Dispatch, Napa Valley: I’m hurting — in a good way

By Michelle Baran
Travel Weekly’s MichGolden Gate bikeelle Baran was on a Napa Valley tour with G Adventures. Her dispatch follows.

It’s day three of the G Adventures Napa Valley Active Escape fam trip, and as we’re gearing up for a 23-mile bike ride through the rolling hills of Northern California wine country, I’m not gonna lie — I already hurt.

But it’s the really good kind of hurt. The kind of hurt that signifies the steep, stand-up-and-push, uphill bike ride from the base of the Golden Gate Bridge up to and across the striking red structure that strings together San Francisco and Marin County. The kind of hurt that comes from a five-mile kayak trip along the Russian River.

It’s the kind of hurt that justifies the good food and wine for which Napa Valley is renowned. And, ultimately, it’s the kind of hurt that G Adventures’ active itineraries promise and deliver on.

Toronto-based G Adventures, founded in 1990, introduced North America itineraries for 2012. The Napa trip is one of the 55 new itineraries. Kayak Russian River

G has partnered with local ground operator Napa Valley Adventure Tours to build a Northern California wine country itinerary around invigorating activities that are as scenic as they are strenuous.

With a wide range of ages and ability on this trip, it’s clear to see that the active outings aren’t for everyone. I consider myself in decent shape, and I’ve been huffing and puffing while riding up some of these hills.

An active adventure like this has the ability to enhance a trip in ways that only sweat and struggle can. There is the internal battle to push oneself a little further and a little harder. There is the incredible camaraderie that develops through providing encouragement to each other, and the invaluable bonding over the sense of achievement when “crossing the finish line.”

There are also the otherwise unattainable prisms through which to view nature that kayaking the Russian River or hiking through the Redwoods provide.

Napa wineryAnd then there are the just desserts — pulling up to the Summers Estate winery after an invigorating ride to a lunch spread of cheeses, olives, strawberries and grapes, topped off with a tasting of the estate's chardonnay, rosé, charbono, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and zinfandel was worth every single sore muscle that getting there required of us.

And the belly-aching, part exercise-induced, part wine-induced laughs along the way — those were really and truly the just desserts.

Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly. 
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