Wednesday, June 16, 2010

DAY 2: 107 MILES

I think the morning of Day 2 was one of the more difficult moments for me of the entire ride. It's when the insanity of what you have set out to do really hits home. You get off your bike after day one, througouly satisfied, feeling good, and no sooner have you contently fallen asleep than you have to wake up it all over. Only this time for longer. Are you serious. You are tired, you are cold, you are sore. You think: There is no possible way I can do this. For instance, as I was riding my first 20 miles through some farmy looking land just south of Santa Cruz I considered faking an illness. I thought of what I would say to donars, friends and family when I unceremoniously bailed and flew back to Los Angeles, where I BELONG. But I made it to rest stop one. And this is where I realized my most vital ALC strategy: I cannot look at the day as 100 miles, or 10 hours. I have to look at it as how many miles/hours it is until I can stop, refill my water bottle and eat another pop tart. And that is exactly how I functioned for the rest of the ride. "8 miles to more food" or
"15 miles to sun block reapplication."
Now, Day 2 was my first century. I had several opportunities to participate in centuries before the ride, but to be perfectly honest I just had no interest in doing so. And I have to say that unless your century includes fried artichokes, otter pops, and home made cookies, you can keep it. This is my kind of 100 miles. And each of these little (non official) stops are not only what made my first century doable, it made it fun(ish). And a woman baking 3,000 cookies for all ALC riders and dancing bear fairies (don't ask) handing out otter pops is also what makes ALC such a wonderful experience. I was so glad that, even though I was alone and too shy to actually make eye contact with anyone most of the time, I stopped at every one of these stops and experienced them.
At the "otter pop/water stop" there was also an additional attraction worth mentioning. Tucked back in what looks like a parking lot is a lovely old mission that every year lays out a blank alter cloth and asks ALC riders to leave thoughts, prayers, and musings. Once all the ALC riders sign it, and the madness it packed up for another year, the mission uses the alter cloth for the rest of the year. This simple gesture is really the kind of thing the ride is all about. Bringing people from all walks of life together for a cause that transcends all social groups, lifestyles and geography. It was beautiful to see.
I also have to say that the dancing men in tutus handing out icy treats in front of the mission housing said alter cloth is also what ALC is all about. An ludicrous balance of ridiculousness and sincerity. A big dose of purpose, with just enough humor mixed in to keep you going. That juxtaposition would continue to appear throughout the week.
I have to confess that it wasn't until about mile 60 that I really realized that by completing all 107 miles today I actually would be able to say I had done a century
(plus 7). I know that seems obvious, but I was preoccupied with a couple other things, OK? I never, in a million years, thought I would be a person that would say "Oh, yeah. I've done a century." Things like that are for people that do marathons, or triathlons, or The Amazing Race...not me. Except: yes.
Setting up the tent that night wasn't so bad. I was on a century high.
People who ride bikes like fried artichokes.


Michael seems to have slacked days 2 and 3, but here are the ALC pictures:

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