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Ride report: South Bay/Peninsula early-bird ride #7

Go, riders!

Back in elementary school not too many years ago (watch it ... no cracks about "back when FDR was president"), I used to pretend that I was a weatherman. (Not the William Ayers type of weatherman, so no cracks about that either.) Because the teacher liked me, the whole class would have to sit through my horridly drawn maps and forecasts. But this afternoon, I'm feeling pretty darned good about my meteorological prognostications -- the skies in downtown Mountain View opened up within one minute of the return of the last of today's 10 riders. So back in Woodside when I said that we probably had pressed our luck as far as we could for the day and I cut the ride from 40 miles to 33, I was about as correct as it is possible to be. So, go me!

That said, we did ride through a couple of patches of light sprinkles today, and the roads around Portola Valley were somewhat wet from earlier showers that had moved through, so it's very important that you clean your bicycle as soon as possible. In addition to basic cleaning of your frame with water and a rag, here are a couple of not-so-obvious applicable tips from a forum about bicycle commuting:
Chains and gears can be prematurely worn by grit and sand that’s thrown up, especially if you don’t have fenders and chainguards. To extend the life of your chain, chainring, cogs and external gearing, wash or wipe the parts after a wet weather ride and lubricate.

Brake pads can have grit embedded in them, which will shorten the life of your rims if you don’t use disk brakes. Wipe them off along with the braking surface when you clean your other components.

On the ride in June, we almost never get weather like what we had today, although it can be almost as cold on some mornings. Rain is extremely rare, but Day 1 often has lots of nasty light drizzle and thick fog for much of the first 30 miles, so it's good to get some experience with riding in less-than-optimum conditions. Learn how your bicycle's components behave in wet conditions: Observe the differences in shifting, braking, and cornering.

Given all of the hills on today's route, everyone did amazingly well. Most parts of the ALC route aren't as consistently hilly as the first 17 miles of today's ride, but there are a few, and again, it's best to be prepared for them. It's always a ride and never a race, so never feel pressured or intimidated by other riders to go any faster than you want to go. No matter how strong you are, there will always be someone on the route who's stronger than you, but that's OK. And conversely, you will always be stronger than someone else on the route, so when you pass them, remember how you feel when you get passed. You will pass and be passed literally thousands of times during the ride in June, so learn now how you react to that -- this is one of the many important parts of mentally training for the ride.

Next week, however, we dispense with most of the hills for our final early-bird ride. Our 46-mile route will first head across the Dumbarton Bridge to Newark (just like we did last week), and from there we'll go through Fremont, Milpitas, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale in a big loop back to Mountain View. There's only one small hill about two-thirds of the way through the ride, and other than that, there's nothing bigger than an overpass (or the bridge). This will put you in great shape to join any of the regular rides that begin in January throughout the Bay Area; I'll be leading every-other-Saturday Cat-3 (12-15 mph) rides out of Mountain View, and there will be every-Sunday Cat-2 (10-12 mph) rides in Sunnyvale, San Francisco, and the East Bay.

Finally, a special thanks to ride leader Zack Kreiter for driving a SAG vehicle for us today. Although only one rider needed Zack's services, he provided a good sense of reassurance during today's uncertain weather, and he seemed to be everywhere!

Thanks for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle.

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