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What's ahead this season for Mountain View rides

Here's a preliminary look at training rides I'm planning to offer out of Mountain View this season. This isn't definite, and dates and specifics may change, but this information may help you in planning your training.

Beginning next weekend: A set of Cat-2 (10-12 mph average pace) rides continuing on Sundays through the end of December. The rides probably will run every other week at first, and then move up to every week, with time off around the holidays. The final ride of this series will be a 45-mile loop around the South Bay. Think of this as an "early-bird" set of rides in advance of the official ALC kickoff party in early January. Newcomers and returning riders are equally welcome.

Beginning in January: The Cat-3 Distance Training rides will return. This is a set of 10 rides for intermediate and advanced riders who want to get experience in riding extremely long distances. We'll start at about 40 miles and slowly increase to a final ride in early May of 200 kilometers (125 miles). These rides will not be extremely hilly, since we'll be focusing on distance. (But they definitely will not be flat, and some rides will have Quadbuster-ish hills on them.) The pace will be an average of 12-15 mph, and experience has shown that many riders who participate in Cat-2 training rides are actually Cat-3 riders and would have no trouble on these rides. You do not need to be a 15 mph rider! Rides will take place on Saturdays and will be approximately every other week, with some changes to accommodate major ALC events. Also, if we get rained out on any given weekend (it's likely to happen at least once around here), I will try to reschedule the ride for the following weekend.

If you're a ride leader (already certified or planning to become certified soon) and want to help lead these rides, drop me a note.

For riders who want to stick with Cat-2 rides, there will be a full set of about 20 weekly rides running out of Sunnyvale on Sunday mornings starting in the new year. (I'm not organizing these rides, though.) These also make excellent follow-up rides for our Cat-3 Distance Training rides, especially since you'll want to get experience in riding on consecutive days.

Wrapping up the old season, looking ahead

Today was the event known as the "Thank-You Ride," the last official event of the previous season and a gentle introduction to the new season. It was the standard Tiburon Loop (a shorter option to Mill Valley was also offered), and the only real excitement of the day came on the return across the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge was partially shrouded in fog (look in the background of the picture), and dozens of tourists on rented bicycles all felt the need to stop right in the middle of the sidewalk to gawk at the fog, nearly causing many accidents. Shouts of "This is not a good place to stop!" seemed to have no effect.

As for the business of ALC, it was a good day, with many new riders and roadies signing up, some for the first time ever. (Welcome aboard!) And it was also the first official training ride for many of this year's new ride leaders, whom you'll be seeing on many rides to come.

Mark Cloutier, executive director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, gave an inspirational speech about the foundation's new initiative, a call for a National AIDS Strategy to guide the nation's next president. He also made a very important point about fundraising: Everybody knows the economy isn't doing so hot right now, and it might be doing even worse come next year. That's why it's more important than ever that we seek donations as soon as possible. I'll second that emotion; because our individual fundraising minimum has increased to $3,000 this season, I have a much bigger challenge to raise enough money to even be allowed to ride in the event next May.

Just in case you don't see that giant "Donate Now" button over on the left side of this page, here's another link to get you started. Remember: I don't get any of this money; it all goes to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation to support their vital work here and around the world. Plus, the sooner I reach my fundraising minimum, the less I'll be stressing out over having to meet a difficult goal. And I know that there's a whole bunch of very worthy causes, candidates, and groups angling for your dollars these days. All I ask is that you don't forget about the impact of the pandemic. So yes, do it for me, but do it for the real goal: to help fight HIV and AIDS.

Rider numbers are back!

Giant thanks to the folks at ALC World HQ for letting us know our rider numbers again. Go to your Participant Center, and your number should appear right next to your cycle buddy's cyclist representative's name.

Alas, you still can't get to your fundraising page with aidslifecycle.org/nnnn, though. Seems like that wouldn't be an impossible thing for them to set up, but y'know, when you've got super-cool webpages like this one now, it's not as important.

Me? I'm rider 4011 this season. So, assuming that SF riders started at 4000 again this year, that's the lowest relative number I've ever had.

Sunday 10/5/2008: Peninsula/South Bay get-acquainted ride

Join us for the first official South Bay/Peninsula training ride of the new season!

Meet time: 9:30 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Three blocks west of the Mountain View Caltrain and VTA station, in the overflow parking lot at the corner of Evelyn Avenue and Franklin Street. (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - medium pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 1 - mostly flat
Miles: 21

Ring in the new ALC8 season with this chance to meet some of your fellow Peninsula and South Bay riders, first-timers and veterans alike. The ride will take a low-stress route into Sunnyvale, then head very, very gently uphill toward Cupertino. From there, we'll go to Los Altos Hills, where we'll pick up Foothill Expressway for some nice open-road riding to Palo Alto, followed by an easy return to Mountain View.

Riders from all over Northern California are invited! Southbound Caltrain from San Francisco arrives at 9:14 a.m.

Route sheet for this ride is here.

If you're new to bicycling, read the Training section of the ALC website.

Chris Thomas
Bernard Cabigon
Gilbert Gonzalez
Peter Key
Zack Kreiter

RSVPs are requested but not required.

Here we go again!

Welcome to my training blog for the 2008-2009 AIDS/LifeCycle season. There are a lot of changes happening in ALC world, and this website is one of them.

I wear many hats at ALC (OK, maybe just two hats), and this blog serves two purposes:

-- For friends and supporters: Find out how I'm getting ready for my big ride, and how you can help support the important work of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

-- For other riders: Find out about upcoming training rides, and read post-ride reports.

There's lots more to come, so come back often between now and June 2009. And if you can do so now, please send a few dollars at the big red Donate Now link over there on the left side of the page. As always, 100% of your money goes to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, I don't get a penny of it, and your donation usually is fully tax-deductible (ask a tax adviser if you have questions).