Upcoming rides I'm leading:
Saturday, November 19: Three Sisters and Wetlands Park, 36 miles

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How fast do you have to ride in June?

The answer: Not as fast as you might fear.

Here is my average in-motion speed (mph) for each day of each of the four ALCs that I have done.

Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
ALC813.314.212.812.311.49.7*13.9
ALC713.514.113.613.312.112.913.2
ALC612.8**14.011.912.711.013.212.3
ALC513.314.513.213.612.013.113.3
* = Rain-shortened day of only 15 soggy, uphill miles
** = More difficult route along Skyline Blvd. to Hwy. 84

The paces in this table -- as underwhelming as they seem -- usually were sufficient to get me into camp in at least the faster 50% of riders on most days. It's also worth noting that the faster speeds on Day 2 are largely due to strong tailwinds that are present almost every year.

Even if you're a faster rider, you might find that your speed in June is less than you might expect. Why? Riding in a group of 2,500 riders is a very different experience. You'll often need to slow down and wait for a safe opportunity to pass other riders, and there will be times when the route is so crowded that you just can't safely (or legally) go any faster. Besides, what's the rush? There's no prize for getting into camp early (except, perhaps, shorter lines at the shower trucks).

But time management is still an essential skill, even (especially?) for faster riders. Most days feature four rest stops and a lunch stop, plus various unofficial stops. It's easy to spend several hours of each riding day off your bicycle doing something else, yet the time limit for most days is 12.5 hours. (It's less on days 5 and 7.) Start getting in the habit now of taking care of your essential rest stop business -- food, drink, and toilet -- as quickly as possible so that you'll have all the time you want to enjoy the many other attractions of the week ... including, of course, the elaborate shows that you'll find at some rest stops.

Doing so also gives you a helpful time cushion in case something does go awry during your ride, either mechanical or physical. If you're sidelined with a problem, it's nice to know that you've got two or three hours to get it taken care of before the sweep vehicle sweeps you off the route for the day.

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