Great Western Bike Rally Wine Tour
52st Great Western Bike Rally Fun For The Whole Family
The Great Western Bike Rally is great fun for the whole family. The home base for this rally is Paso Robles, California. Paso Robles is situated in the beautiful California Central Coast Wine Country. This year the rally is being run by new managers, so it will be really exciting to see the changes.
This rally is memorial weekend, MAY 2016
There are activities for kids, families and the adventurous. The route maps for the various rides are worth the cost. Bring your bike. Whether you have a trike, tandem or touring bike you will find folks you will enjoy riding with. There are meet-ups so nobody needs to ride by themselves. There are supported rides with nutrition stations on the 100 mile and 100K. For those interested in wine tasting there is a supported ride. Supported means wine purchased on your ride will be transported back to the rally headquarters.
The Great Western Bike Rally was started by Dr. Clifford Graves father of bicycle touring. Dr. Graves an American army doctor during World War II was unable to find a racing bike made in the United States. While in France he bought one. December 16, 1944 that bicycle saved his life. He was in an ambulance, on the Belgium France border with 3 divisions of Americans, surrounded by 25 divisions of German soldiers. The driver escaped on foot and doctor escaped into the country side on his bicycle. Dr. Graves continued to ride his bicycle into the 80's. He founded the International Bicycle Touring Society, now known as Bicycle Adventure Club, along with the Great Western Bike Rally.. .
You are given a packet with all the information for the weekend at check-in. You set the pace for your family. The packet contained 25 routes. If you remembered a route from years past there was a chance that they still had copies of those routes. Three additional rides Velo de Femme ,Century, and Metric Century were a slight extra fee.(Five dollars for the Velo and Ten dollars for the century or metric century.) You received the route maps for those when you started. These rides were supported and the food at rest stops were the food you expect on a bike ride and worth the fee. Other activities include a Bicycle rodeo,Time Trials, and timed Hill Climbs for all ages from trikes to tandems. There is a prize for the most miles ridden during the weekend.
In the evenings there were activities also. Saturday night there was a wine and cheese tasting. As you tasted the local wines you could watch the, "Track Stand" contest. Track standing is when you just stand still on your bike without taking your feet off the pedals. Sunday night was the raffle and award ceremony. The people who run this rally truly love bicycling. I have never been to an award ceremony that was so unique. Even the littlest kids competed and won recognition for their riding skills.
A Must Read For The True Cyclist
Though this loosely organized event is dependent on volunteers the registration process was efficient. Different cycling clubs up and down the state contribute some of this support. Every one was expected to act responsibly and they did for the most part. The Valley Spokesmen from my area volunteer each year.
Camping And Accommodations
Camper set up at the Paso Robles fair grounds on grass though there are places for RVs without hook-ups. There are bathrooms through-out the fair grounds. Portable showers were better than some permanent showers in campgrounds where I have camped. Since, everyone is on there own time schedule there was never any line for the showers.
If you are a light sleeper bring ear plugs. US 101 is one one side of the grounds and Riverside avenue is on the other. Both have heavy traffic. Unique to this campground is the coffee golf cart. It was available by 6 am The freshly brewed coffee came from the coffee shop across the street. Two dollars for a nice medium cup of coffee delivered to your tent is great. Memorial weekend frequently has assorted weather. Even though it was chilly and windy the activities in the big hall made the evenings pleasant.
The co- organizers for rally use Black Oak for their lodging needs. Though there are other lodgings available.
100 Miles Or 100 Kilometers
The 100 mile and 100 k traveled through Passo Robles then out to the coast. The route took us through Moro Bay. Then up Highway 1 through Cambria to Old Creek Road. There was gradual continuous climbing for a few miles and a lovely downhill. That lifted every ones spirits. That was until the grade began to get steeper and steeper. This ride is the perfect training ride for the Markleeville Death Ride. Apparently this is considered by locals to be a good ride for any kind of training. When you have completed the century on the Great Western Bike Rally you really have something to be proud about. This century is for the climber in everyone. It was also incredibly beautiful.
The 100 mile and 100k were grueling. Old Creek road is legendary for it's steep grade. The shorter women's ride can be quite windy. Whether you are competing for a prize or just riding a ride this is the for you and your whole family. We took plenty of food, but for the Saturday night and Sunday that we were there we ate very little from our stores. Sunday night was a tri tip steak BBQ. The price is reasonable and the food and company very good. As we head into the winter its time to start dreaming about next season and looking at what rides you will do next year. I highly recommend The Great Western Bike Rally.
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