On May 1, 2005, a team of Wheely Cool riders participated in the Tour de Cure, organized by the American Diabetes Association. We had great weather, a fun ride, and a great time together. Thanks to the contributions of over 100 individual sponsors, our team of 9 riders was able to raise over $6,000 towards Diabetes research and advocacy. There were over 1600 riders present in Napa Valley this year, and over 100 teams formed. Our team was once again high in the fundraising ranks with our total, putting us about 17th overall. Good job, team! and thank you, sponsors!
The weather forecast called for rain showers, but all was good in the morning, with no rain clouds to speak of. In fact, as I drove up to Napa, I saw half a dozen hot air balloons higth aloft in the sky.
I arrived at registration and turned in my totals envelope. The volunteers there are always pleasantly surprised when they see my totals, because there is only a small percentage of people who hit the higher numbers in fundraising. So it felt good when the lady did a double-take at my total (over $3,000). her eyes lit up and she said "oh my goodness, you raised all that by yourself? Thank you!!"
One of the things I wanted to do this year for my own sponsors was to pay tribute to their generous efforts by placing their names on my jersey during the ride. i figured this would be a great way to draw attention to our club, our efforts, and have fun, so I set up my jersey with name tages of the 35+ sponsors who supported me. This worked out pretty well.
As I stood waiting for the team to assemble, a video crew came up to interview me because of my name tags. They were filming a promotional video to recruit people for Tour de Cure, and asked me about my name tags and my involement with the ride. I talked about our team, how much money we raised, the history of our club, and how we use the website to come together. I also explained that the names on my back are the people who support me, as in they "got my back" so they might as well be "on my back". It was corny, but it sounded good enough to put on video.
As more team members arrived, we then started to look like a real team, sporting our custom jerseys bearing the club name. And even some new jerseys which display our corporate sponsors. (Thank you, Val Vandervort and Aero Turbine) . Meanwhile, quite a few people were buzzing behind my back and taking pictures of my name tags, it was a hit! At one point, I was having trouble pinning my number on, and a volunteer came up to help me. He introduced himself and said "Oh yeah, Wheely Cool! You guys have the best jersey, it’s our favorite!". That was great to hear.
Once we were all assembled, we made a few new introductions, because several people were meeting for the first time at this event. Including one newcomer, K.T., who was a friend of a friend of Don’s, and heard that a team named "Wheely Cool" would be present, and decided to join us. This presents yet another great purpose for our unique jerseys, because K.T. had never met any of us, he could only find us by Wheely Cool name only. Thanks to Theresa Carabeo for spreading the word!
We said goodbye to Tom and Tina, who had come to ride the 10 mile course, which unfortunately wouldn’t start until later in the morning. They tell you not to leave before your designated start time, for fear that you will arrive at the rest stop before the staff does! I trust they had a as fun of a time on their ride as we did. There was a girl at the start line going over the rules with us, and her hair was dyed a bright flourescent green. It was so bright, that for a brief moment, I thought that it was a halo, and that we were being addressed by higher being, which is always nice. But alas, it was just green hair, and we were on our way.
Right off the bat, Nick, being a fairly agressive rider, set the pace for us as we negotiated traffic in the town of Yountville. The first few miles are a little hectic, with cars and stop signs at several intersections. We were warned to stop at every intersection, and if any cop caught a rider breaking laws, the whole Tour de Cure ride permit was in jeapordy. We didn’t cause any trouble.
One of the other teams we ran into a lot was the Michelob Ultra team. They had a large group, and also a flagship vehicle, complete with a cooler filled with two cases of cold beer. Not exactly the best fluids to be taking while riding, but I think they were just doing some advertising anyways.
The other warning we received from the green haired girl was to walk our bikes across the train tracks. They station a cop there to make sure everyone gets off their bikes and walk. Any violtors would be ticketed. Looking at the angle the tracks make with the road, you can see why this rule is in effect. (a bike tire contact patch is about half an inch wide)
Once riding, my name tags flew about in the wind, and got a lot of attention from other riders. I had no idea what it looked like, so I took a picture over my shoulder to find out. Dino said I looked like a porcupine on wheels. That’s cool.
We got to the first rest stop fairly quickly, almost too quickly. So quick, that we lost Steve. He kept on riding, because he was the only one to notice that the rest stop was for the 25 mile ride, and not our ride. Oops! I think we were glad to stop though, because they had free bubbles. Unlike Nick here, I chose to conserve my oxygen for the ride.
We got going again and I was feeling sluggish from the bagels and peanut butter consumed at the rest stop, so I told suggested to Kevin that he go try to catch Steve. He, Don and K.T. were up for that, and left me in the dust. I hung back and waited for Dino and Dorothy, while snapping some pictures.
We hit the next rest stop at Sterling Vineyards, and there was Steve. I gave him a hard time for missing the rest stop earlier. Wheely Cool NEVER skips an opportunity to eat! We found him eating a strange recipe.
In the picture is a volunteer lady with dyed magenta hair (what’s with the hair today?) and she happened to have with her an R/C robot as well as a flying saucer UFO. We asked her for a demo, and here’s a movie of it in action.
After the demo, we hit the road again, and we were halfway done! This part of the ride is usually where more things happen, because the road is into a headwind, and some people want to get home, while others run out of energy. Here are a couple movies of us on the road.
We had some pretty good pacelines going, and I got some good action photos. At one point, there was a challenge from Nick to set the pace really hard, and Don, Kevin, and K.T. all took turns playing cat and mouse with him. I did my turn at the front a couple times, and threw in an attack up a small hill, but it later took it’s toll on me, and I eventually got dropped from the paceline! We hooked up with a string of four guys all following one powerhouse rider, he just pulled everyone through the wind for miles, and never left the front of the line. I eventually fell way back and just rode my own, slow pace. I think I wasn’t drinking enough fluids, because I was really fatigued from all the fast paceline riding. All I could think about was the next rest stop.
My salvation came one I saw the Tiki Shack rest stop. What a great theme, although Mai Tai’s would have really made it good. Still a nice way to decorate an otherwise mundane, potty-stop. I saw the rest of the guys there, and asked them how long they’d been waiting. The answer I got was "not too long" which is the nice thing to say. The running joke we have at this rest stop (for the past two years) is to answer "an hour" thanks to Dave, from rides past. We’ll get it right next time, kids.
This next group of photos are all from behind-the-back. A technique I’ve been working on for the past couple of years. Not many people would risk holding their digital camera out behind them with one hand while riding a bike at 20mph. But how else would you know what it’s like to ride with the Wheely Cool gang?
Here’s a shot of what my jersey looked like from behind. (Thanks, Dino)
Finally the home stretch. Our whole group was together, until we hit a yellow light. Nick and Don had made the light, but the rest of us hadn’t. So we got split up, and once we got going again, we had about 4 miles to go. Just to make things intersting I tried to talk Dino into catching Nick up ahead, for a big finish. but he said he’d only do it with help. I wasn’t feeling very strong, so I coaxed Steve into pulling for Dino. After some hesitation, they took off, leaving Dorothy and I to cruise along. Dorothy was cramping up, and I myself was just plain beat, so we were happy to take it easy.
I expected to roll up to the finish and hear all kinds of tales of the final sprint, but instead, with one mile to go, we see Steve, Dino, and K.T. on the side of the road fixing a flat. Steve had gotten his usual mystery flat, and they were talking about how close they never got to Nick and Don. Meanwhile, I pumped up Steve’s tire. As soon as he re-mounted the wheel, we hear a pop and a hiss… the tire goes flat again. DOH. Ever think you’d need to carry two spare tubes? not me! luckily we each carry a spare, so Steve was in good shape. Strength in numbers as they say. How both flats occured is still a mystery.
Finally at the finish, we met up with Nick and Don. And finally, it was time to eat, and replenish our energy. It was a good lunch, and we even got to see Don’s crazy pedicure. Props to you, Don, (a heterosexual man), for letting us take this picture.
And here’s some pictures of the team, relaxing after a nice 50 mile ride.