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Sampling Livermore Valley by bike.

Grassy hillsides and gravelly loam first lured ranchers and wine-grape growers to the Livermore Valley a century ago. In this 10-mile-long valley 35 miles southeast of Oakland, suburbs have sprouted where pastures and vineyards once sprawled, but seven wineries and a few small ranches remain.

Biking is a good way to recapture the rural essence of this broad, flat valley, and two recently completed, level paths keep cyclists separate from traffic.

This month should bring cooler days, the bustle of wineries' fall crush activities, and fall color in the vineyards. And on October 7 and 8, the 21st Annual Livermore Festival of the Arts will be held at the Civic Center from 10 to 5. The festival offers music and dance, food booths, and art sales. Also, from 10 to 4 each Sunday through November, a farmers' market sets up at Second and K streets.

Two paths-one in town, one southwest

Take Interstate 580 to the Livermore Avenue exit. The first bike path is off this street, the second about 21/2 miles southwest of the town's center, near State 84 (Holmes Street).

The first path runs along Arroyo Mocho Creek. Park at Civic Center Park (arrive early on the festival weekend to avoid crowds), then pick up picnic supplies at stores across the street. Take off just a block southeast of Civic Center Park, where the path intersects Livermore Avenue (across the street from the entry to Concannon Vineyards).

Head southwest past a condominium development and tennis court, then across Arroyo Mocho Creek. The path winds through Robertson Park, crisscrosses a nearly dry creek bed, slips into tall groves of eucalyptus, goes behind houses, then climbs to Murrieta and Stanley boulevards. Backtrack to return for a roughly 5-mile round trip, or continue left on Stanley another 3.5 miles to Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area for swimming, fishing, and boating. Stanley is busy, but a curb protects bikers.

The second path is in Sycamore Grove Park, on Wetmore Road near Holmes Street; you'll find picnic tables and rest rooms here. The 2.5-mile path snakes through part of the valley's earliest vineyard and ranch, and one of the state's largest groves of sycamore trees.

Soon the path slides down a hill, passes through Veterans Park, and pops out at Arroyo Road across from Wente Bros. Sparkling Wine Cellars. Wente's 25-minute tours (at 10, 11, 1, 2, and 3 daily except 1, 2, and 3 Sundays) explain the traditional French methode champenoise,visit the tasting room (10 to 5 daily) or restaurant (lunch and dinner Wednesdays through Sundays, brunch Sundays).

Rent bikes (call to reserve) at Livermore Schwinn at 2133 First Street (415/4476666), or Livermore Cyclery at 2288 First Street (455-8090). Both are open roughly 9 to 5, except 10 to 4 Sundays.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Livermore Valley, California
Date:Oct 1, 1989
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