Some people mourn the end of summer, but for many Sonoma County cyclists, fall is when the fun really begins.

For them, riding in the fall months often means they have to cope with less hot weather and less traffic, but still can enjoy bright, beautiful days.

"In Sonoma County, you can start early in the morning when the temperature is cool, and two hours later, have a sunny day," said Susan Forsman, president of the Santa Rosa Cycling Club. "And whatever town you start from, you're guaranteed to find a very nice coffee shop where you can stop, or a brewpub, if that's what you like."

The club has 1,700 members and offers four to six organized bicycle rides a week, Forsman said.

"Even if they're not members, people are welcome to come and see what it's like," she said.

In Petaluma, the Petaluma Wheelmen cycling club originally dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, but restarted in 2005 and now has 192 members, said president Matt Muldoon.

For Muldoon, riding in the fall offers not only cooler weather, but a wider choice of destinations.

"You can go out to the coast. You get really nice days on the coast, which are hard to find in the summer. It's foggy out there in the summer, and then when the fog breaks, it's really windy, neither of which is a great situation," he said.

"Also, in the summer, there's a lot more traffic out there," Muldoon said. "Right now, it's warm, the winds aren't as strong, and there's not as much traffic."

The Wheelmen have worked out a number of routes to the coast, Muldoon noted.

"There are many options," he said, "but on a nice day, anything along Highway 1 between Tomales and Point Reyes Station is a winner."

Forsman recommends the "10 Great Rides" listed on the Santa Rosa Cycling Club website, ranging from flat and easy to steep and challenging, and ranging from 23 to 55 miles.

The easiest, the Windsor Plain ride, offers a pleasant cruise amid fall colors, starting from Santa Rosa's Youth Community Park on Fulton Road.

From there, the route meanders through the countryside, most of it vineyards, via Piner, West Olivet, Oakwild, River and Trenton-Healdsburg roads, with an opportunity to stop for refreshments at Windsor's Town Green.

While autumn is prime cycling time, riders do need to make some concessions to fall weather. For one thing, the wardrobe changes a little, Forsman explained.

"That's the beautiful thing about the Sonoma County climate," she said. "You can go with a 'winter shell,' where you wear three layers during the early morning and peel off the layers as it warms up."

<i>You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or See his ARTS blog at</i>

Pot around Sonoma County

Three Sonoma County cannabis dispensaries will be open for adult-use sales on Jan. 1, 2018:

11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
785 Gravenstein Hwy. S., Sebastopol

SPARC/Peace in Medicine
10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
6771 Sebastopol Ave. #100, Sebastopol

Mercy Wellness of Cotati
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
7950 Redwood Drive #8, Cotati

Pot around Sonoma County

Sebastopol: Adult-use and medical cannabis sales take place at the city’s two dispensaries. Manufacturing and other aspects of the business will be considered in 2018. Indoor cultivation for personal use is allowed.

Cotati: Allows adult-use and medical cannabis sales at its sole dispensary.

Santa Rosa: Medical marijuana businesses are allowed in the city. Santa Rosa will allow sales of adult-use cannabis on Jan. 19. Indoor cultivation for personal use is allowed.

Cloverdale: Up to two cannabis dispensaries are allowed in the city, although there are none currently. Manufacturing, distribution and cultivation business permit applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Petaluma: Allows cannabis delivery services and some cannabis manufacturing but has not allowed any dispensaries inside city limits.

Windsor: Dispensaries and other types of cannabis businesses as well as outdoor cultivation is banned in Windsor. Residents must get a town permit for personal-use cultivation, which is only allowed to occur indoors.

Sonoma city: Cannabis cultivation, indoor and outdoor, is banned but the rule will be reconsidered December 2018. Delivery businesses with headquarters outside the city must acquire a city permit to conduct deliveries in the city. Some personal cultivation is allowed but residents must comply with a variety of city requirements like security systems.

Sonoma County: Rules are in places for medical marijuana businesses and supervisors will consider rules for adult use in 2018.

Rohnert Park: Does not all manufacturing, distributing or selling marijuana within city limits.

Healdsburg: Prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries.


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