This was the 3rd year that TheOverTheHillGang would be rolling out for the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure in Napa, CA. We didn’t field a team last year due to work schedules, and it turns out it was a good thing since it rained on the day of the event.
Riding in the rain isn’t something I’m opposed to, and I’ve actually done it quite often, but you have to understand that the main premise of our Tour team is FUN. Most of our riders are not regular riders and for some, it’s a once a year event. (somewhat like a dental exam except the pain was at the opposite end of their bodies of course)
Roy’s wife got us the hookup on the hotel as she’s done in years past and this time we were at a brand new Holiday Inn Express. The hotel turned out to be a very nice surprise in American Canyon since it was brand new and had a free continental breakfast.
The pre-ride dinner though, was less than I had hoped. I called Downtown Joes Brewery in Napa which is supposed to be a good brewery with pretty good food and a nice upstairs room overlooking the river. Turns out they neglected to mention that they were undergoing renovation when I called and in addition to offering a limited menu and only having one restroom, they weren’t even brewing any of their own beers.
The food was actually pretty good, but the portions were small and they were served on paper plates. The view of the river was nice and the beer they were serving was good, but for the price it was definitely less than expected and I was still a little bitter about them not mentioning the construction when I made the reservations….
The next morning, Jim, Lynn, Tracy and Tammy were out the door and off to the start line early since Jim and Lynn were doing the Century and Tracy and Tammy wanted an early start on the 50 miler. The rest of us gathered in the lobby, enjoyed the free breakfast and moseyed on up the road to the starting line.
After registering, the 50 milers headed out among cowbells and cheers. Deb and I on the tandem, Anita, George and Karl were all doing the 25 left just behind them.
The morning was gorgeous. The weather was sunny and mild and as usual the scenery was perfect!
George and Karl took off and Deb and I, with Anita took our time and cruised along. At about mile 9 I realized Anita still had a full bottle of water and after encouraging her to drink more, found out she hadn’t quite mastered the art of drinking while riding. I apologized for my oversight, since even though I knew she was a new rider, I never even thought to ask about that.
So, as soon as the road widened, we pulled over to drink. Immediately after we pulled to the side, one of the volunteers pulled up to ask if he should call a sag wagon for us...ummm really? did we look that bad??? After telling him no, we were fine, we laughed about it and motored on.
This was to be both Deb and Anita’s longest ride ever and while Deb has done a couple of 16+ mile days, she’s been down with pneumonia for the past 3 weeks and hasn’t even sat on a bike in that time.
Things went well though. We made it to the rest area at mile 15ish, filled up on Almond butter and banana sandwiches and headed out. The loop for the Tour de Cure is like a big rectangle. Head north on Hwy 29 for a ways, turn east at one of the many roads that bisect the valley, head south on Silverado Trail, turn back west at another of the bisecting roads then head north again parallel to 29. (note, the 25 and 50 mile routes share this loop but with longer or shorter north/south legs)
This worked well for most of the ride. In the morning, there was no wind when headed north, the cross road is covered with trees, then by the time you get to Silverado there’s a nice tailwind pushing you along...it’s only as you head back west that things get interesting.
By now, there’s a nice strong breeze coming at you sideways which is a pain. And then when you make the turn to head back north, things get REALLY interesting. If you’re a new rider, as both Deb and Anita were or you just haven’t been on the bike much as some of the other riders were, you’re really not having fun at this point.
In addition to being tired and having a sore butt, you’re now at mile 21 or 46 depending on which distance you’re doing and you have 4 more miles directly into a nice solid headwind...
Eventually though we made it back to the grounds of the Veteran’s Home which is the start and finish for this ride. We called Anita’s daughter and our girls from the bottom of the hill to let them know we’d be coming through the finish line in a few minutes. Anita’s daughter was ready and waiting, our girls it turns out were still somewhere on the road to the event. (yeah, they got a late start then got lost)
As a result, we were forced to sit in the shade and relax till they got there. Pretty sure neither Anita nor Deb minded getting off the bike for a few minutes. And it was fun to sit and watch the other riders go by. It’s amazing how much attention the pepto-bike generates.
Finally the girls showed up and after saying hi they drove up the hill to get positioned to cheer us over the finish line.
All in all a really fun day and in addition to raising almost $11,000 for the Diabetes Association, it was a new personal best for many of the members on our team.
(note - due to the fact that Jim and Lynn did the 100 miler and left before and got back after us, they aren't in any of the team photos)