Eco-Touring: July 2010

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Eco-Touring” July 2010.

A Change of Scenery… with Change of Greenery

Ramblin’ On, by the Napa Nomad – Eco-excursions in the Napa Valley
By Arvis Northrop

Napa Valley is a great place for cyclists. Throughout spring and summer we see throngs of bicycle teams cruising up and down Silverado Trail, or along the frontage road of Hwy 29. These folks are serious cyclists; they’ve got specialized gear and the extra stamina it takes to pump up & over the inclines along the valley’s trails and roadways. I am not one of those people. I have a simple cruising bike that, from my neighborhood, I can get as far as downtown Napa and back. To journey up the valley, a round trip of twenty miles or more, well, I think I’d need something such as a bike with a motor; maybe one of those electric bicycles?

A few years back, Carolyn Nguyen had similar thoughts. She wanted to be able to ride through the countryside at leisure. So, she did, indeed, buy an electric bicycle. From there, her entrepreneurial spirit took hold and she created a business that helps visitors and locals enjoy the abundance of this valley while actually helping to reduce the carbon emissions that pollute our fragile environment. She wanted to give us a change of scenery and she created Change of Greenery, the only electric bike tour in the Napa Valley.

Carolyn grew up in Pasadena, Texas, a town surrounded by oil refineries and serious air pollution. She was accustomed to being a “car person”, and long bike rides were not the norm. After college, she became an avid traveler and headed out on a cross-country journey. While traveling, she often considered how a bicycle would have been a great way to see even more of the landscape she was visiting. A bigger world was opening up as she learned of healthier lifestyles and alternatives to view the world through; more than what an auto’s front windshield can provide.

Fast-forward to Napa, and Carolyn Nguyen is the founder and Operations Manager of Change of Greenery. Change of Greenery is in partnership with the Marriott Napa Valley Hotel & Spa. The Change of Greenery bike rental stand sits out front of the main entrance of the Marriott. With a fleet of 20 bikes, this electric bike rental provides visitors and locals the opportunity to venture farther than they might think possible, taking in the spectacular views of the valley and visiting the many wonderful restaurants, wineries and more.

Each bike is outfitted with helmet, ample basket and combination lock. Change of Greenery has partnered with thirty Napa Valley merchants and wineries that offer complimentary goodies such as chocolates, wine tastings, 2-for-1 wine tastings and other discounts. Your rental includes the Napa Valley Green Card to present to each of the partners for the specials. An all day rental, from morning until closing, at 7:00pm, is $75.00. Napa Valley locals can rent all day for $50.00. What a great event for visiting friends and family! Outfit them with electric bikes from Change of Greenery and kids and grandparents can join you for a leisurely tour to the valley’s finest destinations. Three different touring maps are provided, clearly outlining the distances and the partner venues to visit. If you do some shopping and have wine and purchases to carry, just give Change of Greenery a call while you’re out and they will pick up your purchases for you.

I was thrilled to learn of this innovative way to tour Napa Valley! My husband and I hopped on a couple of the Change of Greenery electric bikes and headed for Yountville. The bikes are operated by a removable lithium-ion battery. In the “pedal assist” mode the battery provides an added push to your pedaling. This helps you get up over inclines and across intersections faster and with ease. In “full throttle” you can zip along, much like on a moped, up to a top speed of 15mph. My hubby enjoyed this completely and scooted ahead of me with a big grin and calling back to me, “Why pedal if you don’t have to?!” Somehow I think he was missing the point; anyway, to each his own!


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