ALC 6, Day 2: Santa Cruz to King City

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Leaving Santa Cruz Support from Santa Cruz

The scene riding out of camp in Santa Cruz on Day 2 (Monday).

In many places along the route, people stood outside watching the riders and cheering us on. It was a total surprise to me that people would do that and it really felt great. Just outside of camp in Santa Cruz, a Mom and her two daughters had signs and were cheering for us as we went by.

Ugly Mug Tom and Madan

In Soquel, just east of Santa Cruz, a coffee shop called the Ugly Mug serves free coffee to the riders and puts out speakers and plays dance music. It's quite the scene for 8 in the morning in this normally sleepy little coastside town. This stop is extremely popular among riders who don't like the coffee they serve in camp - as are a number other coffee shops along the way.

We stopped at a nice park in Salinas for lunch. Here, my friends Tom and Madan after lunch (Photo: Bob Katz).

A couple of rather unpleasant things happened right after lunch (no pictures of them). My friend Neil fell while riding just in front of me. Neil broke a rib and was unable to finish the ride. And, the ALC safety patrol (a tripped-out Subaru) was set up around a corner where the riders were turning right, and most of us were not coming to a complete stop. The safety monitors issued over 500 citations to riders that day. I had a nice orange citation waiting for me on my bike seat the first thing the next morning.

Who is Whiter? Bob Katz at Soledad

A little game called "Who Is Whiter?" at one of the afternoon rest stops on Day 2. I met Andrew on orientation day when he and his wife Liz needed a lift from the Cow Palace back to their bed and breakfast, about 4 or 5 blocks from my place. Former residents of San Francisco, they had come all the way from Toronto to do the ride. Then first night in camp, who should turn out to be in the tent next door but Andrew and Liz. I ran into them a lot of times during the week and they were really great people to get to know.

Back to "Who Is Whiter?" I had a pretty good tan on my arms and legs due to all the time I had spent training. Andrew was going on about how pale he was and I told him that under my jersey, I was probably even whiter. He didn't believe me until we pulled up our jerseys.

The next rest stop was at Mission Soledad, where bears were serving otter pops. It was pretty hot as we got closer to King City, and the ice cold otter pops were a great snack. Thanks, guys! Go, bears!

Otter Pop Guy Soledad Mission

One of the bears passing out otter pops at the Mission.

In addition to making its parking lot available to ALC as a rest stop, the Mission Soledad community opens the church up to riders and roadies who want to take a quiet moment. It's a beautiful little church and I was glad they opened it up to us.

Altar Cloth at Soledad Altar Cloth at Soledad

I was even more glad to find out that there was a white altar cloth and Sharpies on the altar. The altar cloth was put out with the intention of letting riders and roadies write remembrances of friends and loved ones with HIV. The church would use the altar cloth in services the following week. I wrote a little note from me and my friend Tom in New York to our beloved friend Ken S., who passed away in the late eighties, the first close friend I had die during the epidemic.

Another view of the altar cloth at Mission Soledad.

Soledad Me with Cookie Lady

The pretty Mission grounds.

There is a great unofficial rest stop near the end of Day 2, about 85 miles into it. A woman sets up a table and gives out cookies to the riders, one big, delicious cookie per rider. She is affectionately known as the Cookie Lady. What makes the Cookie Lady really special is that she has made all of those cookies by hand - 2,300 of 'em. There's a lot of love in those cookies!

In Love With Cookie Lady DMV Stop

My friend Bob took this shot of me laughing with the Cookie Lady. Gotta love it (and her)! (Photo: Bob Katz)

The last rest stop on long Day 2 was really clever. The guys set up a parking lot as a DMV facility, complete with a set at which you could get your driver's license picture taken...

Eye Exam King City Station

... and another station at which you had to get your eyes examined. After riding almost 200 miles by that point, I was ready to get my head examined!

The park where we stayed at King City was built on the grounds of an old railroad station.

King City Camp

Here's what one of the camp sites looks like. Your tent location has a letter and a number, for example, my tent mate Martin and I had tent H88. When we got to camp, first we would look for the truck marked with a big H, pick up our bags there, then look for the campsite with a giant letter H, then find the location for tent 88 in the grid. Then we set up our tent at that location.

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