Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 3 - King City to Paso Robles

Tuesday, June 3

Good morning day 3. After allowing myself a couple minutes to fully wake up, stretch out those sleepy muscles, and adjust to the temperature difference outside of my cozy sleeping bag, I headed over to get some breakfast. The lines were better today, but I still choose to hit up the express line. Some oatmeal and yogurt would be just fine.

After eating I got changed into my cycling clothes for the day and got all my gear packed up. I took my bag and tent over to the gear trucks and then headed over to bike parking. 

As soon as I saw my bike I was relieved, there was no safety warning! (To refresh the memory, on Day 2 they informed us that too many people were riding too fast and too close together. My friends and I thought for sure we were going to get in trouble because we too were going pretty fast, even though we were pretty safe about it and always called out when passing) I got all my stuff on my bike and into my top bar bag. By stuff I mean my Garmin and GoPro as well as the items I carried in the top-bar bag, like sunscreen, ibuprofen, chapstick, route sheet, etc. I also made sure that my tires were properly inflated. We ended up having to wait for Jamie to get his bike back from the bike techs. He had dropped it off the night before to get some new tires since he had gotten several flats already. I think it was about 7:30am by the time we rolled out.

Getting out of King City was a little slow, but once we got moving it wasn't long before we were at the first rest stop. The rest stop theme was a 60's diner. One guy even had a shirt on that said "Mel's Diner". Even though we had a little warm up getting to the rest stop, I wasn't quite in my happy place yet. I was feeling tired and a little sluggish. I think this photo really says is all...

Right after the rest stop was the dreaded Quadbuster (one of the two named hills on ALC). Unfortunately, my quads already felt busted before I even started up the hill. That would be in thanks to the 190-some miles I had done the previous two days. I geared down and took it slow. By this time, the guys had dropped me, but I wasn't alone. I had caught up with my tentmate Jen and we tackled the hill together. Just before the top there was a little pull out and I needed to stop to stretch out my knee. I would have loved to have made it all the way without stopping, but there was no point in pushing through it and injuring myself more.

As we got to the top, we saw an ALC photographer and we both smiled at him hoping to get a good shot. Unfortunately, he informed us that he was told to only take photos of people not wearing sunglasses.... LAME!

It was all down hill from there to the second rest stop. I found the guys at the rest stop and hung out with them while we got some snacks, water and stretched out. There is no better place than the back of a truck to do some stretches....

I decided to stick with the guys, so I sent a quick message to Jen letting her know that I was going to head out of the rest stop.

We had 12 miles to go before getting to our next rest stop. It was mostly flat, with a little uphill. It was nice to ride with the guys again. They help me keep up my pace and push me to ride faster. We made it to the third rest stop without any problems. The rest stop had a race car pit crew theme, which was fitting for the location (Pleyto Plaza Store).

As I walked over to the rest stop someone mentioned to me that there was ice cream inside. As good as that sounded in the heat, I was avoiding all dairy this week. I have discovered in the past year or so that I am somewhat lactose intolerant, so I've been cutting out most of the dairy in my diet. For ALC, I didn't want to deal with any discomfort so I cut it out completely. Anyway, you don't really care about my internal issues with dairy. I headed over and got some snacks and refilled my water bottles.  

Soon we were on our way. There were about 12 miles until we got to our lunch stop and it was all pretty much downhill from the rest stop. Our lunch stop was in a little town called Bradley (the town's population was only 93 according to the 2010 census). Even though there is an official ALC lunch provided, most of the cyclists opt to buy a lunch that is served by the local school kids. The Bradley Elementary School uses the ALC event as a fundraiser for their school. Thanks to the money they have raised from the riders each year, they have been able to increase class sizes and get necessary supplies for the kids.

Unfortunately, my knee was really bugging me by the time I got to lunch (I had a started to walk with a limp), so I knew I needed to go over to Sports Med. Since the line was so long for burgers, I figured that I would put my name on the Sports Med list and wait in the burger line with Ken and Michael. Jamie and Scott had decided to get the ALC provided lunch so they headed to the food tent and ate over there. I made sure to keep an eye on the Sports Med list every so often. We ended up making it through the burger line before they got to my name at Sports Med. I got my burger and ate near the Sports Med tent so that I wouldn't miss my turn. This meant that we didn't all get to eat together. Scott was also waiting for Sports Med and he was just before me on the list.

When my name was called, I told them about the pain that I had been dealing with as well as what happened with Sports Med the day before. After taking a look, she informed me that I had a little swelling in the back of my knee and that I should try to take it easy and think about cutting out some of the miles in the next day or two. She said that I wouldn't want to miss days 6 and 7. That wasn't really what I wanted to hear, but I knew I needed to make sure that I didn't injure myself more. I would really be unhappy if I couldn't finish the ride or ride across the finish line. They were able to put some rock tape on my knee to help relieve some of my pain. But because of the swelling, she wasn't sure how much the tape would help because of how they had to put it on to avoid the swelling.

And yes, that is the start of bruising on the back of my knee. I think that may have been from the massage I got the day before at Sports Med. I sometimes tend to bruise easily. Oh and I have a weird tan line on the back of my knee from that tape now. 

With only 3 miles to go to reach rest stop 4, it didn't take us very long. One of the first things I did was to take off my jersey and switch to just wearing my wind vest.

After some stretching and a quick trip to the porta potty, we headed back out onto the road. We had another 12 miles to go before getting to the last rest stop of the day. I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up with the higher speeds that the guys tend to ride, but thankfully Ken decided to keep a little slower pace with me. We were rolling along and I was in front, when I could tell that things were starting to take a turn for the worst. I could feel the emotional breakdown coming, but I was trying to ignore it. Sometimes I can let myself get worked up for nothing and I had been trying to channel my yoga practice to calm myself. Ken could tell things were not going to well for me and he called out, "You OK?" I think I responded, "Yes, well No". About three miles before we made it to the last rest stop there was a stop sign that we came up to and had to make a left turn. There was a nice wide shoulder on the other side of the road and Jamie, Scott and Michael had stopped to wait for Ken and I. As soon as we crossed the street, I got off my bike, set it on the ground and broke down. It was like someone had let the flood gates open. I was full out crying, hyperventilating... not good. They guys were all worried and I just told them I would be ok, I just needed to have my moment. They were very patient, and thankfully no one took a photo of me (i'm sure i looked ridiculous). As many told me afterwards, it wouldn't be ALC if someone doesn't have a complete meltdown and a good cry. I think that dealing with my knee pain, the thought of not being able to keep riding, and the heat was what got to me. Soon enough I was able to laugh about it and we were able to keep going.

(photo taken by Gino Ledesma)

It was amazing how much this simple change made a huge difference in my body temperature. As you can tell from the photo above, I was in a much better mood. Crazy to think that not too long ago I had tears pouring down my cheeks.

We headed over to get some snacks and cold water. It was important to drink water and Jamie and Ken told me to drink a full bottle before leaving the rest stop. They even had ice there for us to put in our bottles, which was so amazing.

The theme of the rest stop was Victoria's Secret runway show.

(photo taken by Greg Ripa)

As my friend Robert said, I think we know what Victoria's secret is. :) 

I found it interesting that this was all going on at a Mission. I made sure to look around at Mission San Miguel as well and found the architecture to be very nice.

We only had 12 more miles left before making it to camp and they were fairly flat so it didn't take us very long to get to Paso Robles. We got to camp around 4:00 pm. Before heading to bike parking we decided to take advantage of the bike cleaning station. Ken, Michael, Scott and myself hosed down our bikes and put on some new chain lube. Jamie headed over to park his bike because he didn't want to worry about cleaning his bike. When we headed over to the parking area we were handing letters that were written to us by local school kids. It was so cute to read their encouraging words. 

Day 3 Ride Stats
Total Distance: 65.1 mi
Elevation: 2,473 ft
Ride Time: 4:29:20
Average Speed: 14.5 mph

ALC total Miles: 256.1 mi

After grabbing all my stuff off my bike, I wanted to head over to Sports Med to get some ice for my knee. Ken, Scott, Michael and I headed out of bike parking and made a pit stop at the porta potties before splitting ways (the guys were going to head to get their gear and tents). As soon as I stepped out of the porta potty my knee gave out on my and it felt like I had pulled the muscle. I was in a lot of pain and I keeled over in pain and tears (of course). Thankfully there was a table right there that I could lean on (not that I wanted to lean on the table right outside the porta potty which was often called the poop table, but hey, beggars can't be choosers, and it could have been worse, I could have gotten stuck in the porta potty or fell back into the porta potty. either way, the table was a saving grace at the moment). Good thing the guys were still there with me because they were going to help me get to the medical tent. Unfortunately, I couldn't really walk too well, so Ken and Scott went to seek help from the medical staff while Michael stayed with me. Two guys from the medical team came and allowed me to put all my weight on them as they helped me hobble over to medical area. Since they really were not sure what had happened they started to take my information and got me some ice. They determined that I most likely did not pull the muscle, and therefore, I would need to be seen by someone at sports med instead. Thankfully, the physical therapist from Sports Med came to me, so I didn't have to worry about how I was going to get up and move myself. He was able to massage out the muscle a bit and showed me some stretches that I should do to help continue to loosen the muscle. He also suggested that I ice my knee at least one more time that night and continue to do stretches. 

As I limped out of medical, I headed over to try and find the guys. I needed to get my gear bag and tent and knew there was no way I was going to be able to lug my bag on my own. Jen, my tentmate, was going to be staying with her friend in town, so I was on my own to set up the tent (which in normal circumstances wouldn't be a problem). I wanted to see if the guys would help me out and to my surprise, Scott already had. Since he knew my tent grid number he had grabbed my bag and tent and got everything set up. What a great guy!

As I sat in my tent, slowly gathering up all the things I would need for dinner and a shower afterwards, I decided to clue the facebook world in to my situation.

I had already decided... well started to mentally prepare myself with the idea... that I was going to take it easy on Day 4 and probably wouldn't be doing all of the miles. With how much of a limp I had currently, I didn't think that I was really going to be able to pedal much at all. The only thing holding me back from completely saying that I would stay off my bike was the fact that Day 4 was the 'Halfway to LA' photo opp. And I did NOT want to miss that. I had worked so hard and trained for this and I wanted that photo dagnabbit!

Michael was around and he headed over to dinner with me. I had to walk very slow because I didn't have much in the range of motion. Michael stayed with me, at times he would start to walk faster and get ahead of me forgetting that I was miss slow poke, but no worries, he would soon look back and stop to wait for me. Of course dinner was at the other end of camp and felt like it was miles away. After we got in line for food Michael walked over to the drink line and picked me up some soy milk. As we were waiting, I realized that I had forgotten my water bottle so I asked if he could go grab me a cup as well. The guy behind me was surprised at how helpful Michael was and asked if he could borrow him. I explained that I was injured and Michael was being an AWESOME friend (he was kind of my own little man servant).

After dinner I headed back towards the shower trucks and got cleaned up. It was not fun trying to climb the few steps up into the truck and it wasn't any easier to get down. But it was nice to take a hot shower and get all of the days grime off. Those hot showers can really help relax and rejuvenate you. 

My last stop on this trip was medical, so that I could get another bag of ice for my knee. I slowly headed back to my tent and finally put my little camping chair to good use. It was easier to ease myself down into the low chair than all the way to the ground; also made getting back up easier too. I checked my facebook one more time and noticed that I had gotten some comments on my earlier post.

While I was back at my tent, Michael asked if I had seen his tentmate Delilah. I had not, and unfortunately neither had anyone else around us. I asked him if he had checked with Participant Services, Medical or bike Parking. He had but did not have any luck. Since it was almost 8 pm and the route had closed at 7 pm, he was starting to get worried. He headed over to find Jamie to see what could be done about tracking her down.

As I sat in my tent, icing my knee, I heard Delilah's voice. I called her over and told her that we were all worried about her. I got a hold of Michael and told him to call the search off, she had been found. Now that the search party had been called off and I had iced my knee I wanted to get up and move around a bit to stretch out my knee. I also wanted to head back over to medical to get another bag of ice before they closed.

I found the guys over near where all the service tents were (kind of in the middle of camp; camp was always set up a little bit different each day, but today, tents were on one end, food was on the other end, and all the services were in the middle, like medical, participant services, camp store, etc.). We also came across the pet therapy woman. I knew nothing about this, but apparently this woman brings her bunnies and cats out in a baby stroller for the ALC participants to pet. She does it every year and she goes to at least two of the camps. The bunny loved to sit on your shoulder and would actually try to climb up to you shoulder if you were just holding him regularly.


It was starting to get a little late, so I headed to my tent to ice my knee one more time before heading to bed. I had no idea what the next day had in store for me, but I was just hoping that my knee would be a little bit better in the morning. Only time would tell... Goodnight!

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