Lodi’s wineries have discovered an unexpected pairing: Wine and cycling. With several area wineries sponsoring cycling teams and hosting or co-hosting events — including winery owners working to bring the Tour of California to Lodi two years in a row — they have slowly been turning Lodi into a cycling destination.
“Cycling and wine have always gone together really well,” said Jon Tallerico, who owns Lodi’s Bike Shop with his wife, Carleen (218 W. Pine St., Lodi; (209) 625-8717, www.lodibicycleshop.com).
While road cycling was popular in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s in Lodi, he said, the sport died off until it was revived in recent years, partially through the efforts of local wineries and cycling enthusiasts. Now, cycling is enjoying a Lodi renaissance.
“Lodi has a vibrant and passionate cycling culture and is a great area for cyclists of all experience levels,” said Nancy Beckman, president and CEO of Visit Lodi!, the city’s tourism bureau (25 N. School St., Lodi; (209) 365-1195, www.visitlodi.com).
They’ve worked together with the City of Lodi, the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce, San Joaquin County and a coalition of local cyclists, shop owners and wineries to bring the sport of cycling — both road racing and more casual, family-friendly bike tourism — back to Lodi.
“(The city and county have) really worked on the roads — widening them, putting in better bike lanes, especially out in the country,” said Ashley Dovak of Downtown Bicycles (9 N. School St., Lodi; (209) 224-8504, www.downtownbicycleslodi.com). She pointed to the widening of Peltier Road, a country road that is home to several wineries, as one example.
A Warm Welcome for Cyclists
Lodi’s growth as a cycling destination has been welcomed with open arms by the two Lodi bike shops, along with plenty of residents.
City Manager Steve Schwabauer and Lodi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services lead a ride during Bike to Work Week each May. Mayor Mark Chandler is a cycling enthusiast, as is city planner Craig Hoffman, Tallerico said.
Downtown Lodi rolls out the welcome mat for the CycleFest race and 5K run each June, and the Giro D’Vino is held at Michael David Winery each November. Both races are sponsored by a number of local businesses and wineries.
For two years in a row, Lodi has hosted a stage of the Amgen Tour of California. This year, cyclists began the fifth stage of the race from Lodi.
The Lodi Sunrise Rotary Club hosts the popular Tour delle Vigne, a century ride, each May. The Delta Century is hosted by the Stockton Bicycle Club during the same month.
And in August 2015, the city and Visit Lodi! hosted a Bicycle Summit to discuss how Lodi can better serve cyclists of all levels who want to come see what the city has to offer.
Take a Ride
On afternoons from the spring to the fall, cyclists can be spotted riding around Lodi on colorful beach cruisers, especially in Downtown Lodi and around Lodi Lake and Micke Grove Regional Park.
Dedicated cyclists can also be spotted out on the country roads surrounding the town, whether on long exercise-themed rides or cycling from winery to winery to sample their wares.
“Novices will appreciate the many gentle routes on flat country roads lined with scenic vineyards, orchards and tranquil pastures, while experts appreciate the challenge of the longer rides up through the Sierra Foothills,” Beckman said.
Visit Lodi! has created a Bike Lodi pamphlet that can be found at their Downtown Lodi location, and at Downtown Bicycles. It features a number of routes that can also be downloaded directly from VisitLodi.com to cyclists’ GPS devices.
Most of the routes, which feature a variety of lengths and difficulty levels, begin and end at the Lodi Arch.
“The response to the new Lodi bike routes has been phenomenal. Within six weeks of launching the digital routes, we had over 787 cycling page views,” Beckman said.
Both Downtown Lodi bicycle shops can connect cyclists to rides of all lengths — including weekly rides and favorite routes out to Lockeford, the Delta and the Sierra foothills — as well as rent road bikes and beach cruisers to those who want to enjoy a ride, but don’t want to haul their own equipment to Lodi.
In addition, the Chamber of Commerce sponsors bike valets during favorite Lodi events like the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market, a street faire held each Thursday throughout the summer.
Cycling shop owners like Tallerico are enthusiastic about this new interest in the sport.
“The synergy is definitely there,” he said. “There’s a bright future for Lodi cycling.”