On a beautiful April Friday afternoon, Jonny Latimer and I set out on the first bike trip of the year. Jonny is a seasoned randonneuring vet, this was my first time at the rodeo. I am the annoying guy with the new and shiny Ortlieb panniers. He is the guy with the classic Cannondales covered by a perfect amount of dust.
Start: Ebarcadero BART
1. Sartaj India Cafe, Saulsalito – Apple pie and ginger chai tea for breakfast, don’t ask where the apple pie comes from unless you want to be seriously disappointed. I, myself, couldn’t tell you because I have blocked it out.
2. Iron Springs Brewery, Fairfax – I point out that the sun is still pretty low to be drinking beer, Jonny still convinces me to try a sampler paddle. It’s the perfect fuel for riding, he claims. I prefer the stout, as always, and a nice fuzzy haze settles over the morning.
3. Samuel P Taylor Park, Lagunitas-Forest Knolls – we arrive early and set up shop at the hiker/biker campsite. Out of the woods comes a disheveled adventurer by the name of Andrew. To my shagrin, what followed was a hushed and paranoid discussion of religion, conspiracy and the third reich. Jonny, of course, was in heaven and comfortably held his own with this knowledgeable fellow. (Question: You guys brought a red and white checkered tablecloth? Answer: No, it was there)
4. Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, Nicasio – I will always be surprised how pumped up other bikers get when they see you riding loaded up with camping gear. We got hand signs for rock on, hang loose, thumbs up, all of em. Something about bike camping speaks to the core of Californians, and I hope it’s not just that you get to buy lots of stuff at REI. It’s vacation, it’s camping, it’s biking, it’s freedom, it’s exercise, and it’s carbon-free all rolled into one. Anyway, This cheese factory is a popular stop for riders, so we found ourselves explaining several times where we started, where we were going, thought about exaggerating those facts in the future, had danish and some coconut water and we were off.
5. Butter and Eggs Parade, Petaluma (by accident) – well damned if it isn’t a flat bed truck blasting pop country with line-dancing girls in wranglers and tube tops. Ehhhh, no thanks. We work our way through the crowd. The contrast between this and the ride from Samuel P Taylor to Nicasio, which was definitely the most beautiful I have ever been on, was stark.
6. Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma – here we had an excellent lunch. Jonny got bit by a dog…in the FACE, and got a free meal. I had this pint of stout that was brewed in an aged whiskey barrel or some shit, didn’t like it. Sorry, I don’t like whiskey, but the food was top-notch, however depressing the east side of Petaluma is.
7. Oliver’s Market, Cotati (the ol’ stomping grounds) – How many times over the years did I walk into Oliver’s, curse the higher prices but praise the selection, salad bar, taqueria, sushi bar, bakery….too many. I still love this place.
8. Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa – Here we met some friends for lunch and had the best beer yet. We also had some unusually spicy chicken wings that made us hallucinate. Jonny picks up a growler of Pliny the Elder.
”]”]”]9. Spring Lake Campground, Santa Rosa – I wasn’t really prepared for what happened next. We meet a big group of riders who are making their way up north and join their camp. Everyone is very friendly, but one gentleman who was soaking up whiskey like a sponge starts challenging every person to a Greco Roman wrestling match. He takes down opponent after opponent, I cannot participate because of my fractured foot. But also, I’m not going to lie, wrestling with really drunk strangers is not something I am in to.
10. The Recyclery, San Rafael – In my estimation, you can find the best deals at this place over any other in the Bay Area. Also, note that Parks and Records donates to their non-profit, Trips for Kids. I pick up some extra padded riding shorts. Yeah, spandex, go ahead, laugh. It felt like I was sitting on a cloud for the rest of the ride.
Finish: Ebarcadero BART