If you were inspired by the Amgen Tour of California as it swooshed through Santa Rosa in May, it may be time take your own cruise over the local landscape. Whether you’re a Lycra-loving road racer, chic city cruiser or rugged mountain biker, there’s always a reason to put your feet on the pedals.
So adjust your helmet, check your tire pressure, jump on your saddle and ride on some of Sonoma County’s best biking bets.
Road racer rides
Levi’s Gran Fondo, the long distance charity race held the first Saturday in October, was founded by national road racing champion and three-time Amgen Tour winner Levi Leipheimer.
Now in its seventh year and attracting 7,500 professional and amateur cyclists from across the country and around the world, the race is the ultimate rite of passage for Sonoma County road racing.
If you’d prefer not to share the road with 7,499 other riders, why not try one or more of the routes from this year’s Fondo in their rugged, rural and often isolated splendor on the remaining 364 days of the year? Download maps and route information at levisgranfondo.com.
The Piccolo Route: This entry-level “recreational” 32-mile route takes you from Santa Rosa to Occidental, which involves a “moderate” 1,500-foot climb before looping back to Santa Rosa.
The Medio Route: The Medio Route, while less demanding than the Gran Route, offers its share of challenges. This roughly 60-mile ride consists of more than 4,000 feet of elevation gain, traveling from Santa Rosa to Monte Rio, down River Road to the Coast, and back across Coleman Valley Road at Portuguese Beach. But while you traverse “harrowing descents” through the redwoods and a “gut-puncher” of a climb up Coleman Valley Road, you’ll take in stunning, panoramic Pacific Ocean views.
The Gran Route: The 103-mile Gran Route, with 9,000 feet of elevation gain, will take you from the redwoods outside of Occidental to the top of King Ridge, down Meyers Grade to Jenner and across Coleman Valley Road at Portuguese Beach. Professional cyclists complete this route in under five hours. Amateurs can take more than 10 hours to finish a route probably best not attempted by novices.
The Panzer Route :If you are still doing more pedaling than panting, try advancing to Levi’s Panzer Route which serves up “more descents, more fir-lined canyons, more sweeping vistas, more quiet gravel, more mileage and more climbing” than any other route of the Fondo. Following the Gran Route, it continues on Tin Barn Road to Stewarts Point, and follows Highway 1 to Kruse Ranch Road to rejoin the Gran Route. This killer ride is already sold out for this year’s race.
Chic city cycling
Cycling in the typical California town usually involves sharing the streets with cars and pedestrians, but it has its own special charms.
Top Guides & Rides
While cycling the roads of Sonoma County can seem daunting at times, there are ways to stay safe and enjoy the ride. And your local bike shop is often a great starting point for information about the best (and safest) routes, cycling events and meet-ups.
The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition’s map serves as a perfect travel companion for the novice city biker. Be sure to plan your route before you hit the road, avoiding highly trafficked areas, seeking out bike paths and back routes and mapping out locations for cycling services and facilities. Download the map at bikesonoma.org/product/sonoma-county-bicycle-map.