Joe Lange wasn’t able to keep his title this year at the Vintner’s Cup Race of the Lodi Cyclefest, a competition he has won four years running. But he says he had a good excuse.
Lange and his cycling buddy Warren Lemcke just completed a 14-day, 1,200-mile ride from Vancouver, British Columbia, right back to Lodi — including 43,000 vertical feet of climbing.
Thirty-year-old Lange is the webmaster and wine club manager for LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards, while Lemcke, 55, is the deputy chief of police for the City of Vancouver. Lemcke and his wife, Lisa, are major fans of Lodi wine and met the Lange family when they joined the LangeTwins wine club.
Lemcke says the ride from Vancouver to Lodi has been on his bucket list for years. Lange had been looking for a long-distance ride and decided to join Lemcke on his adventure.
The team left Vancouver on June 15 with beautiful views and a lot of legwork ahead.
With only 10 pounds of gear on each bike, the pair stayed at hotels and did laundry every night. That allowed them to average 90 miles each day.
The leg from Aberdeen to Manzanita was pushing that limit at an estimated 110 miles in a cold and rainy headwind. Unfortunately, a helpful construction worker explained Manzanita was actually 30 miles farther than expected.
“The most hilarious moment was definitely our mathematical error. It made for laughs and pain the rest of the day,” said Lange.
One benefit to putting in so many miles was the need to replace some major calories.
“By the time you’re hungry or thirsty, it’s already too late. You gotta fuel your human motor,” said Lange.
Lange and Lemcke ate very well at diners, pizza joints and pubs along the way. There was no shortage of beer or Lodi wines to sip, either.
Early on, the team rode though rain and heavy winds, with dozens of close calls when logging trucks and distracted drivers pushed the cyclists too close to narrow shoulders on winding forest roads.
“A couple inches can make the difference between life and death. Eventually you just got used to the drivers who refused to move over into the fast lane,” said Lange. Somehow, there were no spills, crashes or even a single flat tire.
The pair cycled into town on Friday afternoon to meet friends under the Lodi Arch on Sacramento Street. Lange and Lemcke were gifted with champagne, yellow roses and big hugs.
Lange’s legs simply didn’t have enough time to recover before Sunday’s Cyclefest. But despite their tired muscles, both men were featured riders at the cycling event.
Lange was very satisfied with his adventure, and is considering a ride next year from the Mexican border back to Lodi. But it’s been nearly a week, and he hasn’t gotten back on his bike just yet.
“You know, there’s always tomorrow,” he said.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at email@example.com.