10 Jul 2016
Every Summer Friday is Farmers Market Day at Sierra Valley Farms in the northern end of Sierra Valley. The only on the farm Farmers Market in California is a fun and eclectic mix of vendors who provide delicious sandwiches and tasty pastries, fruit and vegetables, and local artisans showing off their unique wares. But what it does best, is provide a fun and relaxing respite from the bustle of Tahoe, and it’s just a beautiful hour’s drive north of Tahoe City.
For me, the Sierra Valley Farmer’s Market is an excuse to get on my road bike in one of the best places to ride in the region. I like to start in Sierraville, and in about 20 miles of level riding, hopefully pushed by a tail wind, arrive at the farm. The ride takes you on busy 89 to Sattley, then on A-23 it’s a straight shot to the farm. The views are of the wide open expanse of this valley with a few cows and scattered farm houses. I arrived in time to grab a delicious chicken sandwich, followed by a chocolate cookie. Then I sampled a peach, shot the bull with several vendor friends, and realized that I better leave before I ate more since there were a lot of miles still to ride.
The winding route back appears on a map to be about half the distance, but the afternoon wind do blow in the Sierra Valley. So it may seem further, especially if you ate too much of the good stuff at the market. From the farm, you take A-23 to busy Highway 70, soon enough you hit A-24, which is a lightly used and snakes it’s way peacefully through wildflowers and grasslands across the valley. A right turn on Herriot takes you on a long straight shot back to Highway 49, passing several ponds that often hold sandhill cranes and a host of smaller but equally pretty birds.
At Highway 49, a right turn will often test your meddle, as the next 10 miles on the edge of the valley do tend to face the onslaught of a headwind. It’s all part of developing an excuse to stop by tiny Smithneck Farms in Sierraville for a chocolate shake before you head back to the lake.