Monday, June 11, 2012

ALC Day 1: San Francisco to Santa Cruz

In ALC speak I rode "every effing mile!"

But every good story starts at the beginning.

Day 1 - June 3
San Francisco to Santa Cruz
84.38 miles
5049 feet of climbing

The alarm went off at 3:30 am Sunday morning and after only 4 hours of sleep (yeah, that go to bed early thing didn't really happen) I popped out of bed and into my cycling clothes.  I said a tearful goodbye to pups and we were on the road by 4:15 on our way to opening ceremonies at the Cow Palace.  After a quick stop to pick up my in-laws we rolled in at 5:30.  I opened the car door and was met by a hurricane gust of wind.  I instantly decided change from my cycling shorts to my capris.

Samantha was right behind me and our first stop was dropping off our luggage at the gear truck.  The trucks carried our bags from campsite to campsite.  Every night when you got to camp you would pick up your bag and every morning drop it off before you hit the road.

We made our way into the Cow Palace where the opening ceremonies we getting underway.  Two aspects of the ceremony really stood out for me.  First, a girl about my age spoke of her straight mother who nearly died of AIDS and yet, thanks to the medical advancements was able to join her on this ride as a roadie.  It really disproved the common misconception that HIV/AIDS is a "gay and drug users" disease.   Second, as a part of the ceremony a processional made their way to the stage and at the back was four people pushing an empty bike.  The bike was a fully functioning bike that could take any one of us to Los Angeles.  But this bike had no rider.  The bike represented all those who had lost their lives to HIV/AIDS.  However, as it was pushed to the stage it continued to move forward because of everyone who had committed to the ride - committed to help put an end to HIV/AIDS. 

As the closing ceremonies came to an end it was time to say goodbye to my family for the next seven days right there in the arena and off to find my bike.

As we exited the building we were met by lots of cheers and screaming as we rode along side the other 2500 people we would spend the week with.

Despite the blustery conditions I was loving the weather!  Cloudy, overcast and cool = PERFECT cycling weather.

They wasted no time getting us started on the 5000+ feet we needed to climb this day and we were climbing by mile 5.6 - slow and steady but with views like this I could hardly complain.

At mile 19.3 we made it to the first rest stop and caught up with these guys/girls.  Everyday of the ride they dressed in matching costumes and rode together.  As if 85 miles isn't hard enough!

I was also introduced to the first of many pleasantries ALC riders do for each other - hold the porta potty open for the next person in line! 

We grabbed a quick bite to eat (eating became the name of the game) and were back on the road headed for rest stop two.

Way back when we started training for longer distances, Samantha started, and I quickly followed, dividing the ride by rest stops.  Instead of looking at it like we had 85 miles to cover we only looked at the miles we had to cover til the next rest stop.  It makes dealing with these longer days so much easier.  Between rest stop 1 and 2 there was only 14.4 miles - piece of cake!

My pink bike and matching pink jersey and gloves quickly became a hit with all the guys on the ride.  I got tons of "hi miss pretty in pink," "pinky" and tons of compliments on my coordinating efforts.  One guy told me I definitely won the style award for the day (and subsequently he told me each day after when I saw him I was "still winning").

Around mile 20 I passed a spectator who was sitting alone on the back of car holding a picture.  As I rode by he said, "this is my brother Michael.  For him, I say thank you for riding."  I didn't expect the water works to come on day one.

Around mile 25 we hit the biggest climb of the day - up highway 92 towards the coast and half moon bay.  We were greeted by a great group up cheerleaders at the top.  An an amazing downhill to the bottom.

We opted to skip the official rest stop and grab something from a 7-11 that was on the corner.  I had no idea 7-11 coffee was so tasty.  To top it off the man gave it to me for free!

We hit more beautiful sites on our way to lunch.

And of course more hills.

Lunch was at mile 44.2 at San Gregorio State Beach.  We met up with Samantha's team and all got to have lunch together.

Every day lunch consisted of a sandwich, a salad of some sort (either pasta or a grain salad), a fruit or veggie, chips and cookies.  My only complaint was before the ride you had to designate whether you were a vegetarian or not and they were very strict in holding you to your choice.  While I am not a "true" vegetarian, I only eat meat once or twice a week anymore.  I highly considered registering as a vegetarian but worried if I wanted a protein I wouldn't be allowed to have it.  Well, I always wanted vegetation option come meal time.  Oh well, you live and learn.  I ate a lot of cheese sandwiches and wraps. 

I thought it was cool they had a foam rolling station.

They taunted you with a climb as you sat and enjoyed lunch but it wasn't as bad as it looked.

On our way to rest stop three we enjoyed more great scenery.

Rest stop 3 was at mile 64.2.  As you entered the rest stop they told you your number.  We were in the 900s!  I was so surprised that we were in the first 50% of riders coming in for the day.

As we exited rest stop 3 we rounded a corner and came down a steep decent.  I recognized the course immediately as the same one from Big Kahuna!  It was kinda cool to ride the course again.

Rest stop 4 was only 5.6 miles from camp but we stopped anyway.  All of the rest stops had themes but rest stop 4 is known for going all out.  Day 1 was Derby Day!

Finally, we entered Santa Cruz!

We pulled into bike parking around 4:00 pm and parked our bikes (in sloe gin fizz - each rack was named after a drink.  Ironically we were almost always in sloe gin fizz row.  More ironic is that I used to be obsessed with those when I was 21!).  Then the real work started.

Camp was great because you had to do a lot of walking.  Great because you kept the legs moving and that kept them from cramping.    Camp sucked cause you had to do a lot of walking.  Sucked because you just rode 85 miles and did not want to walk that much.

Samantha and I grabbed our gear (more on the beast to come), our tent and headed to designated spot.  With the tent up in no time it was time to shower.  The showers were pretty awesome.  They were in mobile trailers, got HOT and had awesome water pressure. 

After a trip to the foam rollers and dinner we went to cheer on the last few riders coming in.  The route is open til 7:00 pm every day (except day 5 since it is a shorter route).  By then it was the late hour of 7:30 and starting to get cold.  We headed back to the tent to get our stuff ready for the next day.  I had a mini freak out with I realized how thin a backpacking mattress was (can you tell I am not really a camper) but Samantha had the brilliant idea to fold it in half.  Sure there was nothing under my legs but it helped support my back much better. 

I put on the most important clothing I brought . . . my compression gear!  It seriously saved my life and even got its own bag.  

We obsessively checked the weather for the next day (this is important in the future) and all that was reported was temperatures varying from the high 50s to low 70s so we planned our outfits accordingly (also important in the future).  By 9:00 pm my earplugs were in and I was fast asleep.  The course opened at 6:15 the next morning and I had 109.2 miles waiting for me.

Officially 82.5 miles down (15.2% of total route)
460.1 miles to go (84.8% of total route)

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  1. I love teary (thanks for the running mascara at work at 7:00 am) =).

    This looks like a truly amazing experience.

    Slow gin fizzz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!---this made me crack up.

    I agree with the guys on the course, you always win the award for style. I have to find out where you buy all your jersey's!

    Great recap of day one and I LOVE that first picture of you...I hope you blew it up and framed it somewhere in your house.

  2. What a great read! I was hoping you'd blog soon (says the person who takes forever to write her own race reports), because I wanted to hear all about it. I am SO impressed that you did this ride!!


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