Napping through Napa Valley

January 13, 2021
34.34 miles
Silverado Trail

I took Tuesday as a rest day and just did some easy, aimless riding around town. I ended up at Santa Clara University, which is about 8 miles away, for perspective. I’ve found that pretty much every road in the Bay Area is either very bicycle-friendly or has a bike lane (or both!), except for the major highways, of course.

Wednesday was my last day with the rental bike. (I might go for another week before I head back to school, but I should definitely at least take a proper rest first.1) I wanted to experience some more iconic California scenery, so I headed up north to the Napa Valley, the famous winemaking region of the state. After snooping around online, I settled on riding the Silverado Trail, a very flat road with a “bike lane” (really just a generous shoulder) that passes through several vineyards.

Being nineteen years old, I naturally cannot actually enjoy the wine, so I just toured around on my bicycle. Actually, even if I were of age, I still could not drink the wine. Remember, folks: bicycles have full status as vehicles on the roads. If you wouldn’t drink and drive, don’t drink and ride!2

As an aside, maybe this is because I’m exceedingly Chinese3, but when I think of “Napa,” honestly the first thing that comes to mind is not wine, but Napa cabbage, a Chinese vegetable. It’s cheap, nutritious, shelf-stable in the fridge, and easy to make, which in my opinion makes it ideal college student food.

The Napa region honestly wasn’t as pretty as I had imagined, but that’s probably because most of the ride happened during a gray winter morning. I imagine that on a sunny afternoon when the grapes are in season, the area must have quite the rustic charm. As it stood, most of the racks for growing grapes were barren. According to my uncle, the recent California wildfires have also taken a bit of a toll on some of the vineyards, although I didn’t see any visible signs of fire damage.

Bicycle in front of fence and vineyard Bicycle resting against a stick in front of vineyard Bicycle against sign post in front of vineyard
I see many growing stick things, but no grapes. Honestly, lining up valves for bike pictures is so overrated. (full resolution: left, center, right)

I did see lots of other cyclists. Interestingly, they were all headed in the opposite direction when I passed them. Perhaps this makes sense, since the relative velocity between me and another cyclist riding in the same direction is probably not that great, so it’s unlikely that either of us would pass the other.

A point of interest: I ended up pulling an all-nighter4 the night before the ride. This is unfortunately not the first time I’ve done this, but it is the first time I’ve done this while also driving somewhere. Because of this, I was kind of sleepy when I was driving back from Napa Valley; of course, this is extremely dangerous. I had to pull over to the side of the road to drink some water and eat a Clif Bar (mainly for the sugar content) before I felt that I was alert enough to safely proceed with driving home.

  1. On Wednesday, I did a 10k workout run. I’m definitely less fit than I was during the summer, but I could also really feel the impact of a week of straight cycling on my legs; I ran a rather slow time.↩︎

  2. That being said, I’ve never heard of anyone getting a DUI on a bicycle.↩︎

  3. Sorry, inside joke from middle school and high school.↩︎

  4. At this point, being an SCS student, all-nighters are a fairly unremarkable event.↩︎