SOLVANG, CA – Day two started before the crack of dawn as riders loaded up their bags and their bikes to get back in the saddle. No easy feat after finishing nearly 100 miles in said saddle less than 24 hours before. But sitting at breakfast watching everyone exchange stories about soreness, as well as catch up on family, kids, and life in between tours, the energy level was contagious.
By the time we were in the vans on the way to the starting point at Morro Rock, riders were singing song ideas for anthems that would get them through an 85 mile day, albeit smoother and shorter than the Sunday Funday they just experienced.
“I’ve supported riders in the past but getting to see and experience it from this side has been really great, it’s definitely different from what I imagined,” Tom Smith, Director of Foodservice, says between stops. “I feel like I know everyone I see in one form or another through various forms of the business, and they are all doing so well.”
The Tour de Fresh prides itself not only on being a unique event to invest and raise awareness for the next generation’s access to fresh produce, but also being an event that anyone in the industry can be a part of. The riders this year have proven that there is a group for anyone’s riding level, staying together and aiding each other along the California coast in true “Tour de Family” fashion, but there is so much more to it than that.
We have two first-time drivers that joined the team of vehicles ensuring those riders can commute as safely as possible, keeping traffic at bay, providing water and supplies, taking unneeded items, or even just giving a boost.
Sponsors in the past have provided much needed “Feed Zones” where cyclists break on the route to refuel and rest before carrying on, with one sponsor taking it even further this year.
Gold Coast Packing welcomed riders to its facility in Santa Maria, about 60 miles into today’s ride, with a shaded tent, food, treats, and places to rest.
“We love what the riders are doing for kids across America. It’s wonderful for them to spend their free time raising funds for salad bars for schools. It’s a great cause, we love being a part of Tour de Fresh and we look forward to being a part of it for years to come,” Crystal Chavez, Marketing Coordinator, said as we met at the stop.
As riders clipped into their pedals to take off, “Thank you Gold Coast” could be heard as they took on the remaining 25 miles of the course, and it reminded me of how important moves like this by companies who want to get involved are.
Each salad bar in a school makes for a win-win investment by anyone in our industry who wants to create customers both in the education district and down the road when those children become consumers. As this message continues to spread, the Tour de Fresh becomes a stronger event and even more successful in its mission to privately finance new salad bars to be placed in school districts across the country.
“The very first ride I got invited to join last minute, with no expectations,” Brandon Gritters, Sales, Interfresh, says of the inaugural Tour de Fresh. “I’ve done four rides now, and it’s definitely getting smoother. The food is getting so much better, the organization of it is really locked in, and with all the same people returning it’s like family.”
That family continues to grow, to change, to pursue how it can be better. We are now officially over halfway down the road to Anaheim, California, with the riders clocking not only 181 miles in two days (or 201 miles for those that did the “extra credit” route) but also more than $172,000 raised for fresh salad bars! Hope to see you at this year’s Finish Line Ceremony, where we celebrate all these amazing industry ambassadors.