Whether you like cycling through abundant flat wetlands and wildlife, the shaded majesty of a redwood forest, or undulant vineyards and organic farms, the rolling hills and scenic meadows of western Sonoma County make a perfect setting for bike rides. Here's a quick look at three annual themed bike rides, offering something for every level of cyclist.
Giro Bello – June
Hosted by the Rotary Club of Santa Rosa, the net proceeds from this ride benefit local charitable projects focused on youth and fire victims. There are four levels of rides offered:
- Century ride (100.9 miles; 5,168 feet of climbing). Travel through the wine regions of the Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and the Russian River Valley. End this ride in the refreshing shade of ancient redwood forests.
- Metric Century (100km/66.8 miles; 2,406 feet of climbing). Great for a first long distance ride, this route also goes through the wine country of the Alexander and Dry Creek valleys. However, there is only one big climb, Chalk Hill.
- Family Fun Route (27.6 miles; 896 feet of climbing). There are no major hills on this route, but the Vine Hill slope is fairly continuous; there is an alternate route for a more gradual climb.
Fun Run Junior Route (11 miles; 0 feet of climbing). This flat route offers a great ride folks who prefer to stick to a bike path. It is nearly all on the Joe Rodota Bike Trail, with a small aid station at the turnaround on at the 5.5 mile marker at Wright Road.
The rides start and end at O'Reilly Media in Sebastopol, with a post-ride meal, music and bike expo. You can register online. The 2019 race will be held Saturday, June 22; event packets must be picked up on Friday afternoon, June 21, at O'Reilly Media. For more information, email [email protected].
Tour de Fuzz – September
Indeed, you read this right. "Fuzz" is old-time slang for "cop" and the beneficiary of this ride is the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Sonoma County.
First responders often must witness grueling events that, despite their training, can pierce the human heart. The Law Enforcement Chaplaincy is a group of over 70 volunteer chaplains who assist our first responders 24/7 by providing emotional and spiritual support in times of crisis. Their services are non-political and are available for victims, their families, and the first responders.
The Tour de Fuzz offers a unique look behind the scenes at the world of law enforcement. Following the ride, for instance, will be exhibits featuring SWAT, bomb squad, law enforcement robotics, Police K9s, and more.
You don't have to be a Law Enforcement Officer to ride. This is a time to show appreciation and community with our first responders and how they are there for us when we need them. And if you are a law enforcement officer (LEO) from another location, you are certainly welcome to join a "LEO team." (Many come from far away and make it a family vacation.)
This ride has three levels and they are seriously challenging. Each one starts in a different place. They all end up in Santa Rosa.
- Enthusiast (50K/35 miles, climbing 505') starts near Healdsburg and loops near the Forestville area.
- Roadie (100k/63 miles; climbing 1,273') starts in Geyserville and loops through Healdsburg and Windsor.
- Commando (102 miles; climbing 4,278') starts in Santa Rosa and goes as far north as Cloverdale. Includes a VERY steep hill. This is not for the first time century rider.
You can register online. The 2019 event will be held Saturday, Sept. 14.
Levi's GrandFondo - October
Now part of the weekend-long Sonoma Vita celebration, Levi's GrandFondo offers 11 different routes, ranging in length and difficulty from the 8.8-mile Family route (118 feet elevation gain) to the steep 117-mile Growler (10,564 feet elevation gain). Each rider is recorded, with your time published after the event. (With different start and finish locations, you'll want to plan ahead for this ride.)
"Vita" means "life" in Italian, and Sonoma Vita gets its name from Italian cycling culture, which is what inspired Levi's GrandFodno from the beginning. Sonoma Vita offers the best of Sonoma County in one epic weekend of music, food, beer, wine, cycling, running, and family fun. The free three-day event is open to the public, and includes live music, the Downtown Mile Run, a paella festival, and a beer and wine festival.
For 2019, Sonoma VITA will be held Oct. 4-6, with Levi's GrandFondo on Oct. 5. More info.
More Cycling Opportunities
For cyclists, Sonoma County has it all. A gorgeous coastline, wildlife-filled wetlands, meadows of spring wildflowers, straw-colored summer hillsides dotted with oaks, meandering backroads, and easy trails through ranchland and vineyards along old railroad routes. Not to mention world-famous wineries and acclaimed restaurants and eateries that specialize in farm-fresh ingredients.
From beginning bikers or families with kids to experienced cyclists seeking a challenge, there's a route for everyone. For details, check out our Guide to Cycling in Sonoma County.