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A biking book by someone who knows the way

Cyclist and writer Bill Oetinger spent two years working on his first book, “75 Classic Rides Northern California: The Best Road Biking Routes,” published this month by Mountaineers Books of Seattle.

That's not including nearly 50 years of cycling experience and two decades planning rides for the Santa Rosa Cycling Club and editing its monthly newsletter.

“I know there are other books out there about cycling in Northern California,” said Oetinger, 67, who lives outside Sebastopol with his wife, Kathy.

“But I think I have a better-than-average knowledge of the good cycling roads,” he said.

“It takes awhile to learn the back roads.”

The book, running 186 pages with 80 photos, priced at $22.95, is Oetinger's first, but he has contributed illustrations to more than 60 other books, including how-to volumes published by Sunset Books.

Oetinger estimates he has ridden about 95 of the routes covered in his new book.

“There are just a few miles where I had to make a quick run-through in the car. Scheduling didn't permit me to get out there on my bike,” he said.

“I'm a great fiend for scenery. I don't care if bad pavement is the price I have to pay to get out on some remote mountain road,” Oetinger said.

“King Ridge Road, for example, is not particularly well paved, but it's so gorgeous, I put up with that.”

When Oetinger plans a bike route, he tries to avoid roads with heavy car traffic, but has to compromise.

“You use some busy roads to get to someplace that's more desirable: for instance, heading out Mark West Springs Road, which is very busy, to get to Franz Valley Road and Knights Valley, which are much nicer,” he said.

Copperfields Books in Santa Rosa's Montgomery Village will host Oetinger's first book-signing party at 6 p.m. April 22. copperfieldsbooks.com, mountaineersbooks.org.

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