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.

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