Tuesday, June 11, 2013

AIDS/Lifecycle 12 - An Unforgettable Journey - Lessons Learned

What did I learn while participating in this amazing experience and journey:

  1. I can do anything I set my mind to accomplish.
  2. People are interested in what I'm doing and want to help.
  3. Training and TONS of practice makes all the difference in performance.
  4. The human spirit is stronger than any challenge life can throw at us.
  5. People GENUINELY want to help out and love one another.
  6. Volunteers are unsung angels!
  7. Modesty has no place in medical semi-emergencies!  Male or female, they all get the same freaking training!
  8. A smile goes a LONG way to change someone's mood whether or not we see the result!
  9. Age is irrelevant! REALLY!
  10. Love really is stronger than ANYTHING!
I may continue to add to this list as time goes on, but that's it for now folks.  Thanks for following me, supporting me and reading my blog of the most amazing journey I have yet undertaken.


AIDS/Lifecycle 12 - An Unforgettable Journey - Day 7 & Closing Ceremonies

I peddled 63 miles and climbed 1,588 vertical feet today.

Over the course of the seven days, I peddled a total of 560 miles and climbed 27, 214 vertical feet. That's 2,00 feet shy of the elevation of Mount Everest.  Oh My Gawd!

Do you remember that milestone from day 4? Twenty million rider miles ridden over the course of twenty years of this event.  Well that is the equivalent to peddling 40 round trips to the moon!  Again, I say Oh My Gawd!

Today was a bittersweet day.  It was the final day to this amazing journey.  The route was relatively short comparing it to what I've traveled already and it was again, spectacular.  We rode along Pacific Coast Highway most of the say until we hit Santa Monica and then headed inland to West Los Angeles for the finish line.

We began the day arriving at our bikes to find eggs on each and every of the 2,200 or so bicycles.  These are little gifts from the "Chicken Lady," Ken.  He and his little chicks place these on every bike after the Candlelight Vigil the previous night.  Each egg contained a lifesaver candy and the following message:
What did we ride for?
If it was not to make life less difficult for the ones we love, then we rode in the memory of the ones we lost.
Love, Chicken Lady, ALC12

I started early again because as we traveled down Pacific Coast Highway. We had to dodge beach goers and surfers who for the most part aren't looking out for us.  Cars and RV's were parked along most of the route.  Surfers and bathers were finishing up and beginning their trek to or from the beach and this added some interesting obstacles from time to time.

We passed through Point Mugu Naval Base, Point Mugu State Park, Leo Carrillo State Beach, all of Malibu and a portion of the Santa Monica Beach path. Dodging pedestrians is NOT fun and can be quite dangerous!

I rode strong and steady at my usual pace and stayed ahead of most of the cyclists all day long.  The only semi-disappointing thing about that was that as I crossed the finish line there were only a few hundred people cheering me over the line as opposed to thousands as it got closer to 3:00pm.  I think I finished around 1:30pm.

Although I enjoyed the journey and the physical and mental challenge, I was more than ready to return home.  My butt is sore and worn from being on that bicycle saddle for so many miles and days.  I'm tired of slathering on sunblock and chap-stick and feeling like a greased pig.  I want to take a shower in my own shower and sleep in my own bed!

We waited for a friend from Palm Springs to cross the finish line and watched the closing ceremonies before we headed out.  Of course we HAD to stop at In n Out Burgers again on the way home...

Will I do it again?  You betcha!  In fact, I've registered for next year already...

I'm not used to seeing an empty rest stop parking.  Wow!

Or an empty lunch stop parking...

Lunch crowd...err, well, small crowd anyway...

Not too shabby for 49 and after peddling over 500 miles..

OMG, I actually did it!!!!!!!!!
Rey Rey basking in our accomplishment of the week...
Rey Rey ready to go home NOW! But wait, we have more to do darn it!

Our beloved Roadies leading the closing ceremonies.  WE COULD NOT DO THIS RIDE WITHOUT THEM!!! They are the true angels and miracle workers.  Some of the teams are: Route set up and clean up, Camp set up and breakdown, Four Rest Stops, Lunch, Food Servers for Breakfast and Dinner, Sweep Vehicles, Moto Safety, Medical Sweep Vehicles, Medical teams at every stop, Chiropractic and Massage teams, Camp Store, Camp Hospitality and ALC Staffers.
Positive Peddler Dedication Banners. These are left in a dedication tent all week for cyclists and roadies to honor those that have passed over from this pandemic
A small portion of the rather large crowd amassed for the finish line and closing ceremonies

Rey Rey happy to be home...

AIDS/Lifecycle 12 - An Unforgettable Journey - Day 6

I peddled 90 miles and climbed 4,428 vertical feet today.

Today was a relatively easy, but long route.  We had one major climb at the beginning of the route, but comparatively easy considering some of the climbs we've already conquered. I like the long, gradual climbs because that is what we are used to in the desert.

I got an early start since I spent the night in a hotel with my honey Rey.  I was in camp ready to roll by 6:30am when the route opened.  It was AWESOME!  I felt like a rock star as I rolled into the rest stops with barely a bicycle to be seen. The slightly humiliating thing was that I spent the remainder of the day being passed by cyclists that roll so much faster that I do.  I average about 15 miles per hour.  I do my best to stay steady at that pace and I do a great job of it.

The route stayed along Highway 1 or the Pacific Coast Highway after the Gaviota pass.  It was a delicious, gorgeous and magical route with breathtaking vistas and waves crashing against cliffs, rocks and sand.  I constantly had the sound of waves crashing to listen to most of the day.  It was such a soothing and meditative experience. It was a natural high I will never forget!

We passed through Isla Vista, Goleta, Santa Barbara, Summerland, Carpinteria and then finally rolled down the coastline into Ventura Beach. It was such a gorgeous route today.  I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

As we rolled through Santa Barbara, we enjoyed the ocean crashing and the gorgeous beach as we rode along their oceanside bike path.  It was awesome!

And cooler still as we began to head out of Santa Barbara we hit the "Paradise Pit."  This is a pit stop that Santa Barbara throws for us.  Porta potties, water, washing stations and ice cream and organic cookies.  OMG, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  The City paid for it all.  What a generous and inspiring City to ride through!

Not bad for a politically conservative city if I do say so myself...

I was remarking to my partner Rey, that I got to see and experience parts of California that I would NEVER had seen or experienced had I not been on this amazing journey.  I really enjoyed every, EVERY second of this crazy, challenging ride.

Here is a moving testimonial as to why we ride and continue to work to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. We never know how we may touch others during this event just from our participation and commitment. This is from a teammate of mine in the desert.  It is VERY touching!  And yes, he gave me permission to share it...

From Phillip Large of Rancho Mirage:
On the sixth day of the ride I hit one of those divots in the road and chomped on my front tooth losing a veneer and cracking my tooth. I caught it in my mouth and biked to lunch with it. Sitting at lunch all I could think of is every photo at the finish and the party that night will have me and my hillbilly face. So after lunch I went in search of a drug store to buy tooth glue. When I came around the corner from the park there just happened to be a dentist on the 2nd floor. So I hiked up there with the bike, explained the situation and the dentist says, "just come in and let me see." 20 minutes later he fixed the tooth and replaces the veneer with me still in my bike kit, cleats, sweating and all. 
I thanked him over and over and went to pay but he refused to take payment. He said that he appreciated what we all were doing and wished me the best on my ride. And then he walked away. I was floored with his kindness. It's an ALC experience that I'll always remember. And I'm smiling right now just thinking about it. 
I was so jazzed coming out of lunch and the dentist that I biked on a high like no other. I was just full of confidence because of one person's kindness. Sometimes its hard to see beyond our 'love bubble' and are we making a statement that last long after we ride through towns? This man looks forward to the Ride every year. He wanted to hear my stories from the road while he fixed my tooth. We really do touch people along the route. Some like Dr. Sturgeon make an amazing impact. I'm sure he's still telling his next patient 'you won't believe what rode into my dental office just this weekend.' 
I am sending Dr. Sturgeon a special letter and photo today. My sister in Florida actually found his email and wrote him thanking him for taking care of her brother. (my sister is a dental hygienist) The Dentist wrote back "I look forward to the ALC coming through our town every year. I'm glad I could put a smile on your brother's face when he crosses that finish line." and it went on... What an amazing person. There were many like him everywhere on this Ride.
The end of the day culminated in a delicious ride along the Ventura Bike path, dinner at In n Out Burgers with my honey, a shower in a real shower and then returning to camp for the Candlelight Vigil at dusk assisted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  It was a perfect ending to a perfect day!

The rest of this post will be a pictorial blog...

Bike Parking

Rest Stop Character with Rey Rey

Cool Rest Stop Character

Rest Stop Characters and Rey Rey

The purple people greeters.

Rest Stop Character and Rey Rey

No words needed

Rest Stop Character, me and Rey Rey

Angel or Devil???  Which am I?  Do I have to choose?...

The "Vanna White pose" with Rey Rey

Yes, the ride was both!

Rey Rey and I adored this woman!

The infamous Ginger Brewlay at Paradise Pit.

A panorama of Tent City, about 1,000 tents... 
A tiny chunk of the massive dining tents

Me and My honey enjoying the vigil

Monday, June 10, 2013

AIDS/Lifecycle 12 - An Unforgettable Journey - Day 5 - aka Red Dress Day

I peddled 43 miles and climbed 2,245 vertical feet.

Here are some interesting statistics concerning AIDS/Lifecycle 2013:

Oldest Participant:                            82
Youngest Participant:                       18
Number of States Represented:        44, including Washington, D.C.
Number of Countries Represented:  18
Average of Calories Burned Daily:  3,410
Eggs Consumed:                              44,600
Pounds of Pasta:                               18,800
Portable Toilets:                                1,100
Packets of "Butt Balm":                    18,000

I thought today would be an easy day considering the mileage was listed at 42. The dirty little secret about today was that we had two long, steep climbs, two short, steep climbs and one long gradual climb.  And I thought I'd get a break today...Ha!

The good news was that most of the day was peppered with outstanding coastal views from the hills just east of the coast.  Simply breathtaking!

Today is the infamous Red Dress Day aka Dress in Red Day as it was originally dubbed!  I say they called it the Dress in Red Day because it was 42 miles of hellacious hills and climbing!  LOL

Besides the challenging route, this was a day for fun and relative relaxation.  I got a VERY late start and got caught in cyclists traffic getting out of town.  It took me over an hour to proceed 3 miles past camp.  Kinda like a cyclist rush hour.  No fun as you have to keep clipping and unclipping as you inch forward slowly.

After getting out of town and on the route it was all about the amazing costumes and creativity that people put into their outfits.  I took no less than 200 pictures today.  Yes, I took that many!  I've only posted a smattering of them here below.

The best part of the day is that my honey, Rey, showed up today to meet me at the finish line!  He was all dolled up in red in the spirit of the day with bubble gun in hand and blowing a whistle.  I about fell off my bike when I saw him and boy was I glad to see him!

Not only did I get to spend the rest of the ride with Rey, but we spent the last two nights in hotels.  This type of accommodation on the AIDS/Lifecycle is better known as "Princess-ing it." It was great to use a real shower, toilet and sleep in a cozy soft bed and snuggle with my honey.  I woke up more refreshed with less sleep than the previous four nights.  Go figure...

Like before, the rest of this post will be pictorial.  Especially here, a picture's worth a thousand words...

Tent City turning red...

You know who...

CEO Lorrie Jean and Rey Rey

What a bod!

Aren't they CUTE!

Sexy, SEXY boy doing naughty things with Rey Rey

Another sexy beast

I wanted to kiss this cook!

Cutie patootie

Awesome duo!

More sexy beasts

Yet, another cutie patootie

Miss Thang

Sexy Firemen...err, well sort of firemen...

What a bod, huh?

Even Rey Rey had on his red today!