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Ride report: South Bay/Peninsula early-bird ride #3

Go, riders!

If you looked outside this morning and decided to stay home because you thought you'd get wet ... you were wrong. The 10 riders who took the chance and came to Mountain View were rewarded with mostly sunny skies, light winds, and a grand total (by my count, at least) of exactly six droplets of water that fell from the sky at about mile 24 of our 28-mile ride.

We were all very strong riders today, and you're all doing quite well for so early in the season. Our very gentle climbs gave us a chance to slow down a bit, and the very gentle descents were just enough to let many of us build up some decent speed. Longtime riders know this, but it bears repeating: The best thing you can do to conquer ALC is to find a pace at which you can essentially ride "forever," one that you can maintain day after day after day. This may not be the fastest pace you've ever done, but we're fond of saying that ALC is a ride, not a race. There's plenty to see and do between San Francisco and Los Angeles, so there's no point in wearing yourself out so that you can't enjoy any of it. (Conversely, of course, you should also plan to ride fast enough so that you do have enough time left over to stop and do all the diversions you want -- be they giant cinnamon buns, fried artichokes, or some discreet skinny-dipping.)

On a day like today, your bicycle probably accumulated quite a bit of gunk, not just on the frame, but in the other important parts as well: gearing, chain, and cables. If you haven't done so already, take five minutes to give your bike a quick water wipe-down. Your bike will thank you.

Another thing that happens often during training season happened to some of us today: the inevitable encounter with the "club rider." A racer got a little impatient with the speed of our group and whipped unsafely around us, nearly sending one of our riders off the road. As our rides get longer and travel to some of the more popular cycling destinations, such encounters are inevitable, but still thankfully somewhat infrequent. There's not much we can do about them, and there's usually little to be gained by trying to confront them. (Some of you may be more aggressive about this than I am; that's fine, too.) I find that the best way to spread our message of safe cycling is to be the example and let our actions speak loudest. Of course, if another ALCer does this, please call them out on it -- and tell a ride leader if there's not one around at the time. Remember that it only takes one rider in one town to lose one permit for us to ride, and the entire future of the ride could be in jeopardy. Don't let it happen!

What's next: On Sunday, Nov. 16, we'll do the Stanford Loop. This is a moderately hilly route that's extremely popular on weekends, so we'll have plenty of company. In the counterclockwise direction we'll be going, we'll tackle the gradual 3-mile climb up Alpine Road, followed by the glorious downhill into Portola Valley, with a couple of challenging little climbs before the final descent into Menlo Park. It's a nice 29-mile ride with about 1,250 feet of climbing. Details and RSVP are here.

Also be sure to check out the official ALC training ride calendar for a complete list of rides across the Bay Area. As the season goes on, it will be more important for you to ride consecutive days, so that's a good habit to start getting into.

See you in two weeks!

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