Monday, May 24, 2010

The Jonathan Pon Memorial Ride- May 1&2

I can not even begin to express in words how amazing this weekend was for me & Dave! This was a fully supported two day ride put on by the Positive Pedalers in memory of their founder and friend, Jonathan Pon.
We met up in Sausalito around 6AM. These are some of the wonderful ride leaders, many who are Positive Pedalers. The woman in the blue bandana, is Julie Brown and she gave us all red bandanas with the H.E.R.O. (HIV Endeavor for Reaching Out) Creed on them:
So sweet! I'm not sure you can read it. It says: 
I have risen before dawn in this fight against AIDS-
I've rallied family, friends, and strangers to support me in this fight-
I've spent mornings, afternoons, and weekends training for those who can't-
I have spent hundreds of dollars on equipment, clothing, and energy bars- 
I have learned hand signals, how to clip in, and the importance of stopping at every stop sign- 
I have yelled "car up!,""car back!," and "On your left!" approximately one million times-
I've raised thousands of dollars to support the well being of someone else's life- 
I have learned that if I don't talk about HIV, to prevent it from spreading, who will?- 
I will stand in line with my closest friends for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and to use the bathroom- 
I will ride side by side with them for the same cause- 
I will spend a week sleeping in a tent, eating in a tent, and showering in a truck- 
I will make over two thousand new and interesting friends while raising awareness of HIV/AIDS- 
I will laugh out loud and cry with them- 
I will dedicate a week of my life to improve someone else's- 
I will do things my body did not think I could do- 
I will boldly show the world how strongly I believe in this cause- 
I will ride my bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise awareness and money in the fight against HIV/AIDS- 
I am a California AIDS/Lifecyclist- 
I am a HERO.

We shaved some time off the SF part of our ride and headed through Fairfax, and over Camino Alto- where we saw wild turkeys and deer jumped out in front of us- and then past cows in Nicasio.
Old St. Mary's Church is so cute!
At the top of some hill in Lucas Valley (I think) overlooking a farm and windmills.
mile 35- lunch!
The good eater- I'm not bonking today!
This was in the Point Reyes/Petaluma area
We were so excited it was flatter after lunch but the headwinds were insane. Dave is making a funny face because of the wind. But look at the cute goats!
My magical rainbow unicorn socks carried me all the way to Cassini Ranch in Duncan's Mills/Russian River area. I was the last one in, but I made it! The bottom of my socks say better than horses!
72.22 miles- check.
We set up our AIDS/Lifecycle tent, which is quite spacious actually.
Today on AIDS/Lifecycle cribs...
I pretended I was at the Hotel San Jose when I showered. What's up, Erin & Chuck?!?!
Traumeel is one of my good friends (homeopathic anti-inflammatory.) The big pill is carrying Traumeel tablets.
Lady Gaga- one of the SAG vehicles
Super friendly guy watching over the animals at Cassini Ranch.
They were right across from our tent sites. So cute!
AMAZING dinner!
There was music & merriment but I think we were asleep by 8:30PM
Oh yeeeeah! These foam rollers are heavenly.
Get in line! A super nice PT heard me complain about my knee and fixed me for free with her magic tape. Everyone was ridiculously nice!
Stretching party! The woman w/the blond hair is Laura, awesome training ride leader!

Buz, one of the ride leaders. He is hilarious! 
(my poor eyes are so puffed from the wind & allergies)
Yummy breakfast. The vegetarian food they had was delish!
Warming up. It was so *cold* in the morning!
Just biking along Hwy 1 
{scary at times! but not bad since it was like 7-9AM}
Wish you were here!
Taking over Valley Ford Market. There was a lot of Lady Gaga.
I think this was Charles, Gabriel, and Bob. Testosterone, you gotz it.
Another rest stop with my super awesome & extremely supportive co-worker, Albie. He works for the Stonewall Project, providing counseling to gay men who use speed. 

TA-DA! Back in Sausalito. Thanks Poz Peds! We couldn't have done it without you!
Yay! Our new friend Mineska (pretty sure I'm butchering that spelling.) 
She was the PT who fixed my knee with her magic tape- Thank you!
Phew! 2 days, 150 miles. That was a great weekend. One of my favorite parts was going through Samuel P Taylor Park. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been! Redwood groves get me every time!
This was my magic knee tape. 

Not sure why this is sideways, but anyway- that is the max speed Dave did on this ride: 40.8 miles per hour-- which makes me nauseated! Yes, he always passes me on downhills. Ugh!  

Thank you for checking out our blog and supporting our AIDS/Lifecycle fundraising! Your support means so much to us!

Day on the Ride & Castro Spin

So AIDS/Lifecycle participants got a chance to do a training ride that was set up like an actual day, hence the name "Day On The Ride." It was a well-marked 70 mile ride with motorcycle crews & folks w/traffic flags to guide you to places like entering Interstate 280 and crossing Hwy 1! Uhhh....yeah, really.

We got there at 5:00AM so I could get a bike fitting at Sports Basement. They opened early just for AIDS/Lifecycle. (A bike fitting is just adjusting your bike to fit your body correctly- seat & handle bar height, making sure the clips on your bike shoes are adjusted to the right spot. Little adjustments can make a huge difference when you're riding long distances. I had no idea before doing this.)
Then we met everyone in the back- there were at least a few hundred riders that day. One of our favorite, devoted ride leaders, Kurt, was named SF AIDS Foundation's volunteer of the month. (the blondie on the left)
We did warm ups & heard the safety speech and as always, had a moment of silence to remember why we ride and imagine a day when HIV will be gone & we will have a celebration ride!
Somebody's coffee hasn't kicked in yet... 
18 miles later, definitely awake at rest stop one.

They had fully supported rest stops about every 20 miles with food, powerade, water, bike techs, and volunteers in hilarious costumes cheering you on.  Oh! And many port-a-potties-- DON'T BE JEALOUS! We're really excited to use port-a-potties all day, everyday for seven days straight. That's really why we signed up! (gag)

It was a challenging day riding to San Carlos & back! There was a ton of climbing and entering & riding on the shoulder of the expressway was completely insane and terrifying, but the final time we pedaled onto the freeway, a roadie volunteer yelled, Thank you! I love you, cyclists! and that made my day. I wish I had taken more photos but I just wanted to make sure I finished in time. The route closed at 5PM.
Such a good feeling! We were cheered on by co-workers, volunteers and other riders and we needed it! Coming up that last hill into the Presidio, Dave's chain popped off & I couldn't maintain my balance & actually grabbed onto the door handle of a huge SUV. I think it was a hummer, yes it was turned off/parked, and thankfully no one was inside. And then we chowed down on a spaghetti dinner in the back of the Sports Basement. 
The next day I got up a little later, had coffee- even the coffee is bicycle! Everything is bikes! And Dave dropped me off in the Castro. One of my longtime BFFs, Erika, not only lives in the Castro but actually lives on Castro Street and helped me out all morning. 
 My co-worker & friend, Russ, lent me his bike trainer to make the bike stationary.
I did stationary spin for about 4-5 hours. Most of my donations came from people who had done the ride, were also doing the ride, or had friends doing the ride as well. I think I made about $120 while training & catching up with Erika.
Erika kept me hydrated & my friends Jesus & Ciara came by and checked in on me too- Thanks!!! 
It was a HOT day. At one point, a completely naked man walked by... no we did not get his picture. 

Suffering, Part II- the stinkin' cheese factory

So there are several cheese factories in the Bay Area and it sounds really romantic to ride your bike out to the country and eat yummy cheese by an idyllic lake, right? Well this cheese factory has great cheese, I am told, a gorgeous setting that almost looks pretend but you have to climb a crazy hill they call "Alpe du Fromage" to get there. But let me back it up...

We start all these northern rides by leaving Sports Basement in the Presidio, going out over the Golden Gate Bridge, through Sausalito, along the bike path, over a hill called Camino Alto and stop for coffee in Fairfax- maybe 30 miles out. ALL the bikers go to this coffee shop in Fairfax- The Roastery- some are with us, and many are doing their own rides. 
Once you leave The Roastery, you go over White's Hill and then onward... I always think I have climbed the "cheese factory hill" when I've really only done this other hill that no one names, which is the Nicasio Hill.

This was our first time going to the cheese factory. I had fallen on White's Hill and then by the time I got to Alpe du Fromage I was pedaling too fast, ran out of gas, and had to stop & stretch a cramp. It was too steep to clip back into my bike so I had to walk. This is one of those roads that has zero shoulder & I guess I just bonked (hadn't eaten enough fuel) because I snapped. I started crying, weeping, while walking my bike up the hill, thinking I was the biggest disappointment to mankind and while remembering the people I had known who had HIV & passed, all I could think was I'm so sorry I can't suffer up this hill & just do this for you! I had obviously lost it!
Look how beautiful this cheese factory is! 
And this awesome person who biked all this way- going way slower than he is capable of just so he could keep me company. I couldn't even look at the cheese!

I had bloody ankles and I felt gross.
And I wept by the lake. 

HYDRATING! Dave was making me laugh but that was a rough day. Note to self: hydrate- drink before you're thirsty and eat, eat, eat before you're hungry. I guess they tell us that 20x/day for a reason.
Cheese Factory, we'll be back!

I ended up being picked up by a SAG (supply & gear) mobile that day. I was crying so hard when I called my mom to tell her I was a huge quitter, loser, etc. when she asked how far I had gone. And I told her, 47 miles and we busted out laughing at what a ridiculous idea it was for me to think I had done nothing. It was just a bad day & I bonked.  I can now look back and laugh. A little.

I'm so grateful for the sweep riders and the SAG volunteers! It is so comforting to know there are people who will never, ever leave you behind. The volunteer ride leaders for AIDS/Lifecycle definitely push your limits and believe you can do some pretty crazy climbs & endure, but safety is always the #1 priority.  If AIDS/Lifecycle is something you have ever thought about doing, I would say DO IT! Even on this "bad day" I saw amazing countryside I had never driven to and would have never known. It was magical. And it was so nice to cheer Dave into the finish- he rode at least 70 miles!