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‘Wheels and Wine’ is the perfect fusion of cycling, wine, and food – all hosted by Ride Noho, Inc., in the charming city of Northampton, on two separate and special occasions: Father’s Day weekend (June 15th – 17th) and Labor Day weekend (September 1st, 2nd, and 3rd).
Why ‘Wheels and Wine?’ It’s simple; great road cycling, great food, and great wine.
First, let’s start with the great road cycling. Western Massachusetts – in particular, the area surrounding Northampton – is well-known for having world-class road cycling, offering an ideal experience for various levels of riders. You can ride for miles – free of traffic and congestion – and not see a traffic light or stop sign.
Second, there’s the great food! Did you know that Northampton has a particularly high number of restaurants per capita – featuring a wide range of ethnic foods? In fact, I’ve read somewhere that per capita, Northampton has more restaurants than New York, but I digress…
Mount Warner Vineyards produces award-winning wines from their own grapes and fruit harvested in Hadley – a farm community located in the Pioneer Valley. Given that it’s a smaller vineyard, they’re known for attending to the finest details in wine production. Not to mention, they also practice the art of beekeeping, as they regularly produce local wildflower honey, and also produce Bobbie’s Bee Balms – including hand creams, lip balms, etc.
Black Birch Vineyard is home to hand-pressed signature wines. This small family-owned winery sits on a sun-drenched hillside in the heart of the Pioneer Valley. Here, tasters can sample wines made from grapes grown at the UMass vineyard in Belchertown, and from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.
The ‘Wheels and Wine’ three-day event is open to various levels of cyclists. Each day, after a hearty breakfast at Sylvester’s Restaurant, located in downtown Northampton, riders can select from three levels of guided rides: an easier ride that spins on flatter roads for 25-30 miles, a moderately paced ride that covers 35-40 miles, or a challenging, hilly ride covering 50-55 miles. All three levels travel on quiet country roads by beautiful farmland and through charming villages.
Ride Noho, Inc. proprietors and tour hosts, Aldo Tiboni, and myself, Elaine Formica, have handpicked the best cycling routes in the area for this event. As locals, we know the terrain, the least travelled roads, and how not to be surprised by detours!
Following the rides on Days 1 and 2 of the tour, participants are guided to the vineyard of the day where the group is treated to a leisurely picnic lunch and wine tasting. It is here where the group can linger with the vintners who will be delighted to give tours and answer questions. On both days, when it’s time to depart, the Ride Noho, Inc. vans will be available to bring the riders safely back to their hotel and will transport any wine purchased.
Come nightfall, Northampton invites all to spend a late afternoon of visiting museums, shopping, and relaxing (naptime?). And of course, enjoy the restaurant of your choice. Then it’s off to a good night’s sleep. Many of our guests stay at Hotel Northampton, a historic hotel that dates to 1927, and offers first-class accommodations with all the charm of a traditional New England inn.
On Day 3, after the ride, the group is treated to a departure lunch at Fitzwilly’s. In business for over 30 years, Fitzwilly’s has the honor of being the oldest continuously running restaurant in downtown Northampton and is in the same historic building that Calvin Coolidge kept his law offices for 20 years.
Elaine Formica is co-owner of Ride Noho, a fixed base bicycle touring company in Northampton Massachusetts that offers cycling events and instructional training camps in the three northwestern counties of the state. Elaine began cycling seriously in the early ’90s when her interest in duathlons and triathlons caused her to begin riding with purpose. In 2000 and 2001, she concentrated her competitive efforts on the Mt. Washington Hillclimb, finishing third and second in her age group respectively, and in 2011, Elaine took second in her age group at the Black Fly TT in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. Elaine has a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education and a Master of Science in Physical Education, is a Level 3 USA Cycling Coach and a Certified Instructor for MassBike. Plus, she simply loves to ride!