles, we went faster, we went on roads which would otherwise have been unsafe for us. It was a delight. We cycled 60 miles over the weekend, which isn’t bad for a Nearly-Seven-Year-Old.
The only unexpected downside to tandem riding was that the Husband felt a bit isolated, he couldn’t hear us talking and was a bit lonely. I do think that on a sunnier weekend, where we stopped more and took it more slowly, this would have been less the case, but it’s worth bearing in mind. Also it’s a bit rough for our Wedding Anniversary weekend!
A few details on the trip (in case anyone’s found this post actually looking for info).
- Route Day 1, Santa Rosa to Geyserville. 29 miles and 1,560 ft elevation gain. Route HERE.
- Route Day 2. Geyserville to Santa Rosa. 31 miles and 1,192 ft elevation gain. Route HERE.
- We rented a bike from BikePartners.net and I cannot recommend them enough. They were super helpful throughout the booking process, had reasonable prices, delivered the bike to our Airbnb (for a small fee) and even gave us a lift back to our car. Hugely recommended.
- We rented the Bike Friday Family Tandem and we basically loved it. It’s not light and it only has 8 gears but it did beautifully for us. The Dude and I want to buy it! For information, I’m 5’1 and the Dude is 4’4 with long legs. Geoffrey from BikePartners put shorter cranks on his pedals and it worked perfectly.
- Village Bakery in Santa Rosa was delicious for coffee and pastries.
- Diavola’in Geyserville does amazing pizza but doesn’t take reservations and had a 1 hr 30 wait on a random Saturday night.
- Catelli’s in Geyserville is delicious but had a 2 hour wait as we hadn’t made reservations.
- Jimtown Store does delicious sandwiches and salads and baked goods. It’s super-cute.
- Omlette Express in Santa Rosa does good eggs!
- Shuffle’s Magical Ice-Cream Shop in Santa Rosa is wonderful! Like wonderful!!!