AIDS/LifeCycle 5

OK, it has taken a month to recover from this years ride, well maybe recover isn’t the right word, maybe get caught up is better. I had delusions of posting an update on our adventures and our fundraising shortly after we returned from Los Angeles.

First, some statistics for you about the ride, you may find interesting. There were approximately 1800 riders this year and 400 roadies (compared to last years 1400 riders and 425 roadies.) The total raised was over $8 million, up from $6 million last year. They announced that this was the most successful AIDS fundraiser in the country.

The original sixteen members of Different Spokes Team #120 raised $11,580 from fellow members and freinds. That amount was shared by the sixteen of us who formed the team, and it helped us each towards our minimum fundraising amount, $2500 per rider.

By my count, there were 25 club members and friends participating this year as 22 as Riders and three as Roadies in the Traffic, Medical and Advanced Setup teams, and three club members who were unable to do the ride but did raise money. The total raised by this group was over $89,000, which is just amazing!

If you are interesting in some morte statistics, you might want to check out Fun Facts; for example, we consumed two tons of oatmeal. So on to the last 4 days.

We started out Day 4 in Paso Robles, where it appeared that one of us had his bike stolen. A bit more checking and he found out his bike had been pulled to a holding section, and he had to go see the man in charge. Turns out this rider had been spotted in a pace line (with several boys from LA). A paceline is one of the actions that can get you expeled from the ride. Fortunately, he got off with a warning, and a complement, as he was in “good form.”

On this day, we covered 96 miles on the way to Santa Maria, and the day begins with the Evil Twins on the way to the “official” halfway to Los Angeles point.

Halfway to Los Angeles-Bill Bir

From there, it is a nine mile downhill to Highway 1. Lunch was at El Chorro Regional Park at mile 50 outside of San Luis Obispo, where someone commented that they were starting to feel a bit like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the winter (as they proceeded to pull out package after package of Planters Honey Roasted peanuts from their pockets.) I think many of us found that at the end of the day, we had extra food in our jersey pockets, I know I collected several Cliff bars, and I know someone ended up with a 4 or 5 apples in their bag too.

The next 10 miles were quite warm, approaching 90 degrees I’m sure, until we left rest stop 3 and turned a corner on the way to Pismo Beach, where the ocean breeze cooled things down comfortably. A group of us stopped for coffee in Pismo Beach, before continuing on towards Guadalupe and rest stop 4, but not before a tough little (at 76 miles) climb after mostly flat road and rollers. This 8/10th of a mile climb is on a narrow road shared by good size trucks, who were quite considerate of the cyclists slowly climbing to the top. After rest stop 4 in Guadalupe, it was only another 12 miles to camp at Preisker Park in Santa Maria.

Day 5 is Red Dress/Dress in Red day, so it was quite festive to see a number of Spokers in red tuts.

Red Dress Day-Jeff Peckrul

It’s a relatively short day as miles go, only 44 miles. But it is day 5, and we have already traveled nearly 360 miles in the previous 4 days. It gets a bit tougher to get back on that bike seat (at least for me) by day 5. And day 5 isn’t without it’s share of climbing either, as we circle Vandenberg AFB on the way to Lompoc.

Rest stop 2 is in the town of Casmalia at the Winifred Wollman School, where the grade school children have prepared letters for riders. Leaving Casmalia, you go back thru the town (all of three blocks, that is) to the blaring disco music and the sight of cyclists dancing in the streets. Between here and the lunch stop are the two major climbs of the day, the first as we leave Casmalia, a 1.4 mile climb. The second climb begins at a right hand turn onto Highway 1, which to my mind it seems we would be heading north, the wrong direction. Now that I can see the route from the GPS routing, I do see that we did turn onto Highway 1 South. It’s still a tough 1.3 mile climb. The LA Gay & Lesbian Center board members are at the top with red & black vines, M&Ms and cookies; they always seem to find a good place to camp out waiting for us toc ome by. Lunch was just on the outskirst of Lompoc, and we finished the day with lots of time to relax before dinner.

Leaving Lompoc on Day 6 we begin the day right away with two climbs as we head for Ventura. At mile 18, we are back on 101 heading towards the coast, and this stretch of 101 is much busier than that section we dealt with on the way to Bradly on Day 3. The CHP has closed down one lane of 101 for one bridge crossing after rest stop 2 fortunately, just too narrow for us to cross safely. Lunch was in Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta and finally we got a bit of sun. We stopped quickly at Rest Stop 3 to get layed, um, I mean leied and use the portopotties before heading to Paradise Pit.

Every year, the local community in Santa Barbara provides riders with ice cream, cookies & brownies, this year they even had massage tables set-up and riders are lined up waiting (or lucky enough to be getting one.)

Paradise Pit massage-Bart Narter

Someone had mentioned to me earlier on the Ride that there was a climb not long after leaving Paradise Pit they disliked, and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember it; that is until we turned the corner at mile 60. I was glad I only had one serving of ice cream, and I won’t say how many brownies, but sufice it to say, it was slow going up this hill. Fortunately it was only 24 more miles to Ventura. The campground is at San Buenaventura State Beach, within walking distance of both a Marriott hotel (where we are on a mission for margaritas) and an In-N-Out (where one of us a second meal, and then dessert back at camp, I believe.)

Day 6 concludes with the candlelit vigil on the beach. It is still difficult for me to believe that it has been 25 years since june 5th, 1981 when the CDC reported an unusual outbreak of Pneumocystis carini pneumonia (PCP) among young gay men, followed by the New York Times in July reporting on the appearance of a rare cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, among 41 gay men in New York and California. And in 2005 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, with an estimated 25% unaware of their sero-status. That is what this ride is all about.

Our final day, Ventura to Los Angeles, and Day 7 promises to be a fairly easy day. We have decided to meet at the lunch stop at Malibu Lagoon State Beach and ride the final 15 or so miles together as a group. Nevertheless, there are still 60 miles to ride, but leaving Ventura it is all flat. Not until we leave rest stop 2, do we start with the rollers; Pt. Mugu, Leo Carillo, Zuma Beach, Escondido and finally the Pepperdine climb. We leave the lunch stpo at 12:45 so as to time our arrival in Los Angeles at 2pm, where Bill, Jon and Tia will have hopefully met up and will be there for our ride in.

But not before a stop at Starbucks, or course. Well, actually, it was so a one of us could catch up with the group, having riden ahead to get a rental car, for a quick getaway after Closing Ceremonies.

Starbucks stop-Day 7

And so at about 2:15pm on Saturday, June 10th 2006, we arrive in Los Angeles, having completed 553 miles and 24,000 feet of climbing in seven days.

Los Angeles-Martha, David & Scott

Online registration for AIDS/LifeCycle 6, taking place June 3-9, 2007, is now open. At last count, there are a half dozen of us having already signed up or committed to it. How about you?