The 6th annual Tour de Fresh organized by the California Giant Foundation commenced its long journey down the California coast on Sunday. Tour de Fresh is a four-day cycling event that raises funds to benefit the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative. FreshPlaza's North America editor Marieke Hemmes is participating in the event this year and took us through the first days.
"It all kicked off on Saturday night with a welcome dinner at Gusto Handcrafted Pizza & Pasta in Seaside, near Monterey, CA," said Hemmes. "The owner, Denis Boaro, hosted us at his restaurant and sponsored the dinner and is also one of the riders at Tour de Fresh." She added that while the group were enjoying their dinner, the mechanics checked and cleaned our bikes at the hotel in preparation for commencement the next morning.
Bryan Thornton with Coosemans Atlanta and Marieke Hemmes with FreshPlaza
Challenging but beautiful first day
After the delightful welcome dinner and a good night rest, the riders left the hotel in Monterey on Sunday morning at 7:30am and headed to the start. It was a cold start and people layered up for the first part of the ride, however, Hemmes noted that once the sun rose further, it was a perfect riding day.
She said the first day of the ride was a challenging, but rewarding one. "The first stage was considered the queen stage of the ride. It was 95 miles long and included 7,800 feet of climbing. Big Sur was one of the many scenic highlights. The ride started in Carmel and we rode through beautiful scenery on Highway 1, all the way to Cambria. It was a coastal ride for pretty much the whole day and the views were stunning."
Beautiful scenery was the order of the day on Day 1 (Image: Bryan Thornton)
More than just the ride
Cindy Jewell of California Giant calls it, "Tour de Family", and this is how each rider felt. Hemmes commented, "It is one big family…riders, California Giant staff, support people. Most of this year’s 42 riders have done the Tour before and there are only a handful of newbies."
One of the riders is Bryan Thornton with Coosemans Atlanta. Thornton says the event is much more than just the ride itself, with the goal of raising much needed funds for the Salad Bars to Schools initiative high on each rider's agenda. “It’s a pleasure being part of this great organization, doing something bigger than focusing on ourselves is riding for children," he shared. "It’s not about the bikes or places we ride, it’s the people we meet along the way. The goal is to make Salad Bars in schools available to more children.”
Today, the riders have another long day in the saddle ahead. They will be riding from Morro Rock to Solvang, which is around 100 miles. If you would like to support the Tour de Fresh riders and the Salad Bars to Schools initiative, please click here to donate to the California Giant Foundation or any of the riders.