Wine and cheese bike tour (day 1)

by Matt Schiff

Tests done, projects on hold, schools out, it’s spring break time.

This spring break I started the week off with a short wine and cheese bike tour, which felt like well earned retribution considering the month long adventure the other three have been on.  The route began in Ukiah and made a counter clockwise loop, heading to the coast via Orr Springs road, and then south on Hwy 128 through Anderson Valley, and finally north back to Ukiah via some side roads.

Adventure around every bend

Adventure around every bend

Day 1

To warm up the legs, the first day was short but consisted of a steep climb, ascending possibly 2000 ft over a small pass and dropping down to near sea level on the other side. In the four bike tours I’ve done there has always been a mix of more experienced cyclists and complete newbies, but what has been amazing is even people who don’t regularly bike end up completing the trips just fine, as long as they are somewhat active and have a good attitude about the ride. For some reason I was particularly concerned about pushing it too hard the first day, having people get overly sore or maybe even injured, and was happy about the short 15 mile afternoon ride we would start the tour with. Climbing with a loaded bike up miles of 10% roads is an accomplishment that those on this trip should be proud of.

Jen in yellow, Eric in orange, and Victor in a nice sea blue and white floral print

Jen in yellow, Eric in orange, and Victor in a nice sea blue and white floral print

The pace started slow and conversation continued, but soon we were huffing and puffing (no not Humboldt style), conversation ceased, and we spread out. We climbed through beautiful oak woodlands with perfect green grasses of the early spring. Ray kicked the pace up a notch and I’m not sure if it was the excitement of touring for the first time, his new bike, or just the stellar shape he’s in from hours of guitar, but I watched him go up the road. Alyssum followed with her typical Jan Olrich, slow cadence, and big ring style. I found my pace and tried to absorb the scenery around me and the first moments of this bike tour experience.

Alyssum and Ray

Alyssum and Ray

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Oaks 'n Epiphytes

By the time we got to the top of the hill the endorphins were kicking and sense of humor was lifted. Following the simple logic of, “what goes up, must come down” we descended on broken pavement and hair pin switchbacks to Orr Springs.

New cyclists often lack the capacity to truly enjoy a good downhill. This is a sad thing. The fear of being able to handle the bike at high speeds is reasonable and those that don’t really enjoy the downhill’s are not at fault. But I’m hopeful that as they become more experienced and comfortable on a bike they will come around and enjoy the reward you get from climbing a hill.

To be continued…

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