Monday, May 5, 2014

ironw00t: AIDS/LifeCycle Edition

TL;DR: In 26 days, I'm going to bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Holy crap. Also - my friends and family are awesome.

The Challenge
AIDS/LifeCycle has been hanging over my head for almost 4 years and in a few weeks will go from being a hypothetical to a reality. And the reality is super daunting. When I signed up, I imagined ALC as a fun bike trip with one of my best girl friends. As I approach Day 1, the impending mileage and climbing, the logistics of recovery/sleep/nutrition, and the feeling of being underprepared is freaking me out. The real ALC is going to take a lot more than physical strength... I've got to contend with the emotional and mental challenge of the ride. 545 miles is a lot to think about all at once. I've got to take it day by day, rest stop by rest stop, and mile by mile.

The Training
Ideally I should have started training for this ride more than six months ago, but a job change, a home purchase, a trip to the Philippines, a second wedding, and some version of the flu meant that I only started getting on my bike in March. I also had a mental barrier (paralyzing fear) to overcome. My first few rides consisted of short jaunts over to Marin to climb Hawk Hill, and then I finally cracked down in April and started doing 50+ mile rides, at first just once a week, but now up to 2-3 times per week. My training delay means that I've got to strike a balance between getting the hours I need in the saddle while also giving my body time to recover so I don't injure myself. Given that I'm prone to injury, I'm trying to be really careful here. What does ramping up from 25 weekly miles to 150 weekly miles in one month feel like? It feels like cramming for a college exam, like the biggest one you were afraid to fail.

Zooey and I taking a break before climbing out of Alpine Dam

The Bike Fit
The last time I got my bike fit was 5 years ago. Andrew asked his bike fit guy to come by the apartment a couple of weeks ago and after 4 hours, multiple shims and adjustments, my bike feels totally new! If you've ever met my bike, you'll know she's super tiny, and she feels even smaller now (in a good way). I feel closer to my handlebars which has given me more confidence and control on my descents. I feel more on top of my pedals, which has given me better leverage on my downstroke. And I'm feeling more comfortable in my saddle. I'm not at 100% yet; another follow-up fitting is happening tomorrow, but my last few rides I've felt so much better than before.

Zooey gets a make-over

The Social Element
When I was training for my marathon, it was a solitary experience. I spent hours by myself, running around the city in a moving meditation. Cycling is completely different to me. I'm in hyper-aware mode. I want to know where the cars are and the pothole situation and is that gravel or water on the ground and wait did I miss a turn am I lost? Cycling is about getting out of my head. And in order to stay sane, I need company or community. We don't even need to talk to each other, I just need to know that you're there. Which is why I was EXTREMELY excited that one of my best friends Colette had started cycling. How much fun is it to bike around Marin with her? So much fun I forgot how terrified I was of being on my bike! :)

The Fundraising
Last but not least, the fundraising. In order to show up at the start of ALC, participants need to raise $3000 minimum. Well, thanks to my uber-amazing, unfailingly awesome family and friends, I hit that goal within a week of sending out my donation emails. Less than a month later, and I've surpassed it by almost $1000. I can't begin to describe how moved I am by everyone's support. Some people have given money, some people have given time, so many people have given me encouragement. Every little bit I've received has helped me be a stronger rider in the past month. When I'm filled with doubt (or laziness) I really think of my accountability to everyone who is now also part of this because they've donated, emailed, ridden with me, and helped me. So - when I'm biking those miles come June, I'll be thinking of you all and your generosity of spirt. Thank you all so much!