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Ride report: Cat-3 Distance Training #7

Go, riders!

What a difference two weeks makes. We could not have asked for finer weather for today's 89-mile ride to San Francisco and back. (OK, perhaps it was just a wee bit chilly when we started out -- the number of jackets hauled back from mid-ride to Mountain View is ample testament of that.)

Our group of 26 riders tackled today's hilly route with grace and aplomb, and that's quite an accomplishment because today was comparable to the most difficult days of the ride in June. And extra special thanks go to today's SAG drivers, Dennis and Taryl, who provided invaluable help and made today seem even more like an actual day on the ride. (And there was at least one independent rider who had a copy of our route sheet for today but was riding the route in reverse, starting in San Francisco.)

As for the actual mechanics of riding, there really isn't much for me to say. We've got our safety rules down pat (keep up the good work!), everyone paced themselves well, and most everyone's equipment was in good shape and well maintained. (We had one tire fail near the end of the ride, causing a rider to be sagged back to Mountain View, but that can happen to anyone.) So I'll use my time tonight to talk about a couple of the "management" tasks that you should be doing now.

First and foremost, today's ride was long enough that you might have noticed things you didn't notice before. If anything about your bike, your clothing, or your food bothered you today, you need to take action now to have it looked at, adjust it, stop doing it, or fix it. Even the smallest annoyances can become serious or even dangerous when magnified over seven consecutive days.

Here's an example: The sore spot in my tender manly area tonight (TMI, huh) is a strong indication that either I need to stop wearing this particular pair of pants, or perhaps my seat might not be properly adjusted. (I think it's the former and not the latter, since I did longer rides on this bike last summer without incident.) Other things that might cause trouble are gloves that don't work for you, the angle of your cleats, and specific food or drinks that upset your stomach.

Sure, after a long ride like this, you probably should feel a bit worn out. But you shouldn't really hurt. Part of your training is learning to identify the difference between the two and acting appropriately.

The second big thing to start thinking about is time management. Even faster riders need to plan their days on the bike! There's so much to do during the ride that it's easy to lose track of time. And if you lose track too much, you run the risk of missing a rest stop closing time, at which point you're done for the day, no matter how fast a rider you are. If you want to spend time on any of the official or unofficial activities during each day of the ride, you need to keep a careful eye on the clock.

And now that our training rides have become long, sunset becomes a real concern and our time-limiting factor. We want to make sure that everyone -- riders and leaders alike -- gets back to Mountain View before sunset; we don't require riders to have lights on their bikes, and returning after dark is unnecessarily dangerous. So, for our last three rides of the season, each of which is more than 100 miles, we'll have suggested "depart by" times for each of the rest stops. But don't stress out too much over this (in fact, don't stress out over it at all) -- the time cutoffs are roughly comparable to a mid-range Cat-2 pace, which you're all far above, and are designed solely to get us all back before dark.

Our next Cat-3 Distance Training ride is set for April 18, and it's our first century of the season! We have a new 101-mile route this year that combines pieces of routes we've done before and adds some new and exciting miles on the east side of San Jose, including one hill that will get you very much in the mood for Quadbuster. Details and RSVP here.

Two other fun rides are coming up in the next week. On Friday at 9 a.m. (weather permitting -- rain looks possible at the moment), I'll be leading a 33-mile ride from Palo Alto into the hills and all the way up Alpine Road. Come play hooky with us; details and RSVP here. And on Saturday, I'll be helping David Goldsmith lead the first-ever Evil Twins preview ride, which starts in Paso Robles (three hours south of Mountain View on U.S. 101) and takes us along the beginning of the Day 4 route. Details and RSVP here.

Here are this week's announcements from ALC World HQ:

1. If you're not doing anything next Wednesday night, come join ALC staff and other South Bay and Peninsula riders for a meet 'n' greet at Sports Basement in Sunnyvale. Details and RSVP here.

2. Don't forget to fill out your medical information form online in your Participant Center. That will be one fewer line to stand in on registration day!

3. Day on the Ride is coming soon! On Saturday, April 25, head up to San Francisco for a 42-mile or 67-mile ride structured just like an actual day on the ride. The event costs $15 and is limited to 600 riders, so register soon here.

That's it for tonight. Thanks to all of you for a fantastic day, and see you next time. Thanks for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle.

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