Saturday, July 16, 2011

Go west, young man, go west!

And that's what I've been doing, since arriving in Reno on Tuesday: go west. Before firing up Jenny's beemer, though, to travel to Santa Rosa for the Vineman 70.3, I assembled the Ritchey and we went on two nice'n'easy rides around Reno. I was totally surprised to see wetlands with waterfowl in this high desert terrain! The peaks around Reno still are snowy, and after Lubbock's heat and brown-ness riding here was a true treat.
Yes, this is Reno
On Wednesday afternoon we left Reno, heading west for Sacramento. Shortly after leaving town we stopped by one of my distributors, Sinclair Imports, whose headquarters are in Verdi. My old friend Mark was totally surprised by this unannounced visit and visibly happy to see me; we took a tour of the warehouse and had a nice chat.

The drive west through the Sierra Nevada was absolutely spectacular. We had the roof down and the temperature kept falling the higher we climbed toward Donner pass. There's still a lot of  snow up here, and I think the lowest temperature that I saw was something like 56 degrees on a day of blazing sunshine. For an afternoon snack cum quaff we stopped in Auburn's Alehouse—great beer, lousily poured by unhappy waitstaff.
Next door to the Auburn Alehouse

The reason for our staying overnight in Sacramento was that ever since briefly visiting this city last December I had wanted to come back and spend some time in the American Railroad Museum. So, Thursday before heading for the wine country we toured the museum, and I was not disappointed. I learned a tremendous amount about the role of the railroad in this part of the world, and the displays were impressive and worth the time and money. This museum is a definite must for anybody even slightly interested in trains.
One doesn't need to be train buff to be impressed
American Railroad Museum in Sacramento
Farther west we drove. With the mountains behind us we thought that now we'd start to bake in the heat of the delta, but far from it: The temperature did not go over 75 degrees, and driving through Napa was perfect. Before crossing over into Sonoma Valley we sampled the very fine wines at Jessup Cellars in Yountville. Jenny decided to join their wine club as shipping costs to Nevada are reasonable and the wine is truly outstanding.

Deciding between the '06 and '07 Ports is not an easy thing

In front of Jessup  Cellars in Yountville
We arrived in Santa Rosa on Thursday evening and had a late dinner at The River, as locals call the Russian River Brewing Company. Not only do these people know how to make some of the world's most respected craft beers, but they also know how to pour and serve them. Mecca, at last.
The Holy Grail for any serious hop-head—The River

Friday we spent driving to Guerneville, where Sunday's race will start, and taking a water temperature reading before driving the bike course. While in Guerneville we ran into the Everett clan; Wes is here to do his first Vineman triathlon, and as always, the family comes along. It sure was nice to see them.

For our late lunch we bought picnic supplies in the local Safeway and then headed for one of the many, many wineries. I remembered the pleasant and quiet picnic grounds at Trentadue, where we bought a bottle of red and enjoyed bread, cheese, and salami. And a visit to these parts wouldn't be complete without a stopover at Bear Republic Brewery in Healdsburg, just off the Vineman bike route!
Who says that wine and beer are not complementary?
For dinner we met up with Kai and Kit at the Toad in the Hole, only two blocks from our hotel. It was great to get back together with these good friends. I finally gave Kai the beer stein that I had bought in Weihenstephan, and he was tickled. I'm sure he'll put it to good use.
Santa Rosa has some fine pubs!

And now it is Saturday morning and we're on the way to Windsor high school where the athletes' meetings are taking place and where I will meet with my crew of officials this afternoon. Time to put on the official's shirt!


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