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Ride report: Distance Training #6 (3/19/2011)

Go, riders!

If you've been wondering about the difference between "rain" and "heavy rain," we got a few lessons today. Our brave group of 10 riders headed to Mountain View in the middle of a highly unseasonable cold and rainy storm to squeeze in as many miles as possible. While most of us decided that 10 miles was quite enough thank you, a few of us continued and racked up almost 25 miles before we threw in the (very wet) towel.

While today certainly wasn't a distance training ride, we did get valuable training in riding in inclement weather. Good cycling gear can make the difference between a miserable day and a bearable one. Refining the techniques I've learned during this miserable winter, here's what I was wearing today: My heaviest-weight long-sleeve jersey, a sleeveless vest, my medium-weight jacket, a fleece neck warmer, a headband that fully covered my ears, long-legged pants, full legwarmers under the pants (!), wool socks, shoes, and heavyweight shoe covers. Whew! The good news is that I stayed comfortably warm through the whole ride. The bad news was that the shoe covers still didn't keep the inside of my shoes dry. I'm still working on that part.

If rain were to happen in June, how bad would it have to be for us to stop riding? It's impossible to say exactly how bad, but today's rain was not as intense as the storm that forced the cancellation of Day 6 a couple of years ago. (As I write this a couple of hours later, however, the rain in Mountain View is about as heavy as it was on that fateful Day 6.) Historically, rain during AIDS/LifeCycle is very rare (just two or three days out of 9x7 = 63 days on the event so far), but with seemingly more unusual weather every year in California, you should be prepared just in case. And that's why rides such as today's are useful, even though we didn't rack up the big miles.

No matter how many miles you rode today, you learned that yes, you can do it. And you probably also learned a bit about what did and did not work for you ... and you can apply those lessons to your next ride in inclement weather.

On the safety front, I was especially pleased today to hear lots of very out-loud voices calling out turns and other events during the ride. Safety is even more vital in bad conditions, and we all need to give each other plenty of room because our bikes might not always do what we want them to -- such as braking quickly enough.

What's next? I've rescheduled our 81-mile ride for next Sunday, March 27. I was of mixed feelings when I made this decision because I know that many of you already have plans for other rides that day. But because of the ALC Expo in San Francisco next Saturday, we can't ride on the 26th, which would be my normal make-up date. And I'm also concerned because the first forecasts for next weekend show yet another storm coming through the area. If we get rained out again next weekend, I'll be making some changes to our schedule (including riding more often than every other week) so we can stay on target for doing 200 kilometers on May 14.

Details and RSVP for next Sunday's ride are here.

With all this rain, don't panic yet over not getting as much training as you'd like. There's still more than two months before the ride, and there will be plenty of opportunities for you to build up to the big miles on consecutive days. (We hope!) Stay dry and warm, and thank you for being part of AIDS/LifeCycle.