The 30th Annual Tour of Napa was held on Sunday, August 20, and eight Spokers (Bill B., Erik L., Michael S., Jerome T., Jeremy J., David G., David F., and me) joined a sold-out crowd of 2,000. Some of us stayed at the John Muir Inn in Napa and did a bit of wine tasting on Saturday. We hosted a relaxing Happy Hour at the pool with wine and appetizers.
Sunday dawned cool and foggy as our car caravan hopped up the road from Napa to the Veteran’s Home in Yountville. We were soon on the road, a long flat stretch back toward Napa and some rollers on the way up Mt. Veeder Road. Road was not in the best shape, but the Eagle Cycling Club had done a very good job of marking potholes and broken asphalt.
The climb was long (3-4 miles?), steep in a few spots, but a steady incline. The backside was a bit white-knuckling for me with the bad pavement, but it wasn’t too bad. The shade, fog, and downhill rush kept the riders cool. Back to some rollers before the first rest stop after 30 miles. Seemed a bit long for the first stop, but given the climb up Mt. Veeder, this seemed like the best spot for it.
Quick word about the rest stops: Nothing unique about the food, but it was plentiful. I was thrilled to see red licorice ropes! At the first stop they were cutting the ropes, but at others they were giving out whole ropes. Licorice and Gummi Bears are my favorite guilty pleasures on rides. Water, Cytomax, Gatorade, and lemonade were also available. There was only water at the lunch stop at Aetna Springs when we arrived, but Gatorade soon arrived. At one of the rest stops, they had a violinist and keyboardist, wonderful to hear some live music.
Ok, back to the ride. Following the first stop, we had many miles of flat riding through neighborhoods and highways. On our way back around Lake Hennessey, I started seeing more and more California Highway Patrol cars. We had heard at the start of the ride that the CHP was going to be paying particular attention to cyclists, watching closely for those not obeying traffic rules. But one advantage of all the cops was that it may have kept motorists in check, keeping everyone on the roads that day safe.
Speaking of safety on the road, I noticed a good number of SAG wagons on the course. Happily, none of us Spokers needed their services, but nice to know the SAGs were there. On the other two centuries, I don’t remember the SAGs being so present.
On to lunch at Aetna Springs around mile 65, we finally got to catch up with the Hammer Boys, Bill and Erik!
After lunch, we hit the second major climb up Ink Grade. This seemed a bit more challenging to me than Mt. Veeder. Seemed about the same elevation grade, but longer. It was also getting warmer as the fog had given way to clear skies. And yes, a bit of that 70-mile muscle fatigue was creeping in. But up, up, up. Every corner you turn you think “Ok, this has to be the summit.” Of course, you are greeted with another hill and another curve.
On the steep descent you need to make a very sharp hairpin turn onto another road, with only a few painted arrows on the road to tell you to do so. Pretty challenging to slow from 28 MPH on a downhill to make this turn. At the turn I stopped for some water, and saw a few people miss the turn. They heard people calling for them, and the cyclists were able to get back on course. Back onto the Silverado Trail for a bit of back-tracking from the morning and back to the Veteran’s Home. We hung around for a bit for the BBQ lunch. They had a live band, and a couple of the guys took showers.
On my drive back, I got stuck in a bit of traffic leaving Napa. Hot and thirsty, I suddenly got a craving for Jamba Juice. Just then, I passed American Canyon where a new shopping center was being built. Only one business was open. Yep, Jamba Juice! “Pineapple Pleasure with a double-shot of protein, please.” The gods were smiling!
I thought the Tour of Napa was very well organized and an enjoyable event. Sign me up for 2007!