Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Tour de Cure for Diabetes, Napa Valley - 100 miles May 1, 2005

Mark P, Adam, and I made the trip up to Yountville together in my car. The weatherman forecasted scattered showers but the early morning skies were blue and clear and dotted with hot air balloons over the Valley floor.

We got to the start right on time and as we were unloading my car a guy came by begging for a tube – he had a flat tire and no spare at the beginning of a 100 mile ride, so if he didn’t get a tube he couldn’t even start. Adam and I both had two spares so we figured it was safe to give him a tube. Adam handed one over and the guy tried to pay him but we told him to “pay it forward”.

After check in we got a brief pep talk, thanking us for our fundraising efforts and then we were off at 7:05AM. There was the usual sorting out of the big bunch and we did some camaraderie riding with the other Team BC riders (at least 7 of us were doing the full century), but as we reached the north end of town, Adam said it was time to get serious so we put our heads down and worked it. Mark stayed back and looked for the pace he could maintain for a hundred miles - we didn't see him again.

We blew past the first rest stop at mile 10.

We caught and passed little groups of riders as we smoked our way up the west side of the Valley. We wondered how all these slower riders got so far ahead of us and figured they must have started early. We kept hearing rumors that there was a pack of hammerheads up front and we were hoping to catch them but we never did.

At the north end of the Valley there was a 1.5 mile climb and at the top is the Sonoma County line – with a sign and everything. I launched my sprint too early and Adam beat me by about 20 bike lengths.

There was a rest stop on the other side of the hill, then a 25 mile loop around Geyserville. We got into some excellent groups in here and we were riding FAST. I started to get some leg cramps though so I was careful not to push too hard since we still had 40 miles to go after we came back over the climb. Back at the same rest stop, we had covered 55 miles and it was only 10AM.

Then we hooked up with Diego. Diego was a friendly guy from Uruguay and he was dressed in a full Team Quickstep-Davitamon outfit including the gloves – could have been Tom Boonen himself. He rode some nice paceline but his pulls were shorter and slower than mine or Adam’s. As three though, we were faster than two so we kept him until we passed a slightly slower group and then he stayed with them. It was starting to get really warm.

We were coming down the east side of the Valley now and it was getting pretty windy and even warmer. At mile 88 there was a final rest stop that we could have skipped but we decided to top off our water bottles there. On the way out we caught a big group of pretty fast riders and I figured we’d just sit in with these guys for another 20 minutes and we’d be done. But Adam decided he wanted to be in the front of the group and when he moved up the outside some other guys thought he was making a move so they went after him and then Adam responded by counter attacking and then there were two groups and a big gap and I was in last wheel. So I unleashed my ponies, showed the back bunch a clean pair of heels and bridged up to the fast boys. This group was doing 28mph and after a couple miles I knew I couldn’t hold on any longer so I dropped back and Adam did too… just to keep me company.

At mile 96 the PhotoCrazy guy took this shot of us:

At the finish there were volunteers clapping and cheering for the riders and a nice apr├Ęs ride lunch. And yes! I met my very ambitious goal of a 5 hour (ride time) century! We finished about 5 minutes before 1 o’clock and met up with some other Team BC members that were on the shorter rides and posed for some marketing photos like this one:

So thank you to all my supporters, and best wishes to all of you who told me of your personal experience with diabetic friends and family. This ride was a lot of fun, but I never forgot its purpose or who made it possible.


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