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

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The wacky weather keeps on coming


Here we are in the second weekend of May, and training rides are still being cancelled due to rain. Fortunately, today's 69-mile ride in Hollister went off as scheduled, but conditions were more like February than May -- as this photo from this morning amply demonstrates.

ALC has been historically a rain-free week ... at least until last year when Day 6 was washed out, the first full-day cancellation in the history of California AIDS rides. And with winterlike weather continuing well into spring again this year, it's time to start preparing for any of the many weather events that could occur during the ride next month -- especially if you're coming from out of the area and have to pack in advance before traveling to San Francisco.

Any or all of the following conditions can happen on the ride, sometimes even within the same day:
  • Thick fog, sometimes turning into light drizzle.
  • Chilly winds.
  • Strong, hot, blast-furnace winds.
  • Hot, blazing sunshine that drives the official temperature to over 90 degrees (and the in-the-sun temperature to well over 100).
  • Daily temperature spreads of 40 degrees or more.
  • Strong tailwinds, crosswinds, and/or headwinds. Wind gusts of greater than 30 mph are virtually guaranteed at least once during the week.
  • Showers, possibly turning to rain. As we learned last year, there's a point at which too much rain can cause a shutdown, but that call is made on the scene by ride officials after considering the safety of riders, roadies, and other road users.

I don't say all of this to scare you. The reality is that, even in "good" weather years, the ALC route passes through countless climate areas, and we have to be prepared to deal with all of them. If you've never bicycled in any of these conditions, doing so is good experience to have before trying to do so with more than 2,000 other riders around you. Of course, don't put yourself at undue risk this close to the ride, but if there's a particularly hot or windy day anytime soon, try to get out in it for at least a few miles to learn how it feels and how you'll need to take care of your body.

Beginning about two weeks before the ride, longtime rider and ride leader Bob Katz posts daily weather updates to the ALC discussion forum. That alone is sufficient reason for you to check the forum, and you'll also find plenty of other discussions, queries, and hints for making your ride a success.

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