Last summer, we traveled down to Lodi, California, to speak at their first-ever bike summit. Their goal was to bring the community together to take stock of the riding opportunities that already existed, to highlight the missing connections, and to build the area into a destination for bike travelers. At the time, we were impressed by the conversations that were taking place and the number of dedicated people who were involved – and that summit led to the formation of a community group who committed to keeping the bike tourism ball rolling.

Over the past year, we have continued to be impressed, as we have followed their progress from afar. They created and vetted a collection of quality road rides that vary in difficulty and experience. They built out a cycling-specific page on the Visit Lodi website, complete with GPS tracks of their routes. And they designed a beautiful and informative brochure that features some of the best of their routes (which we have since heard to be the most popular piece of information at the visitor center).

So when Visit Lodi invited us back this past weekend for a sort of press tour, we jumped at the chance to see their bike tourism progress in person (and, of course, drink some delicious wines).

In thinking about how we wanted to travel down to Lodi, we decided to hop aboard Amtrak. Lodi is blessed with its very own train station (along the San Joaquin line), which meant that we could travel almost door-to-door without the hassle of flying or renting a car.

We also decided to not take our own bikes, which was a bit different for us. You can take a bike on both the Coast Starlight and San Joaquin trains (the San Joaquin actually has roll-on service, and if you take the bus instead of the train, you can put your unboxed bike in the luggage hold of the bus) – but we knew that we could rent good-quality bikes in town, and it further simplified the travel logistics.

We tumbled off the train in downtown Lodi at roughly 7am on Friday morning, a bit bleary-eyed from the early morning wake-up. It was obviously too early to pick up our rental bikes, so we went in search of breakfast. At the diner, our server was surprised to learn that we weren’t eating before traveling somewhere exotic, but rather that Lodi was our destination – and it proved to be somewhat of a theme, that Lodi is an unexpectedly great place to visit.

Fueled up from piles of eggs and potatoes and breakfast carnitas, we walked to Downtown Bicycles, where Kenny and Ashley got us all set up on two beautifully-spec’d road bikes. Downtown Bicycles is the second incarnation of their shop, which they recently moved into downtown. It’s a comfortable and inviting space, and they do a brisk business in both road bikes and cruiser bikes.

With wheels acquired for the weekend, we set off for Lodi Lake. Lodi may be surrounded by agricultural fields, but it’s also nestled along the slow and winding Mokelumne River, a piece of which was converted into Lodi Lake many years ago. At Lodi Lake, you can find a beach for swimming, a boathouse for renting and launching kayaks and paddle boards, trails that wind most of the way around, and bank access to fish for bass and bluegill. The fish didn’t want us to catch them that day, but we did enjoy a nap beneath the shady trees before finally checking in to our hotel.

On Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early for the Breakfast Burrito Ride. The original itinerary for the day included an afternoon wine-tasting ride. But when the forecast for the day promised temperatures over 100 degrees, we all agreed that a morning ride sounded much more appealing. And the new route was a perfect way to start the day.

We rambled through the countryside right outside of town, taking in views of vineyards and cherry orchards. We followed quiet roads with minimal traffic, allowing us to pedal at a social pace and chat amongst ourselves. At the end of loop, we rolled back into the edge of town and into the parking lot of the La Campana tortilla factory. It’s one of those unexpected locations, where you order at a simple counter and everything is take-out, but the burritos absolutely lived up to the hype.

After devouring our meaty goodness in a nearby park, we all set off for part two of our active morning: kayaking on Lodi Lake. Neither Russ nor I had ever kayaked before, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try something new. Especially since there was a tandem kayak that would allow Russ to fish while I paddled.

As it turns out, the Mokelumne River is an excellent place to try kayaking for the first time. It’s a lazy river, without much motorboat traffic these days, so we didn’t have to overcome any strong currents or big wakes, and we were able to just ease into a rhythm and enjoy the beautiful day. (Although, Russ still didn’t manage to pull out any bass.)

As we wrapped up the active portion of the day, our legs tired from cycling and our arms tired from paddling, we felt we had earned a decadent afternoon full of wine tasting. We stopped at three different wineries, each one with a different specialty and a different feel to their tasting rooms.

Beyond the fact that they produce some of our favorite wines, what we love about Lodi wineries is that they’re friendly and accessible – which makes them easy to visit if you’re just learning about wine or simply want to taste great wines without any pretension (or if you’re stumbling in off a bike).

One tasting rolled into another, then another, each with a delightful food pairing and stories about the wineries. Before we knew it, we had moved on to dinner, a stunning and delicious event at Oak Farm Vineyards.

Our last day in Lodi turned into a lazy bit of last exploration, thanks to the sweltering 102-degree heat. We returned to Lodi Lake to hunt for bass again and nap under the big trees. We poked around downtown, stopping in at the cheese shop and the coffee shop, before indulging in some craft beers and exploring the food truck festival in a nearby park.

All in all, it was a great visit, and we loved the opportunity to see how much the community has done to enhance and encourage cycling. In fact, as we waited for Downtown Bicycles to open on Friday morning, we chatted with two women who happened to roll up at the same time. Unprovoked, they gushed about the cycling, and gave us great intel on how to get around (by bike) to their favorite restaurants and wineries.

We think Lodi is well on its way to offering a great balance of outdoor recreation and epicurean indulgence, and we’re excited to see what comes next, as the community continues to promote bike tourism in the area.

To watch the rest of our Micro Episodes about our Lodi trip, visit our YouTube Channel.