Sonoma Coast cyclists are a most interesting bunch!
Cyclists who pedal along our highways and bi-ways range from folks just like you and me who enjoy a leisurely ride to professional racers who have made Sonoma their home. Some Sonoma Coast cyclists are on the roads to draw attention to a new project, while others rally support for local charities in our community.
And on occasion you may even come across a few Sonoma Coast cyclists that just make you stop in your tracks and stare.
Cyclists are lured to Sonoma County for our award-winning wines, beers, world-class cuisine and of course our vistas. As they meander through colorful and bountiful vineyards they may want to stop for a sample.
They marvel at the majestic beauty of our towering redwoods.
And it’s certain the serpentine coastal roads offers great thrills.
Without doubt, the draw to many pelotons is the feeling of riding on the edge of a continent as they balance between the the redwood lined coastal mountains and coastline.
You can get a sense of the thrills of biking our coast in this video of the Meyer’s Grade, located between Jenner-by-the-Sea and Fort Ross
Cycling California’s Coast Can’t Be Beat!
While driving up to Sea Ranch it’s a sure bet that you will be sharing the road with Sonoma Coast cyclists. This is a very popular route for amateur and professional bicyclists alike for good reason:
- It’s the home of the US headquarters of the 2011 Tour de France winning Team BMC
- Training camps for many elite pro-cycling teams, amateur clubs and bike-passionate individuals are hosted here
- It’s ranked as the #1 US wine destination by TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards
Meet the Professional Sonoma Coast Cyclists
There is no doubt that Sonoma County offers some of the best bicycle routes, not only in Northern California, but in the world. Professional cycling teams who have competed in the Levi’s GranFondo and Amgen Tour of California must certainly agree. It offers intense exciting racing venues.
Levi Leipheimer – Founder of Levie’s GranFondo
The competitive and mass ride draws participants from around the world. Heralded as one of the best organized cycling events in the world, it offers 11 routes for family riders and professional alike. (See routes for October 1, 2016 event).
Levi donates 100% of his time to the event that bears his name. Registration fees and fundraising supports Sonoma community and local charities. According to Leipheimer (as quoted in Red Kite Prayer):
“The strength of this event is in the connection it has to this community and how this community, in turn, supports the event. We wouldn’t be able to duplicate that by rolling into someone else’s town, taking up resources and trying to set up a business on the backs of a community in which we’re not deeply involved. This is about our home and wanting other people to know it and love it like we do.”
Amgen Tour of California
The Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race created to challenge the world’s top professional cycling teams. Professional riders include Jens Voigt, finisher of 17 Tour de Frances, and 4-time U.S. National Road Race Champion Freddie Rodriguez. This year’s route is one of the longest and most challenging in race history. It is also elected as the first U.S. event on first-ever UCI Women’s WorldTour.
This year’s Amgen Tour of California, scheduled for May 15-22 2016. Stage 7 will occur on May 21, 2016 and includes some of the Levi GranFondo territory. The course will be rolling throughout with four Lexus King of the Mountain points along King Ridge Road, Pacific Coast Highway and Coleman Valley Road.
More information on Amgen Tour of California public rides is available at amgentourofcalifornia.com.
Some Sonoma Coast Cyclists Are Also Unique
Professional cyclists are not the only ones enjoying our Sonoma Coast cyclists. By all measures plenty of Sonoma coast cyclists are just plain folk like you and me. People who enjoy a day’s ride along the highways and byways of Sonoma. Many ride to enjoy the viticultural vistas. Others ride to enjoy the Pacific’s ever changing character as they coast along the coastline.
But every once in awhile you may be lucky enough to meet up with Sonoma Coast cyclist who simple stands out from the crowd.
Sonoma Coast Cyclists Riding Free and Unencumbered
Every once in awhile you’ll come across some very unique, if not perhaps wacky individuals along our coast. Such was the case in October 2015 as the entire Mendonoma Coast was a buzz with news of a pair of San Francisco cyclists letting it all hang out – literally!
Gil Levy, 26, and Sam Golstein, 25 wearing nothing more than their helmets and riding shoes, were the talk of the Mendonoma communities. Soon the calls came in from all across the Mendonoma coast to The Independent Coast Observer, our community newspaper. It was J. Stephen McLaughlin who managed to get exclusive photos and an interview with the pair published October 15, 2015.
Starting in Seattle the clothes-optional cyclists stopped at every McDonald’s on the way offering to buy coffee and an ice cream cone for anyone who sat with them and tell their own stories. They chronicled their adventures in Twitter using the hashtag #coffeeandconelove @nakedmenonbikes.
After their riding shoes gave out they did managed to get a replacement pair by BucketFeet.com, their only sponsor gained after a Twitter campaign.
Cary Cray: Unique Cyclist, Author, Illustrator
What a lucky moment it was a when I recently met cyclist, Cary Gray traveling down the Sonoma coast.
Cary most definitely puts the uni- in unique and cyclist!
Cary’s a long-distance unicycling author who illustrates his books using his feet!
While Cary is excited by his upcoming book, The Naked Unicyclist (which has absolutely no connection to the Sonoma Coast cyclists mentioned above), he is even more excited by his anticipated children’s book, Luno.
Luno, is his true passion. Cary is not only the author he’s also it’s illustrator, using his feet!
The unicycling author and illustrator made countless drawings and paintings inspired by journeys. Cary holds the pencil and paintbrush between his first two toes on either foot. He jokes that not only is he ambidextrous (latin for being left and right-handed), he is also ‘”ubidextrous, which means “all right-handed,” including his feet.
The children’s book follows a young boy named, Luno, who says he wants to ride to South America on one wheel. Luno is based on Cary’s boyhood mishaps and his unicycle journey to South America. Luno has to explain away the worry-warts and nay-sayers, reminding them that “anything is possible.” Luno’s motto for overcoming adversity in every form is “Onward!”
Cary’s illustration technique using his feet, like the Luno’s unicycle, is an obvious metaphor of that message: That anything is possible with practice. He simply delivered the idea in another, equally non-standard way.
Cary’s grand adventure for the culture and the geography began July 2013 in Baltimore, MD with the goal to reach Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost point in South America.
He rode across the country in 2013, then down through Central America arriving at Colombia in early 2014.
That’s when trouble struck. Unfortunately, after only a couple weeks in South America, his passport was stolen, Though he broke 10,000 miles, the world record for the longest unicycle trip at the Panama Canal, he was not able to record the trip without the passport.
With his gear back in order he took off again in 2015 for Juneau, AK, riding south to Seattle. Once there he spent the year writing while supporting himself with odd jobs.
He chose to work on a children’s book for a couple reasons. First to put into story form his adventures while calling upon his artistic talents. His other, perhaps more important reason, “to leave an adventurous legacy for a younger crowd, namely my soon-to-be niece.”
Cary took to the road once again this past February (2016) pedaling down the west coast. It was in March that I was lucky enough to discover him in Gualala on his way to San Francisco.
When I asked him why he was doing this, he responded:
“I’m doing this to empower everyone, especially kids, with the message that anything’s possible. I’m also always seeking to put myself in challenging situations, and into contexts in which I can learn about the world.”
He shared two great lessons gained from his journeys. The first is that of human generosity and kindness. Before his journey Cary felt jaded by humanity. But as he met people along the way and experience their kindness he no longer feels the same. Rather he expressed his gratefulness for them and for their humanity, that while initially guarded, always trumped hate and negativity.
The other lesson was an awareness of universal momentum. In his words:
Life always continues, even when your goals are not reached or are delayed or altered, as in my case. Life moves on and forces you to confront it, and progress is best made when confronting yourself, your issues, and others’ issues. Progress is also best made by moving into and out of discomfort.
When I asked what he would have done differently, he responded, “not much.” He has come to the understanding that any of his “mistakes” or frustratingly sticky situations” can cause temporary regret about certain decisions.
The idea of “mistakes” comes from having too rigid an idea of what your own future should look like, and from the lack of acceptance when it changes. All we can do is be accepting of people and our own trajectories, go in the direction our hearts pull us, and most importantly: choose to learn. We should choose to allow each and every experience in life to be an awakening one.
As a nomad, Cary lives on the road. The 27-year-old has considered starting a little nomadic family at some point. But he observes that would require some stationary years.
And as Albert Einstein said ~Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving.
Currently this nomadic cyclist is located in San Francisco to promote Luno, available through Kickstarter.com March 15 through April 15, 2016.
Depending on donation size, everything from a full-color print of one of the pages, to the book itself, to original artwork will be available.
Once the Kickstarter has begun you may click here to help support his project.
In the meantime, Cary is chronicling his adventure on Facebook: Unicycling the World.
Learn More About Cycling Sonoma Coast
Visiting Sea Ranch soon?
Will you be staying at Abalone Bay? Don’t forget to pack your bikes!
Or better yet rent them at Sea Ranch Bike Rentals-Expedition Bikes or at Sea Ranch Supply (35550 Verdant View, Sea Ranch). When you reserver your bike they will deliver it and helmet to the front door ofAbalone Bay and pick them up when your ride is completed.
Visit our Explore and Experiences Page to discover more about cycling in Sonoma, and most especially Sea Ranch
See our blog, Pedaling Back in Time for more trails and maps
Share your Stories too!
Are any of you Sonoma Coast cyclists too? Tell us about your adventures in the comments below.