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Ride report: DBD2 training ride #1 (7/21/2012)

Go, riders!

Our series of eight DBD2 training rides kicked off in Mountain View this morning with 18 riders (that's a lot for a summer series), and we were greeted by sunny skies, light winds, and temperatures that ranged from warm to downright hot.

For those of you who did the Distance Training rides, the temperature change from winter to summer is one of the big differences between training for AIDS/LifeCycle and for DBD. Another big difference is that we're now training for a route that, mile for mile, is a bit more hilly than ALC. And finally, reading a route sheet and navigating the territory are two skills that you usually don't need for ALC but which are essential for DBD.

First, the weather. One of the most common questions about DBD is "What's the weather like?" There is, alas, no easy answer. Long-term averages suggest that Day 1 is generally cool to mild with a moderate tailwind to help us down the coast, with fog and perhaps scattered light drizzle common in late September. That's pretty close to what we experienced last year on DBD1. But the averages for Day 2 suggest a warm to hot day that's dry and has moderate to strong headwinds for part of the day. That's not even close to what we had last year; instead, we had cool temperatures, light winds, and even a few light showers between Morgan Hill and San Jose. The only thing about the weather on the event that seems likely is that we will experience many different microclimates. That's why it will be important -- just like it was in the winter and spring -- to dress in layers and be prepared for almost anything.

Hills. Yes, hills. We had quite a few today, but I hope you noticed that none of them were too stupidly difficult. That's also a good approximation of what you'll experience on the event in September. Much of the nearly 6,000 feet in climbing will come along Highway 1 north of Santa Cruz, where ALCers will be very familiar with the never-ending undulations of the coastal highway. The biggest climb of Day 1 is Old La Honda Road, about 3.4 miles at 7% grade, so even that isn't too bad. But after more than 100 miles of countless small hills, even little hills can start to seem annoying. And because DBD uses a different route south of Santa Cruz than does ALC, we've got a series of small hills right around mile 95 of Day 1. The moral is to pace yourself throughout the day; it's better to start conservatively and finish strong.

And then there's the route sheet. When I say that DBD is a "randonneuring-style" event, this is one of the big things that I mean. Our route isn't visibly marked with arrows, signs, or anything else, so it's vital that you use your route sheet to get from beginning to end. In fact, having fun with navigation and wayfinding is one of the most interesting parts of the event. One way that we help you with this is by publishing the event route in advance, probably one to two weeks ahead of time. This will give you an opportunity to study the route and focus on any areas where you might not yet be familiar with the surroundings. Likewise, all of my training ride routes are published in advance. You can see the routes in Ride With GPS after I publish them on the training ride calendar, and the actual route sheets for each training ride are usually available two or three days before the ride. Again, remember that navigation is as much a part of this event as is pedaling! Your goal is to ride as few "bonus miles" as possible ... hopefully zero.

What's next? We're dark next week for the annual DSSF picnic. But we're back in two weeks on Saturday, August 4 with a 45-mile ride that again goes up the Peninsula but to some different locations. We'll travel to the end of the pavement on Alpine Road, and we'll visit a few more hidden gems in Los Altos Hills. You can find out more and RSVP here or on the DBD Facebook page. (Be sure to Like our page!)

And if you haven't registered for DBD2 yet, go ahead and do it now. There are only 22 cyclist spots left, and I know several folks who have been putting it off. Registration is only $35, and the fundraising minimum is only $300. And because DBD is entirely volunteer-driven, every fundraising dollar that you raise goes directly to the programs and services of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation with no event overhead.

Thanks for riding with us today!