If someone asked me about my perfect day, it would look a lot like this post. One of the most beautiful rides in Northern California topped off by one of the best craft beers in the world…ya, I said it…world. The Ride series here on Hubs and Hops will be dedicated to pairing the very best road and mountain bike rides with the most kick ass beers and craft brewers throughout North America…I know, but someone’s gotta do it…right? So where to kick off the series, let me think for one second…ya, got it. The backroads of Sonoma and Marin counties and one of the holy grails of craft beer…Lagunitas Brewing!
The starting point…The Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma, CA. From a tiny little start up in 1993 to one of the fastest growing breweries in the country with the ability to crank out 600,000 barrels a year locally and another 600,000 barrels in their soon to be finished Chicago, IL location. With a tap room serving up food and all their great beer, I can’t think of a better place to kick this series off (Tip, don’t park your car in the parking lot of Lagunitas Brewery and head out for this 50 mile ride…the place does crazy business and you can really help them out by parking in one of the surrounding office park areas, they are located in an industrial area so there is a lot of parking to choose from). This is going to be a 50 mile ride with some climbing so pack enough water and food to get it done.
As you’re heading out D St. in Petaluma you will find a nice wide shoulder and after leaving the tree lined victorian streets you will suddenly find yourself in rural Sonoma County…dairy farms and open space. Breathe in and enjoy, your blood pressure just dropped a couple notches. It gets quiet and beautiful fast with one hundred year old school houses that are still used today and some of the most peaceful landscapes you will find, not a bad way to start a day.
Before long you cross the Marin County line and get even deeper into dairy land. At this point you have mashed your pedals up some nice climbs and are possibly looking for a visual distraction to keep you motivated, you’re in luck…cows. Not sure if I should say this out loud but even though cows are very much a dumb animal..and I mean DUMB! I have been known to “moo” at them as I ride past, can’t really say why, other than I just laugh when they look at me but never the less by the time I get through it all and the mooing stops…I have clicked off another 10-15 miles…yes!
Am I biased, …hell ya! My grandparents walked off a boat from Norway and ended up in Sonoma and 85 years later…I’m still here. This area is one of the most amazing places in the world, it’s just *frigg’n beautiful (*that’s for you mom). Look, there are a lot of really cool places to clip in and ride, but very few will give you the same feeling that a ride through the hills of Sonoma and Marin Counties will, it really is magic…true story.
But wait, there’s more…ha! This is like homemade whip cream on top of your grandma’s apple pie. Kick ass beer to top off an awesome day on the bike! I’m a pretty simple guy, challenge me, show me a reward worth getting and then get out of the way…works every time. The cool thing about this deal is that the ride is a reward in itself and to finish up back at the Lagunitas Tap Room is like winning the lottery on the way home from your great uncles funeral where he left you like a million dollars, you’re just thinking…”WTF” this is awesome! There are a lot of great breweries out there and many of them are going to be featured in this Ride series, but I needed to start here because this is one of my most favorite rides and one of my most favorite brewers…thank you to my grandma Katinka for getting on that boat and heading to America and thank you to the team at Lagunitas for making a great beer.
Here is my map showing the details of the ride. You can download a PDF to save or print and take with you here.
Now go ride.