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Ride report: Cat-3 Distance Training #2 (1/23/2010)

Go, riders!

I didn't think today's ride was going to happen. When I woke up at 5 a.m., the rain was unexpectedly coming down outside after a dry day had been predicted. But the radar looked mildly encouraging, so I decided to keep an open mind. Then about an hour later, I watched a strong storm cell move through Saratoga and Los Gatos -- right where we'd be doing our most technical climbing and descending of the day, and where my scouting expedition on Friday revealed flooded roads, mudslides, and lots of debris. I knew at that point that our planned route would not be safe today.

So I went with Plan B, a comparable ride along the Peninsula. I quickly mapped out a route and made a bunch of route sheets (more about that later), and I let everyone know that all systems were go. Then, right after people started arriving in downtown Mountain View, the skies opened up again and sent everyone scurrying for cover. But again, the radar again looked encouraging, so we waited ... and at right about 9:30, the rain ended and we started to see the first hints of blue sky.

And for the 22 of us who persevered, we were rewarded with a surprisingly good day of riding. Sure, the roads were a bit wet at first, and some of us went through a few light sprinkles along Foothill Expressway (that seems to be happening a lot this season), but the sun later came out, the roads mostly dried out, and we did our full 45 miles in excellent time. Special super thanks go to Al for his outstanding SAG service today!

If you haven't already cleaned your bicycle, do so now. (Remember, no high-pressure car washes.) And be sure to relubricate your chain! I took a towel to wipe the lube off my chain tonight, and there was none at all to be had.

Thanks to everyone for riding safely today. I saw no egregious rule violation, and everyone took extra caution when needed due to the wet pavement and the various puddles and obstructions we encountered. Be particularly careful when descending on wet pavement; feather your brakes, let up briefly from time to time, and remember that there's no prize for getting to the bottom of the hill first ... only for getting there in one piece.

Because I put today's route together at the last minute, we conquered a hill that was a bit tougher than originally planned. Edgewood Road is a good example of several minor climbs that we'll have on the event in June -- rolling sections with shorter steep parts. Someone asked me how Edgewood compares to Quadbuster. Here's an elevation chart that shows both of them on top of each other, both starting from the same base elevation. (In each case, I'm counting only the actual main climb, not the preliminary rollers.)

So, the good news is that Quadbuster really isn't all that more difficult than what you climbed today. The less-good news, however, is that the small extra steepness really makes a difference ... and that Quadbuster comes near the beginning of your third consecutive day of riding, after you've already gone about 200 miles. Because many riders train toward a goal of two consecutive long days without doing a third before June, that third day of the ride often catches many riders unaware with its difficulty. If your life allows you to do so and you're worried about your ability to ride Every Friendly Inch, scheduling three long consecutive days in April or early May could help you enjoy the ride more in June.

If you paid close attention to your route sheet today, you no doubt found a mistake on it. (A mistake? From Chris!? Say it isn't so.) Well, yes, I made a mistake this morning when I hastily assembled our substitute route. Ride leaders, listen up, because I did one of the things that I tell you to watch out for during ride leader training.

You might have noticed that our leg on Cañada Road was listed about 2.8 miles longer than it really was. Well, what happened was that when I created the route in Bikely, the program added one of those extra loop-de-loops because it didn't like the points I had used to make the turn from Edgewood to Cañada. Instead, it automatically routed the wrong way up Cañada and made a U-turn at the next intersection, 1.4 miles up the road. I failed to catch the extra distance, and the result was a flawed route sheet. My apologies!

Because I know some of you like to keep the route sheets and even use them for solo rides, I've corrected the route sheet and posted the fixed version online here.

What's next? We have an extra ride coming up! Because we didn't get to do our scheduled ride to Los Gatos today, I've rescheduled that ride for next Saturday, Jan. 30, same time, same place. If you can make it, a fun day should be had by all ... if the weather improves. (Right now, it's looking a bit iffy.) If you're interested in this ride, please RSVP again here, regardless of whether you attended today's ride. This helps me know how much stuff to bring. Ride leaders: If I didn't talk with you after the ride today and you'd like to be a TRL on this ride, just drop me a note, and I'll add you to the list.

After that, our next progressively longer ride will be Saturday, Feb. 6. It's only a little bit longer (50 miles) and has only a little more climbing (about 2,000 feet), but it's much more challenging. Why? The first half of the ride is nearly flat, and all of the climbing is packed into the second half of the ride -- including some climbs steeper than what we did today on Edgewood. The purpose? To help train you to pace yourself through the easy parts of the ride so that you're not all worn out when you reach the difficult parts. I've offered a version of this ride the past two years, and every time, there's at least one normally strong rider who rides all-out on the flat part but has difficulty in the hills. This year, we're tackling a hill that, as far as I know, never has been part of any ALC training ride: Westridge Drive in Portola Valley. (Experienced cyclists might be familiar with this one.) It's got a climb that's very similar to Quadbuster, so it will be good exposure for first-year riders ... and a good refresher for the rest of us. Details and RSVP are here.

Don't forget tomorrow's official ALC9 Northern California kickoff party at Mezzanine in San Francisco. The fun starts at 1 p.m., and it looks like it's going to be quite different from kickoff parties of years past. Meet other cyclists, learn about other training rides, find out more about how the San Francisco AIDS Foundation uses the money we raise for them ... and maybe win some fabulous prizes. Details are here.

Thank you for riding today, and thank you for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle.

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