This past weekened more than 1,000 cyclists participated in the Northern California Chapter of the National MS Society’s 22nd Annual MS 150 Waves to Wine Bike Tour sponsored by Dry Creek Vineyard and Pyramid Alehouse. The two-day, fully supported cycling event offers one of the most beautiful routes in the country and is the single largest multiple sclerosis fundraiser in Northern California. The tour took riders on a tour of the Napa and Sonoma County wine country and provided cyclists with breathtaking views of the Pacific Coast before the excursion culminates in Petaluma.
The Team I rode this event as a member of the Best Dam Bike Team. Led by my sister-in-law, Sheryl Keeme who is the Vice President for the Arizona Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Along with Sheryl, I rode with my brother, Al Keeme, Maureen Kempton, Jason Creed and Fred Fathe, all fellow Arizona cyclists. Aside from the beautiful scenery the must cooler temperature was a welcome change from the normal Arizona heat back home. The Route – Day 1 The basic MS 150 route covers 75 miles each day. However, cyclists have the option of cycling to the lunch stop on both days, a distance of about 35 miles. There was also a 100 mile course option on Saturday. All cyclists start in Napa and head north along the world-renowned Silverado Trail. Breaking for lunch in Calistoga, cyclists then head into Sonoma County through the captivating Alexander Valley and Chalk Hill wine regions, en route to the overnight location in Santa Rosa. Riders had the option of camping free of charge or taking a shuttle bus to an area hotel. After the ride we were all happy to be staying in a nice warm and cozy hotel. The Route – Day 2
The route for this year’s event is comparable to (and no more difficult than) those in prior years. Saturday’s route is virtually flat for the first thirty-five miles (the short course up the Silverado Trail), and the climbs on the 75 mile route (Highway 128 out of Calistoga and Chalk Hill Road into Santa Rosa) have been part of the course in years past. Sunday’s route is, in large measure, identical to the Saturday route in previous years, and the short course along the coast is flat to downhill (and stunningly beautiful) with some rolling hills through beautiful Chileno Valley).
The elevation profiles and elevation gain totals generated by the mapping software may make the climbing seem pretty daunting, because the graphic profile compresses 75 miles into a few inches. In reality, the hill “spikes” you see on the elevation profile are very ridable moderate hills. When compared to other organized events such as the Marin Century, the Wine Country Century, or the Tour of the Napa Valley, Waves to Wine is, overall, less challenging. If you feel up to riding 35 or 75 miles in a day, Waves to Wine should be quite pleasant and doable. This doesn’t mean that there is no climbing…what would a ride in Northern California be without a few hills? Just remember, for every uphill, there is a downhill.
Off the bike
I started my trip stuck at the aiport on Friday night (that’s another story in itself) and didn’t arrive into Santa Rosa until 1 AM on Saturday morning. The 4 1/2 hours of sleep was a great little nap before I started the ride on Saturday. The other members on my team were smart enough to arrive a day or two before and had ample time to tour a few wineries and attend a few tastings as well. Like any MS150 ride there is plenty of other cyclists to ride with however we all did appreciate how better organized the Arizona ride is in comparison.
Saturday evening we all got together for a light hearted meal with fun spirited conversation. All capped off by a 20+ mile car ride trying to find the darn Cold Stone Creamery…which was ultimately worth it. So we had a great time much in part to the great company, the cooler weather and the beautiful scenery. Now that we’re no longer rookies to the ride and router we’re already looking ahead to participating in the event for 2007 and welcome anyone to come ride with us.