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Mojo Slim 06-10-09 10:31 PM

San francisco to los angeles - 7 days - serialized
I recently (May 31-June 6) completed my 5th AIDS/LifeCycle ride from SF to LA to raise money for AIDS services, education and awareness. I have enjoyed others' ride reports "from the road" and thought I would try one. Because I couldn't actually do it "from the road", I will do it two days at a time over the next four days. Hope you all find it interesting.

First, the stats. 2150 riders were prepared to ride 560 miles in 7 days. We each had to get at least $3000 in donations. Get this: $10.5 Million were raised.

My wife, a friend and I left for the Cow Palace from Lincoln CA (above Sacramento) on Saturday May 30th for "Day 0", orientation, tent assignments, etc. We arrived at the pre-arranged noon and met four other riders. All of us are retired California Chief Probation Officers. Here we are, that's me in the middle:

After getting all our business done, we repaired to the local Marriott and eventually met in the lobby for carbo loading: pizza, beer and wine. Hmmmm good. We got a bit rowdy, but no one seemed to mind.

Up in time for all of us to get to the Cow Palace by 5:30. After a brief opening ceremony, we all went to our bikes to get started. At the ceremony, I ran into Pete/Taxi777, who, if reading this, is welcome to comment and correct.

Because I ride quite a bit, I wasn't concerned about being able to ride every mile of this event, but my leg had been bothering me and I didn't feel in as good shape as last year. This is a ride, not a race, and one can ride at one's own pace, which makes it all very casual.

The doors of the Exhibit Hall open at 6:30am and 2150 riders start out on what for many, is and will be an epic adventure. The seven of us (one of the Chiefs has a female tentmate, and my female friend is with us, too) try to stay together as we walk our bikes for a few feet. I swing my leg over the saddle, click in and my chain falls off. Of course, my daughter, grandson and in-laws are right there to see it and get pictures. As last year, I have lost my posse before leaving the parking lot.

I caught up with the two ladies after a mile or so and the others before the first rest stop. It was a very foggy morning, and the roads were wet. There were many flat tires. We estimated 20 (that we saw) before lunch.

Because we all started at essentially the same time, it is a bit crowded and the pace is slow. Some riders try to pass long lines of cyclists by going out into the vehicle lane, a practice frowned upon and one that would later earn us all a reprimand.

The only real hill of the day comes at about mile 23. Highway 92 to Half Moon Bay. I'm actually feeling pretty good, but it doesn't make any difference because there is so much traffic and so many bicycles and minimal shoulder, there is little chance to pass. I just settle in and grind up the hill.

The 5 of us regroup at the top of the hill and start a long, smooth descent, followed by some rollers on the coast. Lunch is at San Gregario State Beach, with a nice over-look of the water. After lunch there is a bit of a hill, but after that, it's pretty much small bumps and tailwinds all the way to Santa Cruz. Bike traffic has thinned and riding is a kick.

Because of the slow-going before lunch, my average speed was only 13.7 at the end of the day, but this next 30 miles is an easy 18-20 mph, without drafting (which we not supposed to do). Not far out of Santa Cruz, we see the Pie Lady. She is there every year with pie for every rider. Amazingly, all 5 of us pull up for pie within 2 minutes of each other. I always have the apple. Hmmm good.

We pull into Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz, all together. It is the first year, for two of our group. Congrats are given all around. We park our bikes, grab our duffel bags and tents from the gear trucks, put up the tents, take a hot shower and soon make our way to dinner, twice. 82 miles down. I felt fresh and my legs were fine, so far.

We later (on Day 4) learn that there was a very serious accident at mile 13 today. As of this writing, the rider has not yet regained conciousness. Bike riding can be dangerous. But a more uplifting story. The duffel bag of my female friend split open in transit. Some friends of another rider (she didn't know the rider or friends) went to a nearby Costco to get her another one. None could be found. They went to another store, bought a duffel and would not let my friend pay them for it! She cried.

More to come . . . .

taxi777 06-11-09 12:14 PM


Originally Posted by Mojo Slim (Post 9080921)
I recently (May 31-June 6) completed my 5th AIDS/LifeCycle ride from SF to LA to raise money for AIDS services, education and awareness. I have enjoyed others' ride reports "from the road" and thought I would try one. Because I couldn't actually do it "from the road", I will do it two days at a time over the next four days. Hope you all find it interesting.

Up in time for all of us to get to the Cow Palace by 5:30. After a brief opening ceremony, we all went to our bikes to get started. At the ceremony, I ran into Pete/Taxi777, who, if reading this, is welcome to comment and correct.

Hey Slim!:)

I'm always hiding in my "Safe Zone" over in the Northern California forum, but I just came across your post while lurking here. It was great to see you again this year...maybe next year we should hang out more. It is kind of a whirlwind and I loose track of people. Anyway heres my day one:

$10M for AIDS/HIV prevention, treatment, education and more. Over 2150 cyclists rode their hearts out. It was a pretty tough week for myself. Riding fixed gear really put me in my place at times. There were times when all I wanted to do was just call it a day and SAG in to the finish, but I managed to squeak out those last few miles. I'm now pretty exhausted and just about useless, but glad that it's over and I'm home.

It's very hard to express the deep emotions, hardships and joy I experienced this'd really have to be there to completely grasp it. I left a lot out due to the difficulty in conveying this information. I'll just say it was a very personal spiritual journey where I've learned more about myself and others and I hope I've become a better person for it. I really wish I could experience this with my friends. I've really missed you all and sometimes just felt lonely even among so many people. I just kind of feel like I would have enjoyed experiencing this amazing trip with you all in real time. I'm only giving you a small summary of what went on this past week. It would take a novel to really tell you the complete tale.

Day 1

San Francisco to Santa Cruz.

After a fairly horrible nights sleep I was beside myself with dread, anxiety and exuberance. Quite a mixture of feelings. I caught a cab to the Cow Palace and immediately felt excited when I arrived. It was pretty moving exiting the parking lot amongst the throngs of supporters screaming and cheering with words of encouragement. I felt pretty good and awake. The weather was cool dark and drizzly, but my spirits were up. Much better than last year at this time. The first thing I experienced was a hint of how long and tough this ride would be riding fixed gear. I felt quite slow. People were passing me in droves, especially on the downhill sections. I probably could have kept a faster pace, but I knew this would be a long week, so it was all about conserving energy. The first person I saw on a fixed gear was Magnus on his striking pale blue bike. He was keeping it pretty strong and staying ahead of me. Most of the fixed gear bikes I met were running bigger gears and had the edge on the flats, but I could out climb most with my easier gear ratio. 46X19 would turnout to be just right for me. My knees were holding up, but my butt and crotch were killing me. I don't think I had my seat adjusted right like I had though. It felt okay on shorter rides, but by Half Moon Bay it was really starting to bother me.

I focused on spending time and socializing at the rest stops this year. I really wanted to experience the social side of this event more than anything. I wanted the bicycle to really be secondary. I really enjoyed myself at camp and managed to meet up with a lot of old friends and began to make new ones.

Me with the fixed gear cult

Mojo Slim 06-11-09 07:43 PM

Aha! So YOU were the "old guy" riding with the youngsters on fixies. 50+ Nation. Pay no attention to anything I write. Doing this ride on 30 speeds of carbon fiber is nothing like doing it on a fixie! Bow down to Taxi777!

taxi777 06-11-09 08:03 PM


Originally Posted by Mojo Slim (Post 9086642)
Aha! So YOU were the "old guy" riding with the youngsters on fixies. 50+ Nation. Pay no attention to anything I write. Doing this ride on 30 speeds of carbon fiber is nothing like doing it on a fixie! Bow down to Taxi777!

I ran into Lorrie G. at lunch In SLO and told her that us fixie people were the cult that needed to reckoned with!:rolleyes:

alicestrong 06-11-09 08:17 PM

Hey great ride reports! I'm buddies with some of the LA peeps...

Fixed, I'm very impressed with that, too...

Mojo Slim 06-11-09 09:06 PM

Continuing my account, here is Day 2, 107 miles from Santa Cruz to King City CA.
Traditionally, everyone is up early. I'm sure it's a combination of the 107 miles we have to ride and newbie nervousness. Handlebar Bill (named for his mustache) and I wake up about 4:45am, pull on our sweat pants, hit the porta-potties and make it to breakfast, in the dark. I go through the express line (just oatmeal, OJ and a banana) and head back to our tent drinking a cup of tea.

We're on our bikes by 6:45, although part of our group isn't there at the appointed time. We will cross paths a number of times throughout the day. It's slo-n-go as we make it out of Santa Cruz and Aptos. One minute I'm riding with two or three people, then 30, caught at a stop light. "The Ugly Mugg" is giving free coffee and disco music to all riders. A party has started on the sidwalk and it's only 7:15.

I got caught behind some slower riders in traffic, but catch Bill, Jim and Pete at Rest Stop 1. The theme there is "bedtime" and all the volunteers are dressed in pajamas. The route opens up into fields of strawberries and lightly rolling hills. These farm roads are a bit rough at times, but the scenery is great. Workers are in the fields doing the back-breaking work that we don't appreciate enough.

Deep fried artichoke hearts. There is a fruit/vegetable stand not far out of Watsonville and just past the overpass on 101 that looks forward to our arrival every year. I can tell because the price of the artichoke hearts has gone from $4.50 to $6.00 over the five years. Handlebar Bill, Pete (not Taxi777) and I roll in, followed not much later by The Other Bill. Also, my son-in-law's group pulls in. Erik cuts in line and offers to buy my $6.00's worth of 'hearts. I'm easy. Riders are sprawled all over the tiny parking lot. Cross-dressing Ginger Brewley is welcoming everyone at the entrance. Typical AIDS/LifeCycle.

We skipped the next rest stop and pulled into lunch in Salinas. Handlebar Bill had forged ahead (he always rides in the big ring) and I rode with The Other Bill. This part of the ride (like most of it) is perfectly flat and usually has a tailwind. We cruise at 18-20, with little effort. There is quite a bit of vehicular traffic, but the shoulder is wide.

The next several miles are again flat and tail-windious. Again, 20 mph is easy to maintain. By this time, I am in a sleeveless jersey and the livin' is easy. Strawberry and artichokes have given way to wine grapes and a cactus farm (aloe, prickle berry or Guava?). At Mile 67 I pull into Rest Stop 3, at Pessagno Winery. I turn around and am greeted by Pete/Taxi777.

The next stop is a water stop at Mission Soledad, known for the availability of Otterpops. Otterpops have no known value except the taste great after 67 miles of riding. Then followed an unfortunate incident. I was just getting back on my bike when I heard a truck in the large dirt parking area. I turned around to a huge cloud of dust thrown up by the truck turning "donuts". The driver had intentionally driven into the mission parking lot to create some havoc. Jerk. Later that night, one of our guys said a pick up had come at him head on while he was stopped at a stop sign. He was unclipped and had to pull his bike off the shoulder. It was near the same spot.

After climbing a little hill beyond "skinny dip bridge", we come upon "The Cookie Lady". She bakes one cookie for each of 2200 riders every year. An oatmeal raison cookie with ice cold milk really hits the spot.

Next follows about 4 miles of a bad side wind until Rest Stop 4, in Greenfield, at mile 93. Two more miles of side wind and then . . . a right turn gives you the best tailwind of the entire seven days. It starts with a nice roller coaster of hills then flatttens out for a total of 10 miles of 25-30 mph riding. I tell you, there is no sound as sweet as the hummmm of 23mm tires on pavement at 25 mph. I left everyone behind and passed a bunch of "kids". I love this section.

I averaged 15.3 mph today, down from 16.1 last year. I'm not sure where the change happened, but I'm guessing it was partly because we were being VERY careful at stop signs and the tailwinds weren't quite as heavy as last year. But, for 107 miles, pretty easy. At the end of the day, I felt great, legs were good, no chafing. I went through the dinner line twice.

After a full breakfast, we are on the road at 6:50. The big deal today is "Quadbuster", arguably the worst hill on the ride (but we didn't now about a new one on Day 4). We hit it at about mile 10. It's 10-12% for 1.3 miles. It strikes fear into the hearts of the newbies, but it's not that bad. Someone quipped that it "was a site for sore legs". All five of us started up pretty much together. Not surprisingly Handlebar Bill and Jim take the lead. The Other Bill also beats me up the hill, and Pete follows, after dropping his chain at the very start. At the top, tradition has it that everyone stops to cheer others on. We spend several minutes offering words of encouragement, then start down the other side into the Hunter Liggett, a military installation.

The leg between Rest Stop 2 and 3 is not my favorite, but it seems to go by quickly this time. After a brief potty stop at RS3, I charge up a hill and leave everyone else behind. I don't know what got into (or out of) me. I felt great. I soon caught Kim, The Other Bill's 24 yr old room mate, who left RS 3 before me, and pulled her into lunch. Here's me about to pass her.

Lunch is in the town of Bradley, population minimal. They have a fundraising BBQ, wherein most of the riders pay $10-20 for a hamburger. They raise $11,000 this year.

We get a few rain showers before making it to camp. Oh, we stopped at RS4, where everyone was dressed as stewardessess. I may been doing this ride too long. Some of those guys looked pretty good to me.

After the 63 mile ride, I got an A&W Root Beer near camp. And again went through the dinner line twice. I'm getting stronger every day. No pain. No chafing (good shorts) and my bike is working perfectly (Yea, Giant).

taxi777 06-12-09 03:17 PM

Day 2

Santa Cruz to King City

The trick in the morning was to get up early and get on the road to avoid the bottleneck, especially getting out of Santa Cruz. I got up with the chorus of Iphone and Crackberry alarms going off at 4:30. Rather than sleep in I got up and got moving probably to the contrary of what my tent mate wanted. I think he might have

The ritual consisted with getting up and going to breakfast. I'd just wear what I slept in. Since the nights and mornings were cold in the tent I'd wear my kaki pants and a bike jacket to bed at night. Those late night trips to the Porta-potties were freezing. I lived in my lightweight surfing slippers. They're easy to pack and comfortable enough for camp.

Camp food was mediocre to good, but everything was edible and I was constantly hungry. The usual oatmeal and fruit with an egg dish and some kind of meat dish...sausage, bacon or whatever. The coffee was pretty bad, but I was usually desperate for something warm. Porta-potties were somewhat available with small waiting periods. There were strict guidelines...Everyone was required to wash your hands after, with wipes and sanitizer combo made readily available. Stomach flu could spread like wildfire here.

It was then to bike parking. I usually parked in the "PozPeds" parking, so I never really had any trouble finding my bike. Plus the gold rims just pop! They make it easy to locate.

I started out today kind of tired and my seat was already killing me from the start. I got out of Santa Cruz pretty fast. Today would be a long day at 107 miles to King City. By the time I got to Aptos, I knew it would be a grueling day! Even though it was fairly flat, my saddle just wasn't working for me. The rest stops are a lot of fun. Each rest stop would have some theme to them. One would be Hawaiian and the next would be a wacky transsexual airline theme, then the next a "Cat In The Hat" theme and so on. I spent a lot of time at the rest stops hanging out and socializing.
My butt needed the rest for sure. I'm also having a really hard time in the last couple of years with carpel tunnel, so I think maybe I'm just getting old.

There was a strong tail wind and I tried to make as much use of it as I could. One of the best things along the route was the number of kids with signs and high five-ing us along the way. They all seemed so excited along with people shouting out thanks to the riders. I ended up making it in really late on Monday afternoon. I did sleep pretty good though.

taxi777 06-12-09 03:25 PM

Day three

King City to Paso Robles


This was the first difficult climb of the ride “Quadbuster”, was an extremely difficult climb with a 15 percent grade. I went to my drops for this one which really put the pressure on my back. I was surprised that my knees held up so well. Many people walked. After that it was all flat with intermittent sprinkles. My A** was killing me! I couldn't feel my hands most of the time, although I was loving the ride. My bike felt great, but my body was not enjoying it. I was kind of hoping to get a lot of reflecting time out here, but due to the pain my mind was constantly drawn back to my butts suffering. I started with the Ibruprofen which did help a bit.

We stopped in a small town of Bradly which put out a spread for the riders. Through ALC donations the school is able to keep running for the year. I was happy to eat there and along with the other riders contribute to such a great charity. The kids and townsfolk were great to us.
We spent a lot of time on the 101 highway which was a bit frightening. I was glad when we finally pulled into camp.

This was the night that all the fixed gear riders got together for a meet and greet. It really was a lot of fun and the ages varied from 20 to 56. It was nice to talk shop and I learned a lot of knew things about fixed gear culture. BTW one of the fixed gear couples were tenting right next to us.

Paso Robles was uplifting. This was the night where the theme was "Poz Peddlers" of which I'm a part of. This is where I had a very life changing moment last year. When I excepted my fate and who I am. The day ended with an upbeat vibe. I slept pretty well.

jungovox 06-12-09 03:48 PM

Great stuff - keep it comin'

Hermes 06-12-09 03:55 PM

Pete: You are such a stud / hipster. Congrats on a great ride on the fixie.

Mojo: Fantastic event and effort. It certainly looked like a ride to remember for years to come.

To both of you, great pics and report not to mention raising a lot of money for a great cause..:)

cyclinfool 06-12-09 04:08 PM

Great reports - sounds like a great adventure.
How did you raise $3000? I have a hard time raising enough for an MS ride let alone that much. I was considering the pan-mass challenge but it also has a $3K requirement.

Mojo Slim 06-12-09 05:45 PM


This is the fifth year a I have done this ride. I have raised between $4300 and $6200 each year, with over $5000 the last three. I started with my Christmas Card/e-mail address book. I send a letter, and then a "newsletter" style update every 3 weeks or so. I include pictures of me on a bike, things I see while riding and tell everyone how my training is going. Most of my donors have been with me all five years. My average donation is always aroudn $95-100. Many people say they look forward to my Updates. I then send a recap of the ride when I'm done. I have not had to resort to fundraising events, but some have done wine/cheese tastings, pedaled on a trainer in a mall or made gifts to sell at exhorbitant prices. I think there are fundraising tips at

taxi777 06-12-09 05:52 PM


Originally Posted by cyclinfool (Post 9091821)
Great reports - sounds like a great adventure.
How did you raise $3000? I have a hard time raising enough for an MS ride let alone that much. I was considering the pan-mass challenge but it also has a $3K requirement.

The first year was tough...I actually sold my car to come up with the money. When I got back, I decided to reveal my HIV status to all my friends and family...(Long Story here)

The second year faired better...It was amazing how caring and compassionate people can be. You have to keep plugging and the more sincere you are in your heart the easier it becomes. I'm hoping next year will bring a stronger economy and I'll do better than this year. This is such a great cause. People do want to give You just have to approach it the right way. The AIDSLifeCycle organization will help you a lot in finding ways to acquire funding.
Hope this helps!;)

cyclinfool 06-12-09 05:58 PM


Fantastic! Seems you have this down to a fine art. I will have to consider this and plan a major event. We have a 50-50 match where I work so if I can get something going there it would make it easier. The last diabetes ride I did I used this quite a bit.

Your contribution here represents an outstanding effort - kudos to you. Compared to the great fund raising effort - the ride is just a simple reward! Hats off to you and your fellow riders. :thumb:

taxi777 06-12-09 06:00 PM

Hey Mojo...You're AWSOME! seriously!

Mojo Slim 06-12-09 11:21 PM

More of the continuing story . . . .

Day 4: Paso Robles to Santa Maria. 98 miles

Another great day for riding. We got off as a group, but got separated when we had to walk our bikes through a construction zone for about 1/4 mile. At about mile 10, the climb up the Evil Twins starts. It's about 7 miles, with a short downhill in the middle. Not too steep though. I find a comfortable gear and begin, feeling pretty good. I don't push it, but keep up a steady pace. I'm pretty sure I passed more riders than passed me.

The big deal here is that at the top is the theoretical "Halfway to LA" point. Every one stops for the "bike over the head shot". Here's mine:

It was very foggy at the top. We couldn't see the coast as we have in past years. It also "dampened" the long downhill that follows. But, a downhill is a downhill. Somehow, I was the first one to the bottom. Don't know how that happened.

We soon hit the coast just above Cayucos. We had a very special time here. Jim, one of our group, knows the principal of a little school and arranged for us to talk to most of the students. They asked questions about our funny shoes and what was that on my helmet? (My mirror). We talked about the commitment to get in shape for The Ride and what the money supported. It was very cool and the kids applauded when we left. I hope we can go back next year.

My sister met us as Rest Stop 3, which is right across Highway 101 from her house in San Luis Obispo. She met my posse and also saw my son-in-law and his friends. The picture below is one of the "Seven Sisters" that includes Mt. San Luis in the south and Morro Rock in the north.

I seem to be feeling stronger every day. I am really enjoying riding. My bike is working perfectly and I am feeling no pain of any kind.

Just before the last rest stop, we pass a rural fire station. Out next to the shoulder is an ice chest filled with Gatorade and a sign inviting us to help ourselves. Neat.

The day ends with a ten mile flat stretch through some fields. Aided by a strong tailwind, we all average something close to 25 mph for the stretch. It feels good, after 98 miles, to reach camp and get a shower. But I could have gone farther. I am feeling great.

DAY 5. Santa Maria to Lompoc. 69 miles. Red Dress Day

Many years ago, someone figured out that if every one dressed in red, the long line of riders would look like and AIDS ribbon. "Dress in red Day" soon became "Red Dress Day". This picture will tell you all you need to know. On the right is my tentmate.

The route is brand new for us. And beautiful, as we make our way to Solvang for lunch. It seems every driveway is a wine tasting room. I have lived in California all my life, but I have never seen this part of the state.
We had been traveling on a very gentle incline for over 10 miles. Now, we come upon a steep, two mile climb. I'm feeling so good, I downshift only to my middle ring and climb it in 39/27. It had just been repaved and was a great climb.

What a culture collision. 2150 riders, mostly in red dresses, riding through a Danish town, with several people dressed in traditional garb. The town of Solvang leaders later told our ride administrator that we were the best riding event to ever come through. We had lunch there.

The last 25 miles were a bit of a challenge at times. We had some light headwinds and some pesky hills kept cropping up. For those of you who have done the Solvang Century, we were on that route and scaled what is known as "The Wall". Not a terrible hill, but it slowed us down.

Once in camp, many people decide to go into Lompoc for dinner and maybe a movie. There is a woefully inadequate shuttle that comes through every half hour. Some enterprising "soccer moms" came by in their SUVs and mini-vans, offering free shuttles, but welcomed donations. Anything earned went to their sports teams. I'll bet they made a fortune.

My wife, daughter and grandson met me there. We, along with my son-in-law, went into town for dinner. Later that night, the comedian "Ant" performed. He was very funny, if crude.

We crawled into out sleeping bags sometime after 9:30. I find it easy to fall asleep at night, but am always up in about 3 hours finding the porta potty. Typically, after riding all day, I drink a chocolate milk before dinner, two milks and a Coke at dinner and two large mugs of tea after dinner. No wonder I get up.

It was a bit breezy as we fell asleep. Nothing unusual and nothing to portend what was to come in a few hours . . . .

taxi777 06-13-09 12:30 AM

Red Dress Day!
A rambunctious beginning left me with nice fat bonk! There was a group of 4 females that kept passing me and I couldn't let it go. They would pass me, they'd laugh...I would pass them and I would laugh.

I was feeling pretty good on the start of "Red Dress Day", but that was soon to fade on and endless false flat through headwinds into Solvang. Desperate to get over my saddle situation I did the incredible. I made a major saddle adjustment at lunch. This actually helped quite a bit. There was a fair bit of climbing in the end and it got me off the saddle to my relief. I had thought about getting out of camp for a bit, but there ended up to be a lot going to keep me around the campsite.

I ate way too much food and the last thing I remember is my African friend from the Ivory coast talking about how wonderful the weather was going to be in the morning!...ha ha ha...

cranky old dude 06-13-09 12:56 AM

Absolutely amazing. I'm reading this during breaks at work and you've both got me so excited that I keep going out to the parking lot looking longingly at my bike. I can't wait to get on it and ride, anywhere, maybe a lap around the parking lot next break!

The event sounds like a blast to participate in and the contributions you guys are raising are outstanding. $10.5 Mil., that averages out to what....$4880 per participant? 2150 heros all on the same ride!

Each new installment seems more exciting than the last. Great reads, thanks for sharing

Red Rider 06-13-09 08:36 AM

I'm really enjoying this thread. The reports are terrific, coming from two different perspectives, and the pics are illustrative of the points. You red dress guys are, um, yeah...

I know all too well "The Wall" of which you speak. It shows up about mile 90 or so in the Solvang Century. An ironic "reward" for one's efforts.

Can't wait to read the next installments. Thanks, MS & Pete!

jppe 06-13-09 08:54 AM

Good stuff--not quite sure what to make of the red dress stuff though!!

Mojo Slim 06-13-09 10:32 PM

Herewith follow my last two installments of AIDS/LifeCycle for 2009

DAY 6: Lompoc to Ventura. .03 Miles.

My tentmate, Handlebar Bill, awoke about 2:30am to the sound of a light rain on our non-waterproof tent. He had brought a lightweight painter's drop cloth for just such an event, but thought the rain would soon stop. I also awoke at 2:30am to the sound of rain. I totally forgot that I had brought a lightweight painter's drop cloth for just such an event.

We woke up again at about 4:45. A puddle at our feet. A puddle at our heads. Sleeping bags, Thermarest pads, pillows, bike shoes and some clothes were wet. It had rained for the first time ever on AIDS/LifeCycle. My sweat pants and jacket were dry, so I pulled them on and went to breakfast, giving Bill a chance to gather his clothes and wits. When I came back, he was perched in the middle of his thermarest, dressed in his bike clothes. It was a comical sight. He left for breakfast, and I went through the same process. We keep each day's bike clothes in a quart size zip loc bag, so they were dry.

It stopped raining about 6:30. Under normal circumstances, the CHP would not let us ride past rest stop 2 until after 9:30 because they had to close a lane of Highway 101 for us after the commute hour. We figured we would get there about 9:30 if we left at 7:30.

At 7:30 we clipped in, rolled .03 of a mile (counting walking our bikes from parking). One person told us to stop, then one said go. Finally, stop. They had decided to wait 15 minutes for the rain ahead to abate. Then 30 minutes. It became an hour. Eventually, it was announced that there would be no riding today. There was rain, thunder and lightning at RS1, RS2, the lunch stop and RS3, plus an automobile accident in Gaviota Pass.

Some riders had gotten out earlier and were caught at Rest Stop 1, in a down pour. They were cold, wet and wrapped in Mylar blankets like baked potatoes. Bill and I were the first riders NOT to allowed to leave. If we had been 2 minutes earlier, we'd be wrapped in Mylar, too.

Now the ALC officials have lots of problems. 300 riders at RS1. Everyone else in Lompoc, along with their bikes. 2200 lunches some 40 miles down the route. 4 buses to transport everyone. The gear trucks already on the road to Ventura.

Here's a condensed version of what happened. The three hundred riders at RS1 were given the choice: ride the 15 miles back to Lompoc or be bused to Ventura. Most went to Ventura. The gear trucks (with all our tents and duffel bags) continued to Ventura, dropped everything and came back for all the bikes. Favors were called in, including help from a rider who had connections with local school districts, and 23 more buses were ordered up.

This all took time. But you would have been amazed at how well everyone took it. Here are pictues of people chilling in camp, waiting for buses.

Frisbees came out. The lunches showed up. People got tans.

At about 11:00, I got a call from my friend Ty (remember, she rode to orientation with my wife and I?). She was at a motel with her partner and they had a van and could carry all 5 of us to Ventura. Yay! At 2:30. Boo. But it was still better than waiting for the 23 buses to show up. We got on the road and watched all the great riding we could have had from inside a Dodge Caravan.

We had made reservations at a hotel near the Ventura camp. Two rooms for 6 of us. We went to camp, picked up our duffels and taxied to the rooms. Rain was again forecast, but it didn't. We went out to a nice dinner and were in bed sometime after 10:00.

I think some of the riders were glad for the break, but I truly missed the Day 6 ride. After Rest Stop 1, there is a looooong down hill, including riding on Highway 101/1 through the Gaviota Pass. A great lunch spot and bike paths on the beach. Next year.

DAY 7: Ventura to Los Angeles. 64 miles

We were picked up by a LIMOSINE at the hotel and shuttled the two miles to camp at 6:00 in the morning. I was worried that 2150 riders trying to find their bikes in the morning after they had been mixed up in transit would be chaos. Get this. The numbers on our bikes have a bar code. Using a system loaned by UPS, the scanned each code and had lists posted telling each rider in which row his/her bike was located. It was perfect.

All 5 of us were on the road right at 6:45. We were wearing our matching Chief Probation Officers of California jerseys. It was fun to ride as a "team". We (along with many others) stopped at mile 8.56 at a Starbucks/Jamba Juice for a quick pick-me-up. Nurse Kim, also in her CPOC jersey (a gift from The Other Bill, her tentmate) met us at RS1. We all rode the rest of the way together.

At about mile 20, we hit the Southern California Coast on the Pacific Coast Highway. It just doesn't get much better. A tailwind. Surf. Beach. Wide shoulder. Riding with friends. I am sure the organizers have staged this last day to be perfect, to be sure everyone comes back next year. There is some traffic, but drivers are courteous. The bigggest problem is with riders who are not with ALC (it's Saturday), passing 20-30 of us at a time, by riding in the car lane, angering some drivers. Of course, the drivers don't know that those guys aren't with us.

At the top of a moderate hill, we pulled over to accept some chocolate from some supporters. We had lost Kim and the Other Bill. Like good friends, we continued on. We were soon at lunch, on a beautiful lawn (a baseball field) overlooking the ocean. Kim and Bill eventually arrive, after fixing a flat, then fixing the spare tube that didn't hold air.

On the way out of lunch, there was an accident and we were held up again. The Other Bill went to Bike Tech to fill up his tire and blew it out. He let the bike techs change the tire this time.

More great cruising. We were part of a single file line (NOT drafting, because we are not supposed to) that was at least 30 riders long and we are doing 18-22 mph and loving it. Eventually, we hit the bike trail.

By now, the adrenalin is rushing because we KNOW we are just about done. I'm excited and this is my fifth Ride. The newbies are already celebrating. We come to a place, six miles from the finish, where we have to stop and carry our bikes under the highway. Here's our group. I'm second from the right, next to Handlebar Bill. The Othe Bill is the only male who isn't at least 6 feet tall, of which we reminded him often.

I'm texting my wife to let her know we're close. Others are calling. We pause just outside the final turn to be sure we can ride in in close formation. The cheers from the crowd are amazing. It's like we are all their family. I see my wife, daughter and grandson as I cross the finish. 488 miles for me. I'm feeling great. The hug and "congratulations" from my wife kinda got to me.

Soon after, my son-in-law and his group rolls in. They are fast riders, but goof around all the way down the state. We had been invited to dinner with some friends, so didn't stay for the closing ceremonies this year. If Taxi777 is still reading, he can fill you in. Here's a picture of him at the ceremony. I doubt he's even seen this shot.

You cannot do this ride without having your life changed in some way. One of my friends lost 70 lbs while training for it last year. No matter who tolerant you think you are, you will become even more accepting of alternate lifestyles. You will NEVER find a group of kinder, gentler, more helpful, happy, fun, etc. people. If nothing else, it's cool to say you have ridden your bike from SF to LA.

Hermes 06-13-09 11:25 PM

Thanks for posting up the report. My wife and I rode from Monterey to Santa Monica on our tandem in 1981. The ride down the coast is very special and definitely impacts ones life.

taxi777 06-14-09 12:04 AM

DAY 6: Lompoc to Ventura,,,NOT!

30 miles

There's nothing more comforting and disturbing at the same time as rain pattering on a tent...

"On No"
The words I here coming from so many different tents along with laughing. I drift back to sleep only to awake to rising waters in the tent. I decide to face the problem on a full stomach, so I go to breakfast.

I packed the soaking wet tent covered in sand and all my wet clothes. I'm off to my bike. Riding was a mess. Flats every 50 yards it seemed like. I knew it was only a matter of time before I'd get mine. At Rest stop 1 I feel like I've stumbled upon a UFO convention. Everyone is dressed in "alien wear". All in silver cloaks.

We're given a choice to wait for a shuttle but or ride back to camp. I decide to ride. I got my flat over within about 5 miles into the return trip. I finally make it back and at least I have 30 miles for the day albeit wet ones.

The shuttle bus happened to be the gayest most flamboyant and baudy ride I've ever witnessed. The bus was hosted by "Gay Lare's" Renta-bus. Complete with video monitors playing continuous Cher videos. What a blast! I spent the whole ride talking to a pretty woman about everything under the sun. The ride was surrealistic in a way.

Camp in Ventura was relaxing and I had time to dry everything out. The candlelight vigil was beautiful. Morning I took my time getting out of was kind of sad actually.
Last Day

Ventura to Santa Monica
As we turned off from the State Beach in Santa Monica, I really began to feel the emotion welling up. This was it, we made it through the ride. I could sense the vibe all around me in peoples faces...the smiles and tears. It had been a tough year for myself. The move, my job and fighting my depression. It was all a blur as I crossed the finish line. I shoved my fists in the air like some European bike hero! The masses cheered and the music played.

I didn't get much time to digest the moment, as I was immediately ushered off to partake with the "PozPeds" in closing ceremonies. From there I was rushed by my brother to dinner and a concert, so I never had a minute to really digest the moment. The whole week seemed like that. It all went by just to damn fast. Through the ride I constantly reminded myself that this was the last year I do this...NOT! I've already made plans to do it again in 2010.

This has now become a part of my life. I couldn't imagine not doing the ride. As I write this blog I'm listening to the news and hearing about the melt down of our states government and how hard AIDS funding will be hit. The state is trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and vulnerable. What the Hell is going on? It's now a matter of life and death that I continue riding. At this moment I'm on an adult study for HIV medications, so I get my meds for free. As of October the study is finished and I'm on my own. My meds will run around $30,000. Without some amount of assistance I'm up the creek without a paddle. I thought I would just state this for everyone to understand how critically important the AIDS Lifecycle organization really is.

I met some great and wonderful people last week. I'm truly humbled by their beautiful attitudes and acts of kindness. I think next year I need to focus and train a little harder though. This year has been a little tough in that department.

I thank everyone who gave and who supported me in this amazing journey. You are truly the great ones. Without your support I could never have done this. Please let me know if there is any way that I can help you in the future. If you know of anyone that is going through the situation I'm going through who needs help, I'm alway open to helping them. You know how to contact me.
Thanks so much...

prxmid 06-14-09 07:47 AM

Thanks for Sharing....great story

Kurt Erlenbach 06-14-09 09:49 AM

Thanks for the reports. You guys are great.

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