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And just like that, it's time again

After a totally pleasant, stress-free, loving Day 0 orientation this morning in San Francisco, I am now officially oriented and am ready to ride out tomorrow morning at 6:30 on my sixth AIDS/LifeCycle.

What will this year's ride bring? Nobody knows, of course, but there is only one thing certain: As is the case every time, expect the unexpected.

Since the beginning of the training season last October 15, I have bicycled a whopping 4,839 miles to get ready for this ride. That's by far the most ever for me, but I'm still not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. In general, I've become a slightly faster rider in the past year. But ALC isn't a race, and the rigors of a seven-day ride make it potentially easy to burn out early in the week and have a miserable end to one's ride. Although I say it every year and rarely keep my word, I really do intend to take it easy this year and not feel the need to arrive stupidly early at camp. Besides, I will still pick up plenty of time with my randonneuring-style, quick-in-quick-out rest stops.

Giant thanks go to my many donors who enabled me to reach the $5,000 milestone again this year. You're the real heroes in this; I just pedal my bike and endure seven days of portapotties to motivate you.

This is my first ALC with a smartphone, which of course will include Strava. I've written before about the risks of riding too hard just to pursue a Strava ranking, and that's certainly a big risk here, especially with so many strong riders on the event. You'll be able to see my daily ride tracks on Strava from the link at the top of the page; they should automatically upload as soon as I arrive in camp at the end of each day's ride. (Update: It looks like Strava doesn't automatically make detailed ride data available to non-members, so I might have to handle this by hand, which probably means it won't show up until later in the evening.)

Also with the smartphone comes the nonstop temptation to blog, Facebook, check email, and do all the other real-world things that we try to get away from during ALC. I've used Facebook on past rides, and I've actually found it a great way to stay connected with one's friends during the event.

I'll try to post daily updates here in the blog each night. During the day, I'll probably show up in Facebook, but that will mainly be for the benefit of keeping in touch with my friends on the event. Don't worry; if anything significant happens, it will be here in the blog.

Some other quick observations:

  • Because I missed last year's ride, much of Days 2 and 5 will be new to me -- a treat I'm looking forward to.
  • I'm quite happy that Adam will be joining me in Lompoc and motor-shadowing me down to Los Angeles. That's historically been the part of the ride where I'm most likely to have one of my Queen B*tch From Hell days as the crush of 3,000 people begins to get to me.
  • I've already written at length about the amazing Ride With Chris jersey, and I still can't say enough in appreciation to all who made it happen. I will proudly and humbly wear it tomorrow morning for ride-out and again with everyone else on Day 6.
  • Yes, the weather forecast for Monday continues to look a little ominous. I'm still debating whether to pack my shoe covers ... which, if I did, would probably help ensure that it does not rain.
  • And yes, I registered today for AIDS/LifeCycle 12, to begin June 2, 2013.

  • If you'd like to support my rides at this point, I'd like to direct you to my fundraising account for Double Bay Double 2. This 208-mile, two-day ride happens September 29-30 and also benefits the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Not only am I a cyclist in DBD2, I'm also the creator and producer on behalf of Different Spokes San Francisco. DBD2 is a big deal for me, so I'll appreciate any support you can give. My DBD2 donation page is here.

    And if you happen to be in Los Angeles next Saturday, please come welcome me at the end of the ride, and hang around for the (new and improved) closing ceremonies. I'll be riding into the VA Center on Wilshire Blvd., and I'm guessing that I'll probably be there around noon or 1 p.m. There's a whole page with details and logistics for guests at closing ceremonies, so check it out.

    Now, my next tasks are to finish packing, and then somehow manage to get to sleep by 8 p.m. so that I can be up at 3:30 tomorrow morning for the ride to the Cow Palace. The adventure has begun, and the surprises await.