Friday, May 2, 2014

ALC Day on the Ride

I had an absolute blast at the Aids LifeCycle Day on the Ride on Sunday. First of all, it started in San Rafael, which was awesome because that meant that I only had a 25 minute drive to the start point! I left my house at my normal time, around 6 am. I parked in my normal parking garage for work, got all my gear out and rode over to the meet-up point. I put my bike on the rack by a teammates bike and headed over to check-in. I wanted to get there early so I could hang out as all of my teammates started to pour in. It was amazing to see just how good we all looked in our fancy kits.

Our very own James (the guy in the red & black jacket) was working the Check-In table.

Look at all those volunteers helping with Check-In

Parked my bike on the Aardvark rack. It was nice that they were labelled.

I was #62 for the day. Funny enough, my tent mate Jen got #72. 

Even though the morning was a cold and misty one, we were trying not to let that get our spirits down. We had fun taking some group photos while we waited for the announcements and safety speech.

 LaFawn, Stacy, Jen (my tent mate) & myself 

It was almost time to set out on the route. We were given route sheets as we got there, which was the first time we got to see where we would be riding for the day. I've been wondering where all we would be headed and I found out that we would be eating lunch in Petaluma. The route was going to be 64 miles with just over 4,100 feet of climbing.

I was excited to be riding up in this area because I haven't had too many opportunities to find out which roads around here are good for cycling. I rolled out of the parking lot with Jen. With almost 500 people, we were having a hard time locating Jamie and Scott. I figured that we would just catch up with them at the first rest stop. We headed towards San Anselmo and then on to Fairfax. Our first hill of the day was White's Hill. I had to stop midway up the hill to take off my rain jacket. It had pretty much stopped raining/misting by this time and I was getting too warm. A fellow teammate, Robert, was stopped at the same location. He was singing and helping push people up the hill. It is an interesting site to come across, but like he said, he wanted to give people a true taste of a 'Day on the Ride'. Once we got our rain gear off we continued our climb. As we were getting to the top, we heard someone from behind yell 'get up that hill girls'. Without turning back to look, I knew it was Scott, (our drill Sargent). He had caught up with us and said that Jamie was not far behind. They had waited for us a few miles back because they didn't know if we were ahead of them or behind. He also tried calling and texting me, but I ignored my phone when I heard it go off in my pocket. I just assumed that it was an alarm or wrong number, I hardly ever get calls and the only people who would normally call me knew what I was doing that day. (This reminds me that I need to get my pebble watch fixed.)

Our first rest stop was at the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company. After pulling in to the rest stop we went to park our bikes. I was just placing my bike on the rack when I looked up to see Lorri, the bike coach who taught the Bike Skills 101 class I took last year. I didn't realize that she was going to be there so it was a nice surprise. The other nice thing was that the sun was finally making an appearance and the clouds were starting to part, lending way to nice blue skies.

All of the crew at Rest Stop 1 were wearing cow hats, which was fitting since we were at a cheese company. We headed over to the snack tent and had our first 'taste' of an ALC rest stop. They had these PB&J sandwiches on graham crackers that were so good. They are appropriately nicknamed 'crack' (I can see how they can be addictive). After a short break we were ready to keep moving and hit the road. Jen & I headed to our bikes, but she soon noticed that her bottle cage was loose. She wanted to take care of it so that it wouldn't be rattling all day. We headed back to the maintenance tent and got some lock tight for the cage screws. With that fixed, we were back on the road in no time.

We headed north past Nicasio Reservior. As we approached our next turn, which was being signalled by Moto, Jen & I both realized and yelled out at the same time, "Is that Randy!?!?" It was and we were happy to see him. I didn't get a chance to see him and say hi in the morning, so it was nice to see him out on the road. I overheard one of the other moto guys saying, 'man you are popular' to Randy. I can only assume that many of the South Bay Blaze said hello as they passed him that day. As I turned the corner, I explained that we LOVE Randy! I feel like the SBB may be a bit spoiled having such an awesome SAG driver for our training rides. Randy is the best and he treats us well out on the road.

Since we were heading into farm country we were starting to see a lot of cows. There was one cow that was mostly black, but had a thick white stripe around his midsection. Jen said he looked like an Oreo and I chuckled in agreement. We made our way past the Marin Cheese Factory and turned onto Hicks Valley. I had gotten a little bit ahead of Jen, so I found a nice shoulder to pulled over at to wait for her. While I waited I had a Cliff gel to refuel for the upcoming climb. We were warned that Wilson Hill was up ahead and was a pretty wicked climb. I managed to make it up Wilson Hill without having to stop too much. I can't remember how many times I did stop, but I think it was only once or twice. The whole time I was climbing, I kept saying to myself, i'm going to pull over up there to stop and take a breather, then I would ride on past, saying, nope, just keep going. I am glad that I have learned that a lot of the time, my struggle is purely mental and I can keep pushing. When I finally made it to the top, I was rewarded with an AMAZING view!!

 Look at those rolling green hills and beautiful blue sky! This is part of why I love the north bay.

While I was taking this photo, another cyclist rode past and I overheard him say "let me take a selfie"
(If you don't know the reference, check out this video...

As we got closer to Petaluma I started to hit some familiar roads. It was interesting to be riding my my territory for a change. We made our way towards town to McNear Park, our lunch stop. When we pulled in we parked our bike along with all the other bikes (I hope I don't forget where I parked my bike, was the thought running through my mind). We headed to the food tent, making sure to sanitize our hands before grabbing our bagged lunch. The day's lunch contained a turkey sandwich, a bag of chips and a cookie. Even though I don't eat turkey, I made an exception because I was hungry. I've been concerned about the food that will be available during ALC since I'm a very picky eater, but I think that I'm just going to have to deal with what is available. I'll probably be too hungry to care at times. We joined our team at one of the tables in the park. It felt kind of like a high school cafeteria since teams were grouped up together.

After I was done eating I wanted to go over and properly say hi to our Moto Randy. I came up behind him and gave him a hug, which startled him. I said, "you have to hug a moto, right?" Randy informed me that now I had to hug ALL of the Moto. So, around the table I went, giving each moto volunteer a hug and thanking them for being out there today. I figure, this is my first ALC, so I need to do it right :)

After lunch we headed out of Petaluma on 1st street. Man that was one bumpy road. It did lend me an example to my friends as to why I don't do a whole lot of riding outside of Petaluma. These farm country roads are just that, country roads that don't get a whole lot of repaving work done. Thankfully we were only on that road for a few miles. When we got to our next turn the roadie was telling everyone that smoother roads were ahead.

There was one more large hill we had to climb, Red Hill, and it was around the 40 mile mark. My legs were screaming at me already, but I just kept moving. Once I made it to the top I noticed that Jamie and Scott were pulled over fixing a flat. Jamie had gotten a flat tire and was just finishing up putting in the new tube. He had picked up a pesky little goat head thorn somewhere. Some other riders had the same unfortunate luck, because I turned around to see at least one other rider pulling up with a flat. I'm glad I wasn't joining in on the festivities. Once Jamie was good to go, we cruised on down the hill and it was pretty smooth sailing to our last rest stop at Stafford Lake.

At the rest stop I filled up my water bottles and ate some more crack-ers. We didn't want to stay too long because we only had about 18 miles left and we were ready to be finished for the day. We grabbed our bikes and were headed towards the bike path when we were stalled by a Bear pile-up. The New Bear Republic team was all regrouping right at the head of the bike trail. We made our way past them and were on our way towards Novato.

The rest of the route was fairly flat (in comparison to all the climbing we had done earlier). There was one turn that I almost missed, but thankfully I had been stopped by the red light, however Jamie and Scott had made it through the intersection before the light turned red. As the rest of us stopped at the light I heard someone from behind say that they missed the turn. I quickly yelled out to Jamie to let them know so that they could turn around. They were soon back on route and flew past me again. Jen and I made our way through Novato and got onto the bike path that parallels the highway. Not long after getting onto the path we saw that Scott & Jamie were off to the side of the path with another flat. This was not Jamie's day. It brought back memories of our ride a few weeks ago that was riddled with flat tires (I think almost 20 in total for the team that day).

Soon we were on our way; riding through the neighborhood along Las Gallinas Avenue. As we passed a few other riders we heard them say that they had just been 'Blazed'. I had to laugh at that one. We made our way past Terra Linda high school, around the Northgate mall and onto the bike path that leads down to San Rafael.

As we turned onto D Street from 5th we were greeted by the Aids LifeCycle inflatable arch and were cheered in by other riders.

We parked our bikes and headed straight for the food! Before we actually made it to the food line we signed ourselves up for a free massage. Luckily they had 3 spots open for a massage soon. We had enough time to eat and relax just a little before our time slot. Amici's supplied us with a great pasta meal.

The massage was great, albeit a short one. I had him focus on my lower back and my quads. I felt great afterwards. Definitely need to cash in on my one free massage during ALC!

Here are some of my team members with Julie Brown (an ALC staff member) hanging out after the ride.

Aids LifeCycle Day on the Ride was DONE! 64 miles down, a total of 130 for the weekend! It was an amazing way to do my first real back to back. Can't wait for ALC in one month!!!

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