The drive up went well and we were ahead of schedule so we stopped at a convenience store for some milk and muffins.
The parking lot at the Veteran's Home in Yountville was teaming with cyclists of all kinds. We got a good spot and then rode up to the start area in time to enjoy a free breakfast of cereal and yogurt. We found a few other folks from our team (Scott's company's corporate team) and mingled while we waited for our check-in time. This year, for the first time in Claudia's Tour de Cure history... they had kid-sized T-shirts! That was an extra nice benefit since this was also the first time Claudia had done her own fundraising. Claudia insisted we stop by the Jelly Belly tent to pick up some schwag, including orange flavored Sport Beans... we stuck them in the trunk bag of the bike for later.
After a brief pep talk and admonision about stopping at stop signs, our group got going. Scott's work friend Jeff decided to ride with us and we started off up valley north through winding vineyard roads. We were on the look out for turkeys or other wildlife but didn't see anything except cows. Our new tandem was handling very nicely; over the last couple weeks we had ridden it just enough to get all the adjustments dialed in to absolute perfection. Many other riders shouted encouragement to us and told us what a cool bike we had.
About 10:30 we turned east to cross the Valley. We had expected it to warm up by now, but it hadn't and Claudia was getting uncomfortable so she tried to keep her hands warm by sticking them up the back of Scott's jersey. A woman rider who passed us offered to lend Claudia some gloves and a vest so that made the rest of the trip much nicer for her.
When we got to the Silverado Trail we merged with some of the faster 50 and 100 mile riders so that was kind of exciting. The road here is wide but there's not always enough room to pass slower cyclists so we lost a bit of time. Just before the rest stop though, there was a long downhill and we really cooked through that section!
The rest stop had lots of great munchies – Claudia really liked the GORP. The location was right next to a vineyard and some people were parking their bikes right up against cabernet vines... gotta love that. After about 20 minutes we were ready to leave but Jeff held back a while longer.
By now there were lots of faster riders passing us so we just got into a groove and enjoyed the scenery. All the vehicular traffic was very curteous to the cyclists and it was finally starting to warm up.
When we turned off the Silverado Trail to head west again, Claudia decided it would be a good time to have those Sport Beans so we stopped along the side of the road. It was also an opportunity to strip off the gloves and vest because it was getting a little TOO warm. Jeff passed us here and kept on going because he had to get back home for another event. This was probably the best section of the route; very little traffic, not much wind, hundreds of acres of vineyards on both sides of the road and rows of tall trees just off the shoulder.
That's where the PhotoCrazy guy was and he took this photo of us:
Now we had about 7 miles more to go. Claudia was getting a little fatigued – with this new bike she has to pedal at the same RPM as Scott and she's not used to that yet. The Sports Beans had worn off and she just soft pedaled while Dad did all the work to finish off the ride.
At the finish line there were lots of enthusiastic volunteers cheering us on and thanking us. Claudia was hoping for macaroni salad but had to settle for baked beans for lunch. The bouncy house was a nice bonus though and then a big contingent of our team posed for a corporate photo.