Updated: Jun 3
With four badass women from the Velo Girls, plus my studly spouse, Howard Rose, I rode 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles with AIDS/LifeCycle to help fight health injustice and HIV. I also raised $5,600 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Here's my chronicle of what turned out to be a pretty epic adventure.
TL;DR: The video of our finish, courtesy of our magical media maven, Eugenia Leong:
Table of Contents
Training & Fundraising
Back in October of 2021, I got a wild hair and decided to give the 2022 AIDS/LifeCycle a try. In addition to improving my cycling fitness, I wanted to support two causes that are near and dear to my heart: health justice and HIV eradication.
Indeed, one reason I left academia, back in the day, was so that I could help translate basic behavioral science research into effective HIV prevention. (Here's a book I coauthored on the topic.)
So I put out a call to my cycling team, the Velo Girls, to see if anyone wanted to join me. Eight women signed up. Despite my complete lack of experience, I became a co-captain of this team and put together a training plan, which piggybacked on the Velo Girls' Cinderella Century training series. In addition, we either created or joined another ALC team's rides on Sundays, as well as worked out on our own during the week. Over six months, we logged some 2,000 miles and 123,000 feet of climbing in training, not including our individual workouts.
We also each raised at least $3,000. My peeps came out strong, contributing more than $5.6 K. THANK YOU, DONORS, for making my ride possible! As part of my fundraising, I also conceived of and sold a cycling jersey that commemorated two recently passed LGBTQIA+ icons: Betty White and Julia La Gata Fantastica, our dearly departed little-old-lady-cat. Our Velo Girls coach, Lorri Lee Lown, made this sweet opportunity possible with her connections at Eliel Cycling. She and Eugenia also designed fundraising jerseys, which I was proud to sport during the ride.
To top off my preparation, twice a week I did strength training with the inimitable Charlene Myers-Sponholtz, proprietor of Jockgirl Enterprises and my personal muscle-mama. She proved to be not only a deep fount of training wisdom, but also a rock of emotional support. Get yourself a trainer who celebrates your gains even more than you do!
Meet the Team
When you spend every weekend day together for six months, pushing yourselves to your physical limits, you get to know a person. I think the best part of training for and doing ALC was getting to know this diverse, hard-driving, hilarious group of women. In the end, five of us, plus my husband, Howard, made it to the start line on June 5. We are:
Nickname. Abracadabra, because she magically disappears to the front of the pack in a Doppler shift of strength and grace
Superpowers. Speed for days; kind support of her teammates; making the best thank-you-cards
Quote. [in response to any awestruck observation of her speed] "You're out here doing it, too!"
Nickname: Denise da Beast, because she encourages pootling, yet never pootles herself
Superpowers: Droll British witticisms; strong kick despite COVID cough
Quote: "It's just a big fuck-off artichoke in the middle of a piece of bread."
Nickname: Ellen the Felon, because she's so fast, it's criminal
Superpowers: Lovable kookiness; ability to climb mountains without even breathing harder
Quote: [as she nonchalantly glides past you on some brutal climb] "So, what's up?"
Nickname: 'Uge, because her strength is HUGE
Superpowers: Drawing on her previous ALC experience to lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; operating many cameras at once while riding, and then promptly sharing media
Quote: "We're overtraining."
Nickname: The Adequate Witch of the South, née Alana Lee from Tennessee
Superpowers: Navigating us to all the "nicest" places; overtraining
Quote: "I'm gonna take it easy today." (Video from Day 7 by Eugenia)
Nickname: Alana's husband
Superpowers: Pitching tents; high whine tolerance
Quote: "Snout first. Questions later."
Nickname: Mina the Queena, because she rules us with her charm and athleticism
Superpowers: Being a good mom and going to her son's high school graduation instead of riding ALC; gorgeous social media posts
Quote: "Country roads, take me home...."
Day 1: Wet-n-Wild
Route. San Francisco to Santa Cruz, 82 miles, 4.7 K feet of climbing
How it started. Although California is in its worst mega-drought in 1,200 years, buckets of rain greeted us as we rolled out of the Cow Palace, following a moving opening ceremony. Denise da Beast took off like a scalded dog with ears laid back, not to be seen again til Santa Cruz. Abby was also way out front, riding with her very speedy partner, John.
I like riding in the rain, so I didn't pay the weather much mind until our first descent, when I realized that my rim brakes were slipping on my wet wheels. Nothing like riding with iffy brakes in a pack of 2,400 people!
The Day 1 rain planted the seed for another hazard: Saddle sores. As it turns out, grinding on a wet chamois for 8+ hours isn't good for ye olde undercarriage, as many of us would discover in subsequent days....
My body: Although my right knee has been a problem child for many years, I had never had a problem with my left knee. Yet on the morning of Day 1, I noticed that my left knee didn't feel quite right—like the kneecap was slightly out of its groove.
I didn't think much of it until, 20 miles into the ride, as I was cranking up the steep climb out of Pacifica, I felt a crunch-crunch-crunch-POP!!!! Next came a burst of bright, white stars of pain on the medial side of my knee. I couldn't stop on the climb, because there was no shoulder. Even slacking off the power wasn't an option because the grade was pretty steep. And so with every push of my left pedal, my knee hissed at me in pain.
At the top of the hill, I assessed the damage. What happened? Why? Was I not warmed up enough? Had my cleat or pedal somehow moved? Had I been so revved up with excitement that I tore something, like that time I swam so hard I tore the cartilage in my shoulder? Had I overtrained? Could I finish the ride? Could I finish the day? Why is my body such a shit-show? WOULD WE HAVE TO AMPUTATE?
My mind. I tried to calm down and get a grip on my situation. I have always easily sprained, torn, and dislocated my body parts. And so I reckoned that I should be happy that my meat suit had made it this far without imploding.
Settling into my discomfort, I also realized that I could enlist a different set of muscles to make my bicycle go. Digging into my right leg, I could lay off the left and give my knee some respite. Bicycles are magical that way.
I also let go of my vision of how my ALC ride would go. During our training centuries, our squad rode together in a peloton, and I guess I had assumed that we would do so on the ALC. But down one leg, I couldn't keep up with my speedy teammates. I wrapped my brain around a different experience: Riding down the coast of California by myself.
Our team. I had just made my peace with this scenario when I discovered Eugenia and Ellen waiting for me at the next rest stop, as they (plus, later, Denise) would for the rest of the week. Although I was mentally prepared to ride by myself, I was overjoyed that I didn't have to, after all.
How it ended. By the time we arrived in Santa Cruz, the skies had cleared. After connecting with Mr. Rose, who was kind enough to set up our tent, I went to the medical center, where a trainer had a look at my knee. She ran a Graston tool over it and told me to get it taped the next morning.
After a shower and dinner, I crawled into our tent, but couldn't sleep on account of the pain in my knee, the snores surrounding me, and some dudes getting it on in the tent next door.
Day 2: The Tailwinds of Mercy
Route. Santa Cruz to King City, 109 miles, 2.9 K feet of climbing
How it started. With about four hours of sleep under my belt, I met up with our team for breakfast in the dining tent. Day 2 is Safety Day, so everyone was wearing orange, my favorite color. The skies were a bit overcast, but not raining. I kept singing "I Can See Clearly Now" to myself.
The line for getting taped was long, and I wanted to try to ride with my team, so I skipped the taping and headed straight to the ride-out area. With more than 2,400 riders, just getting out of camp can take an hour. My knee was sore and swollen, but I figured I could just take it easy and then get it taped at lunch (ALC generously offers medical and massage services at lunch stops, as well as in camp).
The ride first took us through miles of homeless encampments. We riders were respectfully quiet, but I felt terrible about encroaching on people's living spaces. It was also heartbreaking to see just how many people are living in tents in one of the wealthiest regions of the world. I felt guilty knowing that the money I paid for my own gear and bike, a mid-level Bianchi Intenso, could cover a couple of months rent for one of these folks. What the hell kind of world are we living in?
My body. About 30 miles into the ride, we turned inland and found ourselves on extremely bumpy farm roads. With my knee compromised, I couldn't hover over my saddle, and so my skeleton—nay, my soul—got a thorough rattling. So did another part of my body: the skin on my backside. After marinating in the rain the previous day, my (and, it turns out, many other people's) derriere skin had degraded, making it vulnerable to abrasion and infection. I felt the beginnings of a bad end.
At lunch, I went to see a woman about a knee taping. The trainer, Cass, listened carefully to my tale, palpated my knee, and speculated that my kneecap had dislocated and, in so doing, had either torn my meniscus or pinched my plica. (An MRI later showed the problem to be two meniscus tears and a meniscal cyst.) To avoid further irritating the injury, Cass taped my knee in a way that kept my kneecap from drifting out of its groove. (I would visit Cass for taping two more times during the week.) Although not the most attractive accessory (my teammates kept chuckling about how my puckered knee resembled other anatomy), the taping allowed me to finish the ride.
Our team. After lunch, some righteously strong tailwinds found us. You can't really feel a tailwind on a bike, and so the cycling joke is that you either have a headwind holding you back or you are riding really fast. Indeed, we were averaging well above 20 mph on the flats without even breaking a sweat. Eugenia, Ellen, Denise, and I flew down the route together, pushing the pace, leapfrogging, and having a fantastic time. We were on quite the roll, passing a lot of folks, several who noted, "Wow, the Velo Girls are fast this year!"
The speed and camaraderie lifted my spirits and left me giggling to my myself for much of the ride. When we stopped at Rest Stop 4 for Otter Pops, though, we saw just how much help we were getting from the wind. We could barely stand up in the 30 mph gusts, which were blowing bikes off the racks.
How it ended. About 10 miles before the finish, there was a steep downhill where I am pretty sure I hit 50 mph (my bike computer had run out of juice, so I can't be sure, but having hit 48 mph before, I am pretty sure I was going faster). Riding like bats out of hell, we finished strong, and then wended our way to the campsite. Howard had finished long before, and was beaming about his fast ride on his new bike. I believe we all slept well that night.
Day 3: One-Legged Climbing
Route. King City to Paso Robles, 63 miles, 4.5 K feet of climbing
How it started. Having just ridden an 82- and 109-mile day, I woke up jazzed to ride only 63 miles. Sure, this day featured a climb called "Quadbuster," but Eugenia reassured us that it was nothing compared to the climbs we routinely tackled in training. I topped up my knee with a little duck tape and met the crew for a peaceful roll out.
My body. I'm not gonna lie: Starting out, my knee was really unhappy, and I wound up crying for the first seven miles, until we reached the secret artichoke rest stop. I then honed my one-legged climbing skills, sitting way back in my saddle and digging into my right glute. My left knee also limbered up, so that by the time we got to Quadbuster, I had no knee pain at all.
My backside, however, was another story. Between Day 1's wet chamois, Day 2's road vibrations, and Day 3's knee accommodations, my booty was taking a beating. I started riding in my drops to take the pressure off my rear end. Other riders shared that they were constantly rotating between hand positions to manage soreness and numbness, so at least I wasn't alone. When a rider asked for help with a flat at the summit of Quadbuster, I was all too happy for the excuse to hop off my bike and lend a hand.
My mind. The descent from Quadbuster was delicious, with the morning sun gilding the eucalyptuses and grasses. Having worked through my knee pain and figured out how to manage my butt blues, I felt euphoric and pretty much floated all the way to Paso Robles. I especially appreciated Rest Stop 2's Greek Goddess theme, not just because I loves me a good tunic, but also because they put lavender in the Port-a-Potties.
ROADIES! Speaking of rest stop themes: The real heroes of ALC are the roadies, the volunteers who not only put on the elaborately themed rest stops, but also serve meals, schlep gear, offer medical and massage services, build and break down camps, drive the SAG cars (which pick up riders who need a break), sign and signal the route, patrol on motorcycles, offer in-camp entertainment, and perform myriad other miracles that kept our spirits high, bodies intact, and routes safe. As the week wore on, my appreciation for these creative, energetic, and selfless souls (including my dear old friend Tia Barnard) grew and grew.
Our team. By Day 3, we Velo Girls had established a nice rhythm of eating meals together and meeting up at rest stops (except for Abby, who was pretty much leading the entire pack.)
How it ended. Day 3 turned out to be a hot one, with the temperatures climbing well into the nineties. With all my shuttlebum hijinks, I couldn't keep up with the Velo Girls. But for the last 10 miles, I leap-frogged with a young guy named Ryan. For the next three days, we somehow wound up riding together at the end of each day, which was a nice coda.
The campground at Paso Robles was my least favorite: a parking lot at the Midstate Fairgrounds. The high winds that kicked up in the late afternoon blew our tents all over, and we worried that we might altogether lose Denise in an airborne tent event. But the ALC crew sweetened the deal with bottomless root beer floats, and we found a shaded grove in which to stretch and kibbitz.
While Ellen and Eugenia beat themselves with sundry therapeutic implements, I fell asleep face down in the grass.
Day 4: Halfway to LA
Route. Paso Robles to Santa Maria, 91 miles, 4.7 K feet of climbing
How it started. After two days of inland pedaling, we broke hard right and headed for the coast. It was a perfect California day, with cool breezes, gorgeous ocean vistas, challenging climbs, and descents that just wouldn't quit.
Our team. We made steady progress until the halfway point, where groupthink sucked the brains right out of our heads and led us to stand in a photo line for an hour. The upside is we got a cute pic and checked out other teams' kits. The downside is that it made a long and hot day even longer and hotter. By the time we got to the picturesque lunch stop at the ocean, my body was starting to notice that it had just cycled some 300 miles. And It Had Opinions.
My body and mind. After lunch, my saddle sores started up their chorus of complaint, and my gratitude for the hundreds of ALC roadies grew with each mile as I focused on visions of Pop Tarts and Oreos of Rest Stops Future. I stopped looking at how many miles I had covered or had yet to go, and just kept telling myself:
"It can't be more than 15 miles to the next rest stop. Fun roadies in costumes will feed you yummy sweet things at the rest stop. You can do 15 miles. Anyone can do 15 miles."
I also leaned into some mantras I had developed during training and which I chanted over and over to distract myself from my misery: "I love hills!" "Yes, you can!" And others that aren't fit to print here. As it turns out, when you're tired and hurting, just saying short phrases to yourself, in rhythm with your pedal strokes, can hypnotize you into steady progress.
Just when my powers of self-hypnosis started to fail me, the kindness of strangers kicked in. We had been grinding through a long, monotonous stretch in the late afternoon heat when we came across a random family in rainbow flair holding a sign that said, "Welcome to SoCal!" I started weeping with gratitude. With my tears lubricating the gears, I was able to finish the day strong.
How it ended. The Santa Maria campground was a sweet little park. I took a hot shower. We had mac and cheese for dinner. That's all I remember before I passed out and slept like the dead for eight hours.
Day 5: The Love Bubble
Route. Santa Maria to Lompoc, 43 miles, 1.6K feet of climbing
How it started. Day 5 is Red Dress Day, when everyone wears red to so that our long column of riders resembles the HIV/AIDS memorial ribbon. And let me tell you: Folks stepped out and showed off.
We Velo Girls wore tutus with the red jerseys that Lorri designed. Many other teams opted for more elaborate outfits, including our fantastic gear roadies, who schlepped our bags every day from point to point. They honored the day in Handsmaid's Tale habits. (This was before the overturn of Roe v. Wade, and so was not completely terrifying.)
Others went in the opposite direction, sporting more revealing attire. What was impressive wasn't just the creativity and handicraft, but also the ability to cycle multiple miles in some of these getups.
My body and mind. With only 43 miles to go, I had extra energy with which to look around and take in the scene that had been building over the week. And I began to understand why people take this pilgrimage every year. It's not just that it's a beautiful, challenging, and safe bike ride. It's that you are rolling with a bunch of people who have been through a lot and come out the other side full of love. Most riders are LGBTQIA+. Many have lost loved ones to HIV. Quite a few are living with HIV themselves. And during the ride, many are dealing with injuries and fatigue.
Yet in the so-called ALC "love bubble," love indeed endures. I felt that love in so many ways: from the common courtesy that everyone showed by calling out while passing (in real life, cyclists often buzz by unannounced and unnervingly close); to everyone offering help with mechanicals; to bystanders lining the roadways, ringing cowbells, playing music, and saying, "Thank you for riding"; to our unflappable, unstoppable roadies, who effing Brought It all day, every day.
Our team. For me, the nexus of the love bubble was our Velo Girls team. I have never been a part of a group that worked so hard, so long, and so well together, with no drama, no quarrels, and no gossip. Zero. Only humor and good vibes.
I hesitate to write about this here, in case I jinx future teams. But if this happens only once in my life, I will still feel so blessed to have been a member of such a loving, fun, and positive team.
How it ended. A short day on the bike meant that our beloved roadies put even more effort and creativity into our rest stops and meals. The lunch theme, for example, was Squid Games, replete with ridiculous contests and elaborate sets. After a relatively leisurely day, we rolled into camp with plenty of time to stretch, nap, eat, visit, and watch the talent show.
Day 6: Keeping My Ass From Bursting Into Flame
Route. Lompoc to Ventura, 88 miles, 3.6 K feet of climbing
How it started. Waking up with a very tender bum, I decided to join the legions at a venerable ALC institution: "Butt Clinic." This is where you line up at 5:45 am outside the medical tent so that you can go behind a screen, drop trou, and bend over for a doctor to look at your beleaguered backside, diagnose why it is on fire, and then apply Tegaderm so that you can protect your wounds from infection and your comrades from the flames.
On this morning, the line was about 30 people deep. A nurse leaned out of the medical tent and said, "Okay, I need you to make three lines: The first is for people with musculoskeletal issues. The second is for people with internal issues. And the third is for Butt Clinic." In response, all 30 people stepped together into line 3, like we were doing the Electric Slide. Everyone laughed, and I was reminded of the Swedish saying, "Shared sorrow is half sorrow; shared joy is twice joy."
My body and mind. When my turn came, the kindly doctor smoothed a bandage on my lady junk. Then I was totally ready to party!!!!!!! (Insert maniacal laughter.) Despite this medical intervention, by lunch, my buttocks were threatening to burst into flame. To stave off disaster for myself, my team, and the picnic bench I was sitting on, I offered a prayer of supplication to The Goddess, which Eugenia captured on video:
The ALC organizers and onlooking citizenry must know that, by Day 6, we riders are feeling our feelings, because extra treats awaited us along the route. One oasis was Paradise Pit, an ice cream sundae shop set up in the middle of a median in Santa Barbara. I have never been so happy to see ice cream in my life. The goddess works in mysterious ways.
Another pleasant surprise awaited me down the road. A construction stop had separated
me from my team, and I was feeling very alone, tired, and uncomfortable. As I rolled past a cafe in Carpinteria, though, about 20 people sitting on the patio went nuts with cheering, whistles, and cowbells. I straight-up ugly-cried for the next few miles.
How it ended. Totally out of character, I said "no" to the full-on dance party the roadies staged at mile 72. Continuing down the coast to Ventura, I caught up with my finish-line buddy Ryan. That night, we all camped near the beach, with palm trees tickling the chin of the sky and waves shushing us to sleep.
Day 7: Chariots of Fire
Route. Ventura to Los Angeles, 70 miles, 2.2 K feet of climbing. WATCH OUR FINISH HERE (clip courtesy of Eugenia).
How it started. A funny thing happens after you've ridden 475 miles. Another 70 feels like no big whoop. A walk in the park. A cake walk, even. A cake walk in the park. Yeah! I vowed to take it easy.
We rolled out under overcast skies, passing first through an industrial sector and then through agriculture. I gleefully waved at farmworkers, who gleefully waved back. I pulled over to help with a messy flat (putting a tube in a tubeless tire) and then was on my way.
I caught up with our he-Velo Girl at a rest stop and snapped a photo for the holiday card we never send haha. After climbing mellow bike routes, we soon enough found ourselves riding in full-on LA traffic. An experienced city commuter, I felt bad for the many riders with little urban riding experience. It got hairy out there.
Team bodies and minds. My knee wasn't bugging me much, but Denise had developed a worrying cough. Throughout the week, riders had silently disappeared from the pack. We learned only after the ride that many had succumbed to COVID. In a couple of days, both Denise and Ellen would also test positive.
How it ended. Per LA's contract with The Goddess, the clouds burned away to reveal sunny azure skies. Despite some hacking from the Denise sector and fatigue all around, we made good time. Indeed, Ms. Uge started pushing the pace at the end. Howard waited for us and we all crossed the finish line together. Abby finished long before us, but we were able to catch up with her later and share snacks and laughs. Meanwhile, innocent bystanders were subjected to my and Ellen's victory dance, which Eugenia, who clearly has more RAM than any of us, captured for posterity:
And I, Alana Lee from Tennessee, now with a bad left knee, surprised myself entirely.
Would I do it again? Hell yeah! I've already registered for next year. Please consider supporting my 2023 ride.
Thank You, Donors!
Because of your generosity, I was able to complete this event and contribute $5,600 to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. These nonprofits will use your donations to fight HIV and, more broadly, health injustice.
I want to send extra-mondo thanks to Tia Barnard, who not only gave a honking-big chunk of change, but also served as a roadie and inspired me with her own ALC ride back when we first met. Thank you, Tia!
Carla & Allen Buchanan
Colin & Sheryl Kaye
David & Susan Gray
Dell matching gifts
Google matching gifts (thanks, Sundar!)
Hazel Rose Markus
In memory of Mimi Grossman
In memory of Ryan Kimberly
Lisa Perry Zyriek
Loren Jacobson & Moshe Rudelman
Lorri Lee Lown
Lucy Chester & Mark Huey
Marilyn Conner (thanks, Mom!)
Micron Technology matching gifts
Molly & Daisy Aronce
Paige & Joshua Harper
Phil Malone & Luci Herman
Susan McKnight & Bill Gallops
The Salesforce Foundation
Kit List & Comments
# and ITEM
1 5'9", 160 lb., 47-year-old female body
I have complaints, but I can't send it back. Gets me from one bad idea to the next, at least.
1 Bianchi Intenso
My sweet Brunita. I am not worthy.
1 Selle SMP TRK saddle
Worked well in training, but proved a little swampy on the ride
1 Apidura Backcountry top tube pouch
Waterproof & fits my snacks, sunscreen, mask, chamois butter, pump, inhaler, & multitool
1 Saddle pack flat kit
Brand is lost to history, with a spare tube, tire levers, and CO2 cartridge plus inflator
1 Bell helmet
A little heavy, but encased the brain
1 pair black SIDI SPD mountain shoes
We walked a lot at rest stops and in camp, so I appreciated the mountain sole
1 pair Specialized arch supports
Squeezed a bit more power out of my freakishly high arches
1 Wahoo Elemnt Roam
Solid bike computer. All errors were user-generated.
1 Deuter Act Lite 45+10 backpack
Just big enough for everything, but not so big that I brought too much
1 REI Halo 10+ women's sleeping bag
Snuggly, but too hot for the conditions
1 REI Lite Core Short self-inflating mattress
Quiet and doesn't require my lungs
1 Sea to Summit Aeros Premium pillow
Love this camping pillow. I wish I had also brought a stuff sack to use as a knee pillow.
3 Eliel Solana jerseys
Lightweight, skin-hugging goodnness. My favorite fitting jersey.
1 Cycology jersey
Cycology makes the most beautiful kit. A little less form-fitting than Eliel, though.
2 Pactimo Summit jerseys and 1 vest
Get the job done, but weirdly baggy arms
1 Voler ALC incentive jersey
Happy to flash our ALC branding, but this is my least fave jersey bc thick and bulky
1 Velocio Ultralight bib shorts
Lightweight with a well-placed chamois and drop tail, but the waist stitching can scratch
1 Pearl Izumi PRO bib shorts
Soft, yet compressive with a drop tail; probably by faves
1 Eliel El Capitan bib shorts
Also good, though I wish they were bio-bibs
2 Pactimo bib shorts
Also good, though I wish they were bio-bibs
1 7Mesh WK3 bib shorts
Bio-bibs with a terrific chamois, but they bunch a bit at the crotch
1 The Black Bibs shorts
Budget-friendly, but the chamois catches on my saddle
7 pairs Hidden Comfort low-cut socks
Someday, I may graduate to proper cycling socks.
4 pairs Pearl Izumi Women's Divide gloves
My faves; lightweight, unpadded, & full-fingered, they keep out the sun, my #1 goal
3 pairs Pactimo Women's Ascent gloves
Great colors and padding, but a bit bulky. Also, I prefer full-fingered for sun protection.
4 pairs Pactimo sun sleeves
Yaaassss! They protect my shockingly pale skin without adding too much heat
1 red tutu
For Red Dress day
7 Outdoor Voices bras
Keeps the team harnessed
2 Title 9 sports dresses
First Aid kit and toiletries
The usual, plus extra blister patches. SPF 60 sunscreen was also a must.
2 t-shirts and men's boxers
Petzl head lamp
For peeping at night
I brought some weenie one that wasn't nearly powerful enough
My phone, a Samsung Galaxy S10
Because I am a troglodyte & refuse to upgrade
Mini foam roller and rubber ball
To take care of my muscles
Super useful for hanging kit outside of tent to dry before packing it away
7 plastic jersey bags
Cycling clothes often come in sealable bags, which I use to pack each day's kit
WHAT TO ADD NEXT TIME
How the hell did I forget this?
Protein recovery drinks
There was not enough plant-based protein for us vegetarians, so I will bring my own
I Am Becoming no-ride shorts
For all the public stretching in camp
Nitecore NB10000 battery pack
So that I can actually keep my phone and bike computer charged
Goal Zero Nomad solar panel
The charging tent was often crowded, but the sun was abundant
To stretch and roll on. Sharing blankets with 2000 other sweaty people was a bit gnarly
Lots of things go bump in the night
Stuff sack pillow
For my knees
WHAT TO LEAVE BEHIND
GU and other on-bike snacks
There are snacks a-plenty at the rest stops