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Ride report: Cat-3 Distance Training #4

Go, riders!

Yay, we beat the rain! I did a sufficient job of putting the Fear of Weather into all of you, and our group of 33 riders completed our 63-mile ride to Sunol and back by 3 p.m. Special congratulations to the riders who completed their first-ever metric century today.

Today's ride crossed a significant threshold. Up until now, we've been doing rides that casual cyclists usually don't really think all that much about doing on a whim. But when we pass the 60-mile mark, we're getting into serious endurance cycling territory. And when that happens, things start to change. I'm sure many of you noticed that today.

First and most significant is the need for proper nutrition -- not just during the ride, but before and after it as well. Depending on your body, you might have burned more than 2,000 calories on today's ride. You can't let that all go without replacing most of it, or your metabolism will start to go into starvation mode and start hanging on to every fat calorie it can get its hands on. Be sure to have a small recovery meal as soon as possible after a long ride, and follow it up a couple of hours later with another balanced meal.

Last month, ALC hosted an outstanding presentation on nutrition for endurance cycling, and you can find many of the notes from that presentation here. The workshop is being repeated next Thursday night in San Francisco; it's free, and details and RSVP are here.

Second on the list of things that probably changed today was that you realized you might not be able to ride "all-out" the whole day on such a long ride. If you started out strong and weren't so strong by the end, that's a good sign that you should look at your pacing. The goal is to find a pace that you can essentially maintain forever, so that any distance won't be a problem for you. This often means forcing yourself to hold back a bit at the start of a day, and perhaps taking those first few hills a little bit more easily than you're capable of doing. Don't be intimidated by faster riders; everyone has their own pace, and you're doing your ride, not anyone else's.

Another big change was that your mind probably started telling you different things today. As always, I can't even begin to guess what's going on inside everybody's mind, but take a couple of minutes and think about what you thought about during today's ride. For me, the big change of mind today was a shift from "Oh no, not another ride" to "Oh wow, I actually did this ride, and I don't feel like crap after doing it." As our rides get significantly longer from this point forward, that's an important shift to make.

A few notes from the road:

-- I saw a rider run a red light today. Bad! It was at the type of red light that officers love to stake out and issue $300-plus tickets to unsuspecting cyclists, too: a T intersection where the way forward is clear. (This happens often on Foothill Expressway in Los Altos, for example.) But the law in California is clear, even if we don't agree with it: Even if there's no limit line painted on the shoulder or bike lane, cyclists are required to stop at all red lights. Why? Traffic that's turning into the lane might not correctly land in the lane they're aiming for, and they might go into the bike lane instead. You wouldn't want to be there if that happened.

-- Did a rude motor home almost run you off the road in Niles Canyon? You weren't the only one. The driver was going all over the place, often crossing the white line and veering into what passed for a bike lane. How did that make you feel? We can encounter poor drivers anywhere, including on the ride; while it's important that we deal with the situation at hand, it's equally important that you not let such an incident ruin the rest of your day. Don't bike while angry!

-- Whenever we cross the Dumbarton Bridge, I hear some low-grade grumbling about the condition of the frontage road on the east side of the bridge. Yes, it stinks. But in June, we'll be riding on lots of roads that are in less-than-perfect condition, particularly in rural areas of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties where money for road maintenance appears to be little to none. Nearly all of Day 3 from King City to Paso Robles is on county roads that have been chip-sealed, so the riding is rough ... and tough on the hands, too. The best advice, again, is to "get used to it" and don't let it get you down.

What's next? Our Cat-3 Distance Training rides resume in two weeks with a 76-mile trip to South San Jose. This is a popular ride that covers a wide range of conditions and scenery, and it has just enough climbing (about 2,200 feet) to be a hefty challenge. There's a light-rail bailout option available around mile 40, just in case it's not your best day. Details and RSVP are here.

Next Saturday, however, you're invited to join David Goldsmith and myself for our Double Birthday Ride, a very hilly trip up Highway 9 and along Skyline Blvd. The route is either 48 or 53 miles; 48-mile riders will descend tricky Old La Honda Road, and the 53-mile riders will descend the more speedy but still challenging Highway 84 into Woodside. There's about 4,400 feet of climbing on this ride, including a non-stop 7-mile climb up Highway 9, so it's not for the faint of heart. The good news, however, is that we're running the ride as a Cat-2 ride, which means the official pace will be only 10-12 mph, and I won't be climbing anywhere near that fast. Details and RSVP are here.

And even though we're in a rather long stretch of rainy weather these days, try to find ways to train in between our rides. We assume that you're doing significant rides on our "off" weeks, and you need to maintain your training so that you can cope with the increasing distance in the rides to come. Don't want to ride in the rain? Put on a jacket and go for a hike. Don't want to get muddy? Do three or four power-walking laps around the Great Mall. Training during rainy season can be a challenge, so be creative in finding solutions that work for you.

Thanks for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle, and I look forward to our next ride.

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