Nothing says autumn in Sonoma Wine Country like cycling through the colorful harvest ready vineyards. Those vineyards are alive with the activity of the harvesters, the air is filled with the smell of crush (yes, and fruit flies), the colors are unworldly as the vines turn from deep green to the kaleidoscope colors of fall and the roads are filled with cyclists trying to capture the season. The weather cooperated with blue skies and moderate temperature in the 80’s. The Asti Tour de Vine is the best wine country-cycling event in Sonoma County!
The Tour, sponsored by the Cloverdale Rotary Club, offered distances of 25K, 50K, 100K and 100 miles, aka the Rockpile Ramble. Traveling from Asti through Cloverdale, along the Russian River through the Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys of northern Sonoma County and back to Asti for the celebration of finishing, regardless of the intended or actual distance riden!! Perfection!!
The Cloverdale Rotary Club organizers did a fabulous job of coordinating rest stops which were provided by a variety of local community organizations at each of the stops…the Lake Sonoma Dam, the riding school near Dry Creek Road and Kinley Ave in Healdsburg, the Red Barn in Geyserville, and, of course, back at the beautiful and historic grounds of Asti.
The route is amazing with the vineyards turning from green to the many colors of fall…reds, orange, yellows, browns and purple (pictures never do justice). Fall in northern California wine country is as spectacular and colorful as the famous leaf peeping hillsides of Vermont and other eastern states. The hills on the route are fairly tough from a physical endurance perspective but the average rider can make it with some training.
The Asti to Cloverdale to the River Park to River Road and back to Asti is perfect for a warm up with some minor hills and moderate straight-aways until you get to Washington School Road…this hill was a butt kicker!! This actually completes the 25K route.
Following Dutcher Creek Road to Dry Creek Road and to the Lake Sonoma Admin Center was brisk and, again, filled with vineyard vistas and fall colors. The riders doing the 50K route continue along Dry Creek Road and then over Canyon and back to Asti. The 100K riders turned on to Yoakim Bridge road and then followed West Dry Creek Road to West Side Road, near Madrona Manor and back to Dry Creek Road. This two lane country road (West Dry Creek) cutting though the west side of Dry Creek Valley is nonpareil in terms of tranquility, beauty and pastoral visages.
After a quick refreshment stop at the Geyserville Red Barn (see above), the 100k route turns toward Geyserville and Highway 128 East through the vineyards of Geyserville, Jimtown Store area and the Alexander Valley Road. The first section after leaving Geyserville is so romantic and picturesque in any conveyance but so much more so on a quiet riding bicycle. The middle section along Alexander Valley Road is a little disquieting with the volume of trucks and cars speeding by. Things do return to a more pastoral feel as the route returns to Healdsburg-Geyserville Road back toward Asti.
Following Healdsburg Avenue back, about 15K, the 100K route ends back at Asti. Approximately 500 entrants joyfully (maybe some not so joyfully) rode from the kick off at 7AM in the morning to as late as 4PM. Seeing the historic entry to the Italian Swiss Colony at Asti made hearts sing and legs relax!
The finish line party at Asti, again expertly coordinated by the Rotary, was an excellent end to this cycling harvest adventure. Penne pasta, salad, pulled pork and an apple crisp dessert with ice cream were a perfect ending to this fall event. This carb loaded fare was accompanied by Cellar No. 8 Cabernet and Zinfandel and a nice selection of beer and soft drinks. Door prizes and raffles were included to provide a perfect ending to this fall classic.
Mark your calendar for next years 5th Annual event. The number of riders is limited and it does sell out!