March 2014 Sonoma Trip - Annadel State Park - Day 2
Ok! Ready for our exciting day two in Sonoma? Remember this is a two part post. Day one can be found here.
The next day, we woke up with the same routine: getting cleaned up and packing for the day. This was a much lighter load as we were only planning a few hours on the trail. We headed down for another Hilton Gold breakfast and made our way to the park. Wendi did such an awesome job planning this trip that the second day would top the first. In calling around to local bike shops, she found that Echelon Cycle & Multisport was hosting a demo day at Annadel with Scott Bikes. I've never ridden a Scott but have heard really great things about them. What I was most excited about was the prospect of riding a 650b setup. I have been a bit skeptical of the claimed benefits of these bikes. My hope for today was that this demo ride would either confirm my suspicion that it was all hype, or that the ride would leave me a changed man.
|Solid breakfast at the Hilton|
|Can I haz please!?|
|Littered with rocks and roots|
line selection was key.
Once I made it to the top of Cobblestone, I decided to stay on the north trails. We were on demo bikes that they probably didn't want us to keep all day, and I knew from experience the nasty conditions of the southern trails. I plotted a course down Orchard to Rough-Go, over the top of the Lake Trail to Lewis and then to North Burma. I remembered how much fun the Burma trails were from the day before, so I knew this is where I wanted to end up. The other area where this middle brother wheel size shines is in descents. Although rollover was effected some, I thought that the combination of a more rigid wheel and the flickability of a compact setup was a huge benefit on technical descents. On the exact same trails, I felt way more confident and comfortable descending on the 650b Scott than I did the 29er Specialized the day before. The only other variable was that the Genius was a supple carbon frame where as the Stumpy was alloy. I am much more used to the feel of carbon vs aluminum so this could have been a factor.
Because North Burma was so damn fun I decided to head back down Live Oak and back over to Burma for two more loops. This trail was one of those trails where you catch yourself smiling from ear to ear as you rip through the sweeping corners. I would have taken it for a few more loops if it wasn't already coming up on an hour and a half in the woods on a demo bike....I'm sure the Scott guys were looking forward to getting their bike back. After the final loop, I headed back up the way I came in and was happy to run into Wendi on the Orchard Trail. She was having a great time on her borrowed bike as well and I surely see a FS bike in our future for her. The climb up Cobblestone was pretty brutal but the descent on this cush full suspension ride was a blast. Once again the handling ability of the slightly smaller tires really shined as I tore through switchbacks through the descending rock fields.
|Super dialed ride in the Scott Genius|
We wrapped up riding right around noon so we had the rest of the day to do fun stuff. After getting cleaned up we headed to Petaluma (Petaluma is a fun word to say) to go to Lagunitas for lunch and a couple of beers. This is such a chill place with great beer and awesome food. The courtyard tables were full, so we ended up sitting in the bar looking out over the patio. We ordered an appetizer of an olive jar, I ordered a sour beer and Wendi was thrilled that they had a good selection of ciders. We both ordered sandwiches and shared.
The other thing we really wanted to do was hit a winery while we were in town. The day before, we had driven through a small town called Glen Ellen. It was kind of a sleepy little town in the Sonoma Valley. We are not wine aficionados, so I just looked up the highest rated winery in the area and came across the Benzinger Family Winery. I called ahead to make sure they had tour availability, and they were wide open. After a short drive over from Petaluma we made our way into a beautiful piece of property. We parked and made our way to the little shop where they started the tours. Having only been on a few winery tours we decided to go all in with the "founder tour", which ran us $40 per person.
The cool thing was that we were just about 10 minutes early for the tour so we didn't have to wait around long. Our tour guide, Pat, put us aboard his little electric tram with two other couples and we were off for a tour of the winery grounds. Pat gave a great overview of the property's history and how the winery came to be. This winery uses a holistic agricultural process called biodynamic farming. This is essentially organic farming, but incorporating other balancing aspects such as planting of complimentary flowers and plants, using livestock such as cows for manure to be composed into natural fertilizer and using sheep to keep the grass down. They also reclaim all of their gray water from wine processing and filter it through a series of tiered ponds and gravel beds. Along the way we stopped for a tasting of their estate Chardonnay. I'm not a big fan of whites but this was a pretty refreshing sipper -not too buttery like a lot of NorCal whites.
|Tour through the caves|
Such an awesome weekend with my best friend. Two days of riding, two breweries, a winery and lots of driving around very pretty countryside. We can't wait to get back up here and do it all over again. If you have any recommendations for wineries, breweries or trails in the NorCal area please let me know.
Click here to see my Strava activity for this ride.