About a year ago, my friend Sean living in the Bay Area started asking me questions about getting a new bike.
I imparted as much knowledge I had in my hands(little), but over time the conversation ebbed to the point where I just guessed he didn’t get a bike.
Fast forward to last week when he posted on Facebook a photo of the bike he just won in a raffle.
Not only did he come away with a pretty decent starter, but they also threw in all the gear you would need starting from scratch, like a helmet, shoes, kit, etc.
He also came away with a free entry into the Tour de Fox, so while in Rome…
Since this was his first real ride, we entered the shortest distance with a little more than 30 miles and around 1,000 feet of climbing.
Not quite the Tour de Fred
Showing up, you could tell this was more of a novice element to the ride as there was a collection of people wearing loosely fitted jerseys and relaxed geometry bikes.
Then again, I was the only person riding with a front rack, so who am I to speak?
Before the ride, I gave Sean a few pointers and most importantly made sure he loaded Strava onto his phone.
We said our goodbyes to our significant others as I prayed there wasn’t a Nordstrom’s Rack nearby.
People thought Sean was a VIP or a J Fox because he got the number 2.
There were about a couple hundred as we set off from the Kendall Jackson Winery and instantly I knew Sean could keep a pretty decent pace.
It took a few miles to rid us completely of any urban characteristics, but once we got past the airport, it was pure country.
While the terrain was quaint and full of rollers, I got the feeling from the few passing cars that if the roadway wasn’t full of cyclists, drivers would be more prone to zipping by.
“I’m not drinking any stinkin’ merlot!”
Passing by winery after winery, Sean shared some local insight and spoke to how some growers are ruining their land by not practicing agricultural diversity. Well put.
Riding across the Wohler Bridge was a picturesque moment, although reading afterwards about its structural integrity made me glad we kept rolling.
I never saw Bridges of Madison County. This is probably the closest I’ll get.
At mile 12, we hit this ride’s only rest stop, but we chose to keep on.
With the ride this short and temperatures this low, I only went through one bottle the whole ride anyways.
I’ve always wanted to go deep into these hills, but the ride mostly navigated just along its edge except a small stretch which was the ride’s biggest “climb”.
This was the most memorable portion of the ride as the redwoods formed almost a gateway into heaven if you believe in that sort of stuff.
It’s a stairway to something…
The first half of the ride really breezed by and I was pretty sure we’d beat our estimated time.
We started our loop back along the 101 freeway when for the first time in my life I set foot in Healdsburg, a town I’ve known because of a certain brewery.
The town was incorporated in 1867 and there were many 19th century vestiges as we rolled through.
As we exited the town, we crossed the Russian River again over another nearly century old bridge, but this one was recently retrofitted so huzzah!
We then had about another five miles of ruralness until the last few miles which became a bit office parky.
Sean was still feeling pretty spicy, so we started passing one rider after another.
Sean looking pretty sweat free 30 miles deep.
I texted my wife when we were about five minutes away, so about twenty minutes later they met us after they emerged from a wine tasting.
Since most of the other riders were still out on the course doing the longer rides, we had first pickings at the finish line festival.
We each got our own oversized flags for finishing!
There was a pretty decent selection of free food, but they doled out small portions, so a number of people continued back for seconds, thirds, etc…
We also got three drink tickets each but it was too early to start the day off like this, so we each had just a glass.
Enough time had passed that we gave up waiting to see if Michael J Fox was going to show, so we finally left.
Tour de Fox was a fun ride, but I definitely felt like I left something on the table not going deep into the hills.
It was fun and well organized enough that maybe next year will be the time I finally take that adventure.