Sonoma-Bolinas RandonnĂŠe This weekend, R. and I took a 3-day bicycle camping trip through wine country, up to Tomales bay and down the coast through Bolinas and back to the city. The weather was hot and beautifully clear, with the fog making occasional appearances on the distant hills. The loop comprised about 125 miles of riding.
We loaded Rosannaâ€™s bike up with goodies, mine with camping gear, and hopped on a ferry to Vallejo. From there, we pedaled north to Napa.
The ride from Vallejo to Napa was hot and the ride from Napa to Sonoma was perilous - no shoulder and weekend traffic in a rush to relax. My bike scored its first ever flat. We pulled into the Bi-Rite family farm happy and exhausted.
Dinner with Sam Sweaty and grimy though we were, Sam and Ann quickly handed us glasses of rose, and sent us off to pull beets with their girls. A chef turned innovative San Francisco grocer, Sam took over Bi-Rite Market eleven years ago and turned it into the haven of local, farm-direct artisan food it is today. His wife, Ann, started the Bi-Rite Creamery, which makes world-class ice cream just across 18th Street from the Market. The farm in Sonoma supplies many of the vegetables served in the deli at the Market. Sam fired up the outdoor brick oven and fed us on pizza, roasted beets, zucchini, eggplant, and gulf shrimp. At table were also a Spanish wine importer and his wife, who brought a case of splendid wines. We cracked our shrimp around the huge wooden table under the stars and tasted bottle after bottle of fantastic, playful wines. We set up our tent under the fig tree and slept until the mockingbirds got loud.
The road from Sonoma to Tomales wound its way among vineyards and dairies. In lovely little Petaluma, we had a leisurely lunch and tea by the river. Then up we went through the bare windy pass and out onto Tomales bay, where the views became grander still.
Tomales Bay formed along the San Andreas fault line. The fog-draped hills across the bay literally belong to another world. We followed the sunny fault line all the way to Bolinas, refueling on salami and gouda when our tanks got low. 62 miles later, we arrived at the farm.
William Picking Beans
Feast on the Farm We arrived at the farm to find a tired Mickey lounging on the bridge over the duck pond. We stretched, showered, lay in the hammock for a minute, and then started on supper. For an appetizer, Sarah stuffed squash blossoms with the farmâ€™s goat cheese and fried them crispy. Bronwenâ€™s sister Phoebe made a beautiful zucchini frittata, Sam grilled a chicken, Mickey roasted potatoes, Don made a fennel and red onion salad, and William and I went out to pick four heads of lettuce for a green salad. One red butter, one romaine, one red oak, one green butter. Everything went with lots of homemade wine, and we finished it all off with a blackberry-raspberry pie. We only take premium fuel. William and I were put up in the granary, where we slept mightily. The next morning we breakfasted on eggs and fresh goat milk, picked a few rows of green beans as the fog lifted, and got back on our bicycles.
The City The Golden Gate Bridge was swathed in fog and tourists. We picked our way between honking cars on cloudy streets back to the Mission, where we refreshed at our favorite coffee shop.