Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Riding for A Cause……

Every year, for the last 5 years, we’ve gotten a group of people together to do the Napa Valley Tour de Cure. You’ll notice I said “people” and not "riders" and this is an important distinction.
Had I used the word “riders” it would have implied that this group rides more than one time per year which for many is not the case and, gives testament to 1) how important this cause is and 2) how willing people are to suffer if they’re doing something good.

The Tour de Cure is a fund raiser bike ride that benefits the American Diabetes Association, a group that does an amazing amount of research and work to help people that are affected with this illness. This year, our team raised just over $6,000 for this important cause.

The interesting thing is that for many of the riders I talked to on the route, and for some on our team, this ride is the one time a year that they even get out on a bicycle. The Tour offers routes at 10, 25, 50, 80 and 100 miles and while just about anyone can roll out of bed and suffer 10 miles on a bike, the largest groups of riders appear to be the 25 and 50 mile groups. Riding 25 miles for someone that doesn't ride regularly is no small thing.

The ride starts in Yountville at the Veteran’s Home and does a loop north on 29 across the valley, south on the Silverado Trail, back across the valley and back up 29 to the beginning. The only difference in the routes is the cutoff across the valley determines how far north (and south) you end up going. It’s a gorgeous ride through one of California’s most beautiful valleys.

The first section winds along a narrow lane shaded by mature oaks that have been around as long as California has been a state before eventually spitting out onto Hwy 29. Hwy 29 is the main route up and down the valley and the traffic is indicative of just how popular this region is. This is probably the least pleasant part of the ride and even this is beautiful.

After heading north, my youngest daughter and I turned onto one of the many crossroads that bisect the valley. Immediately the traffic dies and we’re able to ride 2 abreast as we chat and admire the various vineyards and wineries.

Eventually we meet up with the Silverado Trail and begin our trek south. The northbound leg was in to the wind so once we’ve made the turn, the pace picks up as the wind pushes us along.

After the one rest stop on our route, we’re only doing the 25 mile loop, we’re treated to almond butter and bananas on bagels, trail mix, fresh fruit and jelly belly sport beans. Once back on the bikes we continue south for a ways, enjoying the push of the tailwind before heading back west across the valley.

It was once we’d crossed the valley that reality set in for those that hadn’t ridden much over the winter. The last 4-5 miles is back north towards Yountville and directly into an afternoon headwind. Surprisingly towards the end of this leg, I could tell my daughter was starting to suffer. She slowed way down and got quiet. The quietness was what really gave her away. She’s one of those eternally chipper and “up” personalities usually so I knew she wasn’t having fun.

The last little section of the ride is up the hill to the veteran’s home. As we got to the top of the hill I looked down at my daughter’s front tire and saw it was completely flat. She had no idea and neither did I although that could explain why she was having so much trouble on the last leg.

We did it though, rode 25 miles through one of the most beautiful areas in the state, if not the entire country….it’s a tough job but hey someone has to do it.

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