Yesterday we finished up the ride with 60 miles from Ventura to LA! 545 miles complete!
I was in no rush for the ride to end. We started out with another misty morning riding through Ventura. I had ridden in Ventura before with my family so it was nostalgic to be there again. I love Ventura and all of the harbors and houses along the channel.
I decided to try to ride the rest of the ride with Danny. I usually do not like riding with other people because I want to go at my own pace and enjoy the scenery, but I thought it would be nice to end the journey with my closest friend on the ride. We definitely were riding faster than my usual pace but it was ok for a while.
When we got to the Pacific Coast Hwy it was still foggy. I was taking a lot of time at the last two rest stops because I was seeing a lot of the people I met on the ride and kind of saying goodbye but also avoiding it because I really didn’t want the ride to end.
We had lunch at Pepperdine University. By this time my body had finally started to feel all of the random pain a lot more than it had on the other days. My butt really hurt and my left pinky was numb and useless. We only had 16 miles to go so it was okay! I just collapsed into the grass at lunch and took a few minutes to revive myself.
After lunch the sun started to come out as we were riding through Malibu. It was the sketchiest part of the ride because there was not much room for us to ride and pass each other with all of the cars. Many stereotypical Malibu Beach bleach blond shaggy haired surfers were on the side of the road opening and closing their car doors which could have ended very badly for a cyclist. Luckily there were no huge problems as far as I know. It was very beautiful along the Malibu coast and beach path we rode on. It was definitely looking like LA!
We had one last steep hill a few miles out from the finish line. At the top of the hill there were a whole bunch of people cheering and waving signs. It was really nice and starting to feel real. We rode the next few miles up a steady hill for a while. When we reached the top of the hill and turned right, we rolled right into the end at the VA hospital on Sepulveda and Wilshire.
It was over! There were thousands of people awaiting the riders, lined along the sidelines and cheering with bubbles, horns and signs. It was amazing!
When I reached the finish line the bubble I had been living in for a week popped. I was no longer one of a pack of thousands all doing the same thing, traveling together, eating the same food, experiencing the same challenges. It was a weird feeling to be released from. I very much enjoyed the bubble we were living in. It was perfect. All I had to do was ride my bike with amazing people and everything was taken care of for me. I didn’t have to think. Even sleeping in a tent on the hard ground wasn’t that bad.
I saw Cabrio Taxi come through and I was able to say goodbye and thank them for adopting me on the ride! I then waited in line for about an hour to take a picture with the backdrop that said we rode 545 miles. While in line the ride love continued. We would hold each others’ bikes while we went to get food and our victory shirts.
After the photo, the closing ceremony began with Mary Murphy from “So you think you can dance” screaming into the microphone. Yayyy. She should not be allowed to have a mic. Some dancers from the show were there. An executive from Fox who was HIV positive spoke too.
The closing ceremony was nice. There were a few speakers with stories telling us why what we did was so important. As a whole, 14.2 million dollars were raised this year with AIDS Life Cycle which is amazing!
I was then picked up by Nathan and taken to the Olguin house to see Rachel and the rest of my favorite LA family!!! It was so nice to see them again. Dinner was amazing, it was so colorful -acorn squash, sweet potatoes, watermelon and salad. It was so nice to fill up on veggies after eating so many clif bars all week.
I did laundry and relaxed a bit. I will fly back to SFO at noon.
It is so crazy that this huge journey is over. While it was happening it became a part of me. I grew attached to the people, my bike, and the way of life. 20 miles seemed like nothing in the world of ALC. I will truly miss all of the love of this community, but I will take every positive experience and remember it forever.
Overall, the ride was truly perfect. I had no flats, no chain skips, no falls. I rode every single mile, up every hill. Past artichoke fields, wineries, mountains, the ocean and strawberries. We rode to bring awareness and raise money to end AIDS and we are so close. AIDS will soon be a thing of the past.
Day six: We rode about 88 miles from Lompoc to Ventura.
Once again the morning started off foggy and with a large climb within the first 15 miles. (I am seeing a pattern here). When we got to the top of Goleta Pass, the sun was peeking through the fog, causing the mountains ahead to glow. The descent was in to the most beautiful view of the whole trip. Something about the mixture between the fog and the sun. It worked.
When we got to the 101, we went down past a tunnel I have seen many times and the view continued to amaze me. I remember this section of the 101 from when I was a kid and we would be driving to Ventura. It is even more interesting to me, because I would always see the “Los Angeles” mileage sign and subtract 60 miles for Ventura and here we were, riding to Ventura to be followed by riding 60 miles to LA the next day.
When we reached the 101 we had rolling hills along the coast for a while and despite the slight fog, it was beautiful.
Soon I could really tell that we were in So Cal. There was white and pink oleander everywhere, and palm trees. As we approached Santa Barbara the views became even more spectacular. The sun was out, the water was blue and there were sailboats on the horizon. I took my time riding today because Santa Barbara was so gorgeous and the paths we were on were delightful.
There was a stop that residents of Santa Barbara set up giving us free ice cream. It was fun to hang out and enjoy the sun a little bit more.
After we left Santa Barbara, we rode on the 101 for a while. It is funny because the section of the 101 that we were on has stuck with me for years. To me it always represented that we were officially in Ventura. I used to call it the “Brad Pit Freeway” because when I was young I heard that Brad Pit lived somewhere around there (LA).
We then rode along the coast a little more, then in to camp. By the end of the day I was definitely exhausted.
After dinner there was a candlelight vigil on the beach for all who we have lost. It was gorgeous and really intense.
Afterwards, my friend Danny and I took the glow stick boarders and made art on the beach with them.
I am shocked by how warm it is on the beach! It is dark and the sand is still warm and so is the water! I am not used to this. Pacifica’s beach would have given us all hypothermia if we hung out there at night.
It is midnight and I just do not want to go to bed. I know I need to rest for the last 60 miles tomorrow, but I know once I go to sleep, tomorrow will come sooner, and I just really don’t want this week to end. It is the perfect set up. All I do is ride my bike from place to place. I am fed, and I get to hang out with wonderful people. I really thought this week would be long, hard, and exhausting. But I truly have never felt more at home. I could do this for longer. Even the hills here and there make me happy because I am constantly surprising myself.
Tomorrow is sure to be an emotional day. I already get sad when I think about it. It is going to be such an amazing feeling to complete the route, and the celebration is sure to be exciting. More to come…
Today was red dress day! We had a short ride with a few gruesome yet manageable hills. 42 miles from Santa Maria to Lompoc.
Everyone wore red because there is a switch back on the ride that creates a red ribbon as the line of red cyclists pass by.
There were teams dressed in matching outfits: variations of Annie, Snookie, Cher, basically anything you can think of, someone was surely wearing it. It was awesome to see most of the straight men on the ride don red dresses and sequins as well. Most people wore bike shorts under their dresses, but some had funny undies. Needless to say I saw a lot of Tranny Fanny today haha.
I wore my condom dress. It wasn’t red, but it seemed appropriate. It made the ride much more entertaining. When people would pass me they would make a funny comment about it and it was fun for me to come up with retorts for them. It was a great way to exercise the brain. Most common was: “Are those used?” Me- “Idk I found them next to your tent.” And “Safety first.” -“Yeah I don’t think I will be getting pregnant today.” And “Someone had fun last night.”
It was highly entertaining. Since the ride was short (haha we are at that piint where 42 miles means nothing to us anymore) and relatively easy everyone was really taking their time in the morning and at the stops to take photos. It was a relaxing day. One of my favorite parts of this red dress thing is that, even though we were all wearing some variation of red, everyone put their own personality into it. It was like Halloween covered in strawberries.
We rode past the United States Penitentiary in Lompoc which was eerie but really cool. There was also a pretty field of delfinium further down the road.
We got back to camp very early for the day which gave me a huge lump of free time that I didn’t know how to use. I ended up spending time in the phone charging tent (which is not ideal because it brings out the worst in everyone as people fight over outlets). I then went into town for dinner with my friend to a Mexican restaurant with horrible service. A sweet resident from Lompoc gave us a ride back to camp. Apparently she was circling all night to pick up and help out riders. And she does it every year when ALC rolls through.
It is so easy to get caught up in the personal aspect of this ride “I” am riding 545 miles. “I” just rode up QUADBUSTER. But tonight my friend and I saw all of the Positive Peddlers’ (HIV+ riders) bikes lined up and he brought up a good point. Most riders don’t even realize that they are in company with so many positive riders and it reminds us what we are here for.
We are all a community of people working together to fight this disease and the stigma attached to it.
Today was a pretty crazy day! We rode 97.7 miles from Paso Robles to Santa Maria.
I got an extra early start in the morning because I heard that the halfway point marker was at the the top of the second “Evil Twin” hill and it would not be open for long because the mileage for the day was really high. The top of the second hill was only about 16 miles into the day. I was very intimidated by the name of the hills and the stories I had heard. Turns out they weren’t that bad. I didn’t stop at all from the moment I left camp to the moment I reached the top. It was a very gradual climb along the 46 west of Paso, but very very long. I was very proud of myself for pacing it out just right.
Once I reached the top, there was a vista area set up for halfway point photos. There were multiple rocks with great views behind them set up with posters and banners proclaiming it the halfway point. Despite the numerous photo stations, there were still very long lines and I was at the vista for at least an hour which made me nervous for finishing the route for the day.
After the “halfway point” there was a very long downhill that took us back to the beloved highway 1. After a few miles we were able to see the ocean again! It was a glorious sight. I could see Morro Rock off in the distance.
We continued on, through a rest stop that had erotic stories posted on the walls of the port-o-potties (the roadies make things really interesting!), and further down the coast.
We passed through a bunch of towns that I had explored a lot in college because everyone from Fresno goes to the central coast. It was nice to see Cayucas, Avila Beach, Pismo, Morro Bay and Shell Beach. The water was a gorgeous bright blue and it was hard to look away.
After lunch at Cuesta College, we rode to Santa Maria by way of Arroyo Grande, Oceano and Guadelupe. I know I am spoiled being from the Bay Area, but wow Oceano and Guadelupe and the part of Santa Maria I have seen aside from camp is so gross. There were farms, but they were not as well kept as the ones up north. There was dirt flying everywhere and the towns were very decrepit and the shoulders were sketchy to ride on. This was definitely not my favorite place to ride.
It was a long day but many people were unable to do the hills let alone finish all 97 miles. I feel very accomplished, and am honestly shocked at how well my body is taking this being that I did not train well enough. Ok I finally admitted it.
Maybe the months of anticipation and anxiety have really paid off, because my mind has been in total control the whole way. I always expect the worst from the hills, so when they are not that bad, I feel really great. I was so intimidated by this ride, but it is really no where near what my imagination created. I think I am just really mentally prepared. It’s an interesting concept.Notes on the ride as a whole: I think the first day was by far the hardest, because each mile meant a lot and it was hard to really understand what lay ahead. Now, riding has become so second nature -all of the hand signals, gears, and butt pain have become a part of me. 10 miles seems like nothing anymore. I don’t know what it will be like to not ride a bike on Sunday..
Today we rode 66 miles from King City to Paso Robles!
We started out in the morning with a 10 mile steady uphill topped off with with a 1.5 mile monster hill called, in caps lock on the route sheet: QUADBUSTER. It seemed incredibly intimidating, but I made it through. Everyone was really supportive. Many riders (who were able) rode up and down the hill multiple times to help encourage and physically push the struggling riders on their teams. When I reached the top, I was definitely tired but I powered through. Seeing everyone cheering at the top, including some familiar faces felt incredible. As I began rolling down the other side of the hill afterwards, I was euphoric and very satisfied with the accomplishment.
The next few miles were a breeze. The rest stops kept coming and going. I only went to one, because I discovered a problem I have developing..It isn’t really a bad thing…and it’s an issue I have experienced many times. It is simply this: I have met so many people and I enjoy to talking to everyone -hearing their stories, talking about the ride etc. I sometimes spend wayyyy too much time at rest stops. I guess since it is very difficult to hold conversations while riding, we all have to get it out of our systems when we stop. We are all going through the same experience, yet reacting to it in our own ways and taking different outlooks. Everyone is incredibly friendly -actually even loving toward each other. It is amazing. So I talk to everyone and have trouble pulling away haha. Story of my life.
We had lunch 2/3 of the way in a little town called Bradley. It was pretty cool. Every year they have a BBQ to raise money for their school when ALC passes through. They made $16,000 today! Crazy.
It was really really hot at lunch. The final 23 miles of the day that followed were definitely the hardest of the day and probably of the ride so far. By now most of our bodies are very sore, some sunburned, and doused in exhausted. We had to ride in the heat against the wind which made us very slow.
The last rest stop was spectacular. It was at Mission San Miguel and the roadies were dressed as Barbies in drag and Kens. I took a picture with the Jesus statue. I figured Jesus and I must be pretty good friends now that I have performed in “Godspell.”
When I arrived at camp I was definitely pooped and it didn’t help that the Midstate Fairgrounds that we are at are kind of smelly, riddled with cow poop and confusing to navigate- basically it reminds me of the Fresno Fair which might not be my favorite place on earth.
We got back earlier today than other days though, so I spent extra time bonding with Team Cabrio and relaxing. Then I went on a walk around Paso with a new friend. It was a beautiful and warm night.
Annnd that’s my update for today! Really, everything is great…except for using port-o-potties. Before this ride I hadn’t used a port-o-potty in years! …and for good reason. But it is what it is.
Today we rode 109 miles from Santa Cruz to King City!
Overall the ride was very relaxing and calm. Yesterday’s ride was a stroll down memory lane, in a sense. But today the ride was on many roads I have never seen before, so it was different but exciting all the same.
We started out in Santa Cruz and went south through Capitola, which I had never been to. It is a really cute coastal town that looks like it was designed by Walt Disney.
We then rode through strawberry fields in the fog. It smelled really good. We passed by a field of Calla Lillies and everyone stopped to take photos -and kept calling them tulips. I didn’t want to be “that” person and correct them so yeah, the yellow tulips were gorgeous as well as the hillside view behind them.
We then rolled through artichoke fields and stopped at the Choke Coach to eat fried artichokes which is a ALC tradition. I spent a lot of the next part of the ride riding with Team Cabrio, pedi-cabbers from SF that I worked on an event with in April. They are really great. As a solo rider, it is definitely interesting to test what it is like to ride in a group. I am more comfortable alone, at my own pace, but it was also nice to be a part of something. They are a great group and I not-so-secretly wish I was a pedi-cabber too. The only negative part of the day were the bumpy roads every once in a while. Those really hurt bikebutt. So far this ride has been a breeze! It is wonderful.
Today we rode 85 miles from San Francisco to Santa Cruz!
As we were leaving the Cow Palace, where the ride began, I was definitely excited, and kind of scared -but mostly touched by the people cheering us on with signs thanking us, and holding of pictures if their lost loved ones.
This is certainly a ride with personality! Every few miles there are people dressed hilariously, dancing and cheering us on from the side of the road. My favorite was the dancing condom-man.
We started out with a foggy ride that passed by Pacifica, which seemed like a very good place to start in my case. It is symbolic in a way -since I have driven that road countless times and grew up there. And of course it was very foggy.
We then rode over the 35 to the 92, which included a very long assent up a mountain against the wind. It was definitely challenging but I made it through. It was a special part of the ride for me because it reminded me of the day that I fell rock climbing last July because it is the road we drove on to get to Castle Rock where I fell. The thing that kept me going up the hill was thinking about that day and how I probably would not be doing the ride if it weren’t for my ankle injury that drove me to become more interested in cycling, leading me to ALC.
The scariest part for me is the descent that follows. Long downhills are really fast and intimidating.
The rest of the ride was a delightful cruise down highway one. We passed many places that I have visited with my friends -beaches, strawberry farms, pigeon point lighthouse etc. Since the ride is long and as we ride we are pretty much in our own heads the whole time, I spent a lot of time remembering all of the great times I have had on this portion of Highway One and all of the people I love that the road reminded me of.
Once we made it to Santa Cruz, the feeling of arriving to camp was overwhelming and euphoric. Once again we were met with amazing cheerleaders. Overall it was a great day.
I know the road ahead will have some difficult moments, but the amazing people and community of AIDS Life Cycle, and the cause we are supporting makes it beyond worth it!
Quote of the day: “I see my boyfriend up ahead! …he just doesn’t know it yet” I heard variations if this many times throughout the day. Haha these people are amazing
How does one truly prepare for a long bike ride?
Lance Armstrong happy, Lance Armstrong winning, Lance Armstrong drinking champagne, Lance Armstrong shirtless, Lance Armstrong waving, Lance Armstrong’s Legs, Lance Armstrong shirtless. Lance Armstrong shirtless. Lance Armstrong on the beach.
I am ready for tomorrow now.
DISCLAIMER: The following post most likely contains too much honesty for the internet and for that I feel vulnerable …but maybe it is necessary?
I know I probably ask for a lot, but as I am packing for AIDS/LifeCycle, (a 545 mile bike ride to Los Angeles that leaves this Sunday at 6 am!) I am realizing the one thing I will probably need most is something that I can not buy in stores.
I am putting together a “page of motivation.”
Through my training for this ride, I have learned that endurance is a state of mind -at least in my case. I am going to be riding my bike approximately 80 miles a day, for 7 days, and I have no doubt that there might be some pretty dark moments seeing as I am of very average physical ability.
I am doing this ride for so many reasons, and I admit, some are more selfish than others -ex: to accomplish something out of my comfort-zone, to see the beautiful California Coast from a different point of view, to meet amazing people etc. But MOST IMPORTANTLY I am riding to end AIDS. I am riding for people who would love to do this ride, but are physically unable. I am riding for people who are no longer here. I am riding to spread the love. This is my small contribution to make a little bit of a difference in this world.
I guess what I am asking is for you to JOIN ME. Cheesy as it may seem, I am collecting motivational and inspirational quotes, funny pictures, memes, stories, and words of wisdom. I am going to keep this with me while I am on the ride, for myself and to share with others who may need a boost here and there. If you have anything you would like to contribute, it would mean the world to me and could seriously save the day.
You can leave comments here, inbox me, send me texts -whatever.
Seriously funny pictures. Puns. Memes. Sloths! I love sloths. Shit’s getting real.
I am not afraid for this ride, or as intimidated as I thought I would be. I am going in, tackling it head on and keeping myself open to whatever comes my way.
Thank you for helping me to “Spread the love, not the disease.” Much love ♥