Sunday, June 16, 2019

ALC Packing List - With Links!

Every year before ALC, I find that I am always buying the same items over and over again in preparation for the trip down the coast. This time, I'm getting ahead of it! Feel free to bookmark this link and revisit it a few months before the next ALC ride! Or stock up and buy now for the future!

Please note that I am an Amazon Associate, and that I may earn on qualifying purchases :)

I'm including things, even without links, in the event that you, the reader, just need a packing list to work off of :)

Clothes & Items for the Ride

  • Helmet
    • This is my helmet! It's Giro Foray MIPS Road Cycling helmet. The recommendation is that you get a new helmet every year if you ride a lot - the excess sweating, accidental drops, and the elapsing time ultimately harden and weaken the styrofoam in the helmet, so I always try to replace my helmet at least once a year. 
  • Jerseys
  • Socks
  • Cycling Gloves
    • Gloves make a huge difference when it comes to cycling. You want to have gloves that are not too tight and will not make you feel uncomfortable while riding those long hours. 
    • I swear by these gloves! I have purchased maybe 20 - 30 pairs over the years, and I try to have a fresh pair of gloves each day on the ride. 
  • Water Bottles

    • I swear by these bottles. they have worked time and time again for me! I don't use any other bottles when I ride. 
  • Arm Sleeves
    • Every year, I purchase sleeves for the ride - they are reusable, but I use them in a disposable sense as there are almost enough for all riding days! The sleeves are not the longest, but they cover a lot and help block the sun. 

  • Sunglasses
  • Cycling Shorts:
    • The worst part of the ride usually happens two to three days in, when your perineum is inflamed and your skin rubs against itself and starts to get irritated. The best way to curb this is to find the right shorts. If you have a little bit of money laying around, think about getting the DeSoto 400 mile cycling shorts! It was designed by someone who rode 400 miles over 4 days - and did it comfortably! Worth it if it means saving that taint. 

For the Ride:

  • Medical Insurance Cards
  • ID
  • Credit Cards
  • Cash
  • Saddle Bag
  • Spare Tubes
  • CO2 Cartridges (please note that you can't fly up north with these!)
  • Binder Clip or Route Sheet Holder

    • This route sheet holder latches onto your handlebar and holds your route sheet for every day on the ride

For your sleeping accommodations:

  • Sleeping Bag

    • Everyone has their own sleeping preferences, but I try to find a sleeping bag that will work for all seasons so that I'm not just using it for ALC once a year. As such, I have a Marmot Mummy bag because I like knowing that I will stay warm while the weather changes on the ride. 
  • Sleeping Pad
    • For two years prior, I had been sleeping on what I thought was the best mattress pad around. This year, however, I took a risk as I was tired of this mattress pad taking up so much space. I bought an amazing sleeping pad that folded up very nicely and only took up a small amount of space. It worked out perfectly!

  • Head Lamp
    • Headlamps are great when you want to be hands free - especially in the port-o-potties! I usually hang a really good headlamp (like the one below) in my tent as well, and it doubles up as a tent-light in the evening as well. 

  • Binder Clips for your laundry
    • I won't link anything here, but take a few from work or ask around to see if others can get a few for you to dry your laundry on your tent in the afternoons!
  • Baby Wipes
    • Those that don't know me don't know that I. HAVE. AN. OBSESSION. WITH. BABY. WIPES. I use them for everything - to wipe my hands off, to clean everything when a bathroom isn't close by, and to wipe my face after a long day on a ride. 

  • Grocery Bag for Bike
    • No one really talks about this, but I didn't realize how smart this was until I tried it on my first ride. I take two of these on the ride - one as my bathroom bag and one as my bike bag. The bike bag means that this holds my helmet, gloves, sunglasses, and sunblock anytime I am off the bike for the day. The bathroom bag holds my towel, shampoo, and fresh clothes when I head to the mobile showers. You can go in on these bags with someone else or keep them all to be environmentally conscious! 

  • Roller Bag
    • The bag that ALC allows you to bring is any size up to 70 pounds... You want one that is over 32 inches and has wheels for the terrain you will be dragging your bag through. I like one that has outside pockets so that my shoes are easily accessible. 

  • Chargers
    • I bring three of these on the ride but truthfully, I think I only need one. You are allowed to bring these onto your carry-on, which is great! I charge both my Garmins and both of my phones for the week on one of these. 

    • Don't forget your actual charging cords! iPhones, Garmins, bike computers!
  • Toiletry Bag
    • This bag is the one I keep my tooth brush, floss, and night creams in. It's compact and holds everything! You can use any kind of cosmetic bag for this as long as it holds your toothbrush!
  • T Shirts
  • Underwear
  • Flip Flops
    • Find flip flops that are super comfortable that you want to wear all the time while you are in camp. I trust my Adidas Slides and have a few pairs of these at home - 

  • Pajamas
  • Quick Dry Towel
    •  Honestly, the larger the better. I love towels that will dry before the sun sets, and I use these towels for my triathlons in addition to ALC week. 

  • Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
    • Because we check in luggage, I buy myself shampoo that I am happy using for the week: shampoo that makes me feel like I'm rewarding myself for a long day! I choose a shampoo and conditioner that I don't normally use, so that it feels like I'm getting pampered during the week, even though I'm not!

  • Sunblock
    • Sunblock is life's antidote. I swear by it! I also swear by good sunblock - for the face and for the body. 
      • For the face: I use: 
      Neutrogena Sport Face. I use it as chapstick on the hot days that make my lips feel like they are burning as well. 
      • For my body, I use:
        • A spray! I keep this in my back pocket as I'm cycling and use it every 2 hours. The sun has no mercy sometimes. 

  • Odor Spray
    • I usually never talk about this part, but there are some DANK smells on this ride sometimes. I bring Odor-X foot spray to spray my shoes after the day is over! If the tent smells musty, Odor-X. If people smell musty, Odor-X. Just kidding about the last part but don't test me...

  • Carmex
    • I am a Carmex fiend. That is, I have over 10 tubes of Carmex in my car, a few in my bag, 2 at my desk at work, and a ton of them laying all over my apartment. My lips are always moisturized! Same goes for the ride. I can't live without my Carmex!

  • Face Masks
    • Finally, as my last packing item, I want to recommend face masks! Face masks are great to relax with and help with re-moisturizing your face after a long day in the sun. 

Any packing suggestions to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Ride Report: AIDS/LifeCycle 2019

It's been a little over 48 hours since we crossed the finish line for the 2019 AIDS/LifeCycle ride, and yet, here I am, a ball of feelings because I miss my friends from the ride.

7 days. 21,000 feet of elevation climbed. 561 miles this year! and 33 teammates that have become lifelong friends.

When Mark introduced me to the Hot Wheels team last year at ALC, I was surprised by how warm the welcome was. I met Brian, the captain, as Mark and I were waiting for our massages, and we sat and chatted for a bit. Later that night, I was introduced to the rest of the team at dinner and was lucky enough to talk to them and see them on the ride.

I was so happy to have a few more friends on the ride. Fast forward a few more months to a Disney Tri Team event at Hamburger Mary's, where Mark asked me to officially join the Hot Wheels as a member. ME?!!! I was so excited that I said yes on the spot.

By August of 2018, it was official. Brian made an announcement on the team page, and we were off! Truthfully, I was a little hesitant about ALC19. I had done the ride 2 years prior, with a lot of support from my family and friends. Fundraising was a breeze, but I could tell that donor fatigue was setting in. Still, I made my donation page and I let it sit. It wasn't until my good friend Travis donated (without prompting!) that I decided it was a sign that I should ride once more.

As the months drew closer, Mark and I started talking about the great times we've had in the past on the ride and how we could make the ride even better for 2019. "What if we were tentmates?" he says.

The smile that formed on my face couldn't have been any bigger. I was elated! THINK OF ALL THE THINGS WE WOULD DO!


I'm going to apologize in advance as I normally am very verbose in my recaps. Being the forgetful person that I am, I often look back at these posts not only to remember my adventures but to share my feelings about them! Please feel free to jump around as you see fit - these are my memories that I want to share with you!

The Ride:

This year was my third year with ALC. The first year, my boyfriend (at the time) and I had just broken up, and Liz and I were paired up. I had such a great time that when it came time for my second year, I truly enjoyed the ride for myself and not for anyone else. The short hospital stint broke my "ride every day" rule and I ultimately came onboard the third time as my redemption year.

Friday (Day -1)

Since my flight wasn't until later in the day, I spent the morning working. Matt was on drop-off duty, so we made our way to Manhattan beach, did a short stroll, swung on the swings, and then headed to the airport.

So romantic.

When I got to the airport, I had to check my luggage in, so I went over to the kiosk, printed out my tag, and brought my bag over to get weighed. I was 4 pounds over. 4 pounds meant an extra $70 to convert into an oversized luggage bag, so I reached into my big bag and pulled out... 64 facemasks, which I proceeded to shove into my carry on.

Instantly, I was under the limit. Who knew masks could weigh so much?!

I strolled over to security, where my carry bag was stopped and searched for .. you guessed it! 64 face masks. It was mortifying. TSA stopped me and asked me why I was traveling with so many cosmetics items! I obviously told them that I was headed up to a spa retreat and needed to provide for my friends.

They let me go, and I met up with Jason before we boarded the plane.

The flight to LA was uneventful, considering many of the other members of the team were held on delays the night before. Jason and I checked into our hotel rooms and immediately headed back out for a late meal at New England Lobster and Eatery:

Yes, I ate a whole lobster. Yes, it was delicious.

Jason and I parted ways soon after, and Bryan picked me up to spend some quality time together. His roommate, Alex, who stays in hiding except to see me once each year around this time, also joined us!

We had ice cream at Smitten (obviously)

while we waited for our names to be called at Amano.

Amano was YUMMY.

Lots of little plates so we didn't stuff ourselves silly, but delicious nonetheless.
I called it a night rather early, as I knew Day 0 would be a long day.

Saturday (Day 0)

Jason and I left for Cow Palace bright and early Saturday morning - it was almost time!!!!

We met up with the rest of the team and filed in line as we waited to enter CP for our Orientation meeting.

For the next two hours, we listened to safety speeches, walked through what the week would look like, and signed our lives away.

Then it was time for check in! We got tagged, received our bike numbers, and walked the ALC village for a little bit before tending to our bikes and prepping them for Day 1.

We pulled all of the saran wrap off our bikes (for their safe journey up the coast the week prior) and applied our participant numbers, emptied out our water bottles with anything we may have stored, and moved them to their proper locations before saying goodbye to the team.

My brother picked me up from Cow Palace and we met up with Bryan and Alex for dim sum at HL Peninsula.
I'm a huge fan of asian food, so it was nice to be surrounded by familiarity.

Clearly I have an obsession with ice cream - Kel and Irene and I ended up at Marco Polo Italian Ice Cream for another round of icy goodness :)

I took a quick nap and then headed over to Cafe Mason for our team's dinner. We had such a great time and received so many presents!

Here's a recap from me and Mark:

I am so enamoured by these men (and one other woman!) and couldn't have asked for a better sendoff to start the ride.

Sunday (Day 1)

I couldn't believe it! Day 1.
San Francisco to Santa Cruz. 82 miles. 4700 elevation.

We had our opening ceremonies, where they announced that this year we fundraised a record-breaking $16.7MM!

We set off, and slowly made our way through the streets of SF! It rained for 15 miles, there was intense fog, and we made it to lunch at 10:30am!

#WinTheMark recap here:

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence blessed us, we said hello to the rest of the Hotties, and then we were on our way to complete the journey to Santa Cruz!

A post shared by What Are We Ironing (@whatareweironing) on

For those that don't know, we usually have rest stops every 15 miles or so (for many people this is about one stop per hour unless you ride faster...)

Each rest stop is captained by a team, and each team makes the rest stop special. Rest Stop 4 has always been my favorite rest stop over the years, and this year was no different!

I knew I'd die by Trojan. BRUINED.

We pulled into camp shortly after at Harvey West Park, where we set up our tents and enjoyed the rest of the evening. Mark even unboxed our gift bag from the night before!

Obviously we did a recap and facemasked.

A post shared by What Are We Ironing (@whatareweironing) on

As mentioned in the video, Colty's bike was run over by a State Trooper!

Cannondale saved the day and saved the bike as well, but HOLY MOLY.

Monday (Day 2)

Day 2: 110 miles, 3000 elevation gain, Santa Cruz to King City.
Does anyone else see the girl behind me in the picture? CREEPY.

Safety PSA from #WinTheMark:

A post shared by What Are We Ironing (@whatareweironing) on

We had lunch in Salinas before heading back out onto the road. Day 2 is mostly inland, so it brings new meaning to "Strawberry Fields Forever"...

We also can't forget my favorite stop of the day... the Otter Pop Stop!

By the time we got back to camp, it was LATE. We were exhausted, but definitely wanted to share a recap:

Artichokes, Otter Pops, Skinny Dipping, and Distance.

A post shared by What Are We Ironing (@whatareweironing) on

and a description of the ending of day 2:

Can't stop me from a good facemask, so here's day 2's beauty pic:

Tuesday (Day 3)

Day 3: 66 Miles, King City to Paso Robles, 2600 elevation gain.
Day 3 is Quadbuster day - a massive hill that some people do multiple times because they have thighs of steel.

My thighs are made of turkey so they're a little soft.
They mean well, though.

A post shared by What Are We Ironing (@whatareweironing) on

Day 3 is also when we ride into a little town called Bradley and visit the kids at Bradley Elementary!

I had a blast. Here's our recap:

As we exited Bradley, we rode through Camp Roberts, grabbed ice and caught a show at Rest Stop 4 (again, my favorite!), and suffered the last 10 miles in 105 degree heat over to Paso Robles.

We were so hot we ended up getting a hotel for the night. Hear more about "princessing" here:

Wednesday (Day 4)

89 Miles - Paso Robles to Santa Maria - Elevation 4800 gain.

By Day 4 I was exhausted. I felt like we had so much left to do but every part of me hurt!
Day 4 was a big day, though. It marked HALFWAY TO LA! and the notorious Evil Twins climb, which was a series of back-to-back hills that never seemed to end.

A post shared by What Are We Ironing (@whatareweironing) on

A post shared by What Are We Ironing (@whatareweironing) on

We were so excited!
On the way into Santa Maria, I met 2 lovely friends... ALPACAS!
So adorable and so curious.

Oh but wait - there's more! I rode so hard I snapped my shoes - BOTH OF THEM - and had to actually buy new shoes during my lunchtime on the ride!

Brings new meaning to Beast Mode, doesn't it?

The rest of the way back to Santa Maria was slightly uneventful, minus the part where I cried my eyes out as I rode past the site of the accident I was in last year (see last year's ALC post). Luckily, I have great friends like Mark who will hold me and hug me while I cry and celebrate life's little achievements, like making it into camp in one piece.



Catch our Recap here!

Thursday (Day5)

Red Dress Day!
Santa Maria to Lompoc - 41 miles - 1800 Elevation gain

Red Dress Day was so amazing! Last year I didn't get to do RDD so this year I knew I had to make it special. Look how great we looked!

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by What Are We Ironing (@whatareweironing) on

These girls are everything.

When we finished our ride, we quickly got ready and took our team photos!
These came out so nicely.

... and true to form, I forced the team to do face masks with me because... well, because I'm me.


Friday (Day 6)

Day 6 - Lompoc to Ventura - 89 Miles
Finally, we were back to the coastline!

The days seemed longer and longer, but I was so excited to arrive in Ventura because... Boyface drove through California ON A FRIDAY to see me!

It was just what I needed to get myself through those last two days.

Which brings us to...

Saturday (Day 7)

Loved the team and loved the experience, but I missed my comfy bed and the smell of clean clothes!

Mark and I BOOKED it on the way back to WeHo.

The Troubadour opened their doors to us and let us wait in the confines of what felt like a second home to me - a stage that legends like Elton John, Axl Rose, and AFI all graced!!

We waited until the rest of our team showed up, grabbed a few photos together, and then headed in to the finish line!

Finally - we made it into LA!

And the best part of coming back home to LA? Unlimited Snickers and Hot Cheetos :)

It feels like I highlighted every moment of my trip, but I know I missed a bunch of memories that I will hold in my heart for a lifetime. I am grateful to have met 33 wonderful individuals who let me into their team and welcomed me into the community.

I ride not only as a challenge for myself but to bring awareness to HIV and AIDS. Together, we can work to find a cure.

ALC sent out a very touching recap video today - and both Mark and I finally found out what we were interviewed for! We make appearances 3 times in the video, and I get to say the final words.

It is heartwarming, touching, and I've probably shed more tears than I can count this week.

Thank you, ALC. I'm sure I will see you again.