Memorial Day weekend of 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the Great Western Bicycle Rally being held in Paso Robles, California. This rally quite possibly could be the reason why I live in the central coast wine country now. Let’s see, probably 24 years ago I came to the Mid-State Fairgrounds in Paso Robles for my first GWBR and the rides introduced me to the area. I came for the rally 3 more times and then started coming here independently of the rally for cycling, wine tasting and boating at Lake Nacimiento.
Since I moved to Templeton about 2 months ago, I have gotten plugged into the local cycling community by joining group rides and volunteering to lead rides. Carol and Steve Fleury, owners of Best Bike Zone shop in Paso Robles, are sponsors of the GWBR, and the shop also provides mechanical support for the rally. Carol recruited me to help lead the “salsa” ride on Saturday morning. There are 3 levels for the ride – “hot”, “medium” and “mild”. They all follow the same course but at differing speeds. I volunteered to lead the medium salsa.
Here are the salsa ride leaders at the start, left to right me, Lance (hot) and Brad (mild) (look at all those gray goatees!), along with Chris, who runs the GWBR along with his wife Angie, shown in the second picture.
The route for the ride was from the fairgrounds to the hilly vineyard and agricultural areas north and east of Paso Robles. We also went up Ranchita Canyon, briefly crossing into Monterey County, over a saddle into Hog Canyon, and then back down Hog Canyon and returning to the vineyards. When I reconnoitered the route last week, the temp hit 100, but thankfully the weather gods were not breathing fire today and it stayed relatively cool. (click on any picture to see a slide show of larger images)
About 4/5 into the ride there was a SAG stop at Le Vigne winery where GWBR volunteers provided refreshments, fruit and pastries. Thank you darlings!
Back at the fairground I took the opportunity to check out some of the memorabilia for the rally, including a collection of jerseys and a staff jacket for the late Ralph Boethling, who used to run the rally along with his wife LaVerne. Note on that La Puente AYH jersey the lower left patch – looks like the GWBR was held in Solvang back in 1966. And of course, I had to buy a jersey for myself, not every year can you get a 50th anniversary edition!