USA Day 15: Duvine Cycling Adventure Day 3

Ryan, our guide, had been telling us that this was his favourite day of the whole tour – so we were looking forward to it with high expectations.  How can it get better than cycling along the water at Bodega Bay, or riding through the towering Redwoods of Armstrong State Park??

Every morning, Ashley and Ryan had the bikes already set up for us, water bottles filled, helmets ready, cycling directions at the top of our bags, and a lovely DIY trail mix waiting for us.  It was hard roughing it like this – but we managed!

In our itinerary, today’s riding was entitled: Dry Creek Valley.  The first ride was through undulating roads that skirted the Sonoma Valley – you may recognise this photo, as I have used a cross-section of it as my header. I just loved it so much.  It was truly beautiful riding through wine country in autumn.  Just amazing colours, beautiful clear days, and crisp cool breezes.

How pretty are the leaves – it was a great time to ride!

As we went up an over every undulation – I called out the percentages.  At one stage, Ray who was following me (I suspect he was drafting me all the way – cheeky thing) – would cheer every time we hit 10%.   I think he was using a mind over matter trick – but not sure how it worked out.

After 18km we had a brief stop at one winery, no tasting was done, but there was a brilliant view. We then continued on another 5 km to our first tasting for the day at Ferraro Carano Winery, where we go to do a tasting in their reserve cellar room. The garden at this winery was really beautiful, very Italianesque.

Apparently you need to rub the boar’s nose for luck – I needed all the luck I could get – as a mini mountain was coming up!

Andrew and I on the balcony overlooking the lovely vines at Ferrari-Carano Winery.

After we did some tasting, there was an optional ride – the Lake Sonoma Lookout. I think I understand why they get us a little bit tipsy before we go up.  Only Andrew and I opted in for this one – and Ashley rode with us.  Another 5 km after the winery and then the ascent started… here’s the profile…

The ride up to the lookout had a gradient of 7-8% most of the time, according to my Garmin.  At least I knew why it felt so challenging – but then it kicked up to 13% for about half a kilometre and 16% at that nobby point towards the end!!!  Oh My Goodness.  It was tough!  But as with all ascents, the best bit was coming down. The descent was amazing!! I hit 56 km/h on the way down! Noice!!  Great roads…. very wide, straight and clean!!

Footnote:  After checking my Garmin data, and making sure all the elevations were corrected against geographical survey data, I can tell you that the first start of the climb is an average of 5.7% for 1.8 km, and then the second part of the climb is an average of 8.3% for 1.4 km. You can see part way through there is a flat (with a slight downhill grade) which gives you a little bit of recovery in between!

Here is the profile done with the varying gradients…

Yes – I look a little bedraggled – but so would you after
384 metres of elevation gain!!   See how high I got!

Andrew was well ahead of me – but Ashley, our lovely guide stayed behind me all the way – even when I had to break my “stay on the bike” rule, and get off and walk for a bit when we hit 13%.

Jean Guy and Ray took the bus to the top and then rode down – clever, very clever indeed!!

From the descent we made our way to the Dry Creek General Store for a well earned lunch.

Dry Creek General Store

3495 Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg  CA   95448
(707) 433 4171
Open: Mon – Sat  6:30am – 5:30pm; Sun  7:00am – 5:30pm

The Dry Creek General Store is a great place, sort of like a foodie’s dream.  It’s packed full of cured artisanal meats, cheeses, crackers, jams and other hand made treats; as well as books, wines and other gifts that a foodie would love.  The attraction for us was the deli counter which had a huge range of fantastic sounding sandwiches, and had a display of mouthwatering salads and treats.

I had the sandwich special of the day, which was marinated chicken quesadilla with jack cheese, and served with guacamole and sour cream (yum!!). I also had a side of beet salad and quinoa salad (yumm!!!).  It was too much food – but what a way to go!

Andrew had the French Dip – a pulled pork and cheese sandwich with pan jus – basically he got a side serve of stock which he dipped his roll into!! It was pretty fantastic!  Beautifully tender pork with melted cheese and juicy, flavoured bread – lunch nirvana!

And a pic of the crew… although Janet did elect to spend this day in the spa!!  Just rejoining the group for lunch and the final wine tasting.  She missed out on the mini mountain!

It’s great that there’s something for everyone on the tour, and you can do your own thing and opt in and out.  We were really lucky actually, because having such a small group allowed for a lot of flexibility.

Dry Creek General Store & Bar on Urbanspoon

On the way back from lunch we got to sample one more winery – Quivira. This winery prides itself on its organic / biodynamic approach to wine – and as you can see, it still had the same effect on me as regular wine – I am such a “low volume” date!!

Next we cycled back to the hotel – but had to stop to take this photo! Cool!

What a great cycling day – 15 degrees and clear, 58km of cycling done!  We started down the bottom of the map where it says Healdsburg.  The red star is where the Lake Sonoma Lookout is, and the purple star where the Dry Creek General Store is.

Now, there’s only one last challenge for the day – dinner!

Bear Republic Brewing Company

345 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, California, 95448, USA

Open Mon – Thu 11:30am – 9:30pm;  Fri – Sun  11:30am – 10:30pm

First, a quick couple of beers at a local brewhouse – Bear Republic Brewing – mine was the dark one – Red Rocket Ale, and Andrew had the IPA.

The beer was really lovely – I don’t often drink beer and I thought it was great.  The Brewpub also has  a restaurant and was serving some hearty looking pub food.  So, if you were in the mood for a hamburger, some calamari or baby back ribs – this looked like a great place.  We had a booking at Willi’s though – so once we had downed our cleansing ales – we moved on.

Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar

403 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 433 9191
Open:  Sun – Thu  11:30am – 9:30pm;  Fri – Sat  11:30am – 10:00pm

Tonight was dinner at our own discretion, so having had a taste of how amazing tapas can be from our Jaleo experience in Washington, Andrew and I decided we would try a local tapas place in Healdsburg – Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar.

Some cocktail action, and
Kobe beef crudo, truffle mayonnaise, and pickled shitakes.

This dish was really lovely, with great flavour combinations.  The meat was great quality, sliced thinly, and the creamy truffle mayonnaise was beautifully cut by the sharpness of those pickled shitake mushrooms.

“Melted Cheese” with chorizo, cilantro pesto and not house made fritos.

This dish was OK if you were expecting 85% melted cheese, however, we had honed in on the “chorizo” part when looking at the menu, and thus, were a little bit disappointed.  Our fault – as we hunted for the chorizo in the golden, oozing, cheesy goodness – just not what were were expecting.

Hangar steak skewers with aji panca and chimichiri sauce,
and pan roasted shrimp with chilies, lemon and garlic.

The steak skewers were lovely and tender, and really juicy. So they were a favourite of Andrew’s.  The shrimp were fine – but perhaps a little busy.

Dean’s salt and pepper baby back riblets – finger lickin good!

Soft rolls with crispy pork belly and pea sprout slaw.

I ordered this last dish because it sounded so promising – however, after Momofuku’s amazing steamed buns – these didn’t really stand a chance.  What was I thinking???  It just wasn’t a fair race.  These rolls were a bit chunky – so, from a size perspective, it was actually difficult to bite into them and make sure you got a bit of everything.  There was a lot of coleslaw, so the bread got a little soggy and the meat was on the chewy side.  The flavours didn’t really go that well together.  A good case where less could be so much more.  Not the best dish to finish on – but by that stage we were full, and very tired.

Overall, this restaurant was just OK – we wouldn’t necessarily go back.  It might truly be a case of just ordering the right dishes – and we got a bit of a mixture.

Ray, Janet and Jean-Guy had gone to Bistro Ralph – after being recommended to go there by a friend and said it was really good!! So, I’ll put that one on my list to try for next time…

We wandered back to the Hotel and tucked ourselves into the very comfortable bed – I think we were already falling asleep by the time the Bistro Ralph gang were ordering their appetisers….

Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar on Urbanspoon