AIDS/LIFECYCLE 2013: AN INTRO TO THE AWESOMENESS
So i’m 4 long, exciting, and exhausting days into the AIDS/LifeCycle ride..
I’ve been wanting to do blog posts for each day b/c there’s SO much going on, but haven’t had the time or the internet. I finally have chance so wanna update on this incredible journey i’m on…
INITIAL THOUGHTS / LIFE ON THE ROAD
By the end of the first day (82 miles) I was absolutely amazed at the organization, production, and overall support for this ride. There are close to 2500 riders, 500 roadies and hundreds of other volunteers.. many of which have never done this before and somehow everything runs flawlessly. They literally have every second of this whole week planned out to a T. There are rest stops every 10-20 miles where riders can stop and get snacks, water, gatorade, bathrooms, medical care, bike maintenance, or just hang out and visit w/ friends. All the rest stops have different themes, like its a theme park.. so far we’ve had M.A.S.H., Love Shack, Barbie’s dream house, Dracula, etc. Everything is free to the riders and resources are seemingly unlimited.
For safety they have dozens of decorated cars that drive up and down the route looking for any riders that need help- which could be anything from bike troubles to dehydration.. or if you’re just too tired to ride anymore. If you give the signal (thumbs down) they will scoop you up and take you to the next rest stop to get taken care of. There’ also a number on our bracelet to call and someone will come to you within a few minutes. So no matter what happens no one will ever be stranded anywhere.
The best part of life on the road is all the support from people on the sidelines. At least every few miles there is someone on the road cheering on the riders. Some of them are volunteers dressed in costumes (drag is pretty common) cheering us on, others are families of participants holding signs for their rider, others are complete strangers who just appreciate what we are doing and pull over to blast music out of their cars, hand out licorice, strawberries, and high-fives. I even saw a mom and child with a stand with lemonade and Clif bars for any riders that stopped by. All along the course every single day these people are scattered about.. in the smallest towns and on the most random roads in the middle of nowhere, its so uplifting to suddenly see a lady dancing in some crazy outfit with an oversized plastic phone in her hand, blasting ‘call me maybe’ on a portable radio to make you laugh and cheer you on.
As much as this is all fun and games, there’s no moment that goes by that I’m not reminded of why this event is happening and why all these great people have been brought together. There’s a large number of riders wearing “positive peddlers” jerseys, as they are proud to be surviving their fight with HIV. We are told stories everyday of someone who has got the treatment they needed which they otherwise wouldn’t have b/c of the money that’s raised from this event.
Fun fact: This year was the largest amount raised at $14.2 Million, and overall since the beginning they’ve raised over $100 Million dollars. And unlike most charities with vague intentions, all this money is going to the right place. Also almost everyone working to put this whole thing together are volunteers. They took a week off work, some coming from across the country, and working all day everyday to making sure all the participants are safe, fed, hydrated, medicated, entertained, and have the best time of their life. And they are succeeding in a major way. I tell everyone thank you for what they are doing, and they tell me thank you right back for what I’m doing. That’s a pretty awesome feeling.
It kinda feels like adult summer camp out here. We stay in a variety of site- camp grounds, public parks, fairgrounds, schools, etc. They have about a dozen Budget trucks that transport our stuff from place to place, where we setup our little homes for the night. The veteran riders have their tents decorated with white picket fences, christmas lights, and other decor. One even had a small “For Rent” ad outside of theirs. Everyone has so much fun with this whole experience, no shortage of sense of humor out here.
Camp is also like a mini-city with everything one might need to get through the trip.. mini-store, REAL showers, chiropractors, massage therapists, sports medicine, cell phone charging tents, even yoga every morning. Its pretty plush living actually, 2013 camping ha.
is way better than I expected. Also its not particularly healthy by any means.. They told us at the beginning “this is not the week to be on a diet” and they weren’t lying. BBQ ribs, tri-tip, salmon, mac & cheese, pancakes, cinnamon rolls, pies, cakes, ice cream.. fruits and veggies as well of course. We are burning an average of 3000-6000 calories a day, which is borderline impossible to replenish on a given day, so we can kinda just eat whatever we want, as long as we’re eating. Its not all junk and they even have vegetarian options. Its also all you can eat and again they never seem to run out of anything.
THE TYPICAL DAY
So far the typical day starts between 430-530am when most wake up. The route will usually open by 6-630am and close at 830am (all riders must be on the road by then). The rides so far have been between 66 and 108 miles. All routes are challenging in different ways, so the shorter rides will have more climbing and the longer rides will be relatively flat.
A common question from friends has been what do I listen to all day… the answer is all the wild and random thoughts inside my head! Music, headphones, music players, etc aren’t allowed on the ride for safety reasons. Surprisingly its not as bad as you’d think. Aside from the passing chit chat with other riders as you go, much of the ride you are kind of in your own world on the course. Talk about having a lot of time to think! Its nice though, and self-therapeutic. It also gives you a chance to appreciate the amazing views we pass by everyday.. Ocean beaches, mountains, strawberry fields, tulip fields, grape vineyards, all stretching as far as the eye can see. I’ve traveled the world starting at a young age but cycling through the nooks and crannies of california is a different kind of beautiful. There’s all that much more incentive to conquer a big hill knowing there’s some breathtaking view waiting on the other side.
Usually get to camp around 5-6pm, setup our home, shower, eat dinner, and get to bed around 10pm. 5am rolls around quick!
I have a million more things to share but this is plenty for now, until then I leave you with some other random photos of awesomeness. Stay tuned for the next post!!