Monday, May 21, 2012

Four Days of Insanity. Part 1: NCAC Day 1 (May 17, 2012)


From May 17 to 20, 2012, I rode 450+ miles in 4 days.  I rode in the NorCal Aids Cycle (NCAC) as well as the Davis Double Century.  The recap of my four day adventure will be done in four parts, one part of each day of craziness.  Enjoy!  



Before I get into the first day of my adventure, I will take you back a little bit to how I came about doing the NorCal Aids Cycle.  (I'll detail how I came about doing the Davis Double in another part)

About a year ago or so, while still getting into cycling, I was on a ride to Beals Point.  While at Beals, I saw a group of cyclist that were training for the AIDS Life Cycle, a multiple day ride from SF to LA.  It had intrigued me then.  I remember thinking how it would be nice if I could develop my cycling to do such an event.

By the end of 2011, my cycling had grown a bit.  Someone mentions to me the NorCal Aids Cycle (NCAC) and something about if you register on December 1st (AIDS day), the registration costs would be waived.  So, I look into it.  As I checked out NCAC, it got me interested.  While I felt I had the abilities now to do a multiple day cycling event, I was not so sure about my fundraising abilities. But, as I checked out NCAC more, I became more interested.  What really caught my attention was that the monies donated went to local HIV/AIDS service providers.  I liked the money wasn't going to some large unknown organization under the generic notion of "the fight against AIDS" but that it went to particular places that provided particular services.  And those places looked to be part of my own community.  This, I liked. And, it was free if I signed up on December 1st (AIDS Day) so why not.

So, as with any idea that is planted into my head, it doesn't take me too long for the idea to grow.  So, I signed up for NCAC.

After signing up, I did not do too much by way of fundraising.  I have never been a good one to bug people about money and donating.  I figured I wait until after the holidays.  Then, I was focused on other craziness.  After a few months of inactivity, I made myself go to the NCAC Fundraising Seminar.  There, I met some wonderful people and learned more about NCAC.  One person I met was Jerry, who had given a great presentation that really helped me get more excited and more motivated to meet my fundraising goal. 

Shortly after, I put together my donation letter and sent them out.  My beloved Java Joggers were the first to give significant donations to NCAC.  With each donation from my friends, it really warmed my heart that I have such wonderful friends in my life to support me in my crazy adventures.  And, I feel good that all the craziness that I have gotten myself into in the past couple years can be directed to a worthy cause.

As the event got closer, I got more donations.  I got donations from work colleagues, my dancing friends, my running friends, high school friends, far off friends, etc. . . .And, of course my cycling friends.   My cycling group WAV donated the most of the various groups of friends.  Some of it is because my fabulous friend (and fellow WAV member) Joanne helped urge (perhaps hound a bit) the WAV members to donate. I feel she really racked up some donations for me.

And thanks to many AMAZING, very generous friends, I raised a little over $2500 in donations at the start of the ride on May 17th.  :D

DAY 1 - The Beginning of Craziness

Thursday morning, I put my pink rabbit cycling kit.  My nickname among many friends is Energizer Bunny (or EB) since I am always going, going, going.  This pink rabbit kit is the closest cycling kit I could find to an energizer bunny kit.  And, the pink rabbit kit seemed the best to wear for the beginning of my four days of craziness.

Craig drives me and Georgie (my bike) out to Beals Point.  As we drive into Beals, I see a ton of people there.  Wow, this is quite the production!  Quite a number of cyclists and all sorts of crew about.  And, there are news vans there too.  There is much excitement and energy in the air.

Craig helps get my bike together and takes my bags over to the moving truck to be checked in.  We find Joanne, who came out to watch the start.  Unfortunately, Craig has to leave for work so he misses the opening ceremonies but Joanne is able to hang out with me (and take a few pictures).

Various group pictures are taken for the various teams.  Then, we all gather for one big group picture!  After a few announcements, we line up at the start.  The national anthem is sung.  I am amused there is a guy holding a tiny little American flag up during this.

Shortly after 7am, we roll out!  I roll out towards the rear of the pack since I had to take a moment to adjust my bike computer sensor.  I roll past Joanne and give her a wave goodbye.  Then, I ride out of Beals Point moving my way up towards the middle and front-ish of the pack.

As I am riding towards Barton, we hit a few rollers and I ride to the left of the pack to pass them.  As I turn onto Barton, I see motor crew out cheering us on.  I pass a few other crew members out cheering us.  This is rather fun!  I had not ridden my bike in a little bit so my legs are just bursting full of energy. 

Shawn rides past me and I ride with him for a little bit.  Though, I lose him once we hit Sierra College.  I can see the front pack but I cannot quite catch them, especially since we are now climbing up Sierra College.  But, I ride along feeling pretty good.

A fellow with a Kaiser team jersey on and an eye on the back of his bike comes up on me.  He asks where Shawn is.  I tell him way up there somewhere.  We ride together for a little bit before he slowly drifts ahead of me.

As I am riding up Sierra College (after I have gotten out of Roseville), I take notice of a lovely view.  The weather is nice today.  I pass Jennifer who had stopped along the hill to cheer folks on.  This is rather fun to have people every so often be out there cheering the riders on.

After a bit, I see a few crew members directing me to the first rest stop.

tweet: "made it to the first rest stop.  21 miles...not so flat too!  having a blast!! :D"

At the rest stop, there's a warm welcome to the cyclists.  I get off the bike.  People are telling me to wash my hands so I do so.  Then, I head into the school house.  There is a whole variety of snacks.  I eat a little.  I kind of hang around a little.  The school house is a rather old school house.  Reminds me of those classrooms you'd imagine in Little House on the Prairie with black chalkboards, the classic desks, etc. . .Very quaint.  

I hang about for a little.  Not sure whether we wait here for others or continue riding.  I see a couple cyclists leave the rest stop.  I spot the Kaiser guy that had passed me earlier.  I see he is getting ready to ride so I do the same.

I roll out of the rest stop with him and another Kaiser guy.  These guys seem to be riding at a nice pace so I tuck in behind them.  At one point, I come around and start pulling a little.  Then, we hit some rollers and my legs are feeling great.  The three of us are just rocking and rolling through this section.  A small part of my brain is thinking that I am probably riding a wee bit harder than a should considering I have three more days of riding but I am having a bit too much fun to slow down.

At one point, we hit this amazingly smoothly paved road.  It has a little bit of a decline and some fun curves. It is delightful fun riding now.  In not too long, we arrive at the second rest stop with another warm welcome from the crew.

tweet: "37.8 miles in!  beautiful ride!  teamed up with a couple fast guys!  we were rolling!  fun times"

At the rest stop, I snack and drink a little. The two Kaiser guys introduce themselves, Mike and Manny.  My new friends.  We chit chat a little bit.  Then, we get back on the road with a few others.

This stretch of road is a bit windy.  So, I ride a bit slower than before.  The pack starts drifting away from me.  I just ride along in the countryside.  I ride past a rather large snake laying on the side of the road!  Eek! The wind gets a little wearisome.

But, I take a turn and get a nice tailwind and I go flying down this stretch of road.  I narrow the gap between me and the group ahead.  But then, I turn and hit headwind again and slow back down.  This riding into the headwind and with the tailwind goes back and forth for a bit.

I eventually arrive to Marysville for lunch.

tweet: "made it [to] marysville.  mile 58.84...eating lunch!  it was a tad windy getting here but not nearly as bad as solvang ;-)"

Lunch is at a little church in Marysville.  I eat lunch with the Mike & Manny (the two Kaiser guys I recently befriended) and a few others join us at our table.  I make some new friends and get to know a few folks I had met before.  Everyone is super friendly.  And, the food is great!  I like they have all kinds of choices for people with different eating needs.  Oh, they also have cold soda here!  A big plus in my book!  One of the medical ladies is going around offering motrin to those that may need it.  I feel very tended to.  It's rather nice.

After hanging out for a bit, I get myself ready to get back on the road.

tweet: "got my soda fix and a fabulous lunhc!  the support on this ride is awesome!  I'm ready to roll again!"

I roll out from the lunch stop.  I ride along a long, flat country roads.  I occasionally past another cyclist or see a crew vehicle pass me by.  This is kind of a boring stretch but it's a nice day, not too hot out.  I just pedal along.  I noticed I had ridden a bit fast the first half so figure I should probably slow it down a little for the second half.  I do have three more days of riding after today (including a double century).

After riding a bit on flat, flat, flat, I see I am nearing the rest stop.  Just a couple more miles according to my route sheet.  And, out of nowhere, this hill suddenly appears.  Not an epic hill but a good little climb nonetheless.  Nice to change it up from the flatness.

I climb up the hill and see the rest stop.  I have to ride on a rather rocky driveway to get into it but I manage to not fall.

tweet: "at mile 76.75...on the way to this rest stop, it was flat flat flat...and right before the rest stop, hill!  but there's cold Pepsi here! :)"

I get to the rest stop and the crew cheers me as I arrive.  They cheer all the cyclists that come through.  It's rather nice.  I enjoy a nice cold Pepsi.  Cold sodas are the best on a long ride!

I hang out a little and a couple folks compliment my pink rabbit jersey.  Shaun (a crew member) says that I am very easy to spot on the road, especially the pink rabbit ears on the back of my jersey.  hehehe.

After a bit, I get back on the road.  The last stretch...

As I roll out, a gal rides near me and we ride together for a little bit.  She says to me "Are you the girl doing the double?"  Yes, I am.  Now, she isn't the first person to say this to me at NCAC.  But, it does astound me a little bit that this stranger knows of my craziness.  News that I am going to be doing the Davis Double has spread like wild fire through the NCAC crowd apparently.

We chit chat a bit but on some rollers, I get ahead of her.  I am riding along and I hear music coming behind me.  A cyclist has music blasting as he passes me.  A pretty good song too so I kick up my pace to catch up to him.  I draft him a little bit while listening to his tunes.  He gets away from me when we hit a few more hills.

As I continue on my ride, I see Jerry and Shaun in a gray truck pass me.  They cheer me as they pass.  They sometimes pull over to the side of the road to cheer the cyclists on.  There are other crew vehicles out cheering the cyclists too but I become familiar with this particular gray truck.  It is nice as I will be riding along for a bit, sometimes alone, and then I see the truck.  A truck with a couple guys out there looking out for me.  It's comforting and nice.

The rest of the afternoon, the truck would be pulled over and after I pass (and we wave at each other), it would drive again and pass me.  Then, it'd be pulled over somewhere a little ways down until I came rolling by.  It feels nice to be looked after.

Finally, after 102 miles, I roll into the Butte County Fairgrounds in Gridley, California.  I am welcomed by a few crew members cheering and clapping.  Every rider that rolls in is welcomed with cheering and clapping.

Tweet: "made it to the butte county fairgrounds!  finished day 1 of the NorCal Aids Cycle!  102.3 miles today"

At the fairgrounds, the moving truck has unloaded our bags and tents and spread them onto the grass.  I hunt down my bag and tent.  I set up my tent and take off some of my cycle gear.  I find a plug for my phone and garmin to recharge.  I spend a little time facebooking and getting my usual internet fix. ;-)  I hang out a little with some of the cyclists and crew members.  I meet some new folks.  A few more random people come up and ask me if I am the crazy one doing the double.  This cracks me up.

tweet: "finds it amusing that all day, others come up to me and say "you're THE crazy one doing the double, huh?"  lol"  

I notice they have a trailer with showers.  I head over there ready for a nice, hot shower.  A man is there cleaning out each of the showers after it is used.  That's nice.  I get into an open shower and it's a nice clean shower.  The water is nice and hot.  Great water pressure. After a long day of riding, taking a nice hot shower feels wonderful!

tweet:  "took my first shower on a trailer...oh man, after 102 miles, it was an awesome shower! :)"

After the shower, I get out and hang out and see more cyclists roll into camp.   I loaf a little in my tent.  I feel a nice endorphin high but also a little tired.  I could use a nap.  But, I stay awake knowing that dinner will be happening in a bit.

It is fun to watch the grass area start to fill up with tents and people. I befriend more people.  I really like all the people in this event.  A lot of positive energy people.  And, we have a lot of good laughs.

Eventually, dinner is served.  The food is from Maranello and delicious!  Lasagna and other delicious food to
go with it.  I enjoy a nice dinner with nice company.  I get to know even more people.

tweet: "had a great dinner and now at the evening program!  so fun and inspirational!"

After dinner, there is an evening program.  We get updates on NCAC news.  We have over $300,000 in donations!  AWESOME!  We hear about a couple guys who raised over $10,000 each.  AMAZING!  I am also amazed by how many people just road their first century today.  Everyone seemed to have done great out there too!  And, tomorrow, we have another century to do!

One rider, who is HIV positive, gives a talk.  This is moving.  I will also say this cyclist is also a badass on the bike (from what I saw today).  We watch an amusing singing number by a couple members.  Then, awards are given to a few folks.

The crew that marked the course gets an award for simply being "badass."  All the cyclists applaud loudly on this as the course was very well marked today.  A few other awards are given to other amazing members in the NCAC group too.

After that, everyone meanders back to their tents and tries to get some rest before the day.

So far, I find this experience to be simply wonderful.  I look forward to Day 2. . .Though, I should probably take it a little easier on the bike on Day 2. . .

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