After a short evening of partying at the Ratatouille wrap party I went back to the hotel on Saturday night to try and catch a few hours of sleep. The revelers coming back at 02.30 woke me up, but that was a small price to pay for not having to trek back to the East Bay overnight. At 04.00 I woke up and got dressed to meet Chris at his hotel at about 04.30. I went next door where the after party was still going on and said my fairwell to the people still in suits and quite wasted from the party and after-party. It was a little surreal seeing all the people partying and a little saddening knowing I gave that up on purpose, but it’s for a better cause. I walked across the street and waited on Chris to come down to the lobby where we then got a cab over to the Cow Palace. We arrived amongst the throngs of people and took our bags over to gear truck I. After that we went into the building and got some breakfast. It was small and I wasn’t too hungry at the time, but I knew I’d need some fuel in me to get through the day. We then met up with Sal and Kevin in the hallway. After waiting around for the opening ceremonies to end we were allowed into our bikes and then we got to wait around for a little longer before we could queue up and walk around the building. As we were rolling out we saw Colin and Andrew in their suits cheering us on. It was awesome that they came out to see us off after being up all night to party. As we rode out we were once again in a big mass of riders taking up the entire side of the street we were on. It’s the only time that we purposefully break the single file rule so that we can all get on the road in a timely manner. I skipped the first rest stop as it was pretty close to the start (7 miles or so) and it looked like a mad house. The distances seemed a little shorter this year so far and I quickly found myself at the water stop next to the reservoir. I rode out from there with Tia and we just did a steady pace up CA-35 towards Half Moon Bay. At the top we saw Ken and Kako drumming the taiko drums just like last year. There were some awesome strawberries and this peaunut butter and fudge brownie like thing that was to die for. Different this year was that at the top of the hill we didn’t get to continue down and into Half Moon Bay because of construction. We instead turned right and began a long climb up to around 2000’ of elevation, the new highest point on the ride. The climb reminded me of Mt. Diablo a bit, not too steep, just long. Eventually we got to Rest Stop 2 and it was jammed with riders. We only stayed long enough to tank up on food and water and hit the latrine before we were off again, climbing a bit until we got to the excellent downhill that took us to lunch. At lunch those of us that were around (Steve, Thomas, Chris, Tia, and I) got interviewed for a new recruiting video. It will be interesting to see if we get used in that, I’ll request one when they become available. Afterwards we all took off and stayed together. We had stayed a little longer than we wanted to at lunch so we kicked it into high gear and did the 20 miles to Rest Stop 3 in just at an hour. We only had a quick stop there and I realized I didn’t look at the cue sheet earlier, but the route was 10 miles longer than last year. After that we rode on and at some point I got tired enough to fall a little behind of the group. We rolled into Santa Cruz and I once again saw the woman holding the sign with her son on it and the words “Thank You”. I pulled over and gave her a hug and thanked her for coming out all day to show our support. I rode on through Santa Cruz and got to bike parking only a couple of minutes after the group. I thought I had seen them ahead of me but I had no idea I almost caught them. I got my gear and with Chris ate dinner then showered. I was worn out as this first day was much harder than last years. We both crashed pretty early, looking forward to our next day, the century ride (100+ miles).