I didn’t ride on day 6. Numb toes and the emotional distress from the windy day before said today was going to be a day of rest. I’m glad I didn’t ride because when I arrived in Ventura I was greeted by an In-N-Out and the beach. After a quick lunch at In-N-Out I wandered off to the beach to play in the ocean. Day 6 was a wonderful day and Camp 6 was a wonderful camp. I loved camping close to the beach. After the nightly announcements ALC held a candle light vigil on the beach for lost friends and family to HIV/AIDS. We watched them slowly enter the beach with their candles lit and stand there for awhile. It was an amazing sight to see over 2000 people on the beach with their lit candles.
My Day 6 photos
Official ALC day 6 photos
Other event images
About 11 days ago I went out mountain biking with Billy at our usual Wednesday place to ride. We were going up the big hill when some guy decided not to yield the right of way and tried to cut on the inside of the switchback going downhill while I was climbing up the switchback on the outside. Of course dude lost his balance and knocked me off my bike into some bushes on the downhill slope. I got out of the bushes and fixed my rear disk rotor so it wasn’t rubbing anymore and went on my merry way. I sustained some small scratches on my right knee so I cleaned my knee off with some alcohol wipes then continued on the ride. 6 days after the incident I started seeing these red itchy blistery bumps appear on my knees and elbows. This really sucks because I had NO idea I landed in poison-oak. I took a look around at the bush and never saw any indicator that there was poison-oak there. Below are a few lessons we learned from this experience and some positive re-enforcement on things like carrying a first aid kit and the benefit of it. Had I not stopped and washed the injured knee it would have an even worse poison-oak rash than it does now.
A few things you should do before you go riding in the woods.
- Before you start riding ALWAYS be sure to wear full fingered gloves. This WILL protect your hands if you happen to fall in a poison-oak bush. I have experienced this first hand and will ALWAYS wear full fingered gloves. I was wearing a set of full finger Fox mountain biking gloves that were under $20 and didn’t get any of the urushiol on my hands.
- Be sure to carry a first aid kit that includes enough alcohol wipes to clean a large area of your body.
- Have a box of tecnu in the car to apply before you leave.
Things you should do the instant after you crash when your out mountain biking.
- Get the hell out of that bush your in ASAP. Don’t dilly dally getting out of the bush, get out in a manner where you make the least amount of contact with the bushes around you.
- Take a look at your surroundings. Forget your bike for a moment here and look to see what you landed in and slid thru. Do you know what poison-oak/poison-ivy look like? Knowing what bushes you landed in can save you a lot of pain and suffering in the weeks to come.
- Clean off the parts of your body that came in contact with the ground / bushes. You may or may not be bleeding but get the alcohol wipes out of the first aid kit and cleans all areas that came into contact with the bushes / ground. It only takes about 10 – 15 minutes for the urushiol on a poison-oak plant to completely soak into your skin.
- Now go see whats up with your bike.
- Once you get back to the car don’t worry about loading up the bike and zooming home. Pull out the tecnu and apply this to every exposed part of your body.
- Change into something other than your riding cloths. You don’t want to spread urushiol on your car seat or any other part of your car.
- Get home and shower ASAP! “tecnu” claims that it can wash off the urushiol from poison-ivy/poison-oak up to 8 hours after first contact. Be sure to follow the directions EXACTLY as written. If you do you should be able to remove all the urushiol from your skin and prevent a blistery nightmare of a rash.
On Day 5 we went thru Solvang and stopped there for lunch. Solvang is a small danish town tucked away in the California Wine country. We didn’t have a lot of time to sight see so we came back thru Solvang on our way home after ALC was over. As we left Solvang on Day 5 we were met with 40+mph gusty headwinds that made for a miserable horrible ride into Lompoc. I have never in my life worked so hard to get down a -6% grade in my life. Normally I should be reaching speeds in excess of 30mph but on this day I was barely able to squeak out 12 mph. I hate headwinds. Also Day 5 was red dress day and we got to see all sorts of crazy people in red dresses or more flamboyant outfits riding their bikes along the highway. Billy and I just wore red bicycling cloths so we didn’t stick out too badly. I got a bit sunburned on Day 5 because I wore a sleeveless jersey and it exposed my very white shoulders who soaked in a bit too much sun. Eventually we got into camp where we grabbed a quick shower and hopped a shuttle into Lompoc where we got sandwiches at a restaurant. After that we made a quick trip to the drug store for more sunscreen then hopped a shuttle back to camp where we grabbed a 2nd dinner and desert before heading to bed.
My Day 5 photos
Day 5 route recorded by Garmin Edge 705
Official ALC day 5 photos
Other event images
On Day 4 we battled “The Evil Twins”. 2 hills with very high elevation and a very stead long climb to the top. At mile 17 for the day we hit the 1/2 way to LA signs on top of the 2nd Evil Twin hill. The climb wasn’t that bad it was just a constant 6% grade for 10 miles that really got to some folks. Luckily today I woke up with my climbing legs and powered up the hill with a good pace and never really had to stop to rest. Once we got to the 1/2 way to LA signs we stopped for a bit to take our pictures with the signs. While I was having my picture taken at the 1/2 way to LA sign my water bottle slipped out of my over turned bicycle nearly missed my head and slammed mouth first into the boulder I was standing on and cracked. Our next rest stop was in about 20 miles and I was down to one mostly full water bottle. Luckily we had about 16 miles out of about 20 miles of downhill to get to our next stop or I could have been in serious trouble. Once we got to the lunch stop we grabbed our lunch and hopped on the SAG vehicle to get into camp early. Neither Billy and I were ready to do a 2nd almost 100 mile day so we decided to go to camp and get laundry done instead. For the rest of the day we laid around camp watching people go down the slip and slide.
My Day 4 photos
Day 4 route recorded by Garmin Edge 705
Official ALC day 4 photos
Other event images
If your a woman and would love to wear bib shorts but don’t due to having to take off your jersey every time you need to potty. Pearl Izumi has an answer to your problems. I picked up a pair of Ws Drop Tail Cycling Bib shorts at Mike’s Bikes last week.
I tried them on in the store but didn’t realize they had this flap in the butt seam until I got them home. After a quick visit to Pearl Izumi’s site I found out that the flap/opening in the horizontal butt seam was a “Drop tail for convenience“. I decided to give them a shot and wore them on my next ride. I already have a pair of the Pro bib shorts from Pearl Izumi with the thicker chamois so it was nice to find the chamois in the Elite model shorts were just as comfortable. My first visit to the restroom was spectacular! The flap was indeed made for “convenience”! From now on this will be the ONLY bib shorts I will EVER buy! THANK YOU PEARL IZUMI!
Early in the day we had a large climb they call “The QuadBuster”. I only made it about 1/4 way up the hill before I had to walk to the 1/2 way point before I could continue to the top of the QuadBuster. It was a nasty steep hill but once I made it to the top is was all downhill for about 7 miles into the next rest stop. Unfortunately when I got to the top I realized I could no longer shift into my big chainring so I wasn’t able to keep the downhill momentum for long after the downhill flattened out. Once I got to the next rest stop they adjusted the front derailure cable a bit and I was able to continue on my way. So far we had great weather for the first half of our day but shortly we were greeted with 90 degrees and dry wind making the rest of our journey very difficult. Our lunch stop was in a small town called Bradley who puts on a HUGE BBQ lunch to raise money for their school trips. So we decided to opt-out of the ALC lunch and buy burgers from the school kids instead. After we rolled out from lunch we were about 500 or so feet away from Bradley when Billy got his first of 3 rapid flats. Billy had to SAG to the next rest stop and there he got to buy a new tire and was on his way again. The next rest stop was at Mission San Miguel but due to being so exhausted from the heat I forgot to look around and take pictures. At this stop I decided to SAG the rest of the way into camp due to the heat. I may be from the desert but I’m not a freaking lizard. I got to sit at this rest stop for awhile and watch the rest stop workers put on a fake “Price Is Right” show. It was really funny to see the guys dressed up in gowns showing off the items to be bid on to the bikers in the audience. Camp 3 was at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds. This was one of the worse camps as everyone was stuck sleeping on a hard packed dirt parking lot. Even some of the really unfortunate souls got stuck next to the old horse stables that smelled pretty bad. Tonight marks the start of the low hum of camp snoring that was absent the first few nights. All in all I had a great day on day 3.
Day 3 route recorded by Garmin Edge 705
Official ALC day 3 photos
Other event images
We got up early and out to the bikes and rolling by 7:30am. We thought we got on the bikes early enough but it took us over an hour just to get out of Santa Cruz due to poor traffic control for 2000 bicyclists leaving the city. Once we got out of Santa Cruz we had a great ride. Unfortunately we always found ourselves rolling into the rest stops when they were going to close in 30 minutes. Day 2 was the first time I had ever ridden over 100 miles in a single day and thankfully the day was flat with some good tail winds. Towards the end of the day we were greeted with some very steep short hills that just wiped out any remaining energy I had. Luckily after battling the hills we were greeted with a nice tail wind and a flat ride all the way into King City. Luckily camp 2 was way better than Camp 1. This time we had grass to set our tent up on instead of sleeping on hardpack! After getting our gear and setting up our tent we grabbed a shower and headed to dinner where we listened to the daily announcements.
Day 2 route recorded by Garmin Edge 705
Official ALC day 2 photos
Other event images
Opening Ceremonies were pretty amazing. I have never seen so many riders in one place at one time. When we got to Cow Palace we promptly visited our bikes to check air pressure in the tires, fill our water bottles, and attach our handle bar bags to the bikes. Unfortunately we had skipped breakfast so we went in search of food. We were fortunate to find a snack area with various fruit, pop tarts, power bars and energy drinks for riders to fill up on before the ride started. After a quick bathroom stop we gathered in the waiting area to get into the main arena for opening ceremonies. For several minutes we got to watch all the different riders wander by with their loved ones in a rainbow of different jerseys and costumes. As 6 am rolled around we were finally let into the arena where opening ceremonies opened with a group stretching session then the riderless bicycle was led into the arena by the Positive Peddlers. We then filtered out of the arena and back to our bikes to prep for roll out. Luckily they shut down one of the roads leading from the Cow Palace so we could leave the city as fast as possible. It was so foggy for roll out that I swear we swam from SF to hwy 92. Once we hit 92 it was clear blue skies and tons of climbing. I probably hit speeds well over 40 mph while descending highway 92 to PCH 1. Rolling into camp 1 was pretty crazy. There was a massive bike parking area for all the bikes to park in and we were then instructed to pick up our gear from the gear trucks so we can set up our tents, shower and get some dinner in us after a long hard day of riding. We got stuck setting our tent up in hard packed dirt so our first night was a bit rough. On top of that it was really hot riding into Santa Cruz so it took a long time before our tent was cool enough to lay down in.
My Day 1 pics
Day 1 route recorded by Garmin Edge 705
Official ALC 9 Day 1 Photos
Other event images
We arrived at the Cow Palace just after lunch for ALC 9 orientation. We dropped off our bikes and they stuck a sticker with a number on it on the stem of the bike and another identical one on our shirt. This number represented where our bikes were parked so we could attach our bib number to our frame and come back to it tomorrow for ride out. We had some time until the next safety video was going to play so we made our way to the schwag booth to buy some hats, jerseys, socks and the like. After our shopping spree we made our way to watch the safety / orientation video where we received a plastic wristband stating we watched the video and were an ALC rider. After this we picked up our packets that contained our tent assignments and bib numbers for our bike frames and helmets. We also received another plastic wrist band designating us as meat eaters for the chow line. I didn’t realize when I received my packet I was supposed to receive a chain with a blue chip with my tent grid number for my luggage and an orange chip to wear around my neck so I didn’t forget where my tent grid square is. Later in the week I went to Info Services in camp and they had my tent assignment packet that I should have gotten at orientation. In the next room we received a “goodie bag” with the sponsors listed on it and some advertisements from the sponsors on the inside. After this there was nothing left to do except attach our bib numbers to our bikes and go home to double check what was packed for our epic trip! Tomorrow begins the first of many very difficult days but I’m sure it will be an amazing experience!
ALC Orientation Day Photos
My orientation day images. Courtesy of aidslifecycle.org