Thursday, June 14, 2012

ALC Day 2: Santa Cruz to King City

Day 2 - June 4
Santa Cruz to King City
109.2 miles
2880 feet of climbing

After a fitful night of sleep 4:30 came all too soon.  Samantha and I packed up the tent, our gear and headed to breakfast all before 6:00 am.  109.2 miles was going to be a new personal distance for both of us.

Based on the weather we checked the night before I decided to ride in a tank with arm warmers.  We were heading inland and I didn't want to risk being hot.  Furthermore, it was actually fairly warm in Santa Cruz during breakfast - I contemplated even leaving the arm warmers behind. 

Look!  Even the morning bulletin didn't predict rain!

We picked up our bikes and were on the road by 6:30.  

During the first 14 miles to rest stop 1 we passed some kids cheering for us at a local school and got lots of honks and cheers from passing motorists.  However, the weather seemed to be getting colder and colder.  Eating was the name of the game for today and despite just having eaten breakfast 14 miles prior I was starving when we rolled into rest stop 1.

After rest stop one we entered miles and miles of strawberry and lettuce fields.  The strong smell of strawberries permeated the air.  A word of caution for you all though.  Now, I always make sure I was my fruit, however, when you see the farm workers cleaning the strawberries right next to the porta potties it makes you want to give them an extra once over next time before you put them in your mouth.  

At Moss Landing we pulled over at a little coffee shop and I got a small espresso to warm up and snapped a few pictures of these guys.  It was hard to leave the warm coffee shop but the skies were only getting darker so we got going. 

Still a good 10 miles away from rest stop two Samantha turned to me and said something along the lines of "wow, that sure is a heavy mist."  Within minutes I think I replied we had moved on from the "mist" stage - this was definitely rain. 

One of the really cool things about ALC is the support from the communities we ride through and fun little extras they provide.  Today there is a fried artichoke stand that many people stop at.  Put "fried" and "artichoke" together and I am there.  However, as we passed the line was ridiculously long and the rain was really coming down.  We concluded that hey, we live in California, if we really wanted a fired artichoke sometime we could just go to the fair.  

Luckily Samantha was thinking and suggested we put our cameras and phones in her bike bag.  The bag even had a cool rain cover to keep it all protected.  I was really hating the weather man at this point.  I had the proper gear for rain if he had just told the truth!

By the time we got to rest stop 2 I was soaked.  They said they had a bus in the bag you could get into to warm up but we knew if we got in that bus we wouldn't get out.  They were passing out mylar blankets and one of Samantha's teammates suggested I wrap it around my body and put my jersey over it to hold it in place.  Fabulous!!  I was still cold but it helped put a layer between my wet clothes and skin.  I also made a killer fashion statement - bringing back the shoulder pads!

Between rest stop 2 and lunch Samantha and I took turns "pulling" the other.  Drafting is never allowed at organized events but the wind was so ridiculous it was the only way we were going to make it.  Every mile for 10 miles we rotated leading each other.  We also spent these 10 miles with Samantha's teammates we saw at rest stop two.  There was quite a bit of uncontrolled laughing going on, which really is all you can do in a situation where you are still more than 70 miles from the finish and just getting dumped on by rain.

When we got to lunch Samantha snapped this picture so I could see the back of my jersey - I was horrified!  Not only was I wearing a tank but a white one at that. 

We found the majority of Samantha's team members huddled together against a building together eating so we joined them under their mylar blankets.  We were getting word it was raining in King City and one of them was calling hotels trying to find a room.  One hotel had two rooms open so Samantha and I scored a room for the night.  Promises of a warm shower and real bed was what was going to get me through the next 65 miles. 

We started hearing that 10 miles up the road the rain had stopped - more lies - but it got us back on the bike and on the road.  Just in the nick of time too.  We later learned that approximately 10 minutes after we left the lunch stop they closed the route for good for safety reasons.  Everyone who hadn't made it to lunch or left lunch was going to be bussed back to the start, however, if you were already on the road they were going to let you continue.

We spent the first few miles riding alongside a busy road to the left and lettuce fields to the right just trying to stay upright in the wind and avoid being splashed by the big trucks on the left.  All of sudden I had that feeling, yep, flat tire, of course this just happened.  We crossed the road to the other side to get it changed (i.e. for Samantha to change it.  I can do it but we might still be sitting there.)  Again, there was more laughing, standing in the rain, in the mud, changing a tire - all you could do was laugh or you might cry.  We feel like we even heard someone laugh at us, but we hope he was just laughing alongside us at the comedy of the situation.

When we got to rest stop 3 is when we learned they had closed the route.  Side note - at lunch many people had been sent to a nearby church to stay warm while they waited to the next bus to take them back to camp.  At the end of the day we talked to a guy who said seeing literally of cyclists cold and wet huddling together in their church the church ladies ordered everyone pizza and Starbucks.  In an effort to repay them and help assist with the cost of clean up (hundreds of wet, muddy cyclists aren't clean) they passed around a hat amongst them and raised over $400 to give back to the church who in turn decided to donate it to help feed the hungry.  To me this is just another example of the wonderful people and community ALC is.

I had seen people at lunch with trash bags to help keep them dry and while I was soaked to the bone I thought a trash bag would at least help keep me warm when the wind blew on my cold, wet jersey. 

Trash bags = the little black dress of cycling!
The next miles were more of the same.  I have never been in wind so strong and it seemed to get stronger with every turn.  We seemed to making a lot of turns and at one point I turned to Samantha and said, "I swear we are just circling that same field of lettuce!"  There was so much lettuce!!  It just all looked the same out there.  We got into another laughing fit when we encountered this terrible smell (like fresh porta potty) and out on the road only made worse by the wind.  Despite the less than ideal conditions we were having a blast.  To be honest the miles were flying by and I will take that kind of weather any day over the heat.  

Finally by the last rest stop (and only 15 or so miles to go) the rain stopped and the sun came out.  We ditched the bags but I kept my stylish mylar shoulder pads for protection from the wind. 

My personal distance for cycling was 105.7 so the last 4 miles were all a new distance for me.  We rolled into camp - through wind, rain, a flat tire, mylar blankets, garbage bags - still laughing after 109 miles and an average of 13.8 mph.  I was pretty impressed with us.

Next up was getting to the hotel.  See my bag pictured below - aka "the beast."

It looks harmless but when completely full I wasn't strong enough to pull it without it hitting the back of my legs since it only had that small handle.  The gear truck was on the complete opposite side of camp from where we were going to get a shuttle to a hotel so I had to lug it the whole way.  I was literally on the verge of breakdown (yes, 109 miles no problem, carrying a bag = problem) when a very nice guy offered to roll it the rest of the way for me.  The next day I ended up wrapping my pillowcase around the handle and just dragging it for a day until Samantha's husband saved me and just kept it in his car.  

Once we got to the hotel and showered we headed to a little diner for dinner.  We chatted with quite a few other cyclists about the day, who made it the whole way, etc and stuffed ourselves silly.  109 miles will make you hungry!  I was so excited for a warm, real bed that night and only 66 miles the next day.

Officially 191.7 miles completed (35% of total route)
353.3 miles to go (65% of total route)

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  1. Catching up on your recaps. Oh, wow! Hard core. I imagine riding in the wind/rain is terrible. Way to soldier through. Can't wait to hear about the next day.


    You guys are amazing. Trucking along through the wind and rain and still making great time.

    I have heard that about the mylar blankets...some triathletes cut a square to put under their tops when it's cold to keep their "core" warm.

    The beast, you should dig up that pic of you in the beast and post it so people get a real sense of how beastly it really is!

  3. See, I would always take the heat and the sunshine over the rain and the cold!!! You're really making me want to do this ride next year!!

  4. How could I forget about that smell??? And the beeping smoke detector in the hotel in the middle of the night. Forgot about that too.

    But we rock!


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