Cycling Through Napa

It seemed like a good idea at the time. After finishing off another 50 mile ride as part of the cycling merit badge program, a Scout suggested that we try something harder. “Like what?” Maybe we should try to ride 100 miles in a weekend. And off we went.

Thanks to Willy the map maker and John the Venture leader, we soon had a route that would take us through the wine country in Napa. Eight Scouts signed on to the plan, plus three adults. Everyone was stoked for the adventure, and there would be fighting amongst the adults over who got to ride and who had to drive the SAG wagon. In the end, a broken bicycle seat settled the argument.

Starting in Windsor, we worked our way up to Cloverdale along some scenic back roads. It was fun for about 15 minutes when the first Scout decided he needed a rest. Off the bikes. Back on the bikes. Off the bikes again. Then a commitment to ride for at least an hour. But the heat. OMG. The thermometer in the SAG wagon read 106 degrees! Off the bikes again.

We dragged ourselves into Cloverdale around dinnertime. The hill (mountain?) into the campsite was a killer. Everyone walked their bikes the last quarter mile. The KOA campsite was big enough for everyone to collapse into their own private space. Who is the cook for dinner? Can we go to the pool. What are we having? Steak. (Vegetarians can go to the store and buy some cheese.) What is he doing with his headband? Is it time to get into our tents yet?

Day 2 started bright and sunny. But we got up early and rode 25 miles before it got hot. Five riders took the Yellow Shirt Challenge – and agreed not to change shirts for the entire ride. (If we smell bad, then all the better.) Lunch in Calistoga was a blast because we found a shady park near the center of town, The campground at Bothe-Napa was better than the KOA, and we settled in for a nice swim, a very competitive card game, and a few large pizzas. (This is cycling – not backpacking!)

The last day was a short one – only 25 miles — and we were ready to get to the Silverado Shopping Center for some much needed A&W Diet Root Beer Floats. A quick side trip to HWY 29 to check out the gourmet shopping and then time for lunch. But wait. One rider is missing. The SAG wagon screams off to search for him, but the Scoutmaster’s phone soon rings. He is at the Silverado Shopping Center already, drinking a Jamba Juice. Where are you guys?

After collecting the missing rider and driving him back to our lunch spot, we decide to make him redo the last ten miles. Then we start off on the final leg of our cycling adventure. The wind was in our face for ten miles (much more than a gentle breeze) and the riding was hard. But everyone finished more or less on schedule. Way to go and time to celebrate. But why is the manager of Jamba Juice asking us to go outside after we order? Apparently some customers are reacting to the inevitable results of the Yellow Shirt Challenge. Not our problem. We can’t smell anything.

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