Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day 2 - Santa Cruz to King City

Monday, June 2nd

Rise and shine, wake up time was 4:15am! It is true what they say, camp gets up around 4am. By that time you can already start to hear bags and tents zipping, the whispered chatter start up and the snoring starting to quiet down. My first night camping went okay. Yep, that's right, I've never been camping before now. I may be from Pennsylvania, but we didn't do much outdoorsy things when I was a kid. My sister and I were too busy with dance and gymnastics for things like camping. I managed to get some sleep; my sleeping bag was nice and warm and my mattress pad made sleeping on the ground a bit more comfortable. I did vaguely remember hearing Jen, my tentmate, complain about the "snoring sympathy" around us at least once or twice during the night. Needless to say, she didn't get all that much sleep. Thankfully I can usually sleep through snoring.

Once I fully woke up, I got changed into cycling gear, which I conveniently stashed inside my sleeping bag the night before so that it would be nice and warm. We headed to get something to eat before packing up all of our gear and tent. We hit up the express line for some oatmeal, yogurt and fruit. I wasn't interested in standing in a long line for the regular breakfast, which I think had eggs and bacon (which I don't eat anyways). After getting our gear over to the gear trucks, we headed to bike parking.

We rolled out of camp with the guys, Jamie, Scott, Michael, Ken and Patrick (a friend of Ken's). I think it was almost 7am when we left. Out of camp, we made our way onto a bike path that took us out towards the ocean. We strolled through the cute little town of Capitola...

Shortly after our little downtown stroll, he hit a crazy steep hill. It was short, but felt rather steep. Thankfully, with all my training and hill climbing, it wasn't too challenging and I was able to make it to the top without having to get off my bike and walk. The guys were waiting for me at the top.

We made our way to our first rest stop at Manresa State Beach. After parking my bike I headed over to the medical tent to see if someone could show me some more stretches I could do to help with my knee pain. They showed me some that I was already doing, but also a few new ones. The key was going to be doing them repeatedly, at each rest stop, to keep the muscle loose and warmed up. I then went to get some snacks and refill my bottles, and we were soon on our way.

We had about 23 miles until our next rest stop, but they were mostly flat miles. We rode along some farm land and unfortunately over some wet and dirty roads. The back of my legs were covered in dirt, what fun.

The one exciting thing that happened right before we got to the rest stop was that we rode right past Ione Olson Elementary School in Marina, CA. This was fun because as we passed, the kids were outside on their recess and several of them were lined up along the fence cheering us on. It was so cute to see them all so excited to see us on our bikes. I loved seeing all of the people out cheering us on along the entire route, but these kids were by far my favorite.

We pulled into the rest stop and parked our bikes. We realized that we hadn't taken a group shot that day yet, so now was as good a time as any. :)

The theme for rest stop 2 was park rangers. Everyone had on little ranger vests and they even had 'activity books' with stickers.

I grabbed an Owl sticker and added it to my helmet. (My sister likes owls. Unfortunately they don't have monkeys in the forest, otherwise I would have grabbed one). While we were at the rest stop the guys and I took some time for stretching, always a good idea. I just thought they looks silly in their little pigeon pose semi-circle.

Our lunch stop was only another 9 miles down the road. Today's lunch stop theme.... Christmas. There was a traffic roadie naming out who was naughty and who was nice as well were directed into the stop and towards bike parking. However, it seemed that everyone was Naught this year :) We wanted to make this a quick lunch stop, so the guys and I grabbed our lunches and found a picnic table that would accommodate all of us. After eating, I wanted to check out the Sports Med tent to see how long it would take to see someone about my knee pain. They had a clipboard for signups, but since we were trying to make it a quick stop I didn't want to wait. However, Scott wanted to go to Sports Med as well and said that we could just let the others go and we'd roll out later together. So I put my name down on the list. We had to wait about 30 to 45 minutes. When my name was called, I explained the pain that I was dealing with to the physical therapist. She did some different stretches and some massaging to help loosen up the muscle. She told me that hopefully this would help and the muscle would continue to loose up and work itself out.

About an hour after we had finished eating our lunch we finally rolled out of the lunch stop. Jamie and Michael had decided to wait with Scott and I, so we still had most of our little group.  Since we ended up staying longer at lunch and we still had a little over 60 miles, we really wanted to pick up our speed. While we were trying to get out of downtown Salinas, I accidentally dropped my water bottle as I was trying to get it back in the cage. I didn't want to stop and pick it up since the guys were flying ahead of me, and I knew that I had an extra one in my gear bag. That unfortunately meant that I had one water bottle for the remaining 60 mile ride, but Michael helped me make sure that I had enough water by sharing his extra bottle with me when need be.

There was a little bit of climbing along the 21 miles between lunch and rest stop 3, nothing steep, just a gradual incline. This, combined with the heat started to take a toll and slowed me down a bit. At some point, Jamie got a flat tire. We pulled over to wait with him while he changed it out, but he insisted that we keep moving. So Michael and I headed on to rest stop 3 while Scott waited with Jamie.

We had to deal with some crazy tailwinds and side winds before getting to rest stop 3. The tailwinds are nice but the side winds are a strange thing to deal with. You actually have to lean into the wind, and hope that it doesn't stop all of a sudden so you don't fall over. Thankfully, we made it safely to the rest stop.

Rest stop 3 was Day of the Dead themed. It was neat seeing all the roadies with their face paint. These are ALC photos (so I don't know anyone in the photo).

We got some snacks and refilled our water bottles. We hit the road as soon as we could so that we could keep good time and make it to the other stops before closing. We had 12.5 miles to go before getting to the water stop.  The water stop on Day 2 is well known. It is the famous Otter Pop Stop.

The water stop was at Mission La Soledad. We walked over to the Mission and they had post cards that you could fill out to send to your family and the Mission would pay for the postage. I thought that it was a nice thing to offer. There was a woman there who worked at the Mission and I overheard her telling another rider how much she loves working on this day every year to see all of the riders come through. She said that she looks forward to it every year, and even if she wasn't scheduled to work, she would still be there that day. It is so cool to hear how much of an impact ALC has on the public, not just for those receiving the life saving treatments funded by this event.

After getting an obligatory otter pop, we got back out on the road. We had another 14.6 miles to go before getting to the last rest stop and we needed to keep an eye on the time. When we got to the water stop we had 45 minutes until the stop closed.

Thanks to the relatively flat landscape, we were able to keep a good pace. We made it to the last rest stop with just under 30 minutes before close. We knew that we had to get moving, so we quickly grabbed some snacks and refilled the water bottles. We enjoyed the last little show that the rest stop 4 boys put on. The theme was My Little Brony and the guys had on pony themed sweatshirts that even had rainbow colored manes.

When we went to get our bikes from the rack, Jamie noticed that he had a flat tire. Figuring that the bike techs would be faster, he took it over to their tent. As we were waiting for the tech to fix the flat we head the dreaded "5 minutes left before this rest stop closes!" Oh no! There was only 12 miles left in the days ride and I was only 4 miles from hitting my first century ride. There was NO WAY I wasn't going to make it out of this stop on my own. I was determined not to get SAG'ed. Jamie had me, Scott and Michael get out of the rest stop and wait for him around the corner. As we stood there, waiting, hoping that he would make it out on time I kept looking back at the rest stop. All of a sudden I saw someone running with their bike. There was Jamie, doing all he could to make it out in time. 

Four miles down the road, we hit the glorious 100 mile mark! :) My first century ride ever! 

This was the first century ride that Scott and I had done. Crazy little Michael had just done a double century only a few short weeks ago (yes, that is 200 miles in one day; I did say he was crazy). The guy in black is Les, one of our training ride leaders on our team. He happened to be riding past as we were getting ready to take this photo, so we stopped him and had him join,. The guy on the right is Justin, another first time rider on our team. This was also his first century ride.

We made it to camp around 6:45pm. The route closes at 7:00pm, so we really didn't have much time to spare. But we made it, and that was all that mattered!

Day 2 Ride Stats
Total Distance: 108 mi
Elevation: 2,723 ft
Ride Time: 6:30:32
Average Speed: 16.5 mph (this is the fastest average speed I have ever gotten!)
ALC total Miles: 191 mi

We parked our bikes and headed to the gear truck to get our stuff. My tentmate had already made it to camp so she had already grabbed out tent. When I found my bag, my friend Gino offered to roll it to my tent. I wasn't going to let the offer pass by and I thanked him for the help. After 108 miles, I really didn't have the energy to struggle with rolling my bag over bumpy campgrounds.

Since it was later in the day, we all decided to go straight to the food tent to get dinner. During dinner, we listened to the announcements. Unfortunately it had been a bad day out on the road. They reported about 12 ER visits, including many broken bones, a concussion, and facial lacerations. The road conditions at times were not ideal, but all in all, too many people were riding too fast and too close together. Michael, Scott, Jamie and I all looked at each other. We had been cruising along at some pretty fast speeds that day. At one point, a rider in front of us looked back and called out "Car Back!" and when we looked behind us to check for ourselves, we saw nothing but open rode. She just called us a car! :) We were slightly proud of ourselves. We wondered if we were going to have warnings on our bikes in the morning.

After dinner, I got a shower and hit the sack. I was exhausted. I couldn't believe that I was going to get up the next day and do another 67 miles. I had never done this many miles back to back before, and I had never done three days in a row.

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