Happy, rested, hopeful. The ribbons on her helmet bear silent witness to Ann's months of training and clean living. See any gnats or grit in those choppers? Nope. Not yet. Right now it's all good. There's something wonderfully uplifting about the day BEFORE the Ride begins. You've made your fundraising goals, dropped off your immaculate bike at the parking area, navigated the convoluted maze of the ALC process to find out your tent number and sleeping space, sat through the safety video, and dispersed any funds you have left over to those pan-handling for last minute donations on the steps out in front of the check-in tables. You're no longer begging for help but rather helping those who haven't made their nut. And like your bike, this is the last time you'll be squeaky clean for at least seven days and nearly 600 miles.
The first year we did this we stayed the night before with Lucky, a dear friend from San Miguel who has a home in the Oakland Hills. It was great seeing him but it also meant that we had to have a cab pick us up at 4 am to get to the USF Ride Out on time. The last two years we've spent the night before at the USF dorms. It's far more leisurely this way. We can pack, re-pack, re-pack again, try on various outfits—always sniffing the air outside to see how cold it is. And so here I am--somewhat lean, feeling only a little green. Note the Starbucks Double Shot on the bedside table.