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Saturday, November 19: Three Sisters and Wetlands Park, 36 miles

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ALC8 Day on the Ride SF


This was the ride where I was going to try to be a more mellow rider to see if doing so would be more fun. Sure enough, my pace was certainly mellow, but that was largely out of necessity and not by choice. Not only was this year's new-ish route somewhat challenging, I clearly was coming down with something that, as I write this a day later, has me laid up with a low-grade fever, an overwhelming desire to sleep (but only for an hour at a time), and other random symptoms of swine flu.

The calendar said that meet time was 5:30 a.m. So true to form, I arrived at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park at about 5:20 a.m. and found almost nobody there -- in fact, I was able to park directly in front of the building. You'd think that after so many years of this, I would realize that there's no need to be there so stupidly early. (I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep, so it's not like I was doing anything else useful.)

We finally got going around 7:30 a.m., about half an hour late, so already my plan was somewhat in doubt. The closing time for Rest Stop 1, 21 miles into the ride, was only 10:30 a.m., so even if I rode at a generous pace, I still would have to get in and out of the rest stop. And sure enough, as I've written about here many times, it's often difficult to get in and out of an ALC rest stop, especially early in the day. The line for a portapotty was about 10 minutes long (not at all bad by ALC standards), so I didn't leave until right around 10 a.m. (Fortunately, I didn't hear anyone shouting a 30-minute warning as they do on the ride, so maybe they kept it open a bit later in light of the delayed ride-out.)

Then came the hills. White's Hill, Nicasio Valley Road, and (new this year) Lucas Valley Road -- all places that I'd been before, so it wasn't really unexpected, but it was taking a toll on me -- more than it should. But since I was hanging back with the other riders, I found plenty of other folks who were riding a pace that suited me just fine, and I wasn't feeling much of a desire to pass hardly anyone. (I also took even more photo stops than usual.)

Once we got into San Rafael, there were a few miles that were new to me -- a rarity in the Bay Area. The miles through downtown San Rafael were slow and frustrating, but there were a few more steady climbs to increase the elevation gain. After that, it was back into San Anselmo for the stop-sign-overload ride back into Sausalito.

My pace for the day was a moderate 11.8 mph, and a lot of that was because I just didn't feel like passing anyone on the hills, opting instead to stay behind and offer encouragement when needed. I felt pleased at the end of the ride -- although I was saddened to hear of a crash, a vehicle break-in, and a failed bicycle frame.

Saturday's ride was challenging, with about 4,700 feet of climbing. That's about as much climbing as on Day 1 of the ride, although on that day it's spread out over about 80 miles of distance. No other day of the ride has as much climbing, so if you survived Day on the Ride, you'll do just fine in June.

But I was unusually tired after the ride, and all day long I had been consuming (and, um, unloading) far more water and Powerade than usual. And I was coughing a bit more than usual. As the day wore on, I began to sense that something wasn't quite right. As soon as I got home, it hit me quite suddenly: a case of the shivers. My temperature had shot up to 1.8 degrees above its normal (as registered by the thermometer that normally has me at about 97.5 degrees), and I was hugely tired. I was asleep by 6:30 p.m., but I could only sleep for 60 to 90 minutes at a time all night long, and I was in this half-awake, half-asleep state all night long. Once this morning arrived, I was able to go to the grocery store for drugs and comfort food, but doing so only made my temperature shoot up another degree or so. So it was back to sleep for a while.

As of this afternoon, though, things don't seem to be getting any worse. My temperature is still about a degree too high, and I don't really feel like doing much of anything, but I did muster enough energy to finally put a new rear tire on my bike and clean the chain. (That seemed to test the limits of what I can do today, alas.)

So it's plenty of rest for me -- I hope that I'll be able to stay home tomorrow -- and then a short ride or two later in the week to get ready for our big 113-mile trip to Gilroy next Saturday.

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