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  • Writer's pictureJeanne Marie

Off to Napa, Sunday, August 21, 2022

Updated: Sep 25, 2022

We hired a taxi service from our hotel in San Francisco to our meeting place, Kennedy Park in Napa. We were scheduled to meet at 10 am. Before we left home, Mark had determined that it would take about 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive to Napa, so we booked the car for 8 am. The driver arrived at 7:45 am and the ride only took about an hour. So we were a tad early. Luckily, the Backroads van was in the parking lot, so at least we were in the right spot. Being there an hour early, gave us a chance to meet two of the three leaders and get our bikes adjusted. Mark doesn't like the standard bike pedal cages that come with the bikes and I hate the bike seat. Therefore, we bring our own equipment

At 10 am, when everyone else arrived, the three leaders presented an overview of the week and discussed Day 1 and safety concerns. This is a much smaller group that our trip to Yellowstone. Counting ourselves, there are 10 bikers of which 6 are using e-bikes. To the left, is the drawing of our route for the day. Each day, they would draw the day's map on the window of the van!

The morning ride from Napa to Yountville consisted of bike trails and some roads, but it was mostly flat. There was a small climb as we made our way into town, but it was followed by a steep downhill. We ate lunch at Ottimo, a local winery/restaurant in Yountville. Their specialty is pizza. There was another woman who was gluten intolerant, so they said they would make us something different. We expected gluten-free pizza, but no, we were each served a half of a roasted chicken. It was a lot of food and I shared it with Mark. I prefer not to eat too much for lunch when I have to ride another 20-plus miles. Below are some of the pictures as we entered the restaurant. Although, Yountville is rather small (3400 residents), it is well known for its two famous French restaurants, The French Laundry and Bouchon Bakery. As we rode by the bakery, there was a lengthy line out the door.

The afternoon ride was 23 miles mostly on the Silverado Trail (highway) with a wide shoulder. When the shoulder shrunk down, we needed to ride on the highway itself. There was a 1087-foot elevation gain, but mostly at the end of the afternoon.

We were staying at the resort, the Hotel Solage. The town of Calistoga is well-known for its bubbling natural hot springs. At the resort, there are three geothermal pools ranging in temperatures from icy cold to a comforting 98 degrees to a soothing 103 degrees. After a quick shower, we walked over to the pools to try them out. We tried all of the pools, but I did not want to jump into the icy cold pool. Mark did try it out and said it was fine as soon as he got used to it. Below is a photo of one of the pools taken from the website. When we were there, they were not empty.

Before dinner, we met with our tour leaders and other cyclists for some rose wine and bocce. Mark and I showed some of the others how the game works, but lost! This was a chance to get to know the other guests a little better. Dinner was at two times, 7 or 7:30 and they could only seat 7 guests at a time. We ended up with the later time. It was a delicious meal and I was able to have risotto, with fresh tomatoes, basil, and parmesan crisps. Early evening - breakfast at 7 am.

Mark's map from his Garmin watch. The morning was 14.7 miles with 244 feet of elevation gain. Afternoon (starting at Yountville) was 23 miles with 1,087 feet of elevation gain.

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