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Eat to Ride

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Naomi  The Biking Life

 by: Naomi Bloom  5/1/2007

Eat to Ride, Ride to Eat

Like an army, cyclists travel on our stomachs. To be more precise, cyclists travel on carbs, protein, vitamins and minerals. Never mind those die-hards who insist on mashing months-old Power Bars. When the bonk threatens, we can be pretty particular about what we want to eat. For manyof us, a ride is hardly worth doing if it doesn't stop at a source of good eats.

I first wrote about some of my favorite foodie rides three years ago. Now I've got a few more in mind, along with some old favorite repeats. So if you're looking for more mouth-watering stops, check out Eat to Ride.

I remember the Dim Sum rides we used to do from San Jose to San Carlos. When that restaurant closed, I fell back on my many ethnic restaurant neighbors in Cupertino. These days we ride out from here, then come back to a spot about a mile from home.

Then there's the Chicken Run, starting in Soquel down the Monterey Bay coast to Watsonville for BBQ at Hector's Bakery, across the street from the airport. Outstanding burritos, half chickens, and ribs, plus a real multi-cultural experience.

Not far away is Gizdich Apple Ranch, which gets my vote for best rest stop on the Strawberry Fields Forever century -- with its icy cold apple juice and boysenberry puff pastries. On any ride to the Ranch, you can buy apple pie, berry pie, pumpkin pie, and yummy combos. I've watched one riding buddy, Tony, devour a whole pie all by himself more than once! If you want a real lunch, they have deli sandwiches available all year round. In winter they heat apple cider on a potbelly stove and pour it for free. October and November can be really crowded. But that's when the fall colors on Hazel Dell Road, either on the way out or on the way back, are most spectacular.

When we ride around Pescadero on the San Mateo Coast, we have so many choices! Sometimes we pedal south from Pescadero to the Costanoa Resort for lunch at their restaurant or deli. They have a nice picnic area, or we sometimes carry our lunch up Highway 1 to Pigeon Point to eat while watching the waves.

Or we'll ride from Woodside or La Honda to Pescadero for lunch, stopping first at Harley Farms on North Street and Pescadero Road for some of their renowned chevre cheese. We carry that into town and pick up some garlic-artichoke bread warm from the oven at Arcangeli Grocery. Then we eat at the picnic tables in the back.

Just about any ride in Santa Cruz County can head for Gayle's Bakery in Capitola. You'll fight crowds most any day of the week but especially on weekends. Take a number, drool over your deli choices, then belly up to the counter to order. It's worth every minute of your patience! Don't forget dessert -- pies, cakes, cookies, oh my! Coffee is good too I'm told (I'm not a coffee drinker). Sit outside near your bike and bask in the Monterey Bay sunshine.

I Scream, You Scream!
There's nothing more enticing on a warm summer day than a ride to an ice cream shop. I have three favorites:
Rick's Rather Rich in Palo Alto. A long-standing institution in the little strip mall at the corner of Charleston and Middlefield roads.
Dolce Spazio in Los Gatos, on Santa Cruz Avenue. Gelato in traditional as well as inventive flavors. Try Oreogasmic!
Polar Bear Ice Cream at Cafe Violette in Capitola, on the corner of Stockton and the Esplanade, just down the Wharf Road/Portola Road hill.

Take-out for a picnic
Besides the Pescadero picnic sources, here are a few more good places to get take-out food for a bike-packed picnic:
Robert's of Woodside, at the corner of Mountain Home Road and Highway 84, has a fantastic deli counter packed with gourmet options. You can grab a ready-made sandwich or they'll make one to order for you. Plus it's the only market that almost always has my favorite Nantucket Nectar, Half & Half, on the shelf. Take your grub to the Pulgas Water Temple on Canada Road or Huddart Park, up Kings Mountain Road.

Le Boulanger, located all over the place. We often hit the one in downtown Los Altos, or in Los Gatos, right by the Main Street Plaza. You can sit inside or take out sandwiches, soups and desserts.
Andale Taqueria in Los Gatos is just around the corner from Le Boulanger, on Santa Cruz Avenue. They dish up jam-packed shrimp and veggie burritos to carry over to the Main Street Plaza. Another Los Gatos option on Sundays is to buy lunch at the Farmer's Market on the east side of the Plaza.

Irresistible bakeries
Sometimes only something sweet will do to get your legs pedaling again.
Bovine Bakery in Pt. Reyes Station. Everyone stops here when riding around Tomales Bay/Highway 1. For good reason!
Tomales Bakery offers the best in fresh baked breads, pastries and foccacia pizza.
Icing on the Cake in -- where else? -- Los Gatos again. I celebrated my birthday here with cupcakes for everyone on the ride. Wow! Sugar power all the way home!

Sit-down restaurants
Sometimes it's nice to get off the bike and sit down while someone actually brings you your meal. Here are some of my faves:
Barbara's Fish Trap in Princeton Harbor on the San Mateo Coast. Best seafood south of SF, including great crab sandwiches. Warning: It's very crowded on holidays and in good summer weather. You can get take-out from the shack on the south side of the restaurant.
La Quinta Taqueria, in Pt. Reyes Station, home of must-have tortilla soup, plus other terrific Mexican specialties. You can always hit the Bovine Bakery and/or Cowgirl Creamery for dessert.
Lulu's on the Alameda de las Pulgas in Menlo Park has outstanding fresh Mexican fare. Try the chopped salad or any burrito. There's a good choice of beers and imported sodas, but I almost always drink the house horchata (free refills!). It's a popular place and can be crowded, especially for the outdoor seating. If it looks too crowded to handle, try the Plantation Deli across the street. (It's not as good as it used to be under the former management but the sandwiches are still filling.)

Erik's Deli can also be found just about anywhere in the South Bay. The original's still in Scott's Valley at the halfway point for many a hilly loop. All of them have great sandwiches, soups, and salads.
Sweet Pea's on North Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos (there's that town again!) This deli-style place runs the gamut from sandwiches to wraps to quiches and crepes. Outside seating is preferable to inside, and it's often crowded at lunch hour. Highly recommended by ride leader Rao.

Piazza d'Angelo in downtown Mill Valley. This "family restaurant" hosts everyone from prom dates and post-religious rites of passage to sweaty cyclists in Lycra. One of the best Italian menus (including wine) I've encountered.

OK, by now you've probably figured out that my favorite dining destination is Los Gatos. In fact, I think I'll just get on my bike right now and pedal the 10 miles or so down there. Come with me and you'll probably return with your own list of edible rest stops. Bonne route to you, and bon appetit!

Naomi can be reached at naomibloom@earthlink.net

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