NorCal Aids Cycle 2016

iPhoto Library

In May last year, I completed the NorCal Aids Cycle for the fourth time. That’s 330 miles in 3 1/2 day!  I had a wee more physical preparation last year as I didn’t wait until the month before the ride to commit (which also means to train) like in 2014.  We were a small group with about 80 riders and 50 crew, as compared to 150 riders and 100 crew the first yearI rode in 2012.  The total group, riders and crew was small, though we raised nearly as much money as we did in 2014 year!!

In August 2015 we distributed $197,000 of the $332,000 dollars we raised, between the 16 beneficiary organizations that we rode for this year.  The rest of the monies raised for distribution were distributed as winter grant money.  Seventy two percent of the funds raised by the NCAC participants went to our beneficiaries, making NCAC the largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the Sacramento and Northern California area.  If you Google various other charity events, you can see that many groups out there raising money for charities distribute only a small portion of the money they raise – some as low as 25%!  We are able to do this by keeping our overhead low, doing fundraisers (second annual Crab Feed a huge success!), and because of the generous support we receive from our sponsors, and from the very generous donations that we each receive from our friends, family, and colleagues each year.  Without you, we would not be able to do this.

There were many new faces, including some teens, riding in 2015 and lots of enthusiasm and NCAC love to share.  NCAC is like a big family with open arms.  There is love and support for all riders and crew,yt and each member recognizes that we are a family because of who we are, and what we are doing.  All of us are riding for a reason, for some it is because we have friends or family members with HIV/AIDS, for others it is because we have lost friends, family members and partners to HIV/AIDS. Others may be living with HIV/AIDS, and some are riding not because they have been directly affected by HIV/AIDS, it’s because they want to make a difference by helping the agencies supporting those affected by HIV/AIDS.  Whatever it is that brings individuals to do this event, whether you have ridden the ride all 11 years, or this will be your first year, I can guarantee that you will leave feeling a part of a wonderful, supporting family.

NCAC was started 12 years ago and each year the route has been pretty much the same. We started in Folsom, rode to Gridley the first day, rode on to Williams the second day, Woodland the third day, and ended the ride midday the 4th day on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento.

We had several new enthusiastic board members last year and NCAC under went some big changes. The first big change for this year is that NCAC 2016 will be following a new route. The ride will begin in West Sacramento and head to Auburn the first day.  Camp will be in Auburn for all three nights, with rides starting from there each day.  Sunday morning we will leave Auburn, and end the event on the steps of the Capitol at 1200 PM.   If you have heard about NCAC and have been thinking about riding, are looking for a group to ride with, and a well organized ride to train for, check out our website: norcalaidscycle.org and see what we are all about.  The ride itself is fun and challenging, and there is nothing better than doing something that will make a difference is the life of someone you don’t even know.  Open up your heart and mind and think about it. If you have questions about the ride you can respond to this blog, or email  me through my blog at janet@openhearted.me.  Cycling abilities range from those riding a bike for the first time in many years, to those with many years and miles of cycling under their belts, and everything in between.

This year’s ride starts May 12th and ends May 16th.  If you are not able to ride this year, please consider joining us next year in 2017, and think about making a contribution to support NCAC 2016 at my donor site.   You will be surprised at how good you feel knowing your made a difference in the life of someone you don’t even know!

Cramming for a Metric Century Ride

CARES TO NIMBUS RIDE

I remember staying up late cramming for a morning final.  I had all quarter to study for the final, and I am up the night before the exam cramming. Thinking somehow that all that last minute stuffing of facts and equations into my brain would make it readily accessible for the morning test. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t keep my eyes open and kept rereading the same line of notes over and over. By god, I’d put in the time so I would be ready. And just for good measure, I would sleep with my textbook under my pillow as I slept, and place the book on the floor under my feet during the exam.  Maybe, just possibly, information would transfer from my book to my brain during sleep, and from my feet to my pencil during the exam.  Crazy huh?

It has been a long time since those days of exams that showcased the necessity of procrastinating just long enough to put the pressure on to start, and still have time to be ready.  Over the years, I haven’t changed.  I have a 100K bike ride on October 19th, and I didn’t start my training until the end of September. September 28th to be exact, which is a mere 3 weeks until the ride.  If I was 25 I would say “pisshaw – no problem”.  However, I am now a few years older than 25, and with the ride only 3 weeks away I say “YIKES!!!!”.  So here’s to “cramming” once again.

I rode 25 miles with 1100 feet of climbing my first ride, 30 miles of basically flat for the second ride, and 65 miles with a bit of climbing (1355 ft – really?) so I know I can do the distance – it’s just a matter of how long will it take me.  I do plan on doing a couple of more rides before the big day.  I have been impressed at how well this ol gal comes back after a lengthy time off.  Having good company to ride with definitely makes a difference, and just remembering to “take it 10 miles at a time” helps as well.

So as I student I put my books under my pillow for the night, and under my feet for the exam.  With biking, what do I do? – Sleep in my helmet?  So maybe the old adage is true “you can’t teach a dog new tricks”.  In other words, once a procrastinator always a procrastinator.  Here’s to October 19th and the Foxy Falls Metric Century – “I am woman hear me roar!”  WIsh me luck!

Ever Wonder…….?

TAHOE RIDE ME

Ever wonder if the universe was attempting to tell you something?  Last Sunday  (June 2nd) was America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride (AMBBR) – a 72 mile ride around Lake Tahoe.  It is a very popular ride and people come from all over the US to ride around the lake.  I wanted to do the ride last year and had to find a registration on Craigslist as it was already sold out.  Days before the ride, I put Rosie out of commission by attempting to enter the garage with her perched atop my car and bent her front wheel.  Since I had paid a good amount for the registration, I made a trip up to Tahoe the day before the ride and was able to sell it for less than regular price, and more than I had paid for it. Score!  I surmised the universe was telling me I was not supposed to do the ride last year, and made a pledge to myself that I would register early and do the ride this year.

This year, I registered many months in advance to assure a place as one of the 3,500 riders to enjoy this supported ride around one of California’s greatest treasures.  I made a reservation at a South Lake Tahoe timeshare in Zephyr Cove, and planned to arrive 3 nights ahead of the ride to, at least psychologically, acclimate to the higher altitude.  My sister Linda and husband Sam were to join me as Linda had never been to Lake Tahoe.  I know, hard to believe!  Born and raised in California and had never made a trip to Tahoe.  When they had to cancel, I called my friend Kathy to see if she wanted to come.  Having been in a wheelchair or non weight bearing on crutches for over 21/2 months, she was more than eager to “get outta Dodge!”

Everything was falling into place nicely until I took Rosie (for any new readers, Rosie is my bike) in to the shop to figure out why my shifting was stiff and skipping when I changed gears.  It was a sad day when I had to leave her in the shop and she wouldn’t be ready for the Tahoe ride :(. So what was a girl to do?  I went home, pulled my Silver Bullet out from retirement, and took her to a shop that could see her right away for a tune-up and safety check.  She was my triathlon bike years ago and hadn’t been ridden in years.  I had put new tires on her not long ago so that Peter could ride her, and that was about all that had been done in years.

On Thursday afternoon, Kathy and I and Silver Bullet, loaded up and headed to Tahoe for a long weekend.  We arrived at Zephyr Cove to check in, only to find out I had no reservation until the next night – Friday to Monday, not Thursday to Sunday as I thought.  The question again came up “so what’s a girl to do?”.   Even with all the people in town, we were able to get a hotel room at one of the casinos and all was well.  The weather was beautiful and I would take Silver Bullet out for a test spin in the morning.

Uh oh!  My girl had a flat tire.   A new rim liner had been placed to prevent flats as she had a flat from one of the spokes when I took her in.  That was easily remedied with a new rim liner, though I found a screw on the ground under her in the condo and didn’t know where it went.  I didn’t feel comfortable riding her as I wasn’t sure what was “loose”.  At this point I wasn’t sure what to do.  I put out a Facebook plea asking if anyone would lend me their bike for the Sunday Ride. That’s like asking someone to borrow their first born for a day.  Almost immediately, I had a response from my friend Melissa offering up her bike, Kermit.  And the best part was, she was coming to Tahoe for the day on Saturday and could deliver him to me!  Another obstacle overcome.

It turned out that Kermit fit me very well and I could ride him without making any adjustments.  What are the chances?  Several obstacles had popped up in preparation for this ride, and I began to wonder if my higher power was giving me a message that I wasn’t supposed to ride!   However, since there had been a solution for each obstacle that came up, I took that as a good sign, and Sunday morning at 0700 I began the ride!

The day was beautiful!  It was sunny and clear with morning temperatures in the low 40’s at the start.  For warmth, I opted to wear a bright florescent green wind vest and arm warmers and tolerate the chilly morning, as temperatures were to climb into the upper 70’s.  I knew I could shed layers along the way if need be.  By the time I was part way up the climb to Emerald Bay, you can see in the picture, I had already pulled my arms warmers down.  We started at the Casinos and road counter clockwise around the lake so the Emerald Bay climb was within the first 10 miles.  Temperatures were already rising as the sun rose higher in the sky. The entire ride had stunning views of the Sierras and the lake.  I wish I had had a video cam on my helmet to show everyone what I saw.  I guess any one of you could have driven around the lake that day and seen the same thing.  Though somehow, moving at the speed of bicycle,  I think I would have appreciated it more 🙂

 

NCAC 2013 Day 4

IMG_1130

It amazes me how well I slept on this trip.  I noticed the moon shining in my tent, and I was out!!  No full bladder to wake me up, so it was a good thing I set my alarm for 04:30.  The weather forecast was for WIND – strong wind, with even stronger gusts up to 25-30 mph.  And guess what?  Most of the way to the Capitol was going to be into headwinds.  My tent sides flapped against me as I packed up my things inside, and it wasn’t even light yet.

Two start times were set to ensure that all riders reached the gathering spot at Crocker Park in time to get organized for the parade into the Capitol as a team.  I rode off with the early group, and the going was tough right out the chute.  I was able to grab onto Nancy and Karen, a couple of wise and experienced riders, and learned about “stacking”.  This is another form of drafting used when the wind is a cross/head wind. I learned that you put the lead rider in the front on the side taking the brunt of the wind, and fan out to the inside, and slightly behind her. By doing this, the inside riders are able to get some protection to draft.  This proved to be very efficient, and we  moved along fairly well and passed up others struggling alone, or in small groups with the wind.

The first leg of our route took us along the fields between Woodland and Winters where the roads were long, straight, and flat.  When me made our first turn (at about 15 miles) the wind became our ally, and we cruised along at 25-26mph without much effort – what a relief.  Suffice it to say, this was the only section of the 51 mile ride into the Capitol that provided some relief from the buffeting head and side winds!

I didn’t linger long at stops as I was anxious to get to the holding area in time to take some pictures and spend time with individuals before we got swallowed up by the awaiting crowd at the Capital Mall.  The first rest stop was in Winters, and the second at the UC Davis Fire Department.  By the time I got to Crocker Park, it was buzzing with energy and excitement, and each and every rider was applauded as s/he road into the park.  We took team pictures, and pictures of our riding “buddies” to remember this special time that we had shared.  All riders were dressed in NCAC TEAM jerseys and we made quite a striking group there in the park.

As noon approached, we lined up 2 by 2 behind Slingshot and her “motocrew”  (our ladies on motorcycles), for our entrance to the welcoming crowd.  Engines were revved, cyclist clipped into pedals, and we were “ROLLING!”.  There is nothing I can write that quite describes the feeling I had when the crowd began to applaud and whistle as the first riders made their way into the crowd and up onto the Capitol steps.  I began looking for people I knew and I saw my sister and my family in their black “Dare To Care” t-shirts  right away.  Hugs and kisses from friends and family slowed the procession at times, and the steady progress forward into the crowd continued until we were all lined up on the steps.  As I turned around to the applauding crowd, I felt my self tear up and the lump in my throat grow.  Here before me, and up on the steps with me, were some of the very people I road for – those living with HIV/AIDS – and their appreciation was palpable.

I felt proud to have completed the ride and to have raised money for this worthy cause,  I felt the love for my fellow cyclist and crew, and I felt hope that one day, as Jim McCann stated ‘the only thing my grandchildren will know about HIV/AIDS is what they read in history books’ (roughly quoted).  The MC announced that we had raised $325,000 at that point, and with money still coming in until June 7, 2013 that number has continued to increase.

As the group of riders began to disband, Kevin, who had a mishap on the first day and was unable to complete the ride, came up to me with his broken wing in a sling. He gave me a big one armed hug and we both broke down and shook with sobs.  Tears of joy?, tears of sadness?, tears of whatever was the overcoming emotion in that moment, and then he was gone.  I was told last year when I signed up to do my first ride, “this event is life changing”.  I must say, I have to agree.  Will I do the ride again?  Absolutely!!!

 

 

NCAC 2013 Day 3

IMG_1144

Day 3 dawned cool and clear and pretty calm.  Day 3 of the ride is “Red Day”.  All riders wear red to honor those living with HIV/AIDS.  I must say, the riding outfits for red day far surpassed even the Aloha attire.  We had Wonder Woman, men in red dresses, a tight little sequined mini skirt, a couple of tutus and even a strawberry.  I chose a red tutu and my red jersey that says “Ride Like a Girl” for my outfit.  Accessories included a few streamers of red netting off the back of my helmet to keep track of wind direction 🙂  Although the morning scene is rowdy and fun, it is still a day of honor to those living with HIV/AIDS – some of those people amongst our group as riders and crew.

Day 3 is a shorter mileage day (only 80 miles) though we have more climbing. We paraded out of Williams a sea of red, and quickly put the first 10 miles behind us.  At that point we were at the start of the 8 mile climb before our descent into Capay Valley.  I set a steady pace and meandered up the hill to the wild cheering of our crew team members. Somehow they seemed to know just where to place themselves to distract us with their music, funny song and dance routines, and posters and cheers with words of encouragment, to get us through the tough spots.  People thanked me for pulling up the hill, though I am not sure one gains much advantage drafting at 6-8 miles per hour 🙂

Our reward at the top was a beautiful, long mix of descent and rolling hills along Cache creek running down the Capay Valley.  It was hard to take it all in when I was racing down the hills, and I could enjoy the scenery more when it became flat or uphill.  The rest stop was at a beautiful park with grass and trees. We were greeted by our wonderful crew members who reminded us to “take off your gloves and wash your hands”, before they would help us with snacks.  My staple snack seemed to be bananas with peanut butter and orange slices, with an occasional small cup of nuts and M&Ms, and of course water for then and to refill my bottles.

The key to rest stops is stopping long enough for input/output and a short rest.  Staying too long tends to make it harder for me to get back in the groove as easily as if I make a shorter stop.  Speaking of output.  Drinking enough fluids is a challenge. and my goal is to drink enough water so that I have output at every stop – about every 20 miles.  Getting dehydrated is a sure fire way to have fatigue set in, and it’s hard to make up the difference chugging water back in camp without feeling waterlogged.

Our destination for this day was Woodland High School.  We rode by Cache Creek Resort, and I was pleasantly surprised that we had no obnoxious drivers this year. I even had two guys drive by, slow down and say “nice dress” as they politely drove off.  It’s one thing when you are riding with a group of others dressed up and all looking silly.  It’s another thing when you are riding along alone in a red tutu. This area can be a bit dicey as people are drinking, the road is narrow and speeds are fast.  This year was a pleasant surprise.

We arrived at Woodland High School around 3:30 or 4:00 with time to set up camp and shower before dinner and the evenings entertainment.  Families were invited to join us for dinner and the evening show so there were many introductions, and I learned more about other riders’ lives outside biking.  The Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus (a portion of the chorus) entertained us with numbers from their upcoming ABBA Extravaganza Show.  Entertainment for us, was practice for them for their big performance June 7th and 8th at the Crest Theater in Sacramento.  We had 4 members of NCAC in the chorus which made this part of the program even more special.

Early registration for next year was opened up to the cyclist and crew and I committed to do the ride once again next year for the NCAC 10th Anniversary ride. (Do I hear groans from my supporters?) 🙂  Perhaps some of you will join me next year for this wonderful adventure and worthy cause.

One by one, weary, road worn cyclists broke off from the evenings activities to brush teeth and climb into sleeping bags for one last night before our arrival at the State Capitol at noon the next day.

 

 

 

NCAC 2013 Day 2

IMG_1058

It’s rather dark at 0430, and this morning it was also cool and damp from the rain.  I like to get up early and get things packed up by breakfast at 0530.   As people awaken, tents light up and glow, and plastic bags begin to rustle as warm jammies are replaced by cold lycra riding clothes.  The ZZZZ ZZZZ’s of zippers start in as individuals emerge and head to the bathrooms for emptying of bladders and brushing of teeth.  Much to my surprise, I actually felt pretty good once I was upright outside the tent.

Day 2 is a day for remembering friends and loved ones who have died from complications of HIV/AIDS.  To honor them, we wear aloha (hawaiian) shirts.  Some take the aloha theme to a whole other level and dress in grass skirts, accessorize with leis, or even dress up as a pineapple as Melissa did :). The day’s destination was Williams, close to 100 miles away.  A hearty breakfast with sausage, eggs, true “stick to your ribs” oatmeal, and coffee and we were on the road at 0645.  We were quite a splash of color as we left the sleepy town of Gridley.

Lunch was early Day 2.  Our lunch stop was at a nice park in Durham at approximately mile 40.  It was 1015 when my group rolled in.  It’s a little harder to think of 60 miles after lunch instead of 40, and the promise of pie at the last rest stop was really the motivation to keep on moving the next 40 miles.  When we turned to parallel Interstate 5, we started into headwinds.  Not a cyclist friend as I have alluded to in prior blog posts.

It was a beautiful day though the wind goddess was NOT good to us this day.  Not much hill wise on Day 2’s route, and lots of flat with head winds instead.  As one of the cyclist David says “I’d much rather have hills than wind.  At least you know the hill will end.  Not so with the wind.”  I totally agree with him.  Day 2 feels long.  It’s 100 miles on top of the 100 miles we did the day before.  At one point in the morning I was feeling hot and tired, and even a bit discouraged, when a big hawk flew over and cast his shadow on me.  I didn’t see the bird only the shadow, and I felt it was my brother flying over saying “hang in there honey.  You are doing great!”.  In my tired, vulnerable state riding alone at that time, I began to cry.  A quiet sweet cry of remembering Vic and knowing he was looking after me.

Most of the day I rode with an awesome group of riders, many from my team, and there was much laughter and good times despite the hot and windy conditions.  We reached the half way point not long after lunch and it was set up with a sign and photographer for photo ops.  We must have spent 20 mins there taking pictures with various combinations of people – most of them pretty silly – only a few serious ones.  Here we were, Day 2 and already half way through our 330 mile ride.

Jim rides with a small camera and is amazingly adept at shooting pictures of scenery, other riders, and himself as he cruises along at 14 mph into the wind!!!  He kept us entertained with his antics most of the long afternoon.  The scenery was actually pretty in many areas with new sprouts of green poking up thru the flooded rice paddies, and there was actually a calm patch of water with a beautiful reflection of a barn to enjoy.  One advantage to moving more slowly is the ability to take in the scenery.

The mile 80 rest stop had pie as promised.  Cindy (one of the medical staff) gave us each an icy cold wash rag to put on our heads and necks, and Joaquin tattooed us with the word “HERO” in black letters with a red heart.  Most of us wanted it visible on the road, so left upper arm and left calf were popular spots for the tattoo placement.

The route had been following along Interstate 5 on a straight, flat road with headwinds prior to the rest stop, and the next 20 miles into Williams was more of the same.  I tried to find beauty in the scenery, though rice paddies between us and Interstate 5, and grain elevators that all looked alike only went so far.  Put it this way, it was just a long haul in!

Tents up, shower, dinner, and a candlelight ceremony to acknowledge those we were riding, for completed the evening.  It was a touching reminder of why we were riding this ride – to help put an end to HIV/AIDS, and to provide much needed services to those living with HIV/AIDS.  I crawled into my tent, noted the beautiful moon shining right above me, the soft snoring of someone nearby, and I was out for the night.

 

 

 

 

 

NCAC 2013 Day 1

Team Cares on Bridge

After all the months of training, the NorCal Aids Cycle was finally here!!!!  Although I attempted to be better organized the day before for an early to bed night, I putzed around with last minute shuffling of “stuff” for the trip…..Tent-check, riding clothes for 4 days- check, chargers or phone,bike computer and camera-check, toiletries (including much needed sunscreen)-check, Helmet and biking shoes-check, headlamp-check, and so on.  Each rider was allowed one bag weighing less than 50 lbs, with all belongings including sleeping bag, and sleeping pad, and one tent bag.

Rosie was looking good and feeling spunky when I loaded her on top of the car at 0530. Linda and Sam (my sister and bro-in-law) arrived at my house to drive Rosie and I to the start of the ride at Beal’s Point here in Folsom.  Cool and overcast, with rain expected later in the day was the forecast.

Day 1 is “team” day, and each of the teams within NCAC sport team uniforms on this first day out.  My team is Team Cares, so I had on my Team Cares “Kit” (matching shorts and jersey are called a kit), when we lined up for pictures and the opening ceremony.  Most of the loading of food and water for the reststops had been done the day before, and the crew was busy loading the truck with our gear when we got there.

There is A LOT of energy and buzz on Day 1 – fear for some, others choose excitement.  Either way, people are smiling and feeling good, and ready to roll out on the adventure. Day 1 was 101 miles and ended at the Gridley Fair Grounds.  Rest stops were spread out about every 20 miles.  After 20 miles I get restless in the saddle and getting off, stretching the legs, and taking the pressure off the butt bones is welcomed.

Day 1 got off to a shaky start with about 5 rider “mishaps” in the first 60 miles. The shoulders of the road were often narrow and gravel and ditches closely lined the road.  A first year rider crashed right after leaving the lunch stop and was taken off to the hospital in an ambulance.  After tests and scans, it was determined that his head was ok even though he had total loss of recall of the time between lunch and getting to the hospital,  and he had confusion initially. Unfortunately, his body didn’t fair so well.  Kevin showed up in a hospital gown after dinner with a sling, and we were told he broke his collarbone, scapula (that bone in the mid to upper back that moves when you  move your arms) and cracked a few ribs.  Thankfully we had a wonderful medical crew on the road and response to the accidents were rapid and riders were evaluated in a timely manner.  With SAG (support and gear) vehicles, “moto crew” ( our ladies on motorcycles) and our medical team, we were well covered and supported along the whole ride.

Bike riding is not an activity without risk.  A short slip of attention and you can find yourself off the road and rolling in a ditch.  Upper bodies take most of the brunt of falls, with arm, shoulder, and rib injuries being the main injuries in bike accidents.   That and road rash. Helmets save our brains in most cases.  Though helmets are cracked with many unplanned dismounts from the bike, thankfully head injuries are not as prevalent.

We arrived in Gridley spread out over a period of hours in the later afternoon.  The bionic riders finished well ahead of us mere mortals, and the trickle in of riders kept the trickle in and out of showers pretty steady.  Warm water was not abundant, yet any water washing down over my body felt good to remove the salty sweat and road dirt.

By nine o’clock our tent city was quiet, and rain was gently falling on our tents.  I crawled into my tent and laid out my riding attire for the morning and set my alarm for 0430.  When I laid down, I fell asleep instantly, weary from the long day on the road.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

IMG_3699

I have talked about getting my bike “fitted”.  If you are not in to cycling, you may not know what that means, or why it is important.  According to Wikipedia  “Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders, which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability.”  In a nutshell then, for cyclist this means having a bike that fits in such a way that you are comfortable, and efficient.

Many things are taken into consideration besides just seat height, which is all we adjusted on our bikes as kids right?  If you look at the diagram above, you can see the various distances and angles that are measured and adjusted.  Ideally the pressure from the seat is on your sit bones, there is minimal, pressure on your hands on the handle bars, and the angle at your knee in the pedal down position is within a certain range for more efficient pedaling.

I had been fitted by the Sports Medicine Department at UC Davis a few months ago, however the changes seemed to exacerbate my initial problem of lower back pain, cause  foot cramps, and I felt I wasn’t pedaling efficiently – like my pedals were too far forward and decreasing my pedal strength.  Three and a half days, and 330 miles on an ill fitted will most definitely make for a very long miserable ride.

So off Rosie and I go to the local bike shop, and with a tweak here, and a tweak there, and raising this, and lowering that, I feel Rosie and I have got our groove on again!!!  We rode Saturday and I had no back pain, my butt felt good, I had minimal issues with numbness in my hands, and my legs felt powerful…….just like it is supposed to feel.  A good bike fit takes time, and it can be pricey.  There is the cost for the “fit” by a trained fitter, and then there may be additional cost of parts that need to be changed for a more ergonomic fit. The process is well worth the money if you are going to be more than just your average weekend warrior type cyclist.

Rosie and I are as ready as we are going to be as a team, and we are both looking forward to the 0645 start from Folsom, CA on Thursday the 16th – now just a day and a half away!!  The excitement has been building daily as I collect my things and pack my bags.  Tomorrow night at this time, I hope to be sleeping for the early start of Day 1 of the NorCal Aids Cycle.

This ride is a fundraiser to help raise awareness and decrease the stigma of HIV/AIDS, and to provide money to programs that provide support to those living with HIV/AIDS.  It takes money to increase education, testing and early intervention. All of these things are important if we are to decrease the number of individuals newly infected with HIV.  Check out the NCAC website, and if you haven’t already made a donation and would like to help me fight this cause, check out my donation page.  You too can make a difference in someone’s life.

Let the Tapering Begin!

Delta Century on the Ferry

Today is May 8th 2013, and the NCAC ride is just around the corner.  Fundraising has been going really well for me due to the generosity of so many friends and family donating to this cause – helping those living with HIV/AIDS

Fortunately the training is going well too.  The past 3 weeks have been focused on distance rides to put some time in the saddle.  Well let me tell you, due to the fine windy and rather warm weather we have been having, the first two century rides I did:  the VERY WINDY Bike Around the Buttes, and the HILLY Chico Wildflower, were a bit challenging, and I spent a long time on the saddle.  Last Saturday, I did the Delta Century, also referred to as the Cycle de Mayo this year as it was done on the 5th. Though there was some wind, the ride was flat and beautiful as we road along, and back and forth across the Sacramento River.  I had begun tapering my milage so did the metric century that ride – 62 miles instead of 100.

The best part about these rides is that I have the opportunity to ride with some really awesome people, see some beautiful countryside, AND get in shape all at the same time!!  There were 5 of us that road together.  “Riding together” is a relative term, as individual energy levels wax and wane, and at times we were spread out.  We reconnected at the rest stops, started out together and hung that way until someone (usually Val) had a sudden burst of energy.  She would ride off in the distance to some upbeat song playing on her iPod through handlebar mounted speakers.

There has been so much talk of excitement about the upcoming NCAC ride from the first year riders, that I have found myself getting really excited too -like butterflies in the stomach excited!!!  We have received our NCAC kits (shorts and jerseys are called kits) and they are awesome!  What a sight we will be as we ride in on Sunday May 19th to the State Capitol steps!!

I will do a couple short rides between now and next Thursday to keep the legs loose and stretched out.  At this point, the bulk of the training is over and it is time to taper off and rest up our legs, pack our bodies with nutritious foods, drink lots of water, and pack for another life changing experience.  I can hardly wait!!

Oh, and what would be a blog without a request for donations to support me and this very worthwhile cause that many of you know is near and dear to my heart?  I reached my first personal goal of $3,000.00 and am now reaching for $4,000.00.  I am currently at $3,450.00 and I am feeling confident that I can reach that goal with your support!!  To ALL of you that have already donated to this cause by supporting me on this ride – thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I know there are others of you out there that may have forgotten, or not taken the time to follow through with your intent to donate. There is still time!  By hitting the DONATE button in the black strip at the top of my blog page, you will be taken directly to my donation page.  Thank you in advance for opening your heart. Your donation will make a difference to someone you don’t even know.  And you know what?   That makes you a hero!!!

 

 

 

 

Doing a Century Ride

Century Logo.4

A century is 100 years in time.  A century bike ride is 100 miles.   I did my first training century last Saturday – the Ride Around the Buttes.  For those of you who know the area, the land is basically flat farmland, ranches and orchards.  One hundred miles on flat ground, how hard could that be?  Yes it is a lot of time in the saddle, but really, how hard can that be?

It was a beautiful sunny morning when I arrived in Sutter, California around 0700.  Sunny, cool, and WINDY!!! VERY WINDY!!!!   To a cyclist, wind is not usually a good thing, unless of course it is at your back.  In that case, one can cruise along almost effortlessly at a much higher speed than on the same route without the tail wind.  However, with a head wind, or a mixed head and cross wind, the going is slowed remarkably!!  Wind is NOT a cyclist friend in most cases.  For some reason there is this uncanny ability for the wind to be a head wind most of the way.  Even though the route does vary directions, the wind seems to be one step ahead, and it changes directions just about the time the route changes directions, so that it is once again, it is a head wind.

Suffice it to say, it was a long day.  I was riding with a group of about five others, and somewhere around mile 45-50 we took a wrong turn and went 4 miles the wrong direction before we realized it.  How depressing to not only retrace 4 miles, but to do it into the gusty headwind!!  Thank goodness for iPhones and GPS, as we were able to get ourselves back on track and make up the distance we lost with our cutoffs and detours, and found the rest stop at mile 71 without much trouble.

Did I mention it was a long day?  We were actually some of the last riders in, and nothing is more discouraging than to arrive at a rest stop to find out there is no water.  On a long hot ride, having to ration water is not a good idea for one physically or mentally, and I realized at the last rest stop, only 7 miles from the end, that I had not peed since the very first stop about 80 miles before.  When we finished the ride, my skin was caked in salt crytals, my lips were dry, my skin was dry and I wanted nothing but a cold wash cloth to wash my face and an ice cold drink to quench my thirst.

I struggled a bit with cramps in my feet during that ride and assume it was from dehydration. As I head out on another century ride this Sunday, I will not make the same mistake and keep myself better hydrated.  The ride this weekend is hilly – almost 5500 vertical feet of climbing over the 100 mile route. Terrain is a different kind of challenge than the wind.   You can read about that in a prior blogpost titled “Topography Says It All” from April 2012.  Temperatures are forcasted to be up around 90 degrees, so I will pedal along, drink lots of water, and as my friend Lynn told me……….”just take it 10 miles at a time.”

The scenery at this time of year here in California is spectacular.  Grasses are still mostly green, there are wild flowers, grazing sheep and cattle, and trees have leafed out.   What makes the rides for me though are the people I ride with.  We are all training for the same 4 day 330 mile ride – the NorCal Aids Cycle, now only 20 days away.  It’s been nice to get to know so many different people as I have been riding and training with them since about February.  Getting outside, being with other people and exercising has been the best therapy I could have asked for to get me through my long dark days after losing my brother in December.

If you want to know what the NorCal Aids Cycle is all about, check out the NorCal website, and if you would like to make a donation to this worthy cause, check out my donor page.