It’s impossible to confuse Sunday’s Tour de Peninsula with the esteemed Tour de France, mainly because the former is not a sprint to the finish.
“The thing is it’s a ride, not a race,” said Julia Bott, executive director of the San Mateo County Parks Foundation, which since 2009 has owned and operated the event. “And one of the mottos is no pain, no pain. It is really about enjoying the outdoors.”
That’s perfect for Team Webcor Cycling, an advocacy group for the community since 2010.
“We feel like we should do our part to make the roads safer for cyclists as well as a better coexistence with the motorists,” said Ted Huang, the head of Team Webcor, which began as an amateur cycling racing club.
“Then we started the professional team in order to help aspiring women cyclists to try and achieve their athletic potential,” Huang added.
The 45-year-old lives in Menlo Park with his wife, Dr. Christine Thorburn, a Stanford graduate who qualified in the women’s road race for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
Huang himself competed in two Olympics as a windsurfer, in 1996 and 2000. He turned to cycling as an aerobic outlet without the pounding of running, and to keep his competitive juices flowing. The crowning achievement came when Webcor beat the U.S. Postal Service, which included Lance Armstrong, during a race at San Francisco in 2004.
“Our budget was probably missing a zero compared to theirs, because we were a bunch of working stiffs with one or two truly professional riders,” Huang said.
But those days are behind him, though it was easier for his wife to stop racing.
“Contrary to popular belief, she is one of the few who knows how to retire properly,” Huang said. “She told me last night she has no desire to aspire to be a professional rider anymore, and I have to say that is not the norm. … She has nothing to prove given she went to two Olympics working full time and it was kind of her hobby.”
It’s still a hobby, and Team Webcor makes it a point to chip in at cycling events such as the Tour de Peninsula, or TdP.
“It’s a little different than most charity rides because there’s this whole kids component, and it’s almost more like a celebration of cycling,” Huang said.
The TdP has its home base to the Eucalyptus Picnic Area near the Coyote Point Park Marina in 2009, where the start and finish are both located.
“Which makes the San Mateo parks connection all the more real to the riders,” said Bott, who is the event director.
Webcor riders offer assistance and encouragement along the courses, ready to help out if a bike breaks down while looking to clean up dangerous corners from rocks and debris.
For boys and girls 11 and under, a Kids Ride is held at noon around a closed half-mile loop surrounding the picnic site under supervision from Webcor riders.
“The kids-only ride is really an important part of the camaraderie on the tour,” said Bott, who added that kids beyond the 3-5 age group will ride without their parents. “It really gives them a sense of accomplishment and the kids are amazingly cute.”
And for entertainment, The Tribal Blues Band will begin performing at 11 a.m.
“They’re there so that you can get a different kind of exercise,” Bott said. “Shake up those tired legs with a little bit of dancing.”
Team Webcor will return to its regular routine after the Tour de Peninsula. Anywhere from 10 to 14 riders often show up on any given weekend to ride along streets in Palo Alto, Woodside, Portola Valley, etc., to dispel the notion that racing cyclists are standoffish, sometimes by simply waving hello.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Huang said. “The goal is basically is to help others, get a good workout and make sure that the ride is not only safe, but hopefully a little bit more fun.”
Team Webcor also started a “Give a Little” campaign to spread its message.
“It kind of inspires and encourages everyone to give a little, whether it’s space, a little courtesy, pick up trash,” said Huang, who urges people to continue their support of Bicycle Sunday, when Cañada Road is closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. between the Filoli entrance and Highway 92 for jogging, bicycling, hiking, roller-skating and walking.