Friday, August 22, 2008

ALC Day 3, At Camp

As promised in my post on the third day of riding during AIDS LifeCycle, here is my account of just the camp experience in Paso Robles after riding on day three. ALC is a lot of riding bikes, but half the experience is spent in the camp before and after the riding.

Spin Wheels

Welcoming riders walking in from bike parking on day three were dozens of little pin wheels in clusters along the field. A cute touch indicative of the dedication of the volunteers who help prepare the camp grounds for riders, and they also served as a reminders of the head winds conquered on the bike.

The Gear

One of the luxuries of a supported ride such as ALC is having your camping gear hauled to the next camp site for you. It's a pretty monumental mountain of baggage that gets trucked and unloaded everyday by dedicated volunteers. Since I showed up to camp super early on Day 3 I had quite a time finding my bag since few had taken theirs yet.

Ridazz Out To Dry
(Liz's clothes hanging up to dry.)

A number of things need to be accomplished once at camp, but they don't have to be completed in a particular order. I usually went about preparing the tent first to have a home base. If you are camping with out stakes, which in this case were not allowed, be sure you weight the corners in windy environments lest you want this to happen to you.

This tent = EPIC FAIL

After setting up the tent, then I would go off to the shower truck so I'd no longer be a sweaty mess, and to wash down the cycling clothes. After returning to the tent, it's time to hang up the clothes to dry in the sun. Depending on how long the ride was and how fast you completed the day, you would have some time to chill out before dinner.

Frontier Town
Maynards Mountain Maynards Mountain

Although most of the riding was out in the boondocks, the camping was generally at sites on the out skirts of cities and towns. Especially interesting about Day 3 was that the camp site was at the site of a fair grounds, complete with themed architecture and sculptures to evoke nostalgia of the old west. I went around exploring this artificial landscape while most of my cohorts lounged around in the shady grass.

Vegetarian Pirates
( I always wanted to be a vegetarian pirate.)

Volunteers often spruced up rest stops and camp ground with themes as mentioned in previous posts, and for dinner on day 3 it was pirates. The food was best toward the beginning of the trip, less so in the middle and picked up toward the end, but since you alway roll in starving it always seems great. As usual, being in the vegetarian line meant I got to eat without waiting in line like most people. I loved having that green wrist band. When I am hungry I want food in face now.

Family of Bears
(Randy, Rich and Mark looking positively cheery.) 

The team decided since we were so close to town we would go outside of camp in search of bowling and even more dinner. Keep in mind we are easily burning 4-6 thousand calories a day depending on rider weight and mileage and we need to eat enough to continue riding the next day. Second or third dinners were a common occurrence. While waiting for teammates to gather we played with bears and discovered a barrel of ooze that looked like it had given birth to Ninja Turtles.

Ninja Turtle Ooze

Big Bubba's Bad BBWMeghan Liz
(Meghan and Liz pictured waiting for crappy service.)

Once we were on our way, it was realized bowling was further walking distance then we anticipated and we were justifiably lazy feeling. So we settled on going for food at near by artificially rustic Big Bubba's Bad BBQ. Some of our party were vegan and vegetarian, my self included in there, but we expected to find at least a side or something to munch on, and most of had already had two dinners. 

The experience there was to say in short horrible, with probably the worst food service I have ever witnessed. Vegans who explicitly made clear they could not eat cheese, and even referred to it as a food allergy, were given fries covered in shredded cheese, and Liz, a vegetarian, had a veggie burrito that was discovered later to have chunks of steak hidden in it, not to mention slow and terrible service all around even without the vegetarian mishaps. I went on TripAdvisor to slam the place, and if you look in the reviews you will see mine with a 1/5 star rating and a more complete scathing account of our experience.

The Scarecrow
(A scarecrow watches over our camp at night)

After leaving Subway, where the hungry vegetarian members of our party went for food after the Big Bubba experiance, we settled into camp for the night with the rustling of heavy winds rolling through the field of tents. It was at last time for sleep after a long day, with many more to come, as we at this point had not yet made it halfway to Los Angeles.

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