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.