November 30, 2013 | Touring & Tasting Magazine, Wine Country Travel | Wendy Van Diver
Cycling & Tasting in Dry Creek Valley
I’ve always dreamt of touring wine country on a bike and this fall, it finally happened. As I was making plans for my editor’s tour of northern Sonoma County, I was contacted by Lifecycle Adventures: a custom cycling vacations company that has operations in the Napa Valley, the Willamette Valley, and on Hawaii’s Big Island.
LifeCycle plans custom designed and self-guided trips for people through wine country and other fabulous terrain. I told my contact that I happened to be planning a six-day tour in Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys and at first; she wanted to plan the whole thing for me because they can even work on lodging and dining options. But once she realized that I had a huge itinerary (I visit up to five wineries a day and my schedule’s very complicated), we agreed that we’d stick to a Dry Creek Valley itinerary.
Before I left, I filled out several forms describing my interests, fitness level, etc. I had a choice of bike: road or all terrain; as well as a choice of terrain: a flat ride-to-rolling ride, or a head-to-the-hills, heart pounding excursion that lead to breathtaking views. I opted for the all-terrain/flat ride, since I was planning to taste wine and talk coherently with the people I met along the way.
About a week in advance of my trip, a representative from the company sent me a packet with a map of my basic route, packing advice, and an invitation to email her if I had any questions whatsoever. Life Cycle stresses that its adventures are meant to be a vacation where they take care of all of the details. And do they ever! Besides the logistics, they have support vans nearby in case of an unlikely mishap. They even pick up the wine you buy as you taste along your cycling route!
On the morning of my tour, I was met in the lobby of Hotel Healdsburg by Laura Rondet a co-owner of the company. She sat down with me and showed me my route in detail and then checked me out on my bike for the day. The bike was equipped with a little pack that had ample room for power bars and water (which Laura also provided), plus my phone and camera. Laura reminded me to text her if I bought wine or needed any assistance at all.
The ride from Healdsburg out Dry Creek Road was beautiful! The vineyards were abundant with fruit and I felt so alive and connected to them as I pedaled past! I road northwest out of Healdsburg along the east side of the Dry Creek Valley past the Dry Creek Valley General Store. This is a great place to stop for a sandwich, and I would have, if I hadn’t already made plans for a picnic at one of my winery stops.
My first stop was Dutcher Crossing Winery where I was treated to a tasting in the lovely grapevine-shaded picnic area out back. Sadly, I missed Owner Debra Mathy and Dutchy, the winery dog, who were at the vet that morning. From there, I crossed the bridge to West Dry Creek Road and the quieter west side of Dry Creek Valley. I stopped at Martorana Family Winery where I was greeted by the ultra-charming Hospitality Director Wendy Cox, Co-owner Gio Martorana, and his wife and newborn baby. After an informal tour and tasting, I enjoyed a fabulous lunch which Wendy had prepared. From there, I pedaled up the hill to Dry Creek Vineyard where I was greeted by Director of Marketing and Communications Bill Smart who treated me to a tasting in the barrel room. By the time I got back to Healdsburg, I had ridden 23 miles and acquired eight bottles of wine. Laura met me in the parking lot with the wine—plus a special bottle of estate olive oil from Gio Martorana!
I can’t say enough good things about LifeCycle Adventures. I am definitely going to tour this way, and with LIfeCycle again soon!
@ Dec 28, 2013 at 8:44 PM
Hello, Me and my wife want to tour California and several of the wineries. We will look into the lifecycle Adventures it sounds fun. We would need something less mileage, as we are getting older and not able to bike that far. Your story sounds great.