Sunday, March 11, 2012


{We saw cows on our ride!!}

Today Lisa and I headed out to the East Bay again for another Sunday ALC training ride. This training ride group has some of the nicest people we've ever met; they always help out, make us laugh, and bring batches of cookies! We've been really into the training rides over there, despite the extra drive over the Bay Bridge. There are fewer cars and riders than on the Marin training rides, so we love it. The rides have been increasing by 10% each week, so this week the mileage was up to 53 (Lisa did 56 miles, but we'll get to that in a moment!)

The weather today wasn't the best. It was 50's and brisk most of the day, with a threat of rain that luckily never came. The winds were quite hellish for the last 75% of the ride. It was daylight savings time too, so our meet time was 7:45 am which was actually 6:45 am. All in all, not the best conditions for riding.

Right at the start, we headed out from Orinda and north via San Pablo Dam Road and Castro Valley Ranch towards the infamous "Pig Farm Hill," which I have tackled in the past, but this was Lisa's first time up this climb. I think I really built up this monster in her head to be much worse than it actually is. She flew right up it and said she thought it was pretty easy! I trailed slightly behind, but I actually felt fine about it, too. It's really, really steep, but it was early so our legs were fresh.

{Riders ascending Pig Farm Hill}

After climbing Pig Farm Hill, Lisa went ahead and ended up going a bit too far by 1.5 miles. She became lost and couldn't find the rest stop! Luckily we were able to text back and forth and she finally found us. We were way out in the middle of nowhere with poor cell phone reception.

The ride then moved on to the town of Martinez, which is a place I've had trouble before. Five years ago while training for ALC, I ended up lost and alone myself in downtown Martinez (near the train tracks). I rode up to a man to ask him directions and he looked at me up and down and shouted "Niiiice!" I made sure to stick with a group this time around, needless to say!

As we continued through questionable territory known as the Carquinez Scenic Loop (this is what I would call semi-urban; semi-country off road style cycling) we wondered when we would ever reach our lunch spot. My legs were killing me and I was starting to fade a bit.

Lisa and I ate a quick bite, chatting with fellow female riders over lunch. We didn't want to get too cold, so we moved on quickly, but the weather turned for the worse. The headwinds were brutal, and it was an unending climb out of Crockett and through Rodeo, Hercules, and finally, to Pinole. Lisa shared with me later that she was miserable through that part of the ride, and that she felt like quitting ALC and never coming back.

I was also hurting all over at this point, and was not feeling as strong as last week. And then the next thing you know....a flat tire. I shouted ahead for Lisa to stop and at the same moment found that my friends Mark and Mo were right behind me! They stopped and changed my flat tire! I am so grateful for this moment, because I think if I had to change my tire at that low point I would probably have broken down crying.

After this short rest, Lisa caught a second wind, and I wasn't feeling so bad myself. It took us about another hour to get back to our car. What a workout. Totally spent, we headed right home and then out to chow down on the yummiest Vietnamese vermicelli bowls we've ever tasted. Needless to say, we'll be back out riding next week, but this is not getting any easier!

We are each getting closer to our fundraising goals but we each have a long way to go. Our hope is to be at well over 2/3 of our goal by the end of this week. Will you help us? Donate to Clay here and donate to Lisa here.

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