If you’ve joined any of our Sacramento or Vacaville Training Rides, then you know I am not a very fast rider or a strong climber. I’m typically the last one on a route to roll in. But I do roll in. Last year in ALC I managed to ride every mile and finish every single day. How did I do this if I’m so much slower than everybody else? Four things:
- I trained sensibly and methodically.
- I stayed focused on just riding rest stop to rest stop.
- I routinely checked my bike for possible mechanical issues.
- I managed my time and got in and out of rest stops quickly!
If you are a rider who doesn’t routinely average 14-15 mph on a training ride, then stay focused and think hard about #4. Getting in and out of rest stops is a key component to riding every mile. I know we get tired and sometimes the miles ahead can feel daunting – and trust me, it doesn’t matter how fast or fit you are, by the last rest stop on day 3 it will be difficult to climb back on that bike.
Rest stops always feature the same things: bike parking, porta-potties, food station, water station, and medical station. Rest stop 4 usually features entertainment. Usually there’s nowhere to sit down at any of the stops unless it’s the ground. And don’t sit down anyways unless you really need to stretch something, because it only makes it harder to get back on the bike. You can sit for a little bit at lunch. The key is to keep moving and be quick about it.
Start thinking of your rest stop routine now. Start practicing on the training rides you have left!
- When you roll into Rest Stop 3 on ALC think about how many miles you have left until the end of the day and how much time you have. Can you put some extra food in your jersey, so all you need at Rest Stop 4 is water? As you approach rest stop 4 and you still have one full bottle of water left, do you really need to stop at all? Yes, Rest Stop 4 is fun and they usually put on a show. Before you go to ALC decide what you want to do – do you want stop and see the show every day or do you want to ride every mile. If you are having a slow day and you want to ride every mile, then plan ahead at rest stop 3. Agreeing with yourself right now what you want to get out of the ride every day gives you one less thing to think about when you are on the ride. It is totally okay to not ride every mile. We are there for the cause, right? It’s also okay to ride every mile even if it means you skip some of the fun stuff. This is your ride! It’s not a race. But a good time management plan can really help you.
- Roll into the rest stop. Park your bike. Do what you need to do. Get back on the bike and go. It’s that simple.
- On Day 3 when we ride through the town of Bradley and they have the BBQ lunch, take a look at that line. Check your time. Think about how there’s really no shade to stand in. Do you want to stand in that line for potentially an hour in the sun, when you can quickly make a donation to the school and go grab an ALC lunch? Maybe…maybe not? But think hard about it. I chose to stand in that line and for me personally it was a mistake. That cheeseburger was the best thing I had tasted in days, but standing around for that long took it’s toll on me. This year, I’ll be taking the ALC lunch and while I eat it, I’ll lovingly think of Perry who probably devoured two cheeseburgers an hour before I even arrived in Bradley. I’ll pretend my turkey sandwich is a cheeseburger and then quickly get on the bike and get moving again.
- Riding on the ride with a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/friend/someone? Have a conversation right now and come to an agreement of how you are going to ride together each day. Are you going to wait for each other? If one of you is going to need to SAG, is there already an agreement the other one keeps riding? All of this plays into my time management principles as well. Don’t waste time on the side of the road figuring out what the other is going to do. It also will keep hurt feelings at bay. I’m telling you – Work it out now people!!
So we are nearing the end of training and the big Day 1 is looming. Use the training time you have left to work on your habits, get in a rest stop groove, and work on your time management plan or whatever plan you think you are going to need for whatever is your definition of a successful ALC.
Lastly, while on the ride be prepared to have the following constantly shouted at you through a megaphone:
“RIDERS! You need to get back on your bike and move to the next rest stop! RIDERS! Get moving. RIDERS! Get on your bike and go!”