Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day 1 - San Francisco to Santa Cruz

Sunday, June 1st

The morning started out bright and early (well, not so bright, seeings how I got up at 3am). I needed to be at the Cow Palace around 5am in order to drop off my bag and get to the opening ceremony on time. It was way too early to be up and moving around, but it was just a taste of what was to come in the week ahead. We made it to the Cow Palace on time and got to the drop off area.

I got my bag and rolled over to the gear truck. It was kind of crazy and there were people and bags all over the place. As a noobie, I wasn't really sure which way to head and hoped that I would figure this whole thing out quickly. I made my way toward gear truck D and dropped off my bag. On to the Cow Palace....

They had some breakfast items available for us that morning. After I found my friends I grabbed from fruit to supplement the cliff bar I ate in the car on my way over. We then made our way into the arena area and towards the stage. We wanted to get positioned close to where they let everyone out to get to their bikes.

I knew that the opening ceremony would be an emotional experience. We were all so excited to hear that we had set yet another fundraising record this year....

* * * $15,000159.00  * * *

After that wonderful announcement they spoke about the reasons we all ride: for those who cannot, for a cure, courage, strength, determination, etc. There was also an unmanned bicycle that was accompanied to the stage. I had heard about this part of the ceremony and had seen photos before. I have been luck to not have lost anyone I know to this disease, but I can only begin to imagine all of the pain and loss others have felt over the years. I was never more proud to be a part of something so amazing.

Following opening ceremony, we were released from the arena area and corralled towards our bikes. And I do mean corralled, it was almost like a stampede as everyone was rushing to get to their bikes so that they would not be at the end of the line.

I made my way to my bike and got my GoPro ready. I wanted to get a video of the roll out from the Cow Palace to always remember the excitement of the moment.

A fellow teammate who wasn't riding in ALC this year also took a video of the ride out. Here is the video... sorry, I couldn't figure out how to embed it like I can with my own videos.

I started out with my group but soon it was just me and my friend Michael. There was a bit of climbing that we had to do to get out of San Francisco and I am a slower climber. There was a water stop right before mile 5, but we skipped it since we didn't need water yet. At this point Michael went on ahead to catch up with the other guys.

I made my way to the first rest stop, which was at about mile 18. My first official rest stop of ALC 2014 and I was greeted by the King.... Elvis that is.

The first thing that I did once I got into the rest stop was to head over to the bike tech tent. I had been told while riding that my back wheel was looking a little wobbly. The mechanic took a look as determined that I needed to get my wheel trued. However, if I would wait to have them do it at this stop, it could take between 30 to 45 minutes. He said that it would be ok for me to wait until I got to the lunch stop to get the wheel fixed, so I went with that option.

I parked my bike on the rack and headed over to get some water and food. When I was ready I headed back over to my bike and found a couple of my teammates.

I ended up rolling out of the rest stop with my tentmate Jen. We made our way to our next big climb, up Highway 35. This hill is apparently known as Strawberry hill because they hand out strawberries to riders at the top. There were strawberries smashed all over the place. What a mess! Anyways, we were rewarded with a nice downhill after the climb. I stopped at the top to get my jacket all zipped up and turn on my GoPro. Here is the fun video I took of our descent down Highway 92.

We made our way to rest stop 2, which had a roller derby theme. We got some water and snacks (our typical rest stop routine.... eat, drink, pee... in no particular order). At the rest stop they had a 'Free Black Eye' station where they were putting on make up to make people look like they had black eyes and other facial bruises. Seeing people walking around all bruised up was freaky because if you didn't realize that it was fake, you started to worry that people were really hurt. I was definitely caught off guard by a couple of people.

Our lunch stop was at San Gregorio State Beach off Highway 1. The first thing I did was to drop my bike off with the bike techs. I told the guy that my wheel needed to be trued and he said it would only take 10 minutes. I was glad I waited to do it at lunch, because that was a lot faster than waiting around at rest stop 1. I grabbed a lunch and by the time I walked past the bike tech tent my bike was done. Love the Cannondale ALC bike techs! They are fast and do an awesome job! I parked my bike and joined my friends at a picnic table.

There were about 21 miles between lunch and rest stop 3, and it was all along Hihgway 1 and the beautiful California coast. I had done some of those miles when I did the Zen Mother ride a month ago. I love the scenery along Highway 1 and it is even better from the bike (because you get to enjoy it longer since you are moving slower).

As I pulled into rest stop 3 the roadies greeted us with "Welcome to Octoberfest!" I heard another rider behind me as "are there any beers?" I was not expecting the answer that came next, but laughed when I heard the roadie respond, " nope, but we got queers."

I parked my bike, found Jen, who rolled in shortly after me, and we headed over to get some snacks and refill our water bottles. At the water tent, we came across this road, who was offering to fill up your water bottle with his own special jugs of water :) As you can tell, Jen wasn't so excited about the offer.

We did some quick stretches and got back on our bikes. Another 12 miles along highway 1 and we reached our last rest stop of the day. We had been informed that rest stop 4 goes all out on their themes, which seemed hard to imagine when the other rest stops we had seen that day were pretty elaborate. We pulled into the rest stop and were greeted by Team Brasil soccer players. The theme was the FIFA World Cup.

Jen wanted to get her photo taken with the boys.... and yes, that guy in the middle isn't wearing pants. He had on a little thong. Trust me, this picture is rather tame compared to some of the other ones I saw being taken.

I ended up riding out of the rest stop with the guys (Jamie, Scott, Michael, and Ken). We were only 6.5 miles from camp so we were eager to get there and get cleaned up. We made our way into Santa Cruz and towards Harvey West Park. Unfortunately, about a mile or so from camp Jamie got a flat tire. We all stopped and waited with him while he changed it out.

Luckily, the locals were very friendly. A couple walking by told us, that if all else fails, we could walk to camp. Also, i think the person that lived in the house on the corner came out of their home and offered a floor pump for Jamie to use. That was very nice of him and made the tire change a little bit easier. We were on our way soon enough and made it to camp safely.

Day 1 Ride Stats
Total Distance: 83.0 mi
Elevation: 5,516 ft
Ride Time: 6:11:32
Average Speed: 13.4 mph

After parking our bikes, we headed to the gear trucks to get our gear bags and tent. Jen and I found our grid spot and set up the tent. The tent went up pretty easily, which is good, since we have to do it 5 more times before the week is over.  We were able to get our gear bags inside our tent along with our sleeping pads and sleeping bags. It was nice not having to leave our bags outside, because they would have gotten dew on them overnight.

Anyways, we gathered up our things and headed over to the shower trucks. I didn't take a photo of the shower truck, but they looked similar to these ones....

When you went into the truck there was a little common changing area and then there were several individual shower stalls. It was so nice to have access to a hot shower after being on the road all day. It was also great on those colder nights because it gave you a way to warm up and break the chill that you can easily get from being sweaty and outdoors.

After we got cleaned up we went to get some dinner and then hung out at the tents.

In our tent grid we proudly displayed a team banner that was made by one of the riders daughters. It looked pretty awesome, with the ACL logo as well as our team jersey design for that year.

Before the dinner tent closed for the night, we went back to get a little more food. The nice thing is that we can eat as much as we want/need for the week.

Finally it was time to go to bed and get some sleep, we had a big day ahead of us.

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