As April’s wildflowers fade with May’s sunshine, California is opening up cautiously and slowly. Perhaps it’s time to get out and explore new regions, places near to home from the saddle of the bike. To this end here are some highlights of a forgotten or never known area with bike riding for everyone in the family. Take time to experience this scenic and fun downtown, or take a roll along beautiful, rolling country roads — what better way to celebrate the warming weather by enjoying the riding on roads you have yet to experience?
Ready for a day trip? Get out and ride!
Old Growth Vines
For this exercise, we explore one of Northern California’s less well-known wine regions: The area around Lodi. Located on the Mokelumne River, Lodi has for much of its history been a grape growing region, and with that, a player in the wine-making industry.
The region is known for its old-growth vine Zinfandel — Lodi calls itself the Zinfandel Capital of the World — and produces about 40 percent of California’s premium Zinfandel grapes. Interestingly, many of the older vines are untrellised so that they grow free like trees.
The area also produces Spanish, Italian, German and Rhone-Style varietals, as well.
As befits a California wine region of significant stature, some of the loveliest rides around Lodi involve experiencing the local wines. Visitlodi.com offers several road bike rides around the area with names such as Three Wineries and a Cafe, North-South Figure 8 with Winery Stops, or Bird Watching, Wine Tasting & Lunch. Cyclists can also experience the natural wonders of the region on the Blossom Road Loop with the Cosumnes River Preserve, a 36.4 mile ride favored by local bikers.
The Cosumnes River Preserve has acres of wetlands and adjacent uplands with habitat for native species. Once you get to the preserve you will have to park and lock your bike and proceed on foot.
If you have small children, the Lodi Lake Family Fun Ride might be just the ticket. The ride is 5 miles around Lake Lodi and the Mokelumne River. Need more activities? Stop and explore the World of Wonders Science Museum or, in warm weather, take a kayak or pedal boat jaunt on the lake.
Pair these outdoor activities with a stop at Segale’s Double Dip Gallery on West Pine St. and you have a sweet family outing! This ice cream shop also boasts an art gallery to go with that butter brickle ice cream you ordered. Come for the sweets, stay for the water colors!
Longer Country Ride
For those who prefer more mileage in the saddle, a 40-mile Country Road Ride loops into Galt and rolls by the towns of Woodbridge and Thornton. Note that these country roads around Lodi and the surrounding areas generally have no bike lanes and/or very small to no shoulders. Light traffic doesn’t mean no traffic, so plan accordingly and use common sense as you set out on your ride.
You’ll find more ride routes, events, at Visitlodi.com
Lodi’s iconic 100-year-old arch over Pine St. is one of few remaining mission revival ceremonial arches left in California. According to the lodi.gov website, the purpose of the arch was to create a formal, fancy entrance to the grounds of the Tokay Carnival, the first Lodi Grape Festival. (The 2020 festival was canceled, but organizers have tentatively scheduled this year’s festival for September 16-19.)
Mission Arch Fun facts
1907: Built the year after Lodi became a city.
1910: A California Grizzly bear facing south added to the top of the arch.
1956: Reconstructed and the bear turned so it faced north toward the Capitol City, Sacramento.
2001: Rededicated and the bear was given a 23-karat gold leaf finish.