Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Day 6 - Lompoc to Ventura

Friday, June 6

Good morning Safety Orange day! Yep, you heard that right, this year, Day 6 was deemed Safety Orange Day. How could I not enjoy a day dedicated to wearing my favorite color? (yeah I know, the day is supposed to promote SAFTEY, not the color orange, but whatever.) I hadn't originally planned on wearing my orange jersey; I actually figured that I would wear my houndstooth one (which if you know me, you know that I'm just as obsessed with houndstooth as I am with the color orange). But how could I not join in on Safety Orange day?!?

Anyways, after another 4:15 am wake up, I opted to skip going to the food tent for breakfast this morning and instead fueled up with a protein bar I had from the day before. I'm not big on eating breakfast in general, and I was really tired of eating oatmeal. I was also starting to get tired of eating the protein bars as well. But it was a case of being a little lazy and over the food.

Once I got my stuff all packed up, Jen and I packed up the tent. We dropped off our gear at the trucks and I headed over to the bikes with Scott. We met up with Ken, Jamie and Michael and got our bikes ready for the day. We hit to road and made our way further south. I couldn't believe that we were getting to closer to Los Angeles and we were only one more day from finishing this.

The day brought us some slight variation in weather, which provided for some pretty cool dramatic photos. I really like the coloring in these photos from the road.

Our first rest stop was at mile 15. There wasn't much of excitement at this first rest stop, and I didn't even take any photos so I have no clue what the theme was (I can't remember). I'm sure it was something orange, but other than that, no idea. I kind of stopped caring about taking a ton of photos of the rest stops, or in general, by this point. I usually get to a point that I want to just keep riding and not stop to take photos, so that means that I don't have any visual reminders of the places I've been or the things I've seen. Oh well, maybe one day that won't be the case.

Anyways, Scott and I made our way back out onto the road and towards the exciting but dangerous downhill. The other guys had been riding faster than us so they were a bit ahead of us at this point. For the next 4 miles we were going to be going downhill along the highway. When we are on the highway we needed to make sure that we stayed to the right side of the white line. The downhill was crazy awesome and there were sections that were over 10% grade (at one point it was even as steep as 25%). As much as I enjoy going past on the downhills, I made sure to keep my speed in check. We had been warned about this downhill and there was no way I was going to put myself in danger. No speed records would be had this trip! Up until this point we had been on Highway 1, now we were going to be getting onto Highway 101. If you aren't familiar with California, Highway 101 goes from the northern boarder of the state all the way down to Los Angeles, so it is a pretty major highway.

After getting onto Highway 101, we started to approach what might have been the most dangerous part of this section of the route... Gaviota Pass. The road narrows to travel between the hills and the road curves making it hard to see what is coming up ahead. This area has been home to many accidents over the years. Unfortunately, as Scott and I passed through, we came across one such accident. There was a cyclist that was down on the road, but help had already arrived. We were slowed down and directed around the scene. At quick glance, I didn't recognize the cyclist. I just hoped the best for them.

As you can see, we got a little bit of rain, not enough to really get our clothes wet or anything. But it was enough to stick to the lens of my GoPro.

We made our way to Rest Stop 2, which was at mile 26 and had an outer space theme (which I only really know because I saw photos from others). This was an interesting rest stop because they told us that the route going forward would be closed until 9am. This was because the CHP would be helping us get safely passed a section of 101 by blocking off part of the right lane. Of course, we got to the rest stop right before 9am. We took our place in line and waited for the cops to open the route. Since they let the cyclist go in the order they came in to the rest stop, we had a while to wait, and there was no way to pass through.

Once we finally got through the rest stop we continued down the coast and made our way into Goleta to our lunch stop at Girsh Park. Some of the guys got to lunch before me. I pulled in and found a spot on the bike rack. I cleaned up my hands (always important to take the gloves off and wipe down your hands with the wipes and purell) and then made my way to the lunch line. After grabbing my food, I starting to play Where's Waldo... AKA I tried to find my friends in the large crowd at the park. As I was standing there searching, one of my other teammates saw me and called out to let me know where Jamie, Michael, Ken and LeeRoy were. I was very thankful, because I don't think I would have found the guys. They were hiding off in a corner where they had found some tables in the shade. I joined then and soon Scott joined us.

I really enjoyed lunch each day on the ride. It was a fun time to relax and just enjoy good company. Thankfully the food wasn't too bad either. Plus, the cookies were always good. Man I really miss being able to eat two large cookies and not feel an ounce of guilt. Those were the days... haha.

After we were done eating, we all headed over to the bikes. Once we were all ready to roll, we hit the road and made our way towards our next destination, rest stop 3. As promised, Day 6 was about to provide us with some beautiful views along the route.

Right before we got to the rest stop we stopped off to take a photo with the gorgeous Leadbetter Beach in the background.

Rest stop 3 was not very crowded. We assumed that had to do with the next stop that is shortly after this rest stop, but I will get to that in a little. The theme of this rest stop was biking bunnies.

We took a group shot with the crazy bunny ears that they had.

And another on the beach.

I really enjoyed riding through Santa Barbara because we were literally riding on the beach. This is the first time I had been in Santa Barbara and I loved it. I really need to go back and maybe spend more time there. You don't really get a true sense of the beauty of a place as you ride through, but you can get an idea. Just look at this, how could you NOT enjoy it?

We stopped to check out this guy who was working on a crazy sand sculpture of a mermaid. Unfortunately we couldn't get a photo of the sculpture without paying the guy. He made sure to put himself in front of it if you tried to take a photo and would say that he does his art work for tips, any amount would be appreciated. So, yea, you will just have to take my word on it that the sculpture was pretty cool.

We continued along the bicycle path and made our way to our next stop....

The next stop was one that Jamie & Ken, having done ALC before, were very excited about. Apparently we were in for a treat. Welcome to Paradise Pit...

This may be an unofficial ALC stop, but it is well known! Every year in Santa Barbara, the town puts together a stop for all of the ALC cyclist with free ice cream and all the toppings. There was also fruit and cookies. Thankfully they even had a non-dairy option. It was such a treat to enjoy some nice cold ice cream, or sherbet in my case, on a hot day.

Once we had our fill we continued on to the next stop, which was a water stop at mile 69. By the time I got to the water stop I was feeling a bit tired and a little cranky. I found a spot for my bike on the rack and grabbed a snack and filled my water bottle.  I wanted to be by myself so I took a seat on the hill alone. I noticed that the guys were close by, but I really needed some time to clear my mind. Once I was ready to get moving again, I found Ken & Michael by their bikes. They were ready to get moving, but Scott was still on a phone call and Jamie didn't want to leave him behind. So, Michael, Ken and I decided to keep going, while Jamie waited back with Scott.

We made our way to the final rest stop of the day. In order to get there, we had to take a bicycle path that was along the highway. It was a little frightening to know that all that stood between you and that Big Rig barreling towards you at 65+ mph was a Jersey Barrier.

Ok, so that isn't the Big Rig in that photo that I was referring to, but you get the point. Either way, it was an interesting bike path.

We could practically hear the rest stop before we could see it. Rest stop 4 was a big crazy dance party with a live DJ and everything! After pulling in, I found a spot for my bike on the rack. I made my way through the crowd and grabbed a snack and refilled my water bottle. I put my water bottle back on my bike and then found the guys. Ken wanted to get a photo with the rest stop guys so we got in line. When it was our turn, we were handed some signs and posed with the guys.

Michael really liked his little sign.

Afterwards we decided to hang out on the wall to wait for Jamie and Scott. Michael and I were just content to sit and enjoy the view.  

However, Ken really wanted to go down on the beach, so he climbed over the wall and down the rocks. Pretty impressive since he was wearing cycling shoes.

Soon enough, Jamie and Scott joined us at the rest stop. They made the stop a short one so that we could get on our way and head to camp. There were only 8 miles left on the route.

As we were on the final part of the bike path heading into camp, we saw our teammate Delilah heading in the opposite direction. She was trying to make up some miles from the other day when she was pulled off the route because she didn't make it out of a rest stop in time. Silly girl. Although this wasn't the craziest thing coming from Delilah, but I'll get to the tomorrow.

We pulled into camp and it was somewhat bittersweet. I knew this was the last time I would be pulling into camp and parking my bike for the night. I was sad, and yet slightly relieved at the same time. I had been having a blast so far, but I was getting to the point of being ready for it all to be over.

Day 6 Ride Stats
Total Distance: 86.3 mi
Elevation: 3,719 ft
Ride Time: 5:46:41
Average Speed: 14.9 mph
ALC total Miles: 469.1 mi

After grabbing my stuff from my bike, the guys and I headed over to the food tents, that were right next to the bike parking. We were planning on just checking out what was on the menu for the night and grab some chocolate milk (or soy milk in my case). However, before we knew it, Scott and Michael were in line and grabbing food. I wasn't hungry yet, so I just grabbed some soy milk to mix up my protein recovery shake.

Once I had finished my shake, I headed over to the gear trucks to grab my bag. I quickly located the 'D' grid flag and started to search for my tent location. Since the camp sites were set up different each time you never really knew where your tent was going to be located. I started at the beginning of the row. To my right D001, the left, D100. Next set of tents, right D002, left D099. Stupidly enough, I didn't see how this was going to end (I was D055 by the way). By the time I had rolled (more like dragged) my bag to the end of the line where my tent was located (which felt like a mile away) I was so over the whole camping thing. I threw my bag on the ground (I know if Scott was reading this he would have broken out in The Lonely Island's "I threw it on the ground" by now, haha). I also uttered my famous, according to Jen, phrase of FTS. It's not appropriate to type out, but lets just say it starts and ends in some rather choice words.

I placed my bag inside the tent and gathered my shower stuff and a change of clothes. I also borrowed the power adapters from Michael so that I could try to get my phone, Garmin and gorpo juiced up for the final day. On my way to the shower trucks I stopped by the charging tent and found a spot for my phone. There were so many electronics plugged in that I was lucky to find a spot. Next stop, the shower trucks. I desperately needed a hot shower to relax and wash away the frustration.

After my shower, I headed back to the charging tent and swapped out my phone for my Garmin and found another spot for my gopro. I then made my way across camp to get to my tent. I hung up my towel on my tent with some binder clips and found the guys to see what our plans were for the night. There was a candle light vigil on the beach to honor those who have been lost to HIV/AIDS. I figured that I would attend if the others were going. When I spoke with the guys Jamie said that they planned on heading into Ventura for dinner and he wasn't planning on going to the vigil. That was fine with me. I hung out with Scott and Michael for a little while we waited for everyone to be ready to go to dinner.

I made sure to grab my headlamp before we headed out for dinner. The guys and I headed over towards the hotels where we knew we would be able to get a taxi. The five of us (Scott, Jamie, Michael, Jim and myself) squeezed into a taxi and headed over to Ventura. We headed to Yolanda's (  for some Mexican food. (Jamie picked the restaurant, I think that he goes there every year. Also, I swear Jamie only ever eats Mexican.) The food was good and it was nice to get out of camp and eat something of my own choosing.

By the time we got back to camp it was pretty dark out. I was thankful I had remembered to grab my headlight. It definitely came in handy as I made my way to my tent. Jen was just getting ready to go to sleep so my timing was good. It was time for lights out.

One day left!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 5 - Santa Maria to Lompoc

Thursday, June 5

Good morning Red Dress Day! I have been looking forward to you for quite a while! There were two reasons for that: 1) I couldn't wait to see everyone in their red attire and 2) the route was only 43 miles. Since the route was shorter, this also meant that we could sleep in a little bit. You aren't able to get into camp until after 1:00 pm (which if you leave at 6:30 am when the route opens, you can easily make it to Lompoc before 1).

After waking up and being thankful for that extra 45 minutes of sleep, I headed over to get something to eat. I ended up finding Michael and Delilah and joined them at the table. Once I was done eating I headed back to the tent to get ready for the day. After Jen and I got dressed, we packed up all our gear and took down the tent. Since no one was really in a hurry this morning, it was fun to just hang out and take photos. Plus, it was fun to watch all the red slowly emerge from the tents.

There was a group of us on the South Bay Blaze who decided to go with a Sriracha Sauce theme, and I was calling us the Hot Sauce Hotties.

On Red Dress day, anything goes... as long as it is red :) You have your Mini's (Mayor Bob)

And your Superman (Jamie)

And of course, your traditional Red Dress (LeeRoy)

Once everyone was ready and all packed up, we dropped off our gear at the trucks and headed to bike parking. As we were getting our tires all pumped up and ready to go, Greg stopped to say Aloha before he rolled out.

Getting out of Santa Maria was rather slow because we had to deal with all of the traffic lights. It was fun to see a massive group of red waiting for the lights to change and then trying to get as many people through the light once it changed to green.

Our first rest stop was at Pioneer Park on the other side of Santa Maria, which was about 9.6 miles from the starting point. I pulled into the rest stop and parked my bike. I headed over to the snack table and found some teammates nearby. Along with our regular rest stop offerings, there was a coffee truck here. Thankfully I don't drink coffee, because the line was very LONG! Instead, I headed over to the porta potties and soon figured out that the best and safest approach, take off the tutu. You never want to loose anything in the porta potty so usually that means removing anything that could easily fall off or dip down into the blue liquid of doom. But that's enough about the porta potty, because i'm sure you just love reading about it.

Soon enough I was back out on the road. There was some climbing to do before getting to the next rest stop. I love how everyone always talks about how short Day 5 is, but no one really mentions that there is a good bit of climbing. Why aren't these hills named like Quadbuster and the Evil Twins? Anyways, the rest stop was at mile 22, which meant we were a little over half way done with the day's route. I found a spot on the bike rack and hung up my tutu on the handle bars. I headed over to get some snacks and refill the water bottles.

Before we headed out of the rest stop we got some group photos since there were quite a few of the Blazers there at the same time.

Me & Gino

Earl, Ken, Jamie, Me & Justin

Pavani, Gino, Earl, Ken, Jamie, Me, Justin, Michael, & LeeRoy

Our last stop for the day was going to be our lunch stop. There were 17 miles to go to get to lunch. We started out on the road, and soon enough we got to a nice hill. What is with this climbing? I thought this was supposed to be our easy day! Thankfully with all of the South Bay Blaze training under my belt, the climb wasn't actually that bad. The one thing I did love about this hill was that there was a U-turn on the hill so we could see the hill ahead as well as where we had just come from. I loved seeing all of the red on the road. We truly did look like a big red ribbon out there. I should have stopped to take a photo, but I try not to stop on hills because it isn't all that fun to start uphill. I did find this photo taken by the ALC photographer that shows the red ribbon effect I was talking about...

Eventually we stopped climbing and it was all pretty much downhill for the remainder of the ride. We managed to get to lunch a little before noon. We planned on taking our time and hanging out at the lunch stop for a little since we couldn't get into camp until 1 pm and we were only 3 (flat) miles away. We parked our bikes and headed over to get in line for lunch. As we got near, Jamie and I snapped a photo with one of our favorite lunch roadies, Stefanie (along with her sister Nancy, she was one of the SBB teammates who was doing roadie work on the event).

After grabbing food, we went to find a spot to sit down, eat, and enjoy the crazy show that the rest stop 4 crew would no doubt be putting on any minute. You can always count on some crazy entertainment from those RS4 guys. We found a good spot, but unfortunately the grass was a little out of control in this park. I wasn't all too excited about sitting in the taller grass because I have had issues with grass irritating my skin in the past. I was going to go sit on the sidewalk but Jamie offered to let me sit on his cape (superman to the rescue). What a gentleman! Here is my little crew, the best guys around (Scott, LeeRoy, Ken, Michael and Jamie)!

After we were done eating, we hung out for a while. I looked over and noticed that LeeRoy had laid down to rest. I couldn't help but laugh when I looked over at him. Its not a sight you see everyday...

Since there wasn't actually a rest stop 4, the guys from the rest stop were at this lunch stop. They were dressed like they were from Soul Train and there was a GIANT twister board. Every so often they would start up a big game, pitting the riders against the RS4 crew.

I realized that this was the only stop that I actually knew what the theme was. I hadn't been paying attention to any of the themes of the other rest stops. I think that since it was red dress day and everyone was in red, I didn't notice any of the themes stand out. Oh well.

After a nice relaxing lunch break, we decided to make our way to camp. We rode the three miles into Lompoc to get to the camp site at River Park. It was fun to see the locals out, stopped on the sidewalk to wave and cheer us in. There was a cute little family with small kids that were so excited to see us ride past. We started to wonder, how the parents would explain to their kids why there were grown men wearing dresses and strange costumes riding past on bikes. 

When we pulled into camp there was music playing which was a nice change. We headed over to bike parking and found a spot for all of us. I gathered up all my stuff and put it into my handy reusable bag that I stashed in my seat pouch.

Day 5 Ride Stats
Total Distance: 42.6 mi
Elevation: 2,171 ft
Ride Time: 3:15:51
Average Speed: 13.0 mph

ALC total Miles: 382.8 mi

Ken told us that he had to go get on the swings; it was a Day 5 tradition. Michael decided to join him. I didn't think that my legs were up for getting me going on the swings, so I just stood by and watched. 

After a trip into the past (back to middle school recess) we headed over to the gear trucks to get our things. Thankfully the gear trucks were very close to where our tents were, which was awesome. I didn't want to lug my stuff around the bumpy, uneven ground that was littered with mole holes.

Once the tent was set up, I gathered my shower stuff and camp clothes, including my South Bay Blaze t-shirt. We had team photos that evening, so I finally got to don the new team shirt. I wanted to keep it nice and clean, so I hadn't worn it yet. The shower trucks were on the other side of camp, so I took the path along Kiwanis lake. The lake was beautiful and I was slightly jealous of those whose tents had lake views. That was until we saw that someone not only had a lake view, but their tent was almost on the lake, with one pole in the water. The wind was crazy there and they apparently hadn't weighted down their tent with their gear bag, so it had moved in the wind. We are not allowed to use tent spikes since we are often camping at public parks or sport fields. A missed spike can be dangerous and harmful to equipment. Therefore, we have to use our gear bags to hold down the tents when it gets a bit too windy.

After getting cleaned up, I headed back over to the tents and hung out for a little before heading over to the met-up location for the team photos. We didn't have an official time slot, so we were just waiting to fit in between teams when there was a chance. Apparently the time slots filled up really fast, but it didn't matter because we were able to get our shot anyway.

You can see just how large our team actually is. With our training rides, since everyone rides at different paces, you usually end up riding with a small group of people. I think there were a little over 50 of us there in that photo. These amazing people are like a second family to me. I love them and couldn't have done this without them.

Since we were right next to the food tent, a group of us got something to eat and just hung out for a little. The nice thing about the down time in camp was being able to catch up with people that you don't get to see out on the road. We all kind of ride our own pace, so little groups form of riders out on the road. It was interesting how there were people on my team that I pretty much never saw the entire week (except for when we all got together for the photo) and then there were the guys (Michael, Scott, Jamie, and Ken), who I practically spent every waking moment with.

While we were at the food tent, we listed to the ALC Announcements. After the announcements, we listened to Congressman Adam Schiff. I didn't realize that we were riding with a congressman. How cool is that. Apparently he spoke at the closing ceremony last year in LA and said that if the congressional recess ever aligned with ALC, he would ride it because he was so inspired by the riders last year. Well, low and behold, this years recess just happened to be the same time ALC was. So with very little notice, he packed up his bike and headed to San Francisco. He was telling us that unfortunately, his bike didn't make it so he had to go out and purchase a brand new bike and have it fitted right before the event. He went on to tell us that he was thankful for his wife Eve, who was taking care of their kids while he was gone for te week. Yes, they are Adam and Eve. He also told us that his tentmate was a very nice guy, named Steve.h We all laughed when he said, "Leave it to ALC to turn Adam and Eve into Adam and Steve!"

Later, when I got back to my tent, I realized that my electronics that I had plugged into my battery pack earlier were not charged but the lights on my battery pack were off. This could only mean one thing, I had finally run out of juice. Not a great thing, but not too bad since I had been charging my phone, Garmin and GoPro. Thankfully my phone was still half charged, as well as my GoPro. The only thing I was worried about was my Garmin. Good thing today was a shorter day, because that meant that I didn't drain too much of the Garmin battery. Also, there was a charging tent available for our use. The only downside, I had forgotten to pack the USB/Power Outlet adapter. I specifically made sure that I had all the right cables (the Garmin cable, the GoPro cable, etc.) but I never thought about the fact that I may need to recharge the battery pack. Oops! Thankfully as I was explaining my situation to my tentmate Jen, the guy across from us overheard. He kindly offered up his adapter, as long as I made sure to return it to him. Love bubble in full effect. Strangers helping strangers. :) I called down to Michael to see if he wanted to head back over to the service tents where the charging tent was. As I yelled out "Michael!" the guy across from me replied "Yes?" How crazy, his name was Michael as well. When my SBB Michael got to my tent, I jokingly told him that I had found a new favorite Michael, this one was providing me with power.

We headed over to the charging tent and I found a place to plug in my battery pack. We then headed over to the food tent where we sat down to enjoy the rest of the talent show that was going on. I don't know how much we had missed, but we were still able to enjoy a few acts. I think we heard two people singing. But our favorite act was the comedy act. He had a really good skit about how you know it was Day 5. I can't remember all of the jokes, but a few of then went something like this (these may not be the exact things he said, but it is close enough that you get the point)....

You know it is Day 5 when the remaining straight guys are all greeting each other by saying "Hey Girl Hey!"

The interaction between two cyclist when one is passing the other on the road:
  Day 1: "On your left"
             [cheerful] "Awesome bike, is that a Cannondale? You know they are one of the sponsors this year
             right? Have a great ride"
  Day 2: "On your left"
             "Thanks, have a good ride"
  Day 3: "On your left"
             "On your right"
  Day 4: "On your left"
  Day 5: "On your left"
  Day 6: "On your left"
             [irritated] "Really, NOW you are going to pass me? You've only been riding on my butt the last 20
  Day 7: "On your left"
             "Have a great ride, see you in LA!"
(*this joke relies on the tone of voice, and I tried to reflect some of that, so hopefully you understand where is is going. If not, too bad, because it was pretty funny! Also, it probably makes a lot more sense to those who have done ALC.)

Once the talent show came to an end, I headed over to the charging tent to retrieve my battery pack. Michael and I headed back to the tents, guided by the light from our head lamps. Those headlamps are amazing and I'm thankful that I was told ahead of time to make sure I had one. So much better than trying to use a flashlight! Anyways, I got back to my tent and returned the power adapter to the Michael in the tent across from me. When I got into my tent I plugged in my Garmin to the battery pack, only a few minutes later to find that the battery pack had turned off again. I severely under estimated the time it takes to charge up that battery pack. I knew that I wouldn't be able to get it fully charged, but I thought I would be able to get at least a little juice in to it. I should have just taken my Garmin to the tent to charge. Oh well, there was nothing I could do now but hope that it would make it through the entire route the next day.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Day 4 - Paso Robles to Santa Maria

Wednesday, June 4

Day 4 started out just as early as every other day. This 4 am wake up time was not my friend. I am not a morning person to begin with, then add on the fact that I'm sleeping in a tent and biking like a mad person every day and I have an injured leg, and well, I think you get the picture. I did a few quick stretches and hobbled over to get some breakfast. Thankfully there were almost no lines so I opted for something different for breakfast. I got some hash browns and a yogurt and made my way over to the tables. I sat alone, which was probably a good thing, because I was not in a good mood and didn't feel like talking to anyone.

Afterwards I headed back to the tent to get ready. Since this was the big Halfway to LA photo opp day, I wanted to wear my $5k jersey. I worked hard to get that jersey and I couldn't have done it without all of the amazing people in my life who decided to support me financially. THANK YOU!

I wasn't limping as much as I was the day before, but my muscle was still a little tight and not cooperating. I just wanted to make it to the photo spot, which was only at mile 17 (unfortunately it was at the top of a hill). I figured that it was downhill from there to the next rest stop and I could SAG it to camp from that point if my leg was really hurting.

I gathered up all my stuff, pack up the tent and slowly pulled my gear bag to the trucks. I headed over to the bikes and met up with the guys. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to keep up with them at all, but I rolled out of camp with them anyways. Once I got moving, I soon realized that if I kept my toe pointed slightly downward, the muscle in the back of my knee wouldn't be strained as much when I pedaled. I was surprised at how little my leg was bothering me on the bike, because it sure was a pain in the butt off the bike.

The first rest stop was at the 10 mile point. It was a good warm up and I wasn't having too much pain, which was good. I made it to the rest stop and found a spot to park my bike. What are the odds, that I managed to end up parking my bike right next to someone else who had blinged out their spokes...

I found the guys and hung out with them as I rested up for the big climb up to the half way point. Scott was missing from this photo because he had gone on ahead and was going to get a spot in line at the halfway point.

Since it was a climb up to the halfway point I left the rest stop before the guys to give myself a bit more time since I climb slower. Despite having a head start, they guys still ended up passing me. They told me that when I got to the top to look for them and I could just join them in line.

As I was reaching the top of the hill I saw my teammate Gino heading in the opposite direction (back down the hill). I said hi to him and heard the girl behind me ask where he was going. I explained that he was most likely going to do the hill again because he is training for the Death Ride. She thought that was crazy, and I had to agree.

I crossed the road and started looking for the guys. I didn't see them anywhere so I gave Michael a call. They had already finished taking their photos so I told them to just go on ahead. They were over where the lines were shorts, but the background of the photo was some trees. I wanted to wait to get my photo taken in the middle spot where the hills were off in the distance in the background. So I got into line, knowing that I was going to be there for a while. The line felt like it took forever and the heat wasn't helping. Here is a video I took with the GoPro while I was waiting in line. You can see just how hectic it is there and how long the lines are.

It was all worth it in the end. I worked hard to get to this point and I'm happy to have this lovely photo as a reminder of all that hard work! 

After I got my photo I tried to get out of the mess of the area. I ended up running into one of my teammates and we took a quick photo together.

(photo taken by Robert Benscoter)

Thankfully there was a nice long descent after this point. It was a very welcomed relief from the heat and I could just coast and not have to worry about pedaling for a while. I had seen a friends video from a previous year before ALC and I thought of it as I was getting ready to head out. I quickly switched my GoPro into video mode and here you have it....

I made my way to rest stop 2. Just before getting there I stopped to take a photo and enjoy the beautiful view. The last few days we had been more inland, so it was nice to see the coast again.

Rest stop 2 had a old Hollywood/Black & White film theme. Love his scarf by the way :)

This rest stop was my main goal location for the day (beside the Halfway point). I figured that if I could make it here, then I could hop on the SAG bus if my knee wasn't cooperating. I parked my bike and headed over to the snacks and water tents. 

Thankfully my knee was feeling okay. I was surprised by how well it was feeling after all of the pain I was in the night before. I made the decision that I would just keep going, taking it one stretch at a time, rest stop to rest stop. The good thing was that I wasn't ever going to be stranded since ALC is so well supported and there are so many amazing Roadies out there making sure we are safe on the road.
The only down side was that since I was riding my own pace and listening to my knee, I ended up riding a good portion of the route so far on my own (meaning that I wasn't riding with any of my teammates). I did see a couple teammates while I was at the rest stop. One of them even got this nice photo of me (we were so lucky to be biking in some beautiful areas)...

(photo taken by Greg Ripa)

After resting and refueling, I hit the road again. There were 16 miles to go before getting to Lunch. The nice thing was that all the major climbing was over for the day, but I still had 54 miles ahead of me before getting to camp in Santa Maria. As I mentioned before, my plan was just to see how far I could make it and go from rest stop to rest stop. 

Our lunch stop was at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. After parking my bike and grabbing some food, I found the girls (Jen, Emily, Merrill, and Pavani) hanging out under the big tent. I sat down to join them and eat my lunch. As I was sitting there I could tell someone had come over and was standing right beside me. I looked up to see who it was and to my surprise it was Scott. I figured that they guys were WAY ahead of me and that I wouldn't see them until I got to camp. Apparently they had made several stops along the way, enjoying the sites and some various eateries. I went over to see the gang and let them know that I was doing fine and my knee wasn't in too much pain. It really made me happy to see them. 

I finished eating lunch with the girls and actually ended up rolling out with Jen and Emily. It was nice to have some friends to ride with again. I don't really like riding by myself (even though that is a weird thing to say I was by myself, because with 2300+ riders, you are never really alone). 

Our third rest stop was themed like a Fire Station, and it was fitting because it was a scorcher out there. The max temperature for the day was 95, but when you are out in the sun, it feels a lot hotter!

After rest stop 3 we headed towards Pismo Beach. This brought us to another beautiful portion of the ride along the coast.

Before we got to the last rest stop there was an iconic non-ALC stop we were told we needed to make.... and that was at the Old West Cinnamon Rolls place. This has become a famous stop along the route. As you can see from this photo my teammate took the line gets crazy long!

(photo taken by Robert Benscoter)

Jen, Emily and I pulled in and found a spot to park our bikes. As Emily and I went to get in line, Jen kept on repeating "You're kidding me right?" Obviously she wasn't all too excited to be standing in this line. We all thought about it and knew that we would be there for at least an hour, and we weren't that convinced that we just HAD to have a cinnamon roll. As we headed back to our bikes, we saw a guy sitting on the curb enjoying his cinnamon roll. Jen decided that we should at least see what all the hubbub was about and she asked to see his cinnamon roll. He had half of one left and mentioned that he was all sticky from eating it. I offered him a wet wipe and to our surprise, he offered to give us the rest of his cinnamon roll. A first we said no thank you, but he explained that this was his second one and he insisted on sharing it with us. So after only a 15 minute stop, we got to experience the famous cinnamon rolls thanks to his generosity.

We hit the road again and made our way to the last rest stop. As we were getting close, I could tell the heat and distance were getting to me. My knee was feeling okay, but I was starting to get a pain right between my shoulders. I was starting to get irritable and I was ready to be done.

When we got to the rest stop I knew that I needed to make it a quick stop. There was only 5.5 miles to go before getting to camp.

It kind of sucks that I was so irritable because the theme at the rest stop was Orange is the New Black, which is a Netflix original show that I watch.

Jen asked me if I wanted to take a photo and I said no. I told her that I was just going to go on and head to camp. Really wish I would have been in a better mood, because the photo that the guys took was pretty fun.

Oh well. I headed back to my bike and rode those last 5.5 miles to camp on my own. When I pulled into camp I found the guys by their bikes. They had just gotten in to camp not to long ago themselves. This was good for me because it meant that I could park with them and wouldn't have to worry about finding their bikes in the morning. 

Day 4 Ride Stats
Total Distance: 84.1 mi
Elevation: 4,995 ft
Ride Time: 5:53:12
Average Speed: 14.3 mph

ALC total Miles: 340.2 mi

I grabbed all my stuff off my bike and headed to the gear trucks to get my bag and tent. After getting my tent set up I headed to go get food with Scott and Jamie. As we were nearing the food tent, I realized that I still had on my cycling shoes. I completely forgot to change them after grabbing my gear bag. Good thing they are mountain bike style shoes and not difficult to walk in. Anyway, tonight was Mexican night so we got some tacos, rice and beans. The food wasn't too bad, but I ended up eating the rice and beans more than the tacos because I waited too long and the meat got colder and a little tough.

After eating dinner I headed over to the shower truck to get cleaned up. My knee was doing ok, so getting up into the shower truck wasn't as difficult as it was the day before. Once I was all cleaned up I went to check out the camp store to see what all they had to offer. I ended up getting a couple things: SF to LA tank top, ALC water bottle, ALC 545 socks (to match the jersey that I wore on Day 1) and SF to LA map note cards.

Later that evening, a group of us hung out at the tents. It was nice to just relax, hang out and talk with friends. That was pretty much all we did for the rest of the night. Soon it was time to get some sleep. Thankfully the next day was a short day, but with it being Red Dress day there was going to be plenty of excitement.