Upcoming rides I'm leading:
Nothing on the schedule.

Show blog entries about: Upcoming rides | Ride reports | My own training

Ride Report: Peninsula/South Bay Get-Acquainted Ride

Go, riders!

Whether today was your first AIDS/LifeCycle training ride ever or your first ride of a new season, there's no mistaking that special feeling of excitement that says Here We Go (Again). Today was the day when the reality boldly asserts itself: Less than eight months from now, we'll be on our way to Los Angeles, covering distance and terrain that all of us at some point thought was impossible. And especially if 21 miles is the longest distance you've ever cycled in a day, hearty congratulations are in order! Every one of us was at that point sometime; with slow but steady training, you can do this ride.

I send this ride report via email shortly after each ride I organize. If you RSVP'd via email or put an email address on the sign-in sheet (or if I have one from a previous ride you did with me), you'll get this report via email. Otherwise, you can still read it here. (If you gave an email address when you signed in today and still didn't get this via email, it's not because I don't like you; either I couldn't read your writing, or there was some other email issue that I couldn't resolve.)

We had a total of 19 riders today -- far more than I expected, and I was pleased to see a mix of new faces and returning friends. Today's route was a gentle introduction to what ALC training is like, especially our focus on safety and observing traffic laws. Yes, all those stop signs in downtown Mountain View can be a pain in the rear, but we do indeed stop completely at every one of them, every time. On the big ride in June, there really are stretches of road with that many stop signs (think Pismo Beach, for instance), and yes, we completely stop at every one of those stop signs, too. This isn't just to obey an arbitrary law, either, and it's not just when other vehicles are around. As you saw today, ALC has riders of all different abilities and backgrounds, and each of us brings our own set of cycling habits. A key part of ALC training is learning to set aside some of those habits so that we all follow the same set of rules while riding together, so that we know what to expect of other riders in our group. So even if you've grown accustomed to doing a "California stop" (no such thing, by the way) when riding on your own, start now to change the habit so that by the time May 31 rolls around, the ALC way will be second nature for you.

Also, if you are riding on a borrowed bicycle, now is the time to start thinking about what bicycle you want to ride in June. It's important to make your decision (and possible purchase) early so that the bicycle can be properly fitted to you, and so that you can get plenty of experience in learning how that bicycle performs. Many bicycle shops around the Bay Area offer discounts to ALC participants; in fact, I got a new bicycle right after the ride this year, and between the ALC discount and an in-store sale price, I was able to save more than 40% off list price. Don't let price be your only guideline; tell the sales staff that you're doing ALC, so that they know endurance and comfort, not necessarily speed, probably are your primary goals. Your ALC participant guide is full of information on choosing a bicycle; although our copies haven't arrived in the mail yet this year, you can read much of the same information online.

Another thing you want to think about now is clothing. We keep training all through the "winter" (or at least what passes for winter around here), and it's not uncommon to have temperatures in the 40s even at ride-out time during the ride in June. You want to have layers that you can easily add or remove as the temperature changes, and you probably want a windbreaker that will keep you warm when cycling into the inevitable headwinds. Again, check your participant guide, or ask a salesperson at a local bicycle shop. And if money is tight for you these days (like it is for most of us!), don't feel pressured into dropping big bucks on high-tech clothing and gear that you might not yet need. Talk with other cyclists and ride leaders, see what works for them, and take advantage of your ALC discounts. But if you have the money available, it's a good idea to start making your ALC-related purchases now so that you can spread them out over several months, rather than having to buy everything at the last minute.

And my apologies to those of you who had difficulty reading the chalk marks on the pavement today. The good news is that the ride in June is extremely well-signed and staffed, and it's almost impossible to take a wrong turn. The bad news is that nearly all other training rides are not chalk-marked (I won't be doing this often), so you'll need to rely heavily on the route sheet for directions. If you're unsure about a route, study it in advance, and try riding with another rider. And if you're ever unsure about where to go while on a ride, it's always OK to call a ride leader and ask for directions.

I'll be leading about 16 to 18 rides this season. This post talks about what's ahead.

Up next is a 25-mile ride in two weeks, on Sunday, October 19. We'll go to Menlo Park, where we'll have our first official Starbucks rest stop of the new season. From there, we'll go through the Arastradero Nature Preserve before returning through Palo Alto on our way back to Mountain View. Because the official ALC ride calendar page still isn't working (grumble, grumble), you'll need to look at my website for details and to RSVP; I should have details posted soon, after I firm up the roster of ride leaders. Time and place will be the same as today, but this ride will have a few more hills and will be a decent early-season challenge.

Again, big, giant thanks to every one of you for making the commitment to do these rides. There are as many reasons for riding as there are riders, and whatever your reason is, I applaud your devotion. Have a wonderful training season, and I hope to see you on more rides soon.

No comments: