On Sunday, Velodiva and I rode our tandem in the Tour of Napa Ride sponsored by the Eagle Cycling Club. Eagle did a great job organizing and executing the event. This ride featured a 100 mile, 65 mile and 30 mile rides. This year, we rode the 65 mile route and last year, the 30 mile loop. We arrived at 8:15AM to check in and the temperature was 62 degrees and bright sunshine which was in sharp contrast to last year, when it was 53 degrees and foggy. The check in was fast and smooth compared to the Marin ride we did a couple of weeks ago.
We left the start and headed into downtown Yountville. Yountville is a quaint town with 5 stop signs that must be negotiated. It is mandatory to stop the bike at each stop sign to zero speed stop before proceeding. At the first stop sign, there is a police officer who looks like he stared in Smokey and the Bandit with his citation book in hand. At each succeeding stop, there is a person with a sign saying bikes must come to a complete stop. Not a problem…we stopped at each one. I think it is great and whatever it takes to get the permit to hold the ride is fine with us.
After leaving Yountville, we were treated to some very nice flat roads meandering through the vineyards. On this ride, I was determined to keep my HR below 130 for the first 45 minutes to get a good warm up which is in sharp contrast to Marin, where we had to immediately climb. We cruised along some back roads and traveled along Highway 29 past Opus One winery (one of our favorites) until we came to the junction where the 100 mile route converged with the 65 mile. As we turned onto Highway 128, there was a peloton of yellow jersey cyclists approaching. We made the turn ahead of them. We arrived at the first rest stop at the same time as this group which turned out to be riders from the Benicia Bike Club.
Cruising along the countryside.
The rest stop was well appointed with food, water and even a piano and violin duet playing classical music. I have become fond of eating boiled red potatoes with salt on these rides. The potatoes and salt are a nice combination and seem to agree with me.
Here is a pic of first rest stop with the Benicia gang.
After leaving the rest stop the road pitched up and we climbed for the next several miles and traveled through Pope Valley. There were very few cars and beautiful scenery. This lasted for about 20 miles. We pulled into the next rest stop for more red potatoes, other goodies and water. At this rest stop, we met another bike forum member, Smooooth, and his significant other. We were on our way out as they came in.
After the rest stop, we came to the first major climb of the route called the Ink Grade. This is a 4 mile climb with several false flats and some steep 8 – 15 grades. If seems to go on forever but is set in the trees with interesting curves and switchbacks. There was a lot of carnage on the hill. Riders were walking the bike, a couple of minor accidents and there was a woman coaching her husband (they were off the bikes standing in the middle of the road) on his breathing saying “breathe, breathe deeper, in and out and etc – hopefully, nothing serious. We stayed in our granny gear and spun up grade at 70 – 80 rpm. Occasionally, we stood but it was not big deal.
Picture at the top of the climb prior to descent.
Riders starting the 5 mile descent into the valley.
We descended the long hill and off to the right were some of the most beautiful views of Napa I have seen. It was not possible to take a pic but it would not have been the same without the speed and three dimensions.
After the descent, we went along the Silverado Trail Road to the last rest stop. After refueling, we returned to the main road for a fast run back to Yountville and those 5 stop signs. It was a great ride and the weather was beautiful.
Lunch at the finish.
Ride metrics from Motion Based with data provided by our Garmin.
Google Earth with route overlays.