Fall/Winter AIDS/LifeCycle training rides

I like to cycle, so is it any surprise (it wasn’t to my partner, Bill) that I volunteered to become Training Ride Leader for ALC6?

The Peninsula ALC Category 2 ride series has been a blast for me, both riding with new and returning ALC riders, and with my cross-post of the rides I’ve co-lead to the DSSF Ride Calendar, there’s been a great turn out from Different Spokes. I’ve gotten opportunities to ride with Joe L. and Mark Y., Jeremy J., Ralph W., Stephanie C., Jerome T. and Ronman N., Denise J., Laura P., Dave F., Michelle D. and Shance O., Bill B., Roger C. and Rico N. I think that’s everyone so far.

Chris T is the Ride Leader for the Peninsula Series; we met last summer when he came to Hollister for the ride over to Freedom and back. He has done a wonderful job of laying out each route using RouteSlip.com , he test rides each one before also. And he comes up from Fresno each weekend, you all thought I drove a lot? 🙂

So where have we riden? Check out the Google Map image, we’ve covered a good portion of the Peninsula and South Bay, going as far east as Sunol and (after this weekend) as far south as King City. No we didn’t ride to King City, but more on that later. All the Peninsula Ride series start at Gunn High School on Arastradero (just off Foothill Expressway) in Palo Alto.

Peninsula Ride image

In mid-November, I co-lead my first official ALC training ride. ALC training rides are different from DSSF rides; oh we still sign ride waiver, but we start with stretching and that is followed by the mandatory Safety Pledge before we ride out. It’s a tough job getting 2,000 riders from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and safety is of the utmost importance. And ride leaders take turns being leader, riding in the middle of the group and being ride sweep (unless of course, a slower ride leader volunteers to be sweep for the entire ride.)

The first ride was to Newark and back. It was a foggy morning and 13 rider and 4 leaders wound our way around Los Altos to Menlo Park for the crossing of the Dumbarton Bridge, and back. While no where near as scenic as the Golden Gate, there are no tourists on the bridge to worry about, and we were fortunate to not have any nasty headwinds heading back from Newark.

In early December, we did a nice loop to Los Gatos and back and back, and despite the forecast and rain just before we headed out, we had a really nice ride. We headed up Foothill Expressway in to Stevens Canyon and then up Mt. Eden Road. Over the summer, I became quite familiar with Stevens Canyon and Mt. Eden Road, although we would turn right and continue up Pierce Road to the top, where the Mountain Winery is, before dropping down to Highway 9. After snacks in Los Gatos, we headed back to Palo Alto.

The following weekend was climbing and You Can Do Old La Honda. Fifteen of us braved the chilly, but sunny Sunday morning for the 3 mile climb. The unofficial “world record” climbing time on this hill is reportedly held by Olympic skater and local resident Eric Heiden — 14 minutes and 50 seconds. I forgot to look at my time for doing the climb when we got to the top of Old La Honda, so I have no idea what my time was. And it was, shall we say, quite brisk on the descent, and my hands were quite frozen by the time we got to the bottom. But the jaunt up Portola to Sand Hill warmed me back-up (being back out in the sun helped too.)

In early January, we repeated the Palo Alto to Los Gatos route for those who skipped it in December, because the weather looked bad (all the Peninsula Ride series are classified as “Heavy Rain cancels”, so we intend to ride unless it really looks bad.)

Then the cold spell hit. But it didn’t stop us from riding, nine of us did the Jersey Ride on Saturday, and then on Sunday we braved a 42 degree morning for the Palo Alto to Bunker Hill loop. And again, a new route for me, up Arastradero we wound up Alpine and Portola to Whiskey Hill to Woodside Market. From Woodside, we continued on Canada to take advantage of the Sunday morning closing of the road all the way to Highway 92, then up Highway 35 to Bunker Hill Road. We lunched and then headed back.

The third weekend in January brought the South Bay loop, where we again crossed the Dumbarton Bridge, and then headed down thru Newark, Fremont and Milpitas and then back to Palo Alto thru Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Mountain View, a quick and fairly flat 47 miler.

February’s first ride was the Saratoga Gap loop, where we headed to Los Gatos again (skipping Stevens Canyon, but that would make an interesting addition to the 4,200 feet in the 44 mile ride.) From Los Gatos, we climbed the 7 miles up Highway 9 to the top, and then headed north on Highway 35 to Old La Honda Road for the descent to the foothills and then completing the route with the normal Stanford loop back to Gunn High School.

I skipped a weekend to head down to Palm Springs for the Tour de Palm Springs (a good move this year, as the weather in the Bay Area wasn’t so nice that weekend, I believe the Jersey Ride got cancelled, in fact.) The following week we rode to Sunol and back, and what a gorgeous day it was, we actually had temperatures in the mid 70s. And for a relatively flat (1500 feet) metric century, it should have been a nice quick ride. But as TRL, I take my turn as ride sweep. Well, we had a rider come on the ride whose longest ride prior to this was 30 miles. And so about every 5 miles or so on the way back, she needed to stop and rest. And as we hit the rollers on Foothill Expressway, she was (shall we say) getting cranky? “Who decided to put these hills at the end of this ride, that’s just mean.” Needless to say, she did complete the entire route, and was very much appreciative of the conversation (David, how far do we have?) the last 10 miles.

Which brings us to this last weekend, the Quabuster Test Ride. Since Chris lives in Fresno and I’m in Hollister, we started talking about doing this as a training ride in November. I know that for my first ALC (4), I was starting to freak out about Quadbuster and the Evil Twins, I was reading about in the forum. I happened to mention this on a ride led by Joseph C, with Tom B. and Michael S. at lunch and they all (being ALC alumni) put my fears to rest. Since the area is a bit remote, we also thougth a SAG vehicle might be a good idea, so I asked Bill to come along as SAG and photographer.

On the way to King City Saturday morning, I got a call from Chris, whose car had died in Gilroy. We were already in Prunedale, a bit too far to turn around to go pick him up. And unfortunately I did not have any waivers or sign-in sheets with me (I now have my stash in the car for both ALC and DSSF.) Out of 12 RSVPS (less one cancellation Friday night, and one DSSF addition Saturday morning) five of us were there in the parking lot, and we headed out at 12:30 to do the infamous Quadbuster.

David & Rico

Heading south, we had some headwinds, of course. Turning west onto 198, we came across 4-5 bikers at the 101 off-ramp, looked (almost) like some of the Road Crew from ALC, but not. Four of us had already done Quadbuster, Jef was the newbie (new to DSSF and to ALC, but not yet signed up), and he dropped us all in one of those Tour de California moments, and was waiting at the top. From there it was an easy downhill back to King City, but of course the winds had changed and it was clouding up. We averaged almost 15 mph for the 33 mile loop.

To day with just the training rides alone, I have logged 372 miles, add a couple Jersey rides, a few rides from home, an ALC training ride out of Orinda and it’s been an active fall/winter season. But, with all the organized rides coming up, my ALC Training Ride schedule will be dwindling down some, one more in March and maybe one in April for the Peninsula Series. But coming up will be the Hollister Hills Series, three rides over March, April & May, from 42 to 66+ miles, with a post-ride potluck at our house (and Bill’s cheesy garlic bread!) Watch for details in the Ride Calendar.

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