It’s an early morning in Napa Valley, California. The faint scent of crushed grapes lingers in the misty air as the sun peaks over the horizon, bathing the vineyard in rich pinks and purples. Though the weather is crisp, Tiffany Harris and her fellow cyclists don’t mind. Only an hour into their ride, they’ve already tossed their jackets to Kevin Bergeron, the guide keeping pace in the van behind them. As they cut through the quilted landscape in companionable silence, weaving between the rows of purple-flushed grape vines that line the trail, Tiffany is struck by how the situation feels both comfortably familiar yet oddly surreal.
For Tiffany, Napa and Sonoma County—located about an hour north and east of San Francisco—was once “home”. “I was born and raised near Napa,” the fitness trainer explains. And yet, though she’d been cycling for the last 12 years, and had traversed the many trails around her adopted hometown of Las Vegas, she’d never explored the famous bike paths in her own childhood backyard. “I was somewhat familiar with area and had always thought the scenery was phenomenal,” she explains, “but I’d never seen it through the eyes of cyclist.” Now, on a cool November weekend, Tiffany is seeing the once familiar rolling hillsides and olive-green mountains through new, sunrise-pink colored glasses. “It all looks so amazing,” she says.
She’s not alone in her assessment. Cycling wine country is considered to be one of the best bike trips on the planet. In fact, one author listed Napa Valley as one of “50 Places to Bike Before You Die,” saying Sonoma and Napa Valleys “seem to have been created solely for the delight of the pedaling gastronome”. The book sites the “Mediterranean-style climate” along with the over seven hundred wineries and the dozen Michelin-starred restaurants as being a few of the reasons for the region earning a prestigious spot on the book’s list. “The boutique wineries, award-winning restaurants, and sumptuous inns are situated at intervals that accommodate a wide range of riders, all set against landscapes of rolling vineyards, gentle mountains and even a majestic redwood forest,” writes Jonathan Hershberger.
Tiffany’s Favorite Parts of the Trip:
Now back home in Las Vegas, Tiffany recounts some of the highlights of her weekend adventure.
The Diversity of the Ride
For Tiffany, it was the geographical diversity that she found most awe-inspiring. “In just a few days, we got to see redwood forests, the coast, farmland and intimate little streets.” ‘Intimate’ was a word she frequently returned to when describing the scenery. “There were so many little paths, all interspersed through vineyards of varying sizes,” she reminisces, sounding wistful. “You’re in a secluded area, on these narrow, winding back roads. It’s really lovely.”
“Stopping at the vineyards was also fun,” she adds. “They gave us a tour and showed us how everything works, which was cool.” Tiffany skipped the wine, preferring to sample the olive oil and homemade chocolate instead.
Although Tiffany had been cycling for 12 years, having a van and guide along to cart the gear and prepare the meals was a new experience. “Having a van follow us was great. We could change clothes if we needed to and we didn’t have to pack food in our pockets or wear a bunch of layers. If we wanted food, we could have it. “Jacket on or jacket off”…having a support vehicle made everything easy. Plus, the employees were so friendly and thrilled to help out. I can’t stress enough how friendly they were.”
Tiffany loved that they were able to take the time to see the coast and explore Sonoma Coast State Park. “Walking the beach and seeing the sea lions was really magical. The whole trip was just incredible…incredibly special.”
For more information about Escape Adventures wine country tours, or any of our other popular bike or hiking tours, call 702-596-2953 or visit our wine country tour itinerary page.