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Day on the Ride vs. Day 1

The internets are buzzing today! Yesterday's ride was either a refreshing change to an old routine, or a sadistic painfest that hurt the spirit of the ride by needlessly scaring cyclists.

The reality is that Day on the Ride had almost exactly as much climbing as Day 1 of ALC8. But there are some differences in how that climbing is distributed. Allow me to get nerdy for a few minutes and show you some pictures.

Here's the elevation chart from yesterday. (I know; you might not want to look at it ever again for as long as you live.)

And here's the elevation chart from Day 1 of ALC8:

Both charts are very similar at the beginning -- not surprising, since we rode an extended segment of the traditional Day 1 route yesterday. But the second half of Day 1 is different. On first glance, it almost looks flat! But veteran ALC riders know better. Here's a blowup of part of that "flat" section:

It looks flatter in part because it's based at sea level, not several hundred feet up.

Highway 1 between San Gregorio and Santa Cruz has countless short but annoying climbs. (The hill immediately after lunch, pictured above, is particularly noteworthy.) And many of them are steep enough that I need to use my lowest gears. Those hills might last only 0.2 or 0.3 mile at a time, but you take 100 feet of climbing here and 150 feet of climbing there, and pretty soon it starts to add up. There's just about as much climbing in the second half of Day 1 as there was in the second half of yesterday's ride! One thing that helps on the afternoon of Day 1, however, is that there's usually a reliable tailwind -- unlike yesterday.

Given the restriction that we couldn't use the Golden Gate Bridge this year, our route options for Day on the Ride were limited. (The Sawyer Camp Trail was also out of the running.) Short of forming a parade down El Camino Real or taking the "commuter route" full of stop signs every couple hundred feet, there just aren't that many ways to go down the Peninsula from San Francisco. (Don't even think about trying to go via Devil's Slide.) The need to have the two rest stops in the same location also made route planning more difficult, and it's always a challenge to find a lunch spot that's big enough (and available enough) to accommodate us.

And it wasn't a specific goal to have so much climbing in Day on the Ride; given all of the constraints on the route, that's just the way it happened to work out. Those of you who ride with me in Mountain View know that I'm not a great fan of climbing!

So the goal definitely was not to "scare" riders. On the other hand, Day 1 of the ride usually does have more than 4,000 feet of climbing, and you need to be able to handle that and still be ready to ride more than 100 miles the very next day. ALC is very doable, but it's definitely not easy.

1 comment:

Ajit said...

Thanks Chris for such a lucid comparison and letting us know what to expect. Seems like DOTR certainly was a curtain raiser to this year's day 1 as well.

Well,I am looking forward to Day 1, more so the Gilroy ride this weekend.


Ajit Sharma