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

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2013 Altamont Pass Double Metric FAQ

Last updated April 23
What is a double metric century?
Who should ride the Altamont Pass Double Metric?
Is qualification required?
Is pre-registration required?
Must I be registered for AIDS/LifeCycle?
What happens on ride morning?
Can I use the toilet at the nearby police station?
What's the weather going to be like?
Will we ride if it's raining?
What's the route?
Is the route marked?
Will we encounter other events along the route?
How much does the ride cost?
How fast do I need to ride?
Can I really ride just 12 mph?
Can I bring bicycle lighting and complete the route after sunset?
What happens if I'm not riding fast enough?
Do I have to ride the entire 200-kilometer route? Can I take a short cut?
What types of SAG service will be available?
Are hotels available near the meeting location?
Got more questions? Email me. Items of general interest will be added to this list.

What is a double metric century?
A double metric century is 200 kilometers, or approximately 125 miles, of bicycling in a single day.

Who should ride the Altamont Pass Double Metric?
This ride is designed for AIDS/LifeCycle riders who desire an extreme challenge to mark the culmination of their training season. The longest day on AIDS/LifeCycle is only about 109 miles, so you do not need to do this ride to be ready for the event. However, many riders have found that taking part in the double metric helps make the longest days of ALC seem a little bit easier.

Is qualification required?
You should have completed at least a 100-mile ride before May 4. Otherwise, the jump in mileage might be too much, and you might not be able to complete the ride, or you might injure yourself just a few weeks before AIDS/LifeCycle 12. You don't need to tell us what century you've done, but please honestly assess your abilities.

Is pre-registration required?
No; but we'd really appreciate it if you did. This will let us give an accurate roster to the SAG drivers so that they can identify or locate you if necessary during the day. To RSVP, use this link to send email.

Must I be registered for AIDS/LifeCycle?
No; this ride is open to everyone who can ride fast enough and who agrees to ride according to our rules. If you're not yet part of ALC, perhaps this ride will persuade you to register for next year's event!

What happens on ride morning?
Our meeting location is next to condominiums (and a police station), so please be quiet and respectful when arriving. You should plan to arrive at the meeting place in downtown Mountain View by 5:30 a.m. so that you have plenty of time to unload your bicycle and sign in. At sign-in, you will receive a frame number for you to affix to your bicycle frame. (This is separate from your ALC rider number.) The frame number will be important throughout the day for SAG drivers and other riders to identify cyclists who are part of this ride. Warm-up exercises and the route briefing begin at about 5:35 a.m. All riders must be already signed in, present, and attentive at 6:00 a.m. for a mandatory safety speech. Ride-out is at official sunrise, 6:09 a.m.

Can I use the toilet at the nearby police station?
Sorry, no; the police station isn't open for public access that early in the morning. Please take care of your restroom needs before arriving, and make sure your water bottles are full and ready to go.

What's the weather going to be like?
In short, could be just about anything. Past years of this event have seen temperatures above 100 degrees, but in 2012 the weather was near-perfect. In 2011, we had a chilly, windy day with midday temperatures only in the 50s with a brief but strong evening rain shower, and in 2010 we had a pleasant day in the 50s and 60s. The historical temperature data for Livermore on May 4 shows an average high of 73 degrees and a record high of 96.

Will we ride if it's raining?
Probably yes. We will cancel the ride only if there is steady, heavy rain on ride day or if there is a likelihood of thunderstorms or other severe weather.

What's the route?
You will receive a route sheet on the morning of the ride. We expect that the route will be mostly unchanged from last year, although there are a few changes in Pleasanton due to road work, and we'll be returning through McCarthy Ranch instead of by the Great Mall. This year's preliminary route is here. Last-minute changes are possible due to road work and other unforeseen events.

Is the route marked?
No; there are no pavement arrows, signs, or other markings. There are approximately 55 turns on the route, so you will need to refer to your route sheet frequently during the ride; consider a map holder or binder clips. On some parts of the route, you will see pavement arrows of various colors and styles; these are for other events to other destinations, and you should not follow them.

Will we encounter other events along the route?
The Mountain View A La Carte & Art Festival will be set up on Castro Street all day. This means that you will need to access the meeting location from Shoreline Blvd. and Villa Street. If you finish your ride before 6 p.m., police might direct you to dismount your bicycle and walk across Central Expressway through the fair area onto Evelyn Street. (On the plus side, great food will be available for purchase.) The Rowell Ranch annual rodeo will not be taking place along Dublin Canyon Road on ride day this year.

How much does the ride cost?
It's free! Our six rest stops are all at coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery stores, so you will need to buy or bring your own food and liquid. If you use any of the nonperishable supplies from a SAG vehicle, such as extra tubes, please consider making a small donation to the driver to help cover the replacement cost of these items. The SAG drivers also pay for gas, food, and water and are not reimbursed by ALC, so you are encouraged to help cover their costs if you are able to do so.

How fast do I need to ride?
This ride is designed for riders who can maintain an average speed of at least 12 mph on flat to rolling terrain. We love all cyclists, but the 12 mph pace is necessary to complete the route before sunset.

Can I really ride just 12 mph?
Yes! There will certainly be riders who are faster than 12 mph, but if you ride a steady 12 mph pace and do not take too long at rest stops, you can finish this ride in 13.5 hours or less. There will always be at least one ride leader at the back of the group, so you are guaranteed to never be the slowest rider. Here's some math: If you take 20 minutes at five of the six rest stops and give yourself an hour for lunch at one rest stop, and if you assume that you'll spend 20 minutes waiting at traffic signals and stop signs, then you need to average 11.9 mph to finish before sunset. Plan on going a little faster on flat terrain and a little slower uphill.

Can I bring bicycle lighting and complete the route after sunset?
Sorry, no. AIDS/LifeCycle rules require at least one ride leader to be behind the last rider at all times, so you can't finish on your own. This is for your own safety!

What happens if I'm not riding fast enough?
Each of the six rest stops will have an official closing time noted on the route sheet, timed to allow you to complete the ride within the 13.5 hours of daylight on ride day. This is to help you gauge your progress throughout the day and keep you on track to return to Mountain View before sunset at 8:01 p.m. If you are in a rest stop at its closing time, you will need to resume riding immediately, or you can choose to end your ride there. In some cases, a SAG vehicle might be able to jump you to the next rest stop and allow you to resume riding, but this service is available only if SAG vehicles are not otherwise occupied with more important tasks.

Do I have to ride the entire 200-kilometer route? Can I take a short cut?
There is no official "short route" for this year's ride. However, there are several places along the route where you can skip ahead from 5 to 37 miles, and several BART and VTA light rail stations are on or near the route. If you decide to shorten your ride or leave the route, you must let a ride leader know, either in person or by leaving voicemail or a text message on a ride leader's cellphone. Phone numbers will be on the route sheet that you receive on ride morning. Also, if you skip far ahead of other riders, you will be out of the coverage area of SAG vehicles, so you will not be able to receive support. The SAG vehicles need to be available on the official route for those riders who are attempting the full 125 miles, so if you leave the route, you'll be on your own.

What types of SAG service will be available?
We will have several volunteer SAG drivers stationed along the route and at rest stops. Most will have basic supplies like water, ice, light snacks, and some basic bicycle equipment such as a floor pump and extra tubes. In some cases, the SAG vehicle can transport you to a nearby location if you are unable to continue riding. Please note, however, that the SAG vehicles are not a personal taxi service, and if you decide to stop riding, it is your responsibility to get transportation for you and your bicycle back to Mountain View or some other location. Please respect and thank our volunteer SAG drivers who are helping make your ride a success.

Are hotels available near the meeting location?
If you are coming from far outside Mountain View, you might want to consider getting a hotel for the night before the ride, so that you can arrive on time. Several hotels are available in a variety of price ranges within five minutes of the meeting location; any of the online booking services can steer you in the proper direction.