Lunch in Calistoga

Again this morning we left straight from the condo, but headed east to the old Redwood Hwy to take us south toward Santa Rosa. We tried to skirt around the east side of the town, and discovered that a short leg east on Mark West Rd to Reidli Rd kept us out of town. While Reidli has a few steep steps, it led to a valley where Wallace Dr led us south. Going east on Badger, we found a beautatous city park for a potty break. Here “Charlie Brown” greeted us with crazy talk as we remounted for the short leg on the Calistoga Rd east.

Now I knew that the Calistogo Rd would have too many fast cars. What I didn’t know was that it would start right in with about a half mile of ten to fifteen percent switchbacks and curves, with very short breaks! “Sorry Sherie!” We both soldiered through, glad it was still cool, me waiting at the pullout at the top of the ridge. Man, we both baked the legs on that one.

After a quick down, we turned right onto the St Helena Rd (Spring Mtn on the Napa side) that would lead to that famous valley to our east. How pleased we were, as we saw the last of the wine grapes for a few hillsides for grazing, but then the forested hillsides rising from a flowing stream. We followed the stream for miles, steps up through oak forest to pine, with some redwood groves along the creek. This is a small country lane, barely two cars wide in most places, with some traffic for the homes along the road. It was bike heaven for the filtered sunlight through the trees, the scent of the forsts, the sound of the flowing water, the splash of the lupine and poppy. We eventually climbed out of the trees to a big vista near 2000 feet where the pavement improved to perfect at the Napa County line on the ridetop.


After a quick break, we descended down Srping Mtn road past wineries and fancy homes. Man, the money shows in Napa County. I had read that this was a steep road, and indeed there was about 2 miles where glances at my computer showed -12%. Perfectly bank corners, easy site lines, great pavement, little traffic, big fun for Ben. After another mile or two of flatter roads, and we were in St Helena

After 40 minutes up Silverado to Calistoga, Sherie wanted lunch at the Wappo Bar and Bistro. Fancy lunch in a sunny garden in our sweaty bike clothes. Very relaxed, quite a good lunch, but we passed on the wine, although we lingered a bit in the sun to digest a bit before the climb back out of the valley toward the west. After a half mile on Petrified Forest Rd, Sherie yelled at me from behind to get out of the traffic and take the side road. Which we did, up Franz Valley School road, much quieter but requiring an additional climb and some extra miles. Boy it was worth it to be back on a lane with the spring greening the hillsides, and the sun warming us up the climb. I stripped out of my leg warmers and vest, rolled down my sleeves, and enjoyed some sun between the trees. This is a great bike road, the best of rural NorCal scenery with mostly older funky homesteads instead of all the new McMansions that have sprouted too widely.

After the downhill, back to Mark West Rd to return to Santa Rosa. This is scary narrow with too many fast trucks and cars at times, but sometimes with a decent shoulder. Sherie and I both saw (me tucking ahead at speed down the hill) a lone bicyclist tight in the draft of a small motorcycle heading up at a good clip. He was in white and blue, but didn’t look at me when I waved, staring only ahead. We both swear it must be Levi Leiphimer drafting on his wife’s pull, although we couldn’t prove it.

Soon back to the condo, a great and beautiful day.

56.93 miles, 4473 vert feet, 12.2 mph ave

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