Friday, July 8, 2011

I have moved...

I have been working for over a week in hopes of not having to post this post, alas here it it.

The Tough Chik blog has moved. The new URL is

I would LOVE it if you would follow me over there.

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Change VS Routine

My husband would always tease me that I hate change. "Woooo, change...baaaddd..." And I recently had an Ahh Haa moment (Oh, Oprah...I miss you so!) and discovered that it isn't that I hate change, that isn't it at all. I moved to LA from Dallas not knowing a soul or even vising the state with my husband of 6 months with a smile and excitement. I left a 9 to 5 (maybe not by choice) to start my own business with optimism and enthusiasm. These are not the actions of someone who is afraid of change. I have attacked new sports like a wild, crazed woman...I mean the San Francisco Full Marathon was my first race ever (not even a 5K). Ok, so maybe I am a smidgen insane.

The fact is that I strive on routine. I am at my best professionally, physically and athletically when I have a routine. Even though I had a soul crushing 9 to 5 desk job, it was a ridged schedule where I woke up at the same time, had a morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack and a gym routine. Now that I am running a business and my schedule is a little more flexible, you would think that this new freedom would be liberating...not to me...

I like lists, schedules, expectations and agendas. Some may call this organized or Type-A or (the less appealing) anal but it is me. I was discussing this with my mom and she said it is the way I have always been. She has always referred to me as "cautious", especially as a child. One of her favorite stories is that when she had her first meeting with my kindergarten teacher, the teacher told her that they were concerned with me because I didn't really play with the other kids on the playground...I just stood by and watched. My mom told the teacher not to worry, I was just checking everything out and I would be out there when I felt comfortable. Which was true, a few weeks into the school year, I was just another kid on the playground.

I don't really know if that cautious personality has anything to do with my love of routine, but they are two big aspects of my personality. Even when I am on vacation, I am always happy to get back to my routine, my food, my bed, my schedule. Don't get me wrong, I love time off and I don't go into a tail-spin if something interrupts my day, I just find comfort in structure.

As summer begins and all of your kids are off, how has your routine changed? Do you thrive on routine like me or are you more of a free spirit? I have a theory that folks that participate in runs, races, triathlons, etc. tend to be like me..."a little type-a". I think we are attracted (or not intimidated by) the rigors of training. Thoughts???

Thursday, June 23, 2011

ALC final toughts

First off, thank you to all of you comments about my wisdom teeth. I guess I shouldn't have waited until I was in my, ummm, mid-thirties. Thanks to ltlindian, I am now rinsing my mouth with salt water and now I really hate Patrick. Sorry Patrick, but running THAT day? I hate you.

So back to ALC, I have dragged this on long enough and now I will wrap it up in a little bow.

Final numbers:
Miles: 546.7
Climbing: 22,800 ft
Days: 7
Nights in a tent: 6 (5 too many)
Showers in a trailer: 6
Visits to sports medicine: 3
Lbs gained/lost: +1 (WTF)
Cookies consumed: 8 (hence +1 lb)
Gallons on Powerade: too many to count
Visits to port-o-potty: do you really want to know? I don't...
Tough Chik jerseys worn: 6

Things I did right:
1) I forgot casual socks (only brought cycling) but after my shower each night I just put on the socks for the next day. One less thing to pack and one less item to think about the AM.
2) Brought a new outfit for each day. Some people did laundry on the ride and didn't bring 7 jersey/short combos. For one thing, it is one more thing to worry about and I had a hard time getting my "quick drying" camp towel to dry before I packed it. Can't imagine trying to get a chamois to dry.
3) Trained - one guy told us he went on one 15 mile training ride and a spin class! WHAT! The average Joe can't roll off the couch and ride 545 miles. And if you can, you won't enjoy it.

Items I packed and didn't use:
1) Food - they had plenty and I was too lazy to pack mine up each morning
2) My own electrolyte powder - see 1
3) Makeup - yeah I didn't care about looking cute...way to tired
4) A book - to tired or busy with other "activities - i.e. cycling" to read
5) Long sleeved jersey - base layer, short sleeve jersey and arm warmers were a good combo for me. I did use a wind breaker and rain poncho as well.

Item I wish I had:
1) Cleat covers - I was digging dirt and mud out of my cleats at every rest stop
2) A better way to charge my phone - the solar charger didn't get enough sun at camp and I had know way to charge while riding
3) Lip protection - I had chap stick in my overnight bag but not on the bike. Big mistake.
4) More/Better costumes - When in Rome...
5) Air Mattress and Sheets - We had 2 sub-zero, arctic, polar, igloo-type sleeping bag that cause me to sweat my you-know-what off every night. I figured that our 2 huge sleeping blags and sleeping mats were probably just as big, if not bigger than an air mattress, pump and sheets.
6) Hotel key - I am glad we camped the first time, I really think you get the full experience by camping every night. Next time I am going to "princess-it" and stay at a hotel 2 or 3 night, just to get some good sleep.

If you are considering doing this ride, let me know! I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. I was a great experience and I am so happy we did it! I will definitely do it again, maybe not next year (I have other goals I want to accomplish), but again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ok, Ok, I was wrong...

I was going to post my final thoughts on ALC, and I still plan on that, but I had to get this out there.

I was wrong.

I don't like to admit that I was wrong, I mean..who does? But in this case I am freely admitting that I WAS WRONG, WAY WRONG!!!

I grossly underestimated the pain and recovery time of wisdom teeth removal. Yeah, sorry it isn't anything more dramatic like I was wrong about Global Warming or Organic Produce. I was wrong when I thought I could get my wisdom teeth yanked on Friday and be cool by Sunday, Monday at the latest. So here I sit on Wednesday morning, eating my umteenth bowl of oatmeal on a strict regime of Vicodin and prescription strength Motrin. (don't get too excited, it is barely enough to take the edge off of my aching jaw)

On the ALC ride, in passing I mentioned to my hubs that I was getting my wisdom teeth pulled on the following Friday.

Marc: "What!"
Me: "I am getting my wisdom teeth pulled, are you going to be around? I might not be able to drive home.."
Marc: "What! No, you won't be able to drive home and yes I will be around."
Me: "It is just teeth, I have had teeth pulled before and it was no big deal. I will be fine."
Marc: "Oh, okay..." (in a voice like I am crazy...)
(scene goes to black)

Fast forward one week to dentist office
Receptionist: "Are you scared?"
Me: "No."

X-Ray Tech: "Are you scared?"
Me: "No."

Dental Assistant: "Are you scared?"
Me: "No? Should I be"

Friday was a blur, I think I was awake about 8 hours all day. Saturday I woke up to cheeks like a Chipette and headache that would put any Champagne hangover to shame.

Finally after I broke down on Monday night, (I haven't been able to work out since the Ride! I had severe tendonitis in my knee after the ride and then this, so NO physical activity in over a week and a half and the pain meds might make me emotional) my husband looked at me and said what did you think that it was going to be like?

I don't know really, I guess I just thought that when I had my teeth pulled in junior high (baby teeth pulled for braces) it wasn't that big of a deal. I thought after emergency surgery on my arm with 2 metal plates and 24 screws, teeth weren't that big of a deal. I guess I just didn't think.

My husband was baffled. See, I research everything and it is very unlike me to not have this all planned out. The surgery its self, the recovery time, etc. I didn't spend any time researching any aspect of the procedure.

I am still in a lot of pain, is this normal? Have you ever had this procedure and still in a lot of pain 6 days later? I have a post op appointment on Friday, so hopefully I can find out what is going on.

Monday, June 20, 2011

AIDS Lifecycle 10 - Recap days 6 & 7

DAY 6 Lompoc to Ventura (86 miles, appx 3,500 ft climbing)
By day six the aches and pains of sleeping on the ground surrounded by loud snoring men and the toll of averaging 80 some odd miles a day being to creep up on you. I overheard many conversations of people describing themselves as "cranky" and I was accused of being less than amicable on an occasion or two. I will admit it, I was grumpy BUT I was not alone. Even for seasoned cyclists, this is not an easy ride and add camping and no/little/poor sleep, it will wear on even the most up beat of people (at least that is my excuse). The amazing aspect of this ride is that even when you aren't feeling great or in a bit of a funk, there is always someone or something to snap you out of it.

Today that was the City of Santa Barbara (or possibly the Santa Barbara Chamber?? - I am not sure who to give the credit too). Each year Santa Barbra sets up there own rest stop for us completely separate from ALC. They are happy that we are creating massive chaos in a highly tourist trafficked area?? In all seriousness, they appreciate what we are doing and want to show their gratitude. Even though there are boxes and boxes of snacks at each rest stop, they are the same boxes and boxes so a little variety is pretty exciting. We had ice cream and table of topping, cookies, pastries and the freshest fruit cup! In my normal cycling would I EVER (like never ever) eat diary on a ride, I honestly can't tell you the last time I had real ice cream. I rarely treat myself to frozen yogurt, but I ponyed up to a big bowl of Mocha Chocolate Chip with chocolate syrup. The rest of the day was pretty flat, so I wasn't too concerned.

Santa Barbara Rest Stop - Day 6

I left Santa Barbara in a sugar comma and craving an apple like none other. I love apples, eat at least one a day and now I was on day 7 with out an apple, so I was Jonesing.

Rest Stop 4 Day 6

At camp that night was the candle light vigil and it was a very moving and beautiful ceremony. I am lucky enough to not know anyone (or know that know) with HIV/AIDS but I was surrounded by people holding photographs of friends or relatives that they had lost. You could hear the sobs of those who the wounds were still fresh and the anguish on the faces of those who have struggled with the lost for decades. I am glad I stayed up to witness the ceremony (trust me, 9:30 was way past my camp bedtime).

Day 7 - Ventura to Los Angeles (60 miles, appx 2,000 ft. climbing)

Today was filled with a lot of "this is the last time...", some with a sigh of disappointment but mostly with a sign of relief.

"This is the last time I will fold up the wet tent."
"This is the last time I will have to drag my luggage to a U-haul across wet grass."
"This is the last time I will brush my teeth using a water bottle and my water source."

You get the idea. We decided to ride day 7 together. Marc and I had ridden the whole ride together, but Molly was not with us. We felt it would be a great way to end the ride. That lasted to the first rest stop, I was good in theory but didn't work for anyone. Molly was being pushed past her comfort zone and Marc and I were getting antsy watching all the other cyclist pass. We mutually decided that it would be better to just meet up with Team OC and the Starbucks along the route and ride in together. But we were able to get in some fun photos before we departed.

Day 7 was cold and misty, like many mornings along the coast in June. We rode along the coast through Malibu and watched dolphins in the surf, pretty amazing. We were then routed on to a multi-use path along the beach to Santa Monica. In Santa Monica we had to get off our bikes, walk down a flight of stairs, take a tunnel under PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) and the take a flight of stairs up the other side. Before the flight of stairs down, was a ramp. I picked up my bike, started to walk down the ramp and slipped and fell hard on my backside. My only "wreck" of the week and I wasn't even on the bike. I was okay, a little shaken up and embarrassed but I was fine to finish the ride.

The closing ceremony was great with a speech by Jane Lynch of Glee and a board member of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center.


Cheerleaders at the finish line

Closing Ceremony

Jane Lynch

It was a great ride and I really challenged and enjoyed myself. My next post I will give you my final thoughts, reflections and what I learned.

THANK YOU to all of my supporters, I couldn't do it without you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

AIDS Lifecycle 10 - Recap days 4 & 5

I failed to mention that on Day 3 my right knee really started to bother me. I went to sports medicine at lunch and they looked at my knee. The volunteer PT (I can't even begin to explain how awesome these volunteers are) told me that my inner right quad was weak and the strained muscle was pulling on my knee cap. She stretched me out and told me to stretch at every stop and visit the sports med tent at camp. I took a few ibuprofen and continued the ride.

DAY 4 - Paso Robles to Santa Maria (98 miles, appx 4,000 ft climbing) trip computer is no longer working!! I think the battery is dieing and I am not getting my data consistently. This really bums me out because I feel so accomplished at the end of a ride when I scroll through the stats of a ride. I didn't realize how much I also rely on it to pace myself.

This was my favorite day of riding, I LOVED IT! Today we had a climb titled the "Evil Twins" but the name was much more scary than the climb. At one point I even asked Marc "Was that it?", but I am a climber and we live in a very hilly, mountainous area so we trained with a lot of climbing. All of the climbing resulted in some fun and fast decents plus some wicked fast flats. At one point we had a great pace line going and the train speed across the gorgeous farmlands (although we were riding way to fast to enjoy them). Yes, I was the only chik involved and I loved every minute of it! It was so much fun and the highlight of the cycling portion of the trip!

Day 4 was the continuation of Marc's mystery flat, he was NOT a happy camper. The tire was flat when he got to his bike in the morning and once again he took off the tube and tire and check everything and NO evidence of the culprit of these flats. So, we aired it up and went on our way. It was a slow leak and after rest stop 1 he would have to pull over every 5 miles or so and air up the tire just to make it to the next rest stop. Finally at rest stop 2, I believe, he got the the 5th tube that held air for the rest of the ride.

Marc at the mechanics tent at Rest Stop 2

Day 4 was also the half way to LA, they had a bunch of signs you could stand next to and take your photo, but it was cold and Marc was still having flat issues at this point so we didn't stand in line for the photo op. Instead I just climbed on a rock and took this photo without the sign, but trust me...I was half way to LA.

Pinky and I are half way to LA!!

Another fun photo...
Rest Stop 2, Day 4

DAY 5 - Santa Maria to Lompoc (42 miles, appx 2,300 ft climbing)
Day 5 is Dress Red Day (or Red Dress Day) on the ALC ride. Everyone is encouraged to wear red and most end up wearing a red dress. I was really amazed how much people get into this and what they are able to ride in! The route was changed from previous years due to a terrible headwind that wiped everyone out, so instead we climbed! In my opinion, these were some of the more difficult climbs of the ride and since they were new, we had no warning or scary names to associate with them. If the route stays the same for next year, I am sure they will be named. This ride was exactly like the riding we did when we lived in the South Bay of LA. If you have ever ridden in Palos Verdes, it is just like this, so we were right at home. This was Marc's favorite day of ridding. It was nice a short, but all the climbing really did a number on my knee. The previous night I went back to sports medicine and they looked at the knee. I was told to come back in the morning to get taped and that is what I did. The K tape or Kineso tape helped but I was still hurting. This was a fun day full of fun costumes, enjoy!

I am not sure if the guy in the right rode in that, but I wouldn't be surprised...

Check out the guy on the left's shoes! He raised his seat and had a cleat in one, so he could only upstroke with one leg...amazing...

I thought this group was so cute and with the hats on their helmets, but they were was not warm...

Marc and I at Rest Stop 2, Day 5, obviously very under dresses (newbies)

Stay tuned for the last recap, days 6 & 7!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

AIDS Lifecycle 10 - Recap days 1-3

As most of you know, last week I rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles, 545 mile, over 7 days. This was the 10th AIDS Lifecycle fundraiser and we raised a record 13 million dollars, making ALC 10 the single largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser on the planet! Day 1, Sunday the 5th marked the 30th anniversary of the first 3 reported cases of HIV/AIDS in LA.

This was my first ALC (AIDS Lifecycle) and I really didn't know what to expect. We had a brunch back in December where one on the TRLs (Training Ride Leader) told me it is the worse vacation you will want to take over and over. When he said that, I thought it sounded pretty harsh but now I know what he meant. More on that later...

I tried to blog from the road and I started out pretty good, but as fatigue set in and my phone battery died, so did my messages. I am going to try and recap my ride but to be honest, the days are starting to run together.

There are many aspects of this ride, one the riding itself, two the charity/fundraising component and three the community and life on the road. I will start off with the first 3 days, so this won't be too long!

Here is Marc and I on Day 1 on the side of the road, that is not lip stick...chapped lips!

The cycling was fantastic! I am a die-hard Texan and like most Texans, I love my state BUT California is amazing and beautiful. This ride gave us the opportunity to see parts of CA that you normally wiz by on the freeway. We had climbing and flats, rollers and some great descends, a little bit of everything and normally you had a taste of all of it each day.

DAY 1 - San Francisco to Santa Cruz (82.5 miles, 5,307 ft climbing) - Due to a route change Day 1 was a little more difficult than years past. We had over 5,000 ft of climbing which was right up my alley. Rain threatened us all day but never showed up. I was on a strict regime of DayQuil and Advil Cold & Sinus and felt pretty good until the last 20 miles when I started to fade.

Each day we typically have 4 rest stops and a lunch stop overflowing with snacks, PowerAide, medical services, mechanical services and port-o-pottys. Each stop had a theme with amazing people cheering us one and of course entertaining us!

Rest Stop 2 Day 1

Rest Stop 3 Day 1

Day 1 was also the start of the camping adventure. I am not much of a camper, a trooper but not a camper (hee hee). So this was the part of the adventure I was dreading the most. After you drop off your bike at bike parking, you have to walk quite a distance to your assigned U-haul to pick up your luggage and tent. Then tramp across a camp ground to your assigned 8' x 8' plot of grass and set up your tent (all in your cycling shoes & cleats). After the first few days it became routine and not a big deal.

Tent City - Not the best photo, but you can see the hundreds and hundreds of tents. With 3,000 cyclist and volunteers, that would be roughly 1500 tents!

DAY 2 Santa Cruz to King City (107 miles 3,200 ft climbing) - Santa Cruz was bit of a logistical challenge for us. We had to utilize a bike path and were only allowed to release 100 cyclist at a time. We were parked near the front of the parking lot, so it took us a little under an hour just to get out of parking and another hour and half to get out of the city due to all the lights.
ALC traffic jam - Santa Cruz

Many cyclist had issues completing the route in time. Each day the route was open from 6:30 AM to 7:00 PM. Which seems like a lot but once you add the all the traffic and length of the route (107 miles) many did not make it (plus Day 1 was pretty tough if you are not use to climbing). Marc and I made it back to camp around 5 PM but Molly was 5 minutes in front of the sweep! She made it and we were sooooo proud, we were told over 700 cyclist took a bus to camp!

Day 2 was rough on me, the hardest day for me. We had some harsh cross winds and rollers that wiped me out. Plus I think the cold wasn't helping me with my recovery from day 1.

Rest Stop 2 - Day 2

There is a local woman know as the Cookie Lady, who bakes cookies for all the cyclist and passes them out at a rest stop. I LOVE COOKIES and this was a huge motivation on a day where I wasn't "feeling it"

Cookie Lady and Shannon AKA "cookie monster" - BEST.COOKIE.EVA!!!

DAY 3 King City to Paso Robles (67 miles, 2,500 ft climbing) - Day 3 included a climb called Quadbuster, a little steep at times but we had much much more difficult climbs on our training rides, so we were well prepared. Day 3 was also the start of Marc's mysterious flat problem. It started on the 101, where we rode on the freeway on the worst concrete possible. It was so broken up that your body just rattled down the road.

Marc with his flat on the 101 as a semi speed past.

He took the tube off and checked the tube, tire, rim...nothing?? So we aired it up and went on our way.

Day 3 was also filled with warm hearts and giving souls. We rode through the small town of Bradley, CA (population 120) where the students host a fundraising lunch each year. They grill up burgers and hot dogs to raise money for their sports programs and the ALC riders were eating it up (figuratively and literally). Our final rest stop of the day was at the oldest mission in CA. For the past 3 years ALC Rest Stop 4 took up donations for the mission. Last year they raise $3,000, more than the annual budget!

Rest Stop 4 - Day 3 accepting donations for the mission - and yes that is a pregnant man in a leotard with a pack of smokes in his top. What else would you expect to see at a mission?

Mission Photos

Stay tuned for the rest of the trip, next up Days 4 & 5!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 2 & 3

Day 2 - Santa Cruz to King City
107 miles This was a long and tough day. I struggled with head winds and we had alot of traffic getting out of town. I was wiped and my phone died, so that I why I didn't write.

Day 3 King City to Paso Robles
67 miles was a welcomed break. The day started with an infamous climb named "Quad Buster" which is a short mile, mile and a half climb at mile 13. It was followed by some great stretches where we had a chance to haul butt.

well I am sleeping, 97 miles and a climb named "Evil Twins", so I need my rest.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 1 San Francisco to Santa Cruz

No Rain! Although as I sit in my tent, it is raining out.86 miles, 5307 ft on climbing and a tad more than 7 hrs in the saddle. I am feeling much better, though around mile 60 I really started to fade. I know my body pretty well, I think it is more than fatigue, I think it us the cold bathing up with me. Tomorrow will be interesting to see how I recover and with 107 miles coming up, it will be a true test. I got some fun photos to share but can post then from my phone. signing off, a tough chik on a bike!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 0 - Orientation

So today was AIDS/lifecycle orientation or day 0. It should have been an exciting day but we were met by showers and wind in San Francisco and my cold lingers like a bad ex-boyfriend. The mix of wet roads and a hacking cough put a huge damper on my pre-ride excitement. As I write this from my hotel at 7:30PM PST we are ridding out as scheduled even though the local weather man has touted this as "storm watch 2011". We have a lot of drama in CA. Right now it is clear and it hasn't rained for several hours. So tomorrow I plan to ride 86 miles from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Hopefully I will have service and enough "juice" on my phone to post a message from the road!
Take care and stay tough, I know I am trying to!

Shannon ALC rider 1786

Thursday, June 2, 2011

This CAN'T be happening...

I AM SICK! Yes, being sick stinks for everyone, but I am riding the biggest ride of my life to date starting Sunday and I feel like crap! My soar throat and stuffy head will be less than ideal, but what really concerns me is the energy level. There is a certain level of sustained energy one need for riding 7 days in a row and a compromised immune system does not help.

Please send me good healing vibes my blogger friends! I need your help!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

And the winner is...

The winner of the May Tough Chik photo drawing is photo #4 by Sophie

Congrats Sophie, you win a $20 gift certificate to! We will send you a email with all the info!

We do this every month, so start submitting you Tough Chik photos for the June drawing! Email your photos to

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ALC My Ride in Outfits

On June 5th I will be embarking on a 7 day, 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. If you follow my blog, you have read all about it. It is the AIDS/Lifecycle or ALC for short. It is the 10th anniversary and completely sold out! It is going to be an amazing experience and I am so very excited. Below are some details of where we will be each day and what I will be sporting!

Day 1 mileage:
82.5 miles

San Francisco to Santa Cruz
The route on Day 1 offers some of the best scenery and cycling roads that San Mateo County has to offer. The stunning coastal views from hilltops to the ocean are truly Northern California at its best! Tailwinds prevail as we pedal along scenic CA Hwy 1 on our way to camp. Highlight of the day: The lunch stop on Day 1 offers a spectacular and breathtaking view of the ocean so be sure to pack your camera.

Day 1 Outfit

2010 Tough Chik Hot Pink Jersey, Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Cycling Shorts and SmartWool Socks

Day 2 mileage:
106.1 miles

Santa Cruz to King City
Rise and shine early on Day 2 to beat the morning rush hour commuters and get an early start on your second day in the saddle! This is a long mileage day with relatively flat terrain that will take us through the Salinas Valley, also known as Steinbeck Country. The lushness of vineyards, strawberry and artichoke fields stretch as far as the eye can see in all directions. Highlights of the day include The Otter Pop guys at the Water Stop (which is at the Soledad Mission; make sure you stop into the mission where you can reflect on The Ride’s purpose and sign their altar cloth for a loved one), fried artichokes, and the Cookie Lady. I can't tell you how excited I am about the Cookie Lady, cookies and cycling are ONLY my 2 favorite things!!

Day 2 Outfit

Sweaty Bettie Jersey, RPM Short by Sugoi, DeFeet Socks

Day 3 mileage:
66.7 miles

King City to Paso Robles
Quadbuster. Don’t let the name scare you. You are sure to make it to the top with your fellow cyclists (and perhaps a special guest) cheering you on and up! But Quadbuster is only a small part of the route on Day 3. Lunch is at the small town of Bradley, which has embraced the ride with open arms. You will pedal on remote roads passing only a few small quaint stores, mostly later in the day. Rolling hills through beautiful countryside will take you into camp.

Day 3 Outfit

2009 Tough Chik Jersey, The first one I ever designed, kicking it old school! Fit Sensor Short by Louis Garneau and SmartWool Socks (pair #2)

Day 4 mileage:
97.7 miles

Paso Robles to Santa Maria
The route on Day 4 has a little bit of everything…a feast for the eyes with stunning vistas and ocean views that give way to sprawling fields of farmland and even some quaint seaside towns. The route will wind along some remote and seldom-traveled roads as well as some congested town streets. Before lunch you will conquer the infamous Evil Twins. The views from the top of that second sister hill are nothing short of spectacular and you may even find yourself forgetting that you are pedaling uphill. From there you will ride back out to the coast and through the city of Pismo Beach (Do I smell Cinnamon Rolls?) and on into camp. Highlight of the day: Half Way to LA!! At the top of the second sister hill you will come upon a vista point turnout where you will have the opportunity to have your picture taken with the Half Way to LA sign! Don’t forget your camera on this day!! (note: but don’t dally too long, you still have a lot of miles to cover!)

Day 4 Outfit

Only day I won't be sporting Tough Chik, I will be wearing my favorite non-TC jersey by Craft, Pearl Izumi Sugar Shorts and SmartWool Socks

Day 5 mileage:
40.2 miles (enjoy!)

Santa Maria to Lompoc
As soon as you roll out of your tent you will realize that this is not just another day in the saddle. Today it is an AIDS/Life tradition to ride in our AIDS awareness red best. You will look like a fabulous red ribbon on wheels as you head out of Camp 4 on our way south towards Rest Stop 1 in Orcutt. We’ll be on a new route through Santa Maria and the ‘All American City’ has worked hard to create some really nice bike lanes. Enjoy them! After Rest Stop 2 as you approach the switchbacks that originally inspired early AIDS riders to don red, be sure to look up at the hills to get your own image of the red ribbon bicycle parade. The route on this day affords beautiful vistas and light traffic. One of our rest stops is on a military base so give a salute to our men and women in uniform if you see them! As you enter Lompoc, keep your eyes peeled after lunch for wildflowers! The mileage may be a little shorter today but there is certainly no shortage of beauty and fun.

Day 5 Outfit

RED DRESS DAY - 2010 Heck on Wheels Jersey with my new red sparkle skirt and my fun red and pink stripped leg warmers. Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Shorts and Pearl Izumi Socks

Day 6 mileage:
85.5 miles

Lompoc to Ventura
Day 6 begins on one of the prettiest roads on the entire route. You will pedal through vast expansive ranchlands with wildflower covered hills on both sides! As you ride toward the coast through the gorgeous Gaviota Pass you will be on US101. This is a well travelled freeway and caution should be practiced at all times along this portion of the route. After lunch you will pass through the heart of Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria and on into Ventura where we camp at San Buenaventura State Beach. Highlight of the day: Day 6 is your best bet for dolphin sightings!! Cast an eye to the sea and perhaps you will glimpse those playful creatures jumping in and out of the water as they frolic just off the coast.

Day 6 Outfit

Saints and Sinners Jersey with matching Tough Chik Cycling Shorts and Socks

Day 7 mileage:
61.5 miles

Ventura to Los Angeles
Almost there! Today your trip south will take you through Ventura, Oxnard and Port Hueneme (pronounced Why-Knee-Me) and Malibu. You will see the military planes on display as you ride past the Naval Air Station on your way to Highway 1 also known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Once on PCH it’s a straight shot down the coastline for about 20 miles. Enjoy the southern California sights of surfers and beach goers as you pedal through Malibu on your way toward LA. You will complete your journey with a turn away from the coast and nice pedal through Santa Monica on your way to the Closing Ceremonies site. Highlight of the day: The streets are peppered along the route on Day 7 with friends, family and well-wishers. Enjoy your hero’s welcome … you deserve it.

Day 7 Outfit

Bringing it home with the 2011 Tough Chik Signature Jersey, Ohh Yeah...
Pearl Izumi Attack Shorts and Pearl Izumi Socks

I am hoping to blog on the trip but since we are camping each night, I am not sure what kind of service I will have.

This weekend I am driving up to San Francisco with the hubs and our bikes and gear. We will leave it with a friend so we don't have to ship the bikes. While in San Francisco we will be attending a few fundraising events to help us reach our fundraising minimums. If you are feeling generous and have a few dollars to spare, please visit my ALC web page.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Epic Ride - Hills of Ecstasy

My training group ride with Team OC (for AIDS/Lifecycle) was titled Hills of Ecstasy. I got the route via e-mail on Monday. It was described as:

We will be doing the Hills of Ecstasy! This route will be “arguably” the most difficult ride in this training season. We climb the greatest hits of hills that OC has to offer. Some are so difficult that we have made them an option given that their insanity is nowhere matched on the Lifecycle. Depending on what option you choose or do not choose the ride is 73 miles, however if you decide to go balls to the walls and complete it in its entirety you’ll get a pat on the back from our TRL (Training Ride Leader) Ed while you are nursing you burning legs in the parking lot as you ponder how you survived the grueling 81 Mile tour. After you finish, have pride because you are almost done!!! Just two more rides left!!! And they will be easy … um … in comparison, that is!

Optional hills, eh? If you know anything about me by now, you know it I am always up for a crazy cycling challenge. So, of course I was in and so was the hubs. The first optional climb was challenging, but nothing to write home (or blog home) about. In Southern California we have some pretty hilly terrain and I don't shy away from a climb, so I was pretty well prepared and climbed it with little difficulty.

Next climb was a whole 'nother story. I had heard it was steep, that concerned me. I can do long, but steep is hard. I am not a confident "out-of-the-saddle" climber since the accident, so steep grades can be even more challenging while in the saddle. Let me tell you, it was S.T.E.E.P.! There were 4 of us climbing the hill together, of course I was the only chik! (Girl power!) One of the guys had a Garmin that calculated grade. He said as one point it read 16.5% grade, THEN he had to get out of the saddle because it got steeper and couldn't read the Garmin. I had to lean over my handlebars and get real low so my front tire wouldn't pop up. My Mt. Biking skills (although rusty) helped me a lot here. We were reward with an awesome view title, Top of the World.

Top of the World - Laguna Beach
The ocean is out there, but we had some fog.

Pinky and I - yes, I am a huge dork, but check out that awesome jersey...

Of course the decent was awesome. One of my fellow cyclist said that another team member rode the decent last year and he rode his breaks the whole way down and busted a tube due to the heat created from the breaks rubbing against the metal rim. The whole time down I was like "don't ride the breaks", "Oh I need to break but don't ride the breaks"... I ended up clocking over 43 MPH, a new record for me! But that was nearly a challenging as what would be next...3rd Street. I grabbed this photo off the internet because I was thinking of pictures when I rode upon it. This was my view.

I really don't feel like the photo gives it justice. I actually un-clipped and said (this is very embarrassing) "Marc, I am scared". I was so close to walking my bike down the hill. I knew there was no way i could walk down the hill in my cycling shoes, so riding was my only option. Marc told me to just hold on to my breaks and I would be okay. I got behind my saddle (so I would have more weight on the back tire) and held on for dear life. Once again, mt. biking skills to the rescue. I really thought I might go over the front end it was that steep. But I made it. I would do that steep climb 3 times before I would ride down 3rd street again.

The last five miles were BRUTAL! I was spent and a head wind didn't help. I actually had to take a nap after the ride. It has been a very long time since a ride has wiped me out like that.

Pinky and I will only have 2 short rides this week before the big ride. I am driving up my bike to San Francisco on Thursday and won't see her until the big ride on June 5th. Absence make the heart grow fonder...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Funny & More

Here is a sign I saw on my road trip through Utah. It was, ummm...startling, especially considering the conservative nature of Utah. I thought I would share.

Here is "the More" section.
Today I weighed myself. I hate to weigh myself and don't do it often. In the past I have become very obsessed with the number and to be honest, it kind of makes me nutty. But today I did it and found that I am 1.6lbs away from my goal weight for ALC. ALC is 2 weeks away, so it is very possible that I can get to my goal. But this is the point where I always seem to sabotage myself. I eat bigger portions, because I am so close I can "afford" to, and tend to snack a little more. My goal for the next few weeks is to not do anything different. Stay on the same path that got me here.

Am I crazy? Does anyone else do this?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ride of Silence

Yesterday the Ride of Silence a ride honoring those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways.

Even though the ride was yesterday, I think it is important to mentioning and something we should think about it year round.

The Ride of Silence...

Tonight we number many but ride as one
In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons
With helmets on tight and heads down low,
We ride in silence, cautious and slow
The wheels start spinning in the lead pack
But tonight we ride and no one attacks
The dark sunglasses cover our tears
Remembering those we held so dear
Tonight's ride is to make others aware
The road is there for all to share
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride

To view a list of who we ride in honor of, visit

Please be careful out there and ALWAYS wear a helmet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

93 Mile Training Ride Recap

As some of you may know, on June 5th I (along with 3000 of my closest friends) will be embarking on an 545 mile cycling adventure. AIDS/Lifecycle is a charity ride starting in San Francisco and 7 days later arriving in Los Angeles. We will average 86 miles a day with our longest day being 106.1 mile and the shortest (our rest day) 40.2 miles. Every night we will camp at a new location as we travel down the state of California. It is a pretty remarkable fully supported ride, some call it a moving city. Each night we have camp with hot meals, showers and bike storage. We are allowed one bag that they will transport for us and of course each day is on the road is supported with sag vehicles, pit stops, medics and mechanics.

I am sharing this experience with my hubs, Marc, and my bestie, Molly. We are Team William Grant, named after Marc's employer who is helping us with fundraising. If you read my blog, you know that the hubs and I have been riding together for several years. We have completed a few MS150s (150 miles in 2 days) and centuries together. Molly is a newbie and decided to jump in with both feet!

Team William Grant

On Saturday we had a really fun ride organized by Team OC, our training group out of Orange County. We met at the Irvine train station and drop off a bag with a change of clothes and grabbed a route sheet. We rode 93 miles to Pizza Port in Solana Beach where our change of clothes was waiting along with U-haul trucks to take our bikes back to Irvine. The Pizza Port is across from the train station, so after some well deserved pizza and beer, we jump on the train and ride home. When we get back to Irvine, volunteers have unloaded our bikes (which are cover with blankets and lovingly cared for). The ride is supported with 2 SAG vehicles and 4 pit stops with yummy treats and water.

Started the ride at the Irvine Metro Link station and headed west through the flatlands of Irvine.

Turned north and headed uphill through Tustin and up Jamboree into Orange before turning into Santiago Canyon.

At the southeast end of Santiago, the group turned north and up, up, up to the top of Live Oak Canyon Road before descending into Live Oak Canyon. After a ridiculously steep climb out of the canyon, we wound up on the suburban streets of Rancho Santa Margarita.

After the 30 mile warm-up through two, tough canyon sections, we turned up the pace and barreled down Antonio Parkway on through Mission Viejo and onto Ortega Highway on our way to San Juan Capistrano.

After hitting the coast, the group turned south down the Pacific Coast and headed toward Dana Point and San Clemente. After a brief pit stop to fix a flat, we took a break at a coffee shop in Dana Point and headed into the hills of San Clemente.
As we left San Clemente behind, we headed into San Onofre State Beach and onto the military base, Camp Pendleton.

At the gates of the base, we were met with an ID check and a nasty headwind. The relatively quiet roads of the military base gave way to the busy streets of Oceanside and Carlsbad at the south end of the base.

After the last pit stop (and the most amazing PB and banana sandwich) on the south end of Carlsbad, about a dozen of our fellow riders left as a group and made our way towards Encinitas and finally onto Solana Beach. This is where I saw my life flash before my eyes (a little dramatic) as I was almost decapitated by some balloons attached to a real estate sign. As I turn the corner a gust of wind blew the balloons into my path and the ribbons intersected my neck. I dragged the sign several feet. Luckily I have pretty good bike handling skills and was able to loose the balloons without loosing my bike! Whew!

After a brief stop at the pizza check-in, we hit the outskirts of Solana Beach and the last, moderate climb before our goal, Pizza Port, came into view.

After enjoying a few slices of pizza and a few beers with friends, we ambled across the street and onto our train that would take us right back to the place we started the 93 mile ride 7 1/2 hours earlier.

This Saturday is our last long training ride, 73 miles and then we will taper. I know that I can do any one day of the route, but stringing them all together causes a little concern. What I have to watch for is starting to fast out of the gate. I am SOOOO competitive that I know it is going to kill me to let other pass me in order to pace myself. I didn't have this issue with running, because I know that I am not the strongest runner. I accept that others work harder at running than I do. This is NOT the case with cycling. I will KILL myself in order to keep with a cyclist (especially another woman) that I feel I should be able to ride with.

Have you ever wasted yourself at the beginning of a race due to ego?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Minnie Rae Winner!

Congrats to ltlindian, the winner of the Timbuk2 Minnie Rae! She is luck number 11, selected by

Thank you to all of you who entered! We had lovely 29 comments.

ltlindian - please email me at shannon (at) toughchik (dot) com with your shipping address and I will send you your bag!

Thank you again and have a wonderful week!