History of the Tour of Novato
The Tour of Novato was conceived by Mark Uicker, a Novato parent of two, as a way to help our local public schools. In partnership with Jeff Wilson, the first event was held in May of 2008 in Napa and was named the Pan-Napa Challenge.
For the inaugural event, eighteen neighborhood dads were invited to participate as a “proof of concept”. Half of them rode a 50 mile course and the other half rode 25 miles through the back roads of Napa. They raised an amazing $28,000 for Hamilton School.
The 2009 Pan-Napa Challenge was changed from a single-school event to a district-wide event, allowing riders to raise money for any of the schools in the Novato Unified School District. A custom website was developed by Jeff to support the unique fundraising needs of the event. Difficulties finding an acceptable venue in Napa lead us to hold the event at Novato High School. The venue worked so well that the event was renamed the Tour of Novato.
The 2010 Tour of Novato was held at San Marin High School in conjunction with School Fuel’s Cycling for Schools Fun Fair. 250 riders raised over $95,000.
In 2011, Mark retired from managing the event, but Jeff continued to develop the fundraising website. The Tour of Novato and the Cycling for Schools FunFair were merged under the direction of Dale Kline and Susan Mathews of School Fuel and again held at San Marin High School in Novato.
In 2012, the Tour of Novato and FunFair moved to Sherman Avenue in downtown Novato where it has remained to this day. The Downtown Walking route was added plus a student showcase and picnic — giving the whole community an opportunity to come together and celebrate our kids.
In 2013, the West Marin Metric Century ride was added and the fundraising continued to grow, totaling over $117,000! The FunFair expanded with more booths, jumpees, and other fun for the kids. The showcase of student talent involved students from every grade — starting with Kindergarten Zumba, and ending with the Marin School of the Arts at Novato High rock band.
2014 saw the addition of more route support, communications, and medical assistance for increased safety. The FunFair continued to grow with more business and community support. And we raised another $110,000 for Novato schools.
The 2015 event got a redesigned website with support for family registration. New fundraising rewards were offered including special golden shirts for the top ten fundraisers. Bicycle Brüstop, a Grant Avenue bicycle shop, joined the event assisting with fundraising and a Friday check-in option.
In 2016 a new WordPress-based website was implemented. Registration was changed to support the ability to register multiple people fundraising together in a single account. An online Store was added to sell merchandise and extras.
New distance options were added to the Novato Classic route to replace the discontinuation of the West Marin Metric Century. The Ninja Zone was added to the Community Fair and additional rewards were added for participants who meet fundraising goals.
For the 2019 event we added support for School Groups. This lets school groups, such as sports or music, to have their own fundraising page similar to a school.
Since its inception, the Tour of Novato has raised over $900,000 for Novato schools.
Past Event Websites
Use the links below to visit the websites of all past Tour of Novato events.