Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tour de Cure, Napa Valley

This was my fourth Tour de Cure, and Claudia’s second. Edgardo came up to my house at 7:30 and we all went up in my pick-up. We saw dozens of vehicles with bikes on the highway headed for Napa so the excitement started building early. Weather report said “hot” so we lathered on the SPF 50 in the parking lot.

Check-in was a breeze thanks to all the great volunteers. Claudia was an unregistered rider but they gave her a T-shirt and meal ticket anyway. First we got a lecture about obeying traffic rules and the guy said it was illegal to ride across the railroad tracks and a CHP officer there would give us a $300 fine if we didn’t get off and walk across… ridiculous misinformation like that annoys me but I decided not to argue with him. They started us off in waves of a couple dozen riders at a time but the first few miles were pretty much an unbroken line of bikes so we didn’t bother trying to pass too many of them.

There was a strong headwind as we headed north up the Saint Helena Highway and it was a little discouraging but I explained to Claudia that when we turned around on the other side we would be going really fast. Our two-headed bike is the greatest, but it doesn’t maneuver as well as a single so I generally avoided passing people when there were other bikes or traffic near us. Claudia got frustrated with the sometimes slow pace though and shouted instructions to increase our speed.

Edgardo was still with us when we turned east at Rutherford. It was a cross wind in there but partially sheltered because of all the trees. At one winding section we had a bit of a tail wind and a down hill at the same time and we got up some good speed; Edgardo said Claudia’s little cheeks were flapping from the wind drag.

We saw quite a few other folks with our corporate team jerseys including one remarkable guy from our Sacramento office who has Friedreich’s Ataxia and recently rode his tricycle recumbent across the country. Kyle's Story There was also a tandem couple with jerseys that said “Guide Dogs for the Blind” and I later realized the woman stoker was herself seeing impared. And something I’ve very rarely ever seen – a hand cycle being ridden by a guy who apparently did not have the use of his legs. There were frequent SAG vehicles that drove the course looking for people to help, and a couple of them were the official Jelly Belly cars.

At mile 13 we had our rest stop with drinks and snacks; the nut cups and oranges went really well together and they had lots of other good things too. There were hundreds of riders crammed into a pretty small area though so there weren’t many places to sit. People had parked their bikes by leaning them against grape vines or fences or trees but the wind was blowing them over. Claudia and I hung around for a long time but Edgardo took off on his own.

Now going south on the Silverado Trail we had some excellent tail wind and we hit our top speed of 33 mph. We passed dozens of riders and had lots of fun during this stretch but since we were going so fast, it didn’t last too long before we had to turn west onto Oak Knoll Avenue. It was nice and quiet back there and that’s where the Photo Crazy guy took this photo of us.

Then it was back north on the frontage road; the headwind was even stronger now though. Claudia admitted to being a little tired on this stretch but we could see the Veteran’s Home buildings on the hill from three miles away so we could gauge our effort accordingly and we finished with a feeling of accomplishment and relief.

Distance: 26.3 miles
Avg Speed: 13.1 mph
Max Speed: 33.0 mph

The Tour de Cure is a remarkable event. The amount of effort that goes into putting this ride on is astounding. My thanks go to all those who volunteered or helped organize it and to all of my sponsors for honoring me with your donations.

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