Somewhere around 2:30am the morning of the ride, I had a dream I was riding my bike. Some clown had replaced my handlebars with goofy, long ones, almost like ape hangers. Then I realized I had two flat tires.
Our alarm went off at the ungodly time of 3:30am. My stomach was nervous. Our dog was confused. After we brushed our teeth and put on cold padded shorts in a groggy haze, we bade Lemmy farewell and loaded our gear into Pat's big green van. Onto the Cow Palace, aka the starting line.
The place was abuzz with cyclists, mostly gay men. Opening Ceremonies started out with 1,000+ people stretching to club music, which I just couldn't get into at 5am. Then a few individuals took the podium to speak about how their lives had been affected by AIDS. It was quite touching and made me feel like I was part of something really special. Between that and my perpetual yawns, I was reminded of the Golden Girls episodes when Dorothy gets married, and Sofia doesn't know whether she's crying or has allergies.
After what seemed like hours, we finally got on our bikes. Yay! I was anxious to start what we'd been training for since March. The route for the day was a cool 82.5 miles. Destination: Santa Cruz. We hit a few decent climbs, though these were largely overshadowed by adrenaline, people cheering, and the views. Man, the views… The scenery that day was simply epic. It got me really excited for the days ahead.
I like your style, mother nature.
Soak that in...
As for the ride itself, I felt great! The first 20 miles were congested, but as the day progressed riders naturally spread out. I found myself in the middle of the pack, spending equal time passing slower riders and being passed by faster ones. Brian was one of the speedsters, but we fell into a plan of meeting up at each rest stop.
A few things I noticed that first day:
- Everyone was so friendly and polite. "On your left, darling." "Love your jersey." "Good morning, rider!" I enjoyed it.
- Each rest stop had a theme. Thinking back on the week, I remember Flappers, Oktoberfest dancers, drag queens, Smurfs, Thunderdome warriors and Jockeys (from the non-breeders cup).
- There was a team of maybe six riders (gents and ladies) dressed as Dolly Parton with gigantic balloon boobs and blonde wigs. They were slightly faster than I was, even with those knockers.
So my flat tire dream of literal and symbolic trepidation was for naught, at least on Day 1. That night, we got into camp, set up our tents, grabbed dinner (two Boca Burger sloppy joes for this cowgirl), and hit the hay by 10pm. We had more than 100 miles to go the next day. Or so we thought.