This past weekend was a gift from the cycling gods, Ibis and Orbea, sunny days with mild mornings that coaxed riders out in force.

And it probably was last strenuous training for many riding in the Levi Leipheimer King Ridge GranFondo, a mass start of 7,500 cyclists on a ride to the coast and back on Saturday, Oct. 1.

“It was nice weather, getting close to the fondo and a lot of people were just feeling good,” said Bill Oetinger, the Santa Rosa Cycling Club ride director.

Next weekend will be just as pleasant for riding, with no signs of any storm systems on the horizon, according to the National Weather Service.

Oetinger said the club had four rides, which drew some 80 riders, a good turnout.

In Occidental, there were more riders than Gary Helfrich, executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, remembers except during organized events.

“It was clumps of dozens, and it wasn’t as though here is a bunch of buddies riding together and going out for hard core, these were different clusters,” Helfrich said.

“The Joe Rodota Trail was also packed this weekend and this has nothing to do with the fondo. Maybe it is that we are getting to the end of the season,” Helfrich said.

Brett Gave, owner of the Trek cycling shop in downtown Santa Rosa, said he had a group of 12 riders Sunday, which he said is unusual this late in the year. They probably were training for the fondo, he said.

“It went to Coleman Valley Road, the worst part of the medio fondo,” Gave said.

My group of four on Saturday rode Geysers Road loop from the the Jimtown side and dropping down into Cloverdale. We must have encountered 50 cyclists, instead of the usual three or four.

Some were part of a Santa Rosa Cycling Club organized ride coming up from the Cloverdale side and more than one wished us a safe descent.

The road from The Geysers into Cloverdale is downhill and a lesson in bike skills with potholes and gravel sections that had all of us at one time or another fighting to stay upright.

Our 52-mile route had 3,400 feet of climbing, jaw-dropping views of the Alexander Valley, and a run through a gorgeous canyon that follows Big Sulphur Creek where there are rusted remnants of an old mining operation clinging to a steep hillside and a century-old single-lane bridge.

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or