I was down in Santa Rosa, CA visiting family a couple of weeks ago and I had the opportunity to borrow my stepson’s bike—a Litespeed—and take it for a couple of rides. I hadn’t been on a road bike in over a decade and I had forgotten how light and fast they were and how you felt absolutely every bump. The juxtaposition between my bike and his was amazing. I could pick the Litespeed up with one finger, ride it like a bat out of hell, and at the end of the ride, had a more than just a few tender spots. It didn’t help that he had probably the hardest saddle in the world.
Riding in Santa Rosa was very different as well. There are a lot of bike lanes but there is also a ton of traffic and not the friendly traffic I have here in Bellingham. I wouldn’t say it was hostile exactly, just more indifferent and less polite. Fortunately, I only had to ride two miles in traffic to get to the Joe Rodota Trail — 8.47 miles of paved trail between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. Running along a creek, the trail winds its way through Santa Rosa and out into a beautiful rural setting that includes some vineyards, ending at Petaluma Avenue where you can then take the road into Sebastopol or on to Petaluma. Unlike here at home, it was a completely flat ride and I wallowed in every glorious, fast mile of it. But I wasn’t going so fast that I couldn’t enjoy riding under the eucalyptus trees, enjoy the heady aroma of wild fennel that grows along the creek, and the occasional sighting of different types of birds. On the downside, it was much warmer and drier than I’m used to and my second ride was downright hot and saliva-sucking dry. Heat and I don’t coexist well but I pushed through and managed to crank out 20 miles on both rides.
Heat (and traffic) aside, it was an awesome experience—one I plan to repeat next time I’m there. But I have to say when I got home and took my big 29-er out on a cool overcast day I had the same feeling as when I slept in my own bed after a week. In a word, “Ahhhhhhh!”