the Vineyard With Steve In
the Cellar With Dan On
the Road With Dan
ON THE ROAD WITH DAN
ON THE ROAD WITH DAN - KINGS RIDGE LOOP
When we decided to describe another treasured local bike ride for our winery newsletter, I felt inspired (fueled by a fine glass of Pinot, along with a post ride high) to attempt a reflection on the nature of this connection—riding a bike and growing wine. You certainly don’t jump on the bike specifically to go check out vineyards (marketing rap aside) or even particularly to get exercise. You do it to pursue that cleansing and liberating feeling that comes from putting yourself out while absorbing the beauty, magnitude and personality of a place. Maybe it’s that absorption into the physical world, the blurring of the lines of self/other, the awareness of your limited control and power, and that pleasure/pain interface that starts to reveal the winemaking connection.
›You ride to feel the power of the earth interact with the little bit you call your own, and accept and enjoy how truly little it is—what could be more like wine production than that?
›You ride to feel, and make part of you, the changes in the terrain, the vegetation, the ground conditions and the micro weather conditions—there’s clearly the winegrowing connection there.
›You ride to find and feel the limits of your own abilities and control, appreciate what’s beyond them, and maybe even to get to know the pain that comes with finding that edge—I guess that relates to any endeavor, but certainly for working the edge in attempting to make great wine.
›You ride for the pure sensuality of the visuals, the aromas, the feel of the air against your skin, and the rush of movement—no need to explain the wine connection there.
So, all cosmic noodlings aside, today’s ride is certainly one that will make you feel one with West County, or separated from your lunch, depending on your conditioning. It’s the classic King’s Ridge loop, with a few optional variations thrown in. If biking and exertion isn’t your thing, then discover it with your Harley, Honda or Peterbuilt—it’s a memorable view of the best and wildest of the California coast.
King’s Ridge is a sinuous, narrow ridge, the third in from the coast, which offers a great feel for the variation of climate from the Pacific to the inland valleys, as well as the wild ruggedness of this part of Sonoma County. The loop brings you from the deep valley of Austin Creek, up to the heat of King’s Ridge, down through the Gualala River valley, and up to the coastal, and far colder, Seaview Ridge. Or for the truly fit (or masochistic) out to the cold coast itself and back up and over Seaview Ridge on the gnarly Fort Ross climb.
There are many variations on this ride, but to get right to the heart of it you can start in the beautiful little berg of Cazadero, situated in the redwood forests along Austin Creek. The minimum distance is about 40 miles, and elevation gain about 4,000 ft. overall. To bring the classic more toward epic, you can start in Occidental and add about 25 miles and a bit more climbing. Be sure to stop at the killer bakery just south of Caz for some home baked bread and coffee.