In an effort to both embrace more of the things I love to do – and meet more people out there in the real world, on a whim I signed up for CampoVelo in Napa/Calistoga. The event, put on by Clif Bar, promised to be a weekend of adventure, excellent food and wine … and lots of biking. I was super pumped coming into the weekend, and had been training for several weeks to build up my endurance for a long ride. I signed up for a two day pass since I already had plans on the Friday of the event to do a farm-to-table dinner at Harley Farms in Pescadero.


Room at the Calistoga Inn. Photo credit: Lisette

On accommodations:

All the recommended hotels had a pricey two-night minimum, so after some research I ended up staying at the Calistoga Inn. This is a great little spot in the heart of downtown Calistoga with rooms over a restaurant – utilizing communal bathrooms (separate for men and ladies). The staff here were AMAZING. I arrived early and they were able to get me into my room, number 17. When I noticed some particularly noisy neighbors and echoes from the restaurant, they kindly allowed me to move into room 8, at the back of the hotel. My room was relatively quiet, very clean, bright and comfortable. The hotel has a lovely creekside patio for outside dining, which I highly recommend on sunny days.


Patio view from above. Photo credit: Lisette

Room notes:

  • Rooms 16-19 are near the stairway to the restaurant and get a fair amount of ambient noise filtering up, if you go to bed early, avoid these rooms.
  • Rooms 14-15 are RIGHT next to the bathrooms, so they get quite a bit of traffic coming by.
  • Rooms 8-12 are at the back and generally quieter, however …
  • Room 10 is apparently over the kitchen and can also be noisy.
  • There is also a cottage (room 9) with more privacy for those seeking solitude.
  • Rates go from $169/night Monday-Thursday to $229/night on weekends. The cottage is $229/night Monday-Thursday and $289/night on weekends. No minimum stay requirements.


Lake Hennessey en route. Photo credit: Lisette

On the rides:

I signed up for the “Calorie Positive” ride on Saturday, which I thought would be 25 miles, but ended up only being 13. It was a lovely ride, but I really wish I’d signed up for more. On Sunday, I signed up for the lowest possible “Big Ride” at 35 miles. This was a new record for me, having only gone up to 31 miles in the past. I was excited that the ride was beautiful (passing  by the scenic Lake Hennessey), and there was a nice “refuel station” halfway through the route. I only wish that I had been able to do a loop, rather than an out and back like the longer rides allowed. Next year I’ll definitely sign up for the more advanced rides each day!


Custom Vans (the men’s version was better). Photo credit: Lisette

On the food:

Since this event was billed as a food and wine event (and was priced accordingly), I was anticipating gourmet meals for each day. When I signed up, I was able to specify my dietary restrictions, so I noted my gluten allergy/Celiac disease and was excited to have meals that would work for me at the event – I was wrong. The food was primarily pizzas and sandwiches THE ENTIRE WEEKEND. I struggled at lunch both Saturday and Sunday to find any food I could eat. On Saturday, an organizer kindly had someone go get me a hearty thai salad, since literally the only option for me was Caesar salad with no breadcrumbs. I had a similar issue on Sunday, and had trouble the entire weekend finding food service individuals who even knew what gluten was. Considering the high cost and presence of renowned chef Chris Cosentino, I was honestly really disappointed in the food. Nothing makes you feel more excluded than finding out there is nothing for you to eat but lightly dressed lettuce after a long bike ride. To the organizers’ credit, I sent them an email detailing my experience with the food, and they are taking it very seriously when planning next year’s event.


Ready for the relay race. Photo credit: Lisette


I loved the spirit of this event, and I think it has a lot of potential. I came to this event on my own hoping it would be a really communal feel like Pursuit was last fall, but having people spread across hotels created a very different feel/environment. Rather than all hanging out in the center of a camp and getting to know a lot of new people, it felt like people came and left in established groups – spending their spare time back at their respective hotels. We all got custom Vans and cool swag, but the men’s shoes were significantly cooler than the women’s (navy with leather touch points), ours were speckled gray and kind of bland. The shirts were cool, and the other free snacks and gear were all quite awesome. I especially loved the Luna Rica bars and new flavors of Shot Blocks (lemon, yumm). They also had a kickass coffee cart each morning with fantastic brew. The “Night at the Speedway” was fun and the bands were truly phenomenal. I was particularly impressed by the team of high school mountain bikers that won the relay event.


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