AIDS/LifeCycle training ride

This summer I signed up to ride my bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise awareness to AIDS.

I’ve been riding a lot as training toward the trip. Generally ~1000km/650mi per month in 2022. This weekend was a key milestone in that effort.

Day 1: Official training ride

Saturday was an officially organized training ride of 120km/75miles. I left my home 6am in the morning and drove up to San Francisco, where the ride will start.

I’d guess there were a few hundred riders. Judging by the jerseys they were wearing, quite a few of them were veterans. Lots of hugs. Conversation circles. In this setup, it was easy to spot the first timers like myself. I talked to some of them and learned that they all got into this in the same way I did; Friends did this years ago, sounded like a crazy challenge, and they wanted to take it on themselves.

The ride started 8am. So many bikes were trying to leave a small parking lot into a public road, there was a traffic jam of bicycles! It took good 20km/10mi or so for the bikes to spread apart enough that the ride started feeling more comfortable.

This was a fully supported ride, meaning every turn was marked, key intersections were manned to direct cyclists, and rest stops were set up with food, drink, and bathrooms. All by volunteers. Incredible.

As the day went by and I spent more time in this LGBTQ community, I developed more appreciation to what they were doing. These are people who have always been outsiders, and so am I. And yet they are so unabashedly themselves and that is beautiful. So if you can, please donate to their cause — I know they could really use your help. Help me raise money for their cause.

Those of you who do not ride probably wouldn’t understand it, but a ride event like this creates camaraderie. It’s strange because you are not really talking to other riders for the most part, especially in this event where the rule prohibits your riding side by side with somebody else for safety. Despite that, it doesn’t take long for you to start recognizing some other riders. I really enjoyed that aspect.

After 120km/75mi and 1100m/3800ft altitude gain, the ride was over. I found out that the capabilities of people were mixed. That gave me a little confidence, too. If they can do it, so can I.

The key learning for me is that riding in an endless file is stressful. Very different from a group ride with 6-10 people. Your line of sight is much more limited. Sudden stops. You are either going too fast trying to pass somebody or too slow trying to follow somebody. Call outs. Hand signals. Making a full stop at every stop sign.

Day 2: Another 120km/75mi

I’ve been training enough that at this point, one day 120km ride is very much within my comfort zone. I do that every Saturday now. I feel very proud to be able to say that. But in the actual trip to LA, I’d be averaging 135km/80mi over 7 days!

That’s an entirely different level of challenge.

So the day after, I added another 120km/75mi ride on my own to get a better feel for what it’s like to do this kind of ride back to back.

Yesterday’s fatigue was still echoing in my legs, but it wasn’t too bad. The key is to maintain a good endurance pace, and try not to push too hard on uphills. Slow and steady. Stick to a lower gear.

I went up along I-280, cycled up along the Pacific Ocean, ride through the golden gate park, had a lunch near the ferry building with a friend, cycled along the shoreline toward the Golden Gate Bridge, then cut south through the middle of San Francisco.

There was one moment somewhere in Daly City, where the road was uphill, the headwind was strong, I felt tired, and felt down. But I persevered.

Another 120km/75mi, DONE!

One thing I didn’t do well in hindsight is dismounting and taking a break from time to time. Toward the very end, my upper body and hands started feeling tired. But all in all, these two days gave me a lot of confidence. I think I’m ready to take on this journey. I’m very excited.

Flickr photo album from those two days below:

AIDS/LifeCycle  training ride

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