Healdsburg Loop–Stage 2

18 Oct

Last night we had our first group dinner at the beautiful and unique (uniquely beautiful?) h2 Hotel, our home for two nights. The lobby/restaurant/bar/check-in was open and light as were the rooms. The bamboo floors were gorgeous!

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There was much to love about this hotel but my most favorite thing? The water bar on each floor where you could refill the milk bottle looking carafes in your room with regular and SPARKLING water! I love sparkling water and drank more than my share but stopped short of filling my water bottles with it.

Must buy one of these!

It’s nice to stay two nights at a place, otherwise you live like a nomad moving each day. Unlike a nomad, we don’t have to carry our stuff on the bike or a camel, the tour company guides take care of that. On this tour they also carried it to our rooms so it was waiting for us when we arrived. When you pack like we do that’s a nice thing to have. And if that wasn’t enough, Mike and Neal also would pick up our luggage each morning outside our door – well… most of the time anyway.  More about that later.

Who me?

No luggage to worry about this morning since we were spending another night so down to breakfast for fuel and conversation plus instructions for the day – including the route sheet.  M and N set up a rolling bike shop each morning to tweak our fit on the bike, change tires, or make any adjustment we needed. I mentioned at lunch on the first day that I wasn’t fond of my saddle and voila – another saddle is produced from the bike store in the back of the car or trailer and I have a very nice cut-out saddle for my bike. To be fair to the first saddle; it was a Terry Butterfly saddle – so a nice one just one my butt didn’t favor. On a bike if your butt’s not happy you’re not happy. In fact, no one riding with you or near you is happy. A couple of us changed out saddles, stems maybe even pedals – it was nice to be able to.

Morning bike shop with Mike, Rod and Barb.

When it was all said and done, Sister Scott (the pathetic name I gave to my UDC bike) fit me better than my own Scott CR1 Pro. Kudos to not only Mike and Neal but to UDC’s owner, Terry, who as part of the registration process obtained measurements from us on all key aspects of our bikes – to hopefully mimic the fit of our personal bikes.  They surpassed that for me and others too – very impressive. Now if I can just get Mike to visit and help me get my fit on Rocket dialed in.

Today’s ride would take us through the Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley through vineyard after vineyard and winery after winery. We were anxious to ride on what was a beautiful morning.

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Beautiful mile after beautiful mile. Vineyard after vineyard. Gorgeous weather to match the gorgeous views.

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Just before Chalk Hill I was struggling up a no-name climb thinking I had run out of gears. I was wondering how I was going to climb Chalk Hill much less King Ridge when I looked down and saw I was in the big chain ring! I can’t tell you how happy and relieved I was.

Chalk Hill wasn’t too bad of a climb although it steepened near the summit. As I neared the top I was able to ask the speedy crew waiting for us slow pokes whether it was indeed the top. Major relief when they said yes.

Then downhill to Windsor and the Café Noto where we stopped for pastries and coffee. Bike and eat. It’s a great way to live.

Notice the funny comment about Starbucks.

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And kids.

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The day was warming up as we continued on our way. One thing that surprised me was how much fall color there was – just added to the beauty of what already was stunning. One of the hardest things for me personally was staying on the bike and not hopping off to take pictures every few minutes.

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Fortunately, what pictures I didn’t capture I know Neal, Mike or our unofficial photographer, Joeli, probably got.  Can’t wait to see everyone else’s pictures.

 

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Next we stopped at the Hop Kiln Winery, in its former life hops were processed here for beer. Now they grow grapes and produce wines. It was a beautiful spot and a nice place to take a break from the bike. Wine tasting was available and a gift shop for those souvenirs we can’t live without.

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Healdsburg and the h2 were just a short ride away. Today’s ride was 40 miles with 1608 ft. in climbing and 1637 ft. descending. We were just getting warmed up for the hills ahead. Each day there was an option for additional mileage, but they were usually steep miles and our legs asked that we declined so we did. Dinner tonight was on our own, several of us dined at the very good Willie’s Seafood and Bar.

One great thing about bike tours is between riding, dinners, lunches and stops we all have a chance to get know to know each other. The dinner last night was nice in that we were seated at one large table. I never thought I would be much for tours and don’t know that I would like a non-bike tour, but I love meeting new people on these tours! We had an interesting and fun group and some very good cyclists. Some of them were new at it too which made their abilities even more impressive. We had several strong riders (including our guides, Neal and Mike) to learn from and pick up tips – and I did. I would put what I learned to good use on Stage 4!  

For more about today’s route (not exactly our route, but close) check out the ride info on Santa Rosa cycling’s club site. 

Tomorrow we head to Occidental and the Redwoods. Can’t wait!

A few more pictures from Healdsburg –

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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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