The annual ALC Ride travels over 500 miles every year from San Francisco to Los Angeles. 7 days and 6 nights along some of California’s most scenic roads with 2000 of your closest cyclist friends from all over the country.
My friend Joe initiated the enrollment and I followed his lead, neither one of us being quite sure what we were getting ourselves into. The entry fee runs $50-$75 per person depending on discounts that may be available and each participant is required to raise a minimum of $3000 to show up and ride.
Joe and I commenced fundraising and training for the average 80 mile days that we’d be faced with on the ride. At some point during the decision-making process, I decided to push myself a little and commit to doing the ride on a fixed gear bicycle. For the non-cyclist readers, that means there is only one gear on the bike, and it’s “fixed” in place, meaning the bike cannot coast. So I would be pedaling the entire 545 mile route, including all of the descents. My friend Mark Kiecker had done the AIDS ride on a fixed gear bike a few years ago, so I used him as my inspiration.
Fundraising had began slowly but surely. I had reached about $500 when things dried up and I had a mild panic attack. “What if that’s all I can raise?”. I had reached out via mass email to friends & family, Facebook and online cycling forums. Money was coming in but I still had a long way to go. Fortunately the networking paid off and the big bucks started rolling in. By the time the fundraising period had ended I had raised over $6000, twice the required amount. If you donated to my ride and are reading this – thank you so much once again.
Joe and I traveled north to San Francisco the Friday before the ride departed, along with a few other friends from L.A. Saturday was spent standing in line, signing waiver after waiver, and watching the mandatory safety video. Turns out they frown on riding how we’re all used to riding in the city; assertively, taking a lane, etc. Things were going to slow way down for the upcoming week.
The alarm clock came much too early at 3am Sunday morning. We got dressed, finished packing our duffels one last time and headed downstairs to stand in line for the coaches that shuttled everyone to the Cow Palace in Daly City for the start.
Here’s a breakdown of the schedule for the week:
Day 1: San Francisco to Santa Cruz. 79 miles
Day 2: Santa Cruz to King City. 107 miles
Day 3: King City to Paso Robles. 67 miles
Day 4: Paso Robles to Santa Maria. 98 miles
Day 5: Santa Maria to Lompoc. 68 miles
Day 6: Lompoc to Ventura. 86 miles
Day 7: Ventura to Los Angeles. 62 miles
I won’t babble on and on with all the minutiae of 7 days on the road, but I will summarize with a few photos:
Weapon of choice – steel Bianchi cyclocross frame converted to fixed gear. (gearing @ 44×16. 72 gear-inches)
A huge thank you to White Industries for their generous donation towards my ride.
I was also honoring Collin Marsh on this ride, who lost his battle with Leukemia in May of this year at the age of 2 years young. Our online cycling community had followed Collin’s ups and downs via his father, and we were all totally devastated at the news of his passing. RIP Collin.
Day 1: (no camera) Foggy & misty leaving San Francisco. Lots of nervous energy, getting the feel for riding in a pack of 2000 strangers, all with varying degrees of fitness and cycling skills. We got introduced to the themed rest stops and realized how well taken care of we would be for the week. No shortage of food, water, electrolyte drinks, medical needs, etc. All available within 15-20 mile distances at the most. Santa Cruz was the first introduction to camp life and figuring out the flow of getting your luggage, setting up your tent, showering, eating, and “quiet time” before bed. No one who’s new to ALC knows what to do first, so there are many people wandering around camp with lost looks on their faces trying to find the shower trucks or dinner. Thanks to Wendy and Eric for dropping by camp to visit!
Day 2: Traffic Jam leaving Santa Cruz.
Day 2: Longest day on the road at 107 miles. Pictured is Lisa, also riding fixed. Tough girl.
And out of nowhere the Cookie Lady appears on the side of the road, having baked thousands of cookies for all the riders, preparing in April for the ride in June.
Day 3: Lunch stop in Bradley. This one day alone is Bradley High School’s biggest source of revenue for the entire year. 2000 cyclists buying burgers, cookies, and snacks pays for a lot of supplies and equipment!
What would Rest Stop #4 be without a little Price is Right?
Day 4: The daily search for your tent and luggage at the fleet of gear trucks.
Half-way to L.A.!
Fueling up at Old West Cinnamon Rolls in Pismo Beach. Calories? You bet!
Back at camp, looks like someone found the coveted AC plug! (yes, some riders travel with power strips just for this reason).
Oh Shit! If its Day 5, it must be Red Dress Day (adopted from “Dress Red Day”)
Joe and I, ready for 68 miles of fabulous.
Yes these were ridden on the bike, and…
…yes they have cleats.
Cher the Road.
Day 6: Ah yes, sunburnt and cranky setting in. “Just take the f-ing picture.”
No shortage of snacks. Ever.
Free ice cream party in Santa Barbara.
Back to the grind; 101 Freeway South.
The candlelight vigil in Ventura is something not to be missed. Thousands of people and thousands of candles on the beach in complete silence. Very moving.
Day 7: The final day! L.A. was still over 60 miles away, but felt like it was right around the corner. The last 10 miles into Brentwood were excruciating for me.
My buddy Ron came and met us for lunch at the Malibu rest stop.
And I had mom waiting to greet me at the finish line. Made it!!
I bought a plain white jersey and had it signed by as many of my sponsors as I could, and saved it for the last day in. A great way to wrap up a great ride.
For more info on the ride, or to donate to ALC, see: