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Ride report: ALC12 Distance Training #8 (4/6/2013)

Go, riders!

Cycling 100 miles in one day is one of the sport's signature achievements. Only a very small percentage of those who take up the sport ever complete even one century ride. But today, each and every one of our 22 riders completed Every Friendly Inch of our 100-mile route ... including at least three for whom this was their first century ever! Special thanks to SAG drivers Taryl (welcome back!) and Tom for being there when needed.

Calling any century ride "easy" wouldn't do justice to the amazing achievement this represents. But I believe it is fair to say that today's near-ideal weather certainly made things at least a bit "easier" for us, especially compared to last year's running of this same ride when temperatures soared to over 100 degrees.

And while today's route had (more than) its share of urban traffic, stop signs, and signals, everybody finished well within the time limit. Today's route was similar in difficulty and conditions to Day 4 of the event, so now we've done rides that are at least as challenging as six of the seven days of the event. We are in great shape with nearly two months to go!

Today's ride was not without its challenges, of course. We had several flats, many of which were no doubt caused by the vast amounts of broken glass and debris on the streets of the East Bay and San Jose. It seems as if this is becoming more of a problem for us, particularly in areas where budget cuts are affecting street maintenance, and particularly in areas where people seem to be acting more rude and inconsiderate of others. In June, fortunately, the route is checked each day by our awesome roadies, and most glass or debris is swept up long before we would ever see it. But that doesn't mean it never happens ... and when you're riding in a large group, it's important to call out (and, where safe to do so, point out) debris because other riders might not be able to see it.

There was only one significant climb today. But, unlike other rides where I've placed the big climbs near the beginning of the ride, today's climb was about two-thirds of the way through.

As climbs go, it really wasn't that bad, but even for me, it felt a whole lot different at mile 66 than it would have felt at mile 12. That's also a good simulation of what happens in June: While most big climbs are indeed early in the day, the day-after-day grind can make little hills feel much bigger later in the week. (And even the little McClellan Road hill probably felt a bit tougher than usual when I deviously placed it at mile 94.)

There are almost certainly no double-digit uphills on the event. I can't say that it won't ever happen, because it happened once a few years ago due to a rerouting, but it is definitely safe to say that we've done hills this season that are far worse than anything you'll encounter on the event.

As we get closer to the event, don't forget the ALC rules. I saw a few cases of side-by-side riding today, and that's not allowed on the event (even though, in a bike lane, it's legal in California). Remember that we need to leave a clear path for other riders to pass us. And don't forget to call out "car back," especially when we're not in a bike lane. There were a couple of times when I should have heard a callout from another rider. The ALC rules apply to all of us, regardless of our pace.

Because everyone on today's ride finished the entire route, each of you has now qualified to ride in this year's Altamont Pass Double Metric on Saturday, May 4 (just four weeks from today). If you RSVP by next Sunday the 14th, you'll also get a free commemorative T-shirt that will look great on you in camp. Find out more here. If you didn't ride with us today, you can still qualify by completing at least one ride of at least 100 miles before May 4.

And I just happen to have another chance for you coming up in two weeks! Join us on April 20 for our 113-mile ride all the way to Gilroy and back. We'll be using the same route that we debuted last year: through downtown San Jose and along Monterey Highway into Morgan Hill, then up into the hills near Gilroy Hot Springs, with a return around the south valley reservoirs. This is a fascinating ride, and it's just about as long and as hilly as Day 2 -- the longest day -- of the event. Find out more and RSVP here.

Note that the meet time for our next ride is 90 minutes earlier than today. (Ouch!) We meet in the dark at 6 a.m. and ride out at 6:30, just after sunrise. This helps us get through San Jose as early as possible before any traffic builds, and it gives us a full 13 hours of daylight to complete the ride (a little bit more than what you'll get on Day 2 in June), so nobody will need to feel pressured to go too fast. Pacing on such long rides is absolutely essential! I hope you'll join us for this memorable ride.

Congratulations again on a job well done today, and thank you for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle.