slivka.com > Trips > California 2007 > Tue Apr-24

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Tue Apr-24 Backroads Day 3: 54.5 bike miles, Hot air balloon, Lake Hennessey, Crystal Springs, St. Helena, Bouchon
We got up 5:45 a.m. to make a 6:30 a.m. hot air balloon trip. The weather was perfect -- just slightly cool and reasonably clear -- and except for the one aborted landing the trip was very smooth. We got up to about 2,300 feet.

We took the extra options -- a loop past Lake Hennesssey and through the Pope Valley (700 foot elevation gain!), plus a route to the east of the Silverado Trail on Crystal Springs Road. We had lunch at the Model Bakery in St. Helena -- very tasty! Just after lunch Lisa got a flat in her rear tire, but a Backroads leader was there quickly to swap in a fresh tire. Then were headed south on the Silverado Trail and back to the Villagio. We rode 54.5 miles in 4.3 hours for a 12.7 mph average.

After soaking in the hot tub at the Villagio and dressing for dinner, we walked over to Bouchon, which is owned by French Laundry star Thomas Keller. We enjoyed a Krug N.V. Champagne and a surprisingly youthful 1992 Dominus Estate. The Dominus opened up exactly like a great Bordeaux, but did start to fade a bit after 45 minutes. The food at Bouchon was quite tasty, but the service was incredibly slow. Several of our fellow bikers had the same experience. So we bailed and walked back to Bistro Jeanty for dessert -- scrumptious!

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