The Green Girl's Tour DaVita Report

The Green Girl and Lexa rode 255 miles through the Willamette Valley agricultural heart of Oregon over the course of three days and completed their third Tour DaVita.

This year's tour raised over $900,000 to benefit the DaVita Village Trust organization which aspires to improve community health, wellness and vitality, including chronic kidney disease education, prevention and treatment.

DaVita Village Trust combined two kidney care non-profit organizations - Bridge of Life-DaVita Medical Missions and The Kidney TRUST - under one umbrella.

Combining these two programs has enabled the DaVita Village Trust to provide a full range of kidney care services, including international medical missions that deliver dialysis treatment to patients who would otherwise not receive care, and free, rapid screening programs to identify those in the United States and abroad who have signs of kidney impairment.

In the past 8 years, the Bridge of Life program conducted more than 46 Medical Missions in 15 countries.

With the money we raised, we were told for every mile we cycled, 33 kidney patients around the world were granted access to kidney dialysis treatment.

The theme for Tour DaVita is always 'The Spirit of the Ride'. We were asked to 'Create the Spirit of the Ride', 'Respect the Spirit of the Ride', and 'Remember the Spirit of the Ride'.

Tour DaVita 'The Reason Why We Ride' sign at the DaVita Woodburn Dialysis Clinic
There were a total of 506 Tour DaVita participants, including:
  • 62 family members
  • 8 Nephrologists
  • 9 patient riders
  • 366 teammates/vendor participants

Tour Davita is a fully supported endurance event for participants of all abilities and experience. Each year, DaVita partners with an active travel company, Backroads to make the 'The Moving Village' come to life.

Backroads provided bicycles fitted with rear bike racks and generously sized Topeak trunk. bags.

The sun setting over 'The Moving Village' at Centennial Park
Backroads also provided the tents, self-inflating sleeping pads, and sleeping bags.

While we were out riding on Day 2, the Backroads crew tore down the campsite and transported everything from Waterloo County Park in Lebanon to the campground at Centennial Park in Woodburn.

Upon arrival at the second campsite, our bags were waiting for us in our respective tents along with the sleeping bags and pads.

Potable water refill station
Each campsite had potable water filling stations and mobile shower trailer facilities.

Forks & Corks Catering catered the event. The majority of the food was sourced locally.

Amenities such as a Village Store, charging stations, and laptops were available provided at the campsites.

Tour DaVita Cell Phone Charging center
This year, I opted to bring an 8000 mAh battery pack so I could charge my mobile device from the convenience of my tent. The 8000 mAh charger provided enough power for all 3 days.

Tour DaVita - Day 1 was a 73 mile loop ride with a 1,076 foot elevation gain starting and ending at the first campground at Waterloo County Park in Lebanon.

The Green Girl and Aaron at the Tour DaVita - Day 1 start
Lexa and I took it easy to preserve ourselves for the century the next day.

Coming from the dry, brown, fire-prone state of California, I was looking forward to enjoying some rich Autumn colors but we were disappointed to learn that the drought had spread to Oregon.

There was even a fire about 40 miles away from our cycling route. I was relieved to see that the air quality wasn't as bad as I'd feared.

The weather was also pleasant - warm but not too hot or humid.

Pumpkin patch in Willamette Valley
We were able to catch a glimpse of fall colors mixed in with the brown here and there.

We also managed to get a taste of the upcoming holiday season as we rode by Christmas tree farms, hazelnut trees, and pumpkin patches. We also saw organic cattle.

The Green Girl saw a traveling sprinkler for the first time
I saw a traveling sprinker for the first time. It was a cute little yellow tractor slowly moving across a lawn. Teammate Aaron explained the tractor follows the path of the water hose.

The Backroads crew set up well-stocked aid stations along the route. They also drove around in 'Spirit Vans' offering support and picking up weary riders.

For lunch, I enjoyed a tasty grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup.

Upon completion of the 73 miles, I pulled a number, showered, and then patiently waited my turn for a complimentary 15 minute massage.

I explained my lower back tightness to the masseuse and she explained that discomfort was actually caused by tight psoas muscles.

I focused on yoga breathing as she worked on loosening my psoas - the left side was much more painful than the right.

Tour DaVita - Day 2 was a century with a 2,400 foot elevation gain from Waterloo County Park in Lebanon to Centennial Park in Woodburn.

Christmas tree farm
Given my lower back situation - even though I was feeling significantly looser post-massage, I was relieved to see that the century course was mostly flat.

One of the highlights of the century route for me was going over historical covered bridges.

Oregon has a total of 50 historic covered bridges - more than any other U.S. state. The majority of the covered bridges in Oregon were built between 1905 and 1925.

The Green Girl and Lexa rode over their first covered bridge Photo Credit: Aaron Schmidt
The first covered bridge we crossed was the Hoffman Bridge over Crabtree Creek. The bridge was a mile northeast of the town of Crabtree. Both the town and the creek were named for John Crabtree, a pioneer who settled in the area in 1845.

The nearby fires created a smoke and ash blanket across the sky. The air quality remained tolerable and the thick cover actually shaded us from the potentially hot sun.

The Tour DaVita course was clearly marked with signs
Copies of the daily route maps were handed out at breakfast but the course was also clearly marked with signs.

Potential hazards were also marked with signs - including any significant traffic crossings.

At lunch, I opted to take some ibuprofen to help ease my lower back tension.

We cycled past multiple pumpkin patches before arriving at our new camp site at Centennial Park in Woodburn.

DaVita Woodburn Dialysis Clinic
Tour DaVita - Day 3 kicked off with a visit to the local DaVita Woodburn Dialysis Clinic.

Day 3 was an 83 mile route with a 1,900 foot elevation gain.

12 miles into the day, our route crossed the Wheatland Ferry.

The Wheatland Ferry is a cable ferry connecting Marion County and Yamhill County across the Willamette River. The ferry travels approximately 580 feet (178 meters) across the river.

The ferry was powered by two electric motors connected to a diesel generator and supported by two steel cables, one under water on the downriver side, and one overhead on the upriver side. The overhead cable was also used for steering the ferry.

Each time a replacement Wheatland ferry is launched, it is always named Daniel Matheny, after the person who originally established the ferry, followed by its number as a Roman numeral. The current ferry, launched in 2002 is Daniel Matheny V.

Steve Priest discussing the backlog of riders with a Wheatland Ferry worker
Unfortunately, a ferry ride with a maximum passenger capacity of 45 due to life jacket availability 12 miles into a ride was less than ideal. Since all the riders attended the clinic visit, we all started the ride together - and 12 miles wasn't enough to spread us out so we all arrived at the ferry at around the same time.

The ferry also had to accommodate locals - so that meant less Tour riders on each ride.

The Green Girl and Lexa's first ferry ride. Photo Credit: Deb Marshall
Lexa and I ended up waiting 1.25 hours to board the ferry but that could not sully my first time riding a ferry with Lexa excitement.

After realizing how much time was lost in the ferry queue, I decided Lexa and I needed to pick up the pace in order to make the time cut-off for the full 83 miles.

Instead of going at my usual comfortable 14.4 mph, I pumped my legs are hard as I could and managed to do between 17.5 - 18.5 mph on the flats most of the way to lunch.

A field of beehives
When I was riding with teammate Kelly, we passed a field of pastel colored beehives.

I shared my interest with in beekeeping with Kelly and mentioned how I'd read that when a beekeeper dies someone must go tell the bees about his/her death or they will fly away and leave the hive.

There was a giant, seemingly never-ending hill right before lunch - and it was one of those hills where you think you've reached the top but it curves and keeps on going. I felt like we were doing the entire 1,900 foot elevation gain up this incline.

Cattle along the Tour DaVita route
About 10 feet from the top, my body decided it had had enough. I was about to throw in the towel when a girl behind me said 'Mary* you cannot stop! You've been the only thing keeping me going up this entire hill!'. That comment gave me a burst of energy and I manage to push out a few more pedal strokes.

Unbeknownst to me, Willamette Valley's mild climate provides optimal growing conditions for grapes and is home to over 300 wineries. Willamette Valley is also known for its world class Pinot noir.

Tour DaVita - Day 3 lunch was at the beautifulZenith Winery
I thoroughly enjoyed the Day 3 lunch at the beautiful Zenith Winery.

I had a tasty BBQ sandwich and yummy macaroni and cheese while I sat on the patio and enjoyed the view.

With my lunch, I took a serving of ENERGYbits spirulina algae tabs to help maintain my energy levels for the second half of the ride.

Sun setting over Willamette Valley
Once my lunch digested, I was able to maintain a steady 15.5 mph. I was thrilled when I got to the cut-off point and the Red Shirt volunteers let me know I could still complete the full distance.

Around Mile 65, Kelly caught up with me and rode to the finish together as the sun began to set over Willamette Valley.

Tour DaVita finisher's buckle
At dinner, each rider received a Tour DaVita Oregon 2014 finisher's belt buckle.

It was my first ever belt buckle - I was so excited.

The buckle was especially meaningful to me because I'd gone outside my comfort zone and pushed myself to make the time cut-off. Day 3 was much more challenging for me due to the lost time waiting for the ferry than the century.

DaVita Blues All Stars
After our final dinner, the DaVita Blue All Stars provided musical entertainment to help us celebrate a successful Tour.

I want to thank everyone who helped me raise money for the DaVita Village Trust.

I also want to thank my team - the eGate team - for their support and encouragement.

The Green Girl and Kelly at the Tour DaVita finish line
Here's a link to the official Tour DaVita 2014 Recap Video.

We ride so others can live...

* I have no idea who that teammate was - she only knew my name because it was on the bib attached to my hydration pack - but thank you Hill Angel Teammate who helped me get to the top of that giant, killer hill!
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