Rolling recreation - Page 2

Three carfree dog days adventures

Kelly Gregory takes to the grasslands of Merced County

Side trip: Eichenlaub swears on the Panoche Inn, a "cowboy saloon" 10 miles down the road from Mercey. Hey, what's better on a detox trip than getting wasted with the cowpokes? Of course, the place does have a website (, so it can't be too back roads.



Public transit time: 77 minutes

Total bike mileage: 27 miles

Take BART to the West Dublin-Pleasanton Station and then break out your bike for the ride down beautiful, shaded back roads to Sunol, a tiny town whose most famous inhabitant is probably Bosco, a golden retriever who was elected honorary mayor from 1981 until his death in 1994 (and was featured in a Chinese newspaper as an example of Western democracy's failings).

From there, it's a gentle hill climb up to a pair of vineyards: Westover and Chouinard. Just, ahem, don't be expecting a Napa scene. "The first time we went out there, one of the vintners was blowing his own leaves, wearing a muscle shirt," says Eichenlaub. Vino, sans pretension? Well worth the trip.

Drink your fill from the pleasant tasting rooms and — here's the beauty of this ride — roll tipsily down the sloping route to the Castro Valley Station, and home.

Side trip: If you're in the mood to make this an overnight adventure, Eichenlaub recommends taking on the extra 30 miles to the enormous Lake Del Valle, where there's kickass family campsites tucked into a bend in the shoreline, kayak rentals, and lots of sun.



Transit time: two hours Total bike journey: 50 miles

Snuggled into the Santa Cruz Mountains is an A-frame cabin with a kitchen, wood stove, and a tranquil view of the ocean you just can't find within city limits. It's operated by the Sierra Club, but non-club members (up to 14 at a time) can crash within its logs at prices starting at $20 per night. Be sure you make a reservation before you go at

To become a woodland creature, take Caltrain to the Menlo Park Station and begin riding out Sand Hill Road, toward the mountains. After about seven miles, turn onto beautiful Old La Honda Road ("car-lite and redwood-lined," says Eichenlaub) a three-mile climb to the ridge line. After summiting the hill, he recommends a pit stop at Apple Jack's in La Honda, where Ken Kesey used to kick it — "a very quirky, very local, and surprisingly friendly bar."

From there, continue west on Highway 84 until you get to Pescadero Road and then the entrance of Sam MacDonald County Park. After a few loops and a little climbing, make a left onto the Old Towne fire road (across from a park station parking lot) and navigate 1.2 miles of beautiful trail out to the hiker's hut and outdoor playtime galore. Return the same way after your stay or use your Krebs map to explore West Alpine Road for fresh scenery on the loop back. 

For more info on Post-Car Adventuring and carfree trips to Big Sur, Tassajara Hot Springs, flat routes in Marin County, and even Yosemite, go to


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