Saturday, August 12, 2006

Rides Since...

I've ridden approximately 200 miles since the AIDS Ride. That's pretty pathetic eh? I still run and stay active. But life got in the way after the intensity of training. A week or so after the ride, I took off from my place in downtown LA and rode to Santa Monica then did the training ride that climbs past Malaga Cove to the Rancho Palos Verdes gas station... I can't remember the name damn it! It was strange to ride that climb alone and to have no encouragement. But I made it to the top and then sat and chatted with a gentleman on a mountain bike. Egads I don't know how people can ride those bikes on the road! I do enjoy the whirring sound of the knobby tires though! lol Anyway, I was pleased that I still had enough strength in my legs to do that climb. A few weeks later I met up with my riding partners from the actual ride and we did a little 30 miler around Beverly Hills and adjacent. It was SO nice to be able to ride with a group again.... a group of 4. We took it easy so we could talk and reminisce. It was great! That was during one of the little heat waves and we happened to have overcast that particular day. Very lucky!! I've done some other little rides here and there. I've written down the mileage and times and all that. But I'm not in techie mode at the moment so I'll spare you the details. I had hoped to be signed up for next year's ride by now. But I still don't know where I'll be working or living. Wherever I'm working, I would still like to train and fly in for the ride. I know it won't be nearly as enjoyable without the formal training rides. But that's in the future and I'll take it as it comes. For now, I'm still trying to keep in shape and stay ready for when my riding buddies come acallin'!!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Rancho Palos Verdes

via Melago Cove

Distance - 58.26
Time - 4.26.41
Max speed - 33 mph

My first time doing this route alone and the first time after the AIDS ride was finished. Holy crap it's still difficult! And not nearly as fun alone. Got to the top and hung out with some guy at the gas station at the top of the hill. He'd ridden his mountain bike up the hill. But, I must say, he had not done the miles at that point that I had done. EGO! (= It's still humbling to see someone climb a hill like that on a mtn bike when I struggle on my road bike. However, I struggle much less at the moment! (= It was good... but very hot... ride!

Monday, June 12, 2006


Distance - 12.46 miles
Time - 59.28
Max speed - 28 mph
Avg speed - 12.5 mph

Just a quick little jaunt to Silverlake to loosen up my legs. The hill at the end of the reservoir was a killer. It's SO short and so steep sometimes I feel like I'm just going to stop while still peddling. But since it's so short, the pain is quick and soon forgotten. Lots of potholes and such along the way but a good quickie ride without having to drive anywhere. I like that! (=

Saturday, June 10, 2006

ALC/LifeCycle 5 - Day Seven (June 10, 2006)

My last morning waking up at the crack of "pre-dawn" in awhile. It's a 60ish mile day, mostly along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) with Saturday beach traffic. Most people were not in a huge hurry to get out of camp today. Our group was no different. I didn't really see anyone until we got to our bikes. I was there a little early... for the first time! There was a little gift on our seats from The Chicken Lady. Jeero got to ours first! Little sneak! It had a nice poem in there. I can't remember off hand what it said... but maybe I'll do an addendum with it. (= We rode out at an easy pace and just hung together. It was nice. There were some good rolling hills along the way. I hadn't done the 2-day Santa Barbara ride so this section of PCH was new to me. I couldn't really believe how hilly it was. They just kept coming at us! lol One of the rest stops was on a climb but the rest stop itself was down a very steep driveway. I kept expecting to see someone with road shoes slide down the thing. But it never happened! Damn! (= Nothing special about what I did at the rest stop! lol It's all routine by now. But one of them was very cute with a Martha Stewart theme! They offered only one color of Gatorade because too much color is BAD! ha! One of the roadies looked awesome in his capris, short sweater, and polo shirt. Good hair too! (= At some point we also passed through a military base! There was an ambulance at the entrance playing the theme to Top Gun over their speakers! lol That was cool! They have actually done that for us at the top of random climbs throughout the ride. Unfortunately I had forgotten about them until now! Oops! On the way out, there was a second ambulance playing, "It's getting hot in here... so take off all your clothes...." so Kenny and I began to disrobe. It was 2 guys in the ambulance so we had to debate which of us they were interested in seeing actually take the clothes off! lol With these tan lines... NEITHER!! The support just keeps on comin'! Got to lunch and really took our time! We found a table to eat at together and that was nice. Not sitting on the ground can be a very good thing! There were 5 of us and room for 6 at the table. So we had rotating guests! The Russian guy (Joe) who had done a comedy routine sat with us for a little bit. He was quite funny in that situation as well! (= Chicken Lady came in eventually and got a huge round of applause for all her support. She started to cry! Aww! Very sweet! I think she's an every year participant... along with Ginger Brewlay. As a rider or roadie or something every year. Amazing! About 15 miles remained after lunch. We took our sweet time getting out of there. But then it just seemed like we needed to. So off we went. We got onto the back of a HUGE paceline.... going way too slowly. But we were behaving. I heard Suzann behind me say, "NO!" lol I turned around so she could hear me, "That's why I'm in the middle, so you all can help me behave!" I did know it was dangerous and I wanted to be safe... but I get a little antsy behind people who are scared to descend. Nothing wrong with being a little scared... but I want to be in front of them. (= Nothing wrong with that either. Eventually Kenny found an opening and off we went. It wasn't quite so tight so it seemed quite a bit safer. Suzann was with us so I knew it had to be safe. (= She's a nurse! So she sees the outcome of the dangerous stuff. I get that! That's why I waited... and that's why I was glad she was with us! We got onto a beach path eventually and then had to cross under the road into what I think was Brentwood... we were close to the end. We climbed one last hill with "Mom and Dad" at the end with their M&Ms. Awesome! And then we rolled into Brentwood and stopped for Starbucks/Boba and to root for the riders behind us. That was fun!! The Boba was good too! Jeero enjoyed the Boba... the vitamin water was getting a little old by then! (= We stayed there for about 30-45 minutes then decided to roll in. There were people all along the streets, signs on most of the trees, and people in cars yelling at us. I will miss the cheering next time I ride!! We get closer and closer... there's another slight climb and we all bitch! We let Kenny lead us up the hill since he's been last on every other one! hehe O= And into the park we go. There is cheering and waving and everything. The Viagra man is there to high five us (he had been seen along the road wearing a pill outfit that said, "YOU are my viagra!!" lol). Everyone recognized him immediately!. We parked our bikes. Kenny's husband found him, Khoa's friends finally found him. Eventually Suzann's family found her... after we had lined up for the ceremony. It was just a big hug fest! I was relieved and happy... and I admit a little sad that no one was there to greet me. That was difficult with all the reunions happening around me. I had friends coming to pick me up later... with my dog!! So that made me happy. But in the moment, it was a little lonely! We went to get our finishing t-shirts and all chose yellow. It was hard to choose because Kenny had a couple colors, Suzann had one, and Khoa had a couple. So yellow it was! (= The closing ceremony was a lot of cheering, holding up our bikes, more cheering, some crying, and a lot of HOPE! The most emotional I got was when they brought the roadies into the middle. The riders had come in and separated into two groups each on one side of an empty fenced-in space. The roadies filled that empty space... just as they have done all week. I just can't express the gratitude and emotion I feel when I think about the support and energy they have expended just to keep each of us on the road this week. Takes a very special kind of person to use her/his vacation time that way! So the middle, the core, is definitely where they belonged! I know it sounds sappy... but if you've had the experience, you know exactly what I mean! And that was that. It was over. Guess what I did next!? The first thing I always do when I get into camp... went to the gear truck to find my bag! On my day of lasts... that was the last time I would go hunting for my humongous bag! Emily and Sidney came and picked me up with Emma Blue... took me directly to California Pizza Kitchen for pasta and a COKE!! Yes! Probably the last time in a very long time I'll crave pasta... and the coke, woo did that taste good! Then home... not quite back to normal.... but home nonetheless. An incredible experience!

Friday, June 09, 2006

ALC/LifeCycle 5 - Day Six (June 9, 2006)

Ahh Day 6! COLD! I got up for breakfast around my usual 4am and it was relatively comfortable out. Sometime between breakfast and breaking down my tent, the temperature seemed to have dropped several degrees. In general, I am very bad at knowing what clothes to wear. On a day like this, I am even worse. I HATE carrying a bunch of clothing in my jersey pockets but I also don't like to be cold. I usually take the risk that it will warm up eventually and hope that a climb will get me warm too. Looking at the ride slip for the day, there is a climb that starts within the first mile. So I forego the knee and arm warmers and just wear my shorts, a long-sleeved jersey and my windbreaker. And it just got colder and colder. The climb did it's job in warming up. Khoa was funny.... he got very excited as soon as we started to go up. He doesn't generally like to climb. The first rest area was near the top of the climb and it was even colder! lol I decided to ride with Sandra and Lisa who I had met on the first day. I wanted to be sure I could ride into LA with my "riding buddies" on the last day. So I told them I wanted to ride with them and they went to get water. I told my friends to go ahead and then I went to the bathroom and got my water. This day would be dubbed... "AM I AHEAD OR BEHIND!??" I waited for about 20 minutes in the freezing frickin' cold and then decided that they had left without me. Not such a bad thing because I do go a lot faster when I'm trying to catch up. But I still wasn't sure if they were ahead or behind. I figured, if nothing else, I would catch up with Kenny et. al. I stopped at the 2nd rest stop long enough to see if I could find anyone. But apparently they were all cruising today! (= Yay! So I did my stuff (bathroom, chamois butt'r, food, water) and took off. This part of the ride was pretty precarious being on the highway in traffic. It was a little scary. But everything seemed to go okay. I just kept riding. Never did catch up with or get caught by Sandra and Lisa. But at lunch I ran into Kar (jumped into line with him) and then we found Suzann and Khoa. Kenny came rolling in a little after. Not sure how that happened when he was in front of me. But remember the title of this day... and you will understand! lol After lunch, we all went to do our various tasks. Kenny's tire had exploded so he needed to get a new one. That's what he gets for skidding to a stop a couple days ago!! LOL So we all grouped and stood waiting for him. Saw him one moment and the next he was gone! I ran over to the mechanic area and he was nowhere to be found. I stopped at the bathroom just in case... well, and I had to use it. But still! Anyway, we finally decided that we should just go and let him catch up. HEY... was he ahead or behind!?? Geez! What was interesting on this day was the moment I really felt like I was in SoCal! We were riding along the beach getting near to Santa Barbara and it just sortof hit me. We got onto a beach path around that time and I felt like I was on another training ride. It was nice but it was also sortof sad knowing that the ride was nearly over. But for the moment, I was just glad to be warm again! lol Every year, Santa Barbara hosts a Paradise stop... ice cream, massage therapy, cookies, fresh strawberries, SOAP & WATER. I had a couple ice cream cones and some strawberries. Another thing that hit both Khoa and me at this point was the whole "touching food" thing. We are really not allowed to touch ANYTHING at camp or in rest areas. The roadies hand everything to us. That's so the skanky people who don't wash their hands don't infect the rest of us with their crud! Well here, I wanted strawberries so I stood there waiting for them after I asked. lol They just looked at me like I was weird for not just grabbing them. Khoa and I both started laughing because we realized we were actually allowed to touch something. By this time we were starting to wonder where Suzann and Kar had gotten to. They stopped to take some pictures and were still not around. Uh oh! Are they ahead or behind!? lol We finally found them but no sign of Kenny. So we had a photo taken with the fabulous Ginger Brewlay (me, Kar, Ginger, Khoa, Suzann). Then off we went again. Ran into Hugh Hefner and some girls along the way... he asked us all to leave the ride and head to the mansion with him. But when he saw the tan lines, he told us to stick to our day jobs! )= Damn! Ya know, this was a really long day. It was about 84 miles with a good amount of climbing. I was actually quite relieved when we rolled into Ventura. We had to avoid some tourists near the pier and make some pretty sharp corners along the way. But that was fun. There was a little dip about which I said to Suzann, "I bet Kenny jumped or jumps that... depending on whether he is ahead of or behind us!" (aside: Kenny later said to us, "HEY! Ya know that little dip in the path before getting to camp? I jumped over that and one of the roadies yelled at me!" LOL) Rolled into camp, which is right on the beach. Elaine had set up some of our tents so we could just get our stuff ready and do our thing. Saw Sandra and Lisa and told them I had been looking for them all day. They just laughed. lol Ah well! I had to go to the gear truck to find my sleeping pad and saw Suzann. Her partner and step-son had showed up to surprise her and she wanted to introduce all of us. VERY COOL! I admit I was a little jealous... that she gets to shower in a real bathroom and sleep in a bed. ha! Got back to my tent and Sue's stuff was there! That was pretty cool! Although I couldn't imagine that she would be sleeping in a tent with broken ribs after being in the hospital for 2 nights! Did the usual crap... shower, dinner, med tent, etc. Then there was a candlelight vigil on the beach. I was having a relatively quiet night in general so that sortof fit the mood. I went and stood down there but didn't hold a candle. I don't know why I didn't want to do that. But I stood in silence and listened to people around me.... some crying, some talking, some breathing deeply... just listened. I said a little prayer for my Uncle Roger and thanked him for the music he'd provided in my head throughout the ride. I thought about the Positive Pedelers on the ride... doing what I am doing but being HIV+. Incredible! And then I thanked God for allowing me this incredible experience, which I had approached as merely an athletic endeavor but which opened my eyes to SO much more! My body handled everything I threw at it and I was always able to recover... so I had the opportunity to really think during this time. In other words, I wasn't SO distracted with pain that it was all I could think of. An excellent centering experience! There was nothing left to do but go to bed. Sue had gotten an air mattress from Chris Cole (aforementioned ED of LAGLC) and slept in his tent... he was in a hotel. So I had my own tent again.... this time I felt better about it. (= At least I can end my day knowing that no one is ahead and no one is behind. We are all together.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

ALC/LifeCycle 5 - Day Five (June 8, 2006)

RED DRESS DAY!! This day is basically a blur! It was "only" about 44 miles. But there was one pretty good climb so it wasn't an easy day. I found out early in the morning that my tentmate had an accident the day before. Apparently she had run into a pole marking the entrance to a trail and hurt her ribs. She finished riding, which explains her stuff being in the tent, and then went to the med tent when they returned. They immediately to her to the hospital. And here I had thought maybe they'd gotten a hotel room again that night! I'm sortof glad I didn't know because I would have been worried. This way I was just jealous that she was sleeping in a bed... which she was... but in a hospital. So I packed all her stuff up for her and left it with her friend so they could get what they needed for her or take the whole thing if she was going home. They (her team, The Pee Team) were going to SAG for the day so they could stay at the hospital with her. Aside from that, the atmosphere was definitely festive. People had put a lot of thought, time, and energy into their attire for the day. *I* was not one of them! lol I had basically grabbed a nightie that I wear and decided to wear that over a red jersey and riding shorts. Ha! I'll be more creative next time! The picture is Khoa (who actually makes a pretty hot girl!), Kar, Elaine, Suzann, Kenny, and me. Kar was definitely one of the most creative! Though it wasn't technically a dress, he had taken ribbons and written all his donors names on them then pinned them to his traditional Chinese pants and shirt. SO many people wanted their pictures taken with him. It was very cute!! There was another guy who rode on 3-4 inch heels! He had his seat height fit professionally for the shoes and then had a clip put on one of the shoes so he could clip into his pedal! A little bit crazy if you ask me! But very cool! He got a standing ovation at lunch! Remember that climb I mentioned?? lol Yeah, he did that. How will he top that next year I wonder! A funny thing about this day is the rest stop at the Winifred Wollman School. I assume they stop there every year. So every year these kids come outside and see all these men and women in dresses riding their bikes. Obviously they haven't been traumatized or the school wouldn't have let us use their space. And they certainly wouldn't have had the kids outside talking to us and doing some roadie stuff for us. Tiny town in California and they're more open minded than some of the larger places. That was one of those times when I saw the impact of just riding. Nothing more... just ride. Show them who we are... that they are us too. Give them a little orange plastic bracelet to remember us by. And let them use their own brains to process it. The parents have to be supportive too... we all know how parents can affect things! Poignant! Another climb out of the rest stop. That was cool to see! All the red climbing up that hill... it really was like veins in the body. I'm sure they were hard but I don't remember the climbs being all that difficult. I'm sure that's partly due to my getting in better shape, also to the shorter day, and finally to the excitement of knowing it was a shorter day and the red dress thing. I do remember being pretty excited on that climb and just going for it though. Really the only reason I remember that at all is because I waited for awhile before my riding buddies showed up. We sat and relaxed while we ate together. There was only about 7 miles of riding left after lunch so we were in no hurry. I don't think any of us had plans to go into Lomoc (pronounced Lom-poke). There were shuttles taking people into town that wanted to go. Apparently there are some shopping and restaurants there. I guess if I was going, I would have just planned to ride in. But I just didn't have any interest. I thought being around camp sounded more attractive to me. Did the same stuff as usual. Got some more ice for my hand then headed over to dinner... kinda early. But Suzann was already there so I sat with her. I think we were both happy to have some time to just hang out. We basically just sat there the whole time... until the sun started going away and then we moved toward the middle to get some body heat going. Hung out there until announcements and stuff. I made a mistake in yesterday's blog. The talent show was tonight... and it was good. Before it started, I fell asleep with my head on the table! lol Guess I was a little tired. The picture was taken after I woke up! lol But I stayed awake for a few of the acts and then headed out. The Russian comedian was hysterical... and the singers were all quite talented. There was some good dancing too... including a Hula dancer (I think that's what she was). At some point I figured I would hear everything from my tent so I decided to leave. On my way I decided to check out my "Messages of Support" on the computers they had set up for just that purpose. It's cool to go see that people are thinking of me while I'm out there on the road sweating my ass off. It seems like such a small thing... but I tell you what, I cried quite a few times reading what people had written to me! Done with that... med tent for some more ice... and off to bed. Knowing that Sue was in the hospital, it wasn't quite as nice having the tent all to myself. /= Another thing that I forgot to mention... instead of bucket laundry, I have been washing my clothes in the shower. lol I just walk in with my clothes on, wash with laundry soap as if I'm washing my body... rinse and remove. lol Then I wash and rinse the insides and hang them on the little soap/shampoo shelf on the shower head. (= Much easier than the bucket!! Oh yeah, this was another phone charging location. Same system... plastic ziploc and leaving it out over night. Okay, but I have to tell this one last story... because I can! I was standing where I was going to plug my phone in. And while I was standing there, a woman was getting ready to go into the shower truck. No one was really around since most people had already showered awhile ago. So she's standing there... and she takes off her pants and underwear. So she's literally butt naked... though she still had a shirt on. She obviously realized what she had done and seemed to panic a little. Looked around and saw me... put her pants back on real quick. Then went into the shower. I felt bad for her because I would have been really embarrassed. But it was also quite humorous. Goes to show how comfortable we can get with our surroundings! Even if those surroundings are outside your shower truck!!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

ALC/LifeCycle 5 - Day Four (June 7, 2006)

Ahh Day Four! Another day for climbers! I got up around 3:45am, packed a little then headed to breakfast. I generally eat breakfast alone as I am one of the first people in line. Any of you reading this who might have known me longer than a year, know how incredible that is! I have never been known as a morning person. Especially not a 4am morning person! Holy crap! But I liked having that time of space and quiet. People don't make that much noise at that time of day. So I got my usual eggs, oatmeal, ham (or bacon), some kind of bread, and water. Again I got to sit inside and eat. It was dark. Usually there are spotlights sporadically lighting the space. Today there was overhead lighting... but not too intrusive. More gentle. This is important at, did I mention(?), FOUR A.M.!!! (= I try to eat breakfast slowly and enjoy it. But with oatmeal and eggs, it's a crap shoot which will get cold faster. Neither are very palatable cold. So I rotate! lol Again... *some* things are more important in "ALC-R" than in "RL!" Do not forget this important fact! Mainly I just zone and eat and watch as people make their tired way to the food. We are all zombies... except those who can drink coffee in the morning. They seem relatively chipper. Assholes! O= Okay... moving on! I usually hang out at breakfast until about 4:30AM. Then I brush my teeth... remember, the sinks were right there this time so that was convenient... and head back to pack up my stuff. I needed just a little extra time because I was responsible for the tent today too. AND... DON'T FORGET THE CELL PHONE! lol That was a huge fear! Got everything all packed up and put away. Then it was off to find the Information Tent so I could mail my postcards. Ha... they weren't open yet! So I packed them up and figured I'd mail them later in the day. On to the ride. We always had these goals about what time we would take off in the morning. But aside from what time I woke up each day, I really had no concept of what time it was... ever. We could have left at 6am or 8am and I wouldn't have known the difference. Stuff had to be done and I couldn't leave until it was... just like everyone else. But we all seemed to be ready about the same time. So again... off we went! We started climbing almost immediately! Today is EVIL TWINS DAY! Another day of climbs that people tried to freak me out about. Either it didn't work or yesterday did some magic in making me unafraid. There was a hill in front of me, albeit a steep hill, so I climbed it. The first twin was pretty damn steep and sortof wound around if I remember right then it came down a little and the second steeper twin took over. Holy crap! I was just climbing along and I knew there was a switchback coming because I could hear the voices above me (maybe it was God telling me to get out while I still had legs!) but when I got to it, I think my words were, "HOLY HELL!" But I took the switchback and kept riding. Just alternated sitting and standing and for the most part passed quite a few people. That's important only because I was still trying to push myself to see where my limits were... I honestly cared very little about whether I beat people up the hills. I was being passed nearly as much as I was passing. The 2nd twin was nearly 2 miles... and I definitely felt it! Near the top, I asked the woman I was passing if that was the "real top" or a "fake top." She said it looked real. lol So off I went. There was a corner and then a slight but steep finishing incline where "Mom and Dad" were standing with M&Ms and Oreos! Very cool! Though I found that sugar was a bad thing for me so early in the day so I didn't take any. At some point in there, we hit the halfway point of the ride (me and Jeero on the left, Kenny on the right). Resident Drag Personality Extraordinaire was holding court in the pullout where she had put up signs for us to take our pictures with. Apparently CalTrans had told her to take them down, not knowing who they were dealing with... so they stayed up! lol The rest of the day was basically rolling hills... if even. There was a point where Suzann and I were riding along the beach and we were doing a pretty good pace. So we decided to push it a little. At some point, I dropped my chain twice within a few minutes. Got pret-ty dir-ty! lol Caught back up to her and we were off again. She started pulling ahead a little... I was definitely getting tired. And then I got a flat tire! Damn! People went by asking if I had hit that glass back there. WHAT GLASS!? lol I never even saw it! Ah well, a guy named (I think) Felipe helped me get it changed quickly. He was VERY nice... and fast! As we were finishing up, Kenny and his starting to blister ass caught up. So we rolled into lunch together. Poor guy! I told Suzann that I wanted to stay on the pace we had set so when she was ready, we would go. SO SOON??!! hehe Not many pictures on this day! Sorry! I was distracted with my getting dirty stuff! I had a guy ask me how on earth I got grease under my arm! lol I have my ways!! So off we went again. Caught up to Suzann eventually... she isn't thrilled with the downhill so I catch her fast ass then! (= We rode along the coast for awhile and then I think we turned inland again. I remember some long flat straights and then a surprise hill toward the end... that shouldn't have been a surprise since it was on the map. But I hadn't looked at that for hours! lol I should have known there was something coming when "Mom & Dad" were there with M&Ms and cookies again. Damn, I should have taken them this time! lol Ah well. It was short and steep... just the way I like them. The faster you go the sooner it's over! But it still hurts like crazy! Suzann and I hooked up with some other women for a bit of a paceline. One of them was my tent neighbor. Apparently she was surprised that I was able to go so fast. lol Do I look that slow?? Ah well. We got to the rest stop in record time. While I was getting more zinc, they took off so we lost our paceline. )= But when we got to the next rest stop, they were just getting there so I'm not sure what happened there. Would have been nice to ride some more with them but we didn't. lol Suzann and I decided it was fun to be ahead of the crowd at the rest stops. No lines or anything. However, I did notice that the atmosphere was slightly more serious and definitely quieter. Good for a day... but I think I like the boistrous crowd a little more. (= Sounds weird coming from me! lol This was the rest stop that was supposed to be After Prom but was made into the 666 thing... even though it was 676 by this point! haha In the photo, you can see that ever fashionable zinc oxide.. which I also decided to use like a football player on my cheeks! lol We rode on but at some point both of us were just ready for the whole thing to be over. Suzann stopped for a Gu and was nice enough to share it with me. If you've seen how small those are, you know what a nice gesture that was. Then off we went again. We had been promised a great tailwind coming up to take us into camp. I was definitely looking forward to that. First we had a headwind for a few minutes... and then.... it came. Very nice! I put Hi Ho in the big ring and just started peddling. FUN!! Had to stop a couple times for lights and stuff. But otherwise just flew. Pulled into camp as happy as could be! I went directly to the bike mechanics to ask about getting new tires. I had put duct tape on the hole caused by the glass earlier in the day but had also noticed some cracks in the tires. So I just decided it was time. They put a couple Hutchinsons on there for $60. They said each would usually be about that plus labor and tax in the "RL" but in "ALC-R" there is no labor or tax. What a great world!! Left her in good hands so I could take my shower and get my tent situated. I also went the Sports Med tent to get some help with my shoulder again. The Sports Med person referred me to one of the Chiropractic students for an adjustment. I wasn't really comfortable with that but she seemed sure so I figured I would try it. I couldn't really relax enough for him to do much. He popped my back, which felt good. Then he tried to whip my head off my body. That didn't really help! lol So I think he gave up. Basically said if I had more trouble to come back to Sports Med. lol I wish I had just let her massage it out or whatever they call it. Kenny came by just as I was finishing so we went to get some food. That felt like the latest I had started eating so far. But I had gotten a lot done so that was okay. And I have no concept of time... if you remember! lol Sat and listened to announcements and watched some of the talent show. But I was tired and wanted to get some sleep. Headed to the medical tent allllll the way across camp and got some ice for my sore swollen thumb then went to lay down. Sue's stuff was there but I hadn't seen her in awhile. So off to sleep I went.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

ALC/LifeCycle 5 - Day Three (June 6, 2006)

Today was a, excuse my language, mind fuck for me! From the day I signed up for this ride, people have been threatening with, talking, teasing, and warning about QUADBUSTER! I've climbed so many hills in training... including that 13-mile mother toward the end of the Mulholland Century. Quadbuster is a measley 1.3 miles! We did our usual relatively slow spin for the first 10 miles or so then picked up some speed into the first rest stop at 18.9 miles. My legs were tired and stiff. And my brain was making me afraid of the hill. Damn it! So I hung out at the rest area for about 20 minutes... everyone else had gone on after about 10. I went and got the miracle drug ibuprofin, did some stretches, and then basically pounded on my thighs to loosen them up. I checked the air in my tires and I ate some food. I was really ready... but I was scared. There are no pictures! I'm sure you can understand why. However, next time maybe I should take some and that would loosen me up a little! Anyway, at some point I had to tell myself that it's just another hill and I would just do the best I could with the energy that I have. So I got on my bike and went. The climb started almost immediately. Fine. There were people peppering the side to cheer the riders on. That helped. There was a group yelling and waving signs a ways up so I just made them my goal. I stood up and climbed like I've done a gazillion times before. And wouldn't you know it, my legs loosened up. Miracle? ha! I get to the little group and find out that's halfway. What? Already? So off I go. It wasn't easy and I actually dripped a drop of sweat from my brow (I don't sweat like that very easily)... but I was doing it. Then I saw "Mom and Dad" (who I wish I had pictures of but they were always in the most difficult riding places, thankfully, and I could/would never stop to take the photo)... and they said, "Almost there!" I asked, "Is *that* the top??" At "yes" I was amazed so I stood up again and finished strong. What a dork to be so afraid... but it was my reality at the time... and it was good to face something like that and know that I could overcome it! The photo is me at the top... ever so happy to have that over with! Kenny and Khoa were at the top waiting for me. We stayed another 5 or so minutes to cheer the others up and then we took off. Lunch was in a little town called Bradley. It was barren from what I could tell. There were 2 trees and LOTS of sun! It was funny how many of us crowded under the small amounts of shade regardless of the fact that we smelled, were dirty, and had been in crowds for 3 days now. Personal space? No such thing in "ALC-R!" I kinda like that... helped me to loosen my boundaries just a little. (= I went and got my shoulder blade (might be my trapezius but I'm really not sure what muscle that one is) rubbed some more. Cute little dykey thing went to town on my back and neck. It was great! I think it was here that I was also introduced to zinc oxide. I was trying to be good about sunscreen... but besides my Blistex hadn't put anything on my lips. So they got burned and I developed a blister! Relatively minor considering some of the other things that could have happened. But it was annoying... so I asked... and they gave me zinc oxide. It's white and it doesn't rub in!! LOL VERY attractive for the modern cyclist out there! Cyclists are also relatively creative when it comes to trying to stay cool! I don't know this guy but he went from lining the back of his head with ice... to this pose. Seemed to work pretty well for him. I tried soaking my ponytail thinking it would keep my back cool for a little while. Ha! Even with all that hair, it still dried within a matter of minutes. Geez! So much for that idea! There was plenty of water on hand so we did okay staying hydrated. And being hot is just part of the experience. (= Besides, we can still have some fun! Suzann, Kar, and Khoa stay cool and have some laughs. I have to write about this rest stop real quick. The theme was "After Prom." One of the morning rest stops was "Prom" so this was the after party. Anyway, apparently it was supposed to be a 666 theme because of the date. So the devils and witches and whomever showed up to start decorating. But the rest stop is a Mission! lol The people at the Mission had some issues with the Devil taking over their space! Ha! So they switched it with one of the themes for Day 4! Too funny! But shows the flexibility and creativity of the roadies! I don't really remember much of the ride after that rest stop. lol Maybe I was in my own little world, maybe I was delirious, I'm just not sure. We were camped at Paso Robles Fairground for the night. We got to sit INSIDE to eat and be entertained! It was nice and a simple pleasure! The showers and food were pretty damn far from the tents. But I guess it doesn't hurt to do some walking. After dinner it was convenient because I had taken my toothbrush and just got ready for bed right there. Cup half full again! (= A couple funny things about camp this night. First, it was the first chance I had to charge my cell phone. There were a couple main places with plugs and there were cell phones all over the place. I got there late so I put mine in a plastic bag and left it out overnight. Second, there was a women's (maybe girl's) roller derby scrimmage. They had invited us to come watch. So we stood outside and watched through this big window. One of the women behind me knew the rules so she was giving us clues what to yell. We cheered for the team that had told us their name... the other team gave us the finger! LOL I guess that's fitting for roller derby! We yelled at/for them for a little while and then I took off. This is the best picture I could get under the conditions. I tried numerous times. ::sigh:: It was a good distraction for a few minutes. But it was late in "ALC-R" and I needed to get some sleep. My tent mate had a hotel for the night so the tent was all mine! It was nice to be able to spread out a little! But it also means I have to put the tent up in the morning! lol Damn that cup and it's half full half empty!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

ALC/LifeCycle 5 - Day Two (June 5, 2006)

105 miles! I could probably stop there and you would have a good idea of what we all went through. But I won't stop... 'cause it's my blog and I want to write what I went through! (= I will forever be taken back to this day whenever I smell celery in the future!! This day was... long.... hot... dry.... windy.... dusty.... and I have to say fun! I rode most of this day with Kenny. Elaine was with us part of the time but I can't say I remember why Suzann, Kar, and Khoa weren't with us at the beginning. Kenny and I took turns "breaking wind" hehe. I have always said that I could run and ride in any weather... snow, rain, cold, hot, whatever... but I HATE wind! HATE it! I decided on this day to embrace it. It's just there. It seems to be there more and more when I ride. So I need to make friends with it. Changing my attitude actually seemed to work a little. I felt like I did my fair share of pulling and that felt good. Most people I ride with generally protect me from the wind because they know I'll pull in other areas more. We passed some migrant workers doing their job. And I wondered which of us was working harder! I'm quite sure *they* were. The strawberries smelled incredible! OMG! But what surprised me the most was the smell of celery. I have always thought it smelled fresh when I bought it. But I've never smelled it from a field. I know it seems so simplistic but I just couldn't get over how wonderful it was. Of course riding past that into the smell of manure... yummm! Although it's not a great smell, it did bring back some childhood memories. LOL Don't ask! It's always amazing to me what memories smells can induce! (= Ah well, enough of the smells for now! As we were riding along in the wind and the dust, I saw an older woman trying to get a huge garbage can in the trunk of her car. The wind kept blowing it out of her hands. So I stopped to help her out. Just as I got to her car, she got the can in the trunk. She thanked me for stopping and asked some questions about the ride. Always good to do some marketing. She was sufficiently impressed with our endeavor so off I went to catch back up to Kenny... who I think had no idea I had even stopped! LOL We stopped at the most windy dusty rest stop of the whole trip and asked some questions about our respective aches and pains. I had a pinching in my shoulder blade that was killing me. Kenny had something going on with his ass. The Sports Med chica rubbed some BenGay into my shoulder... which felt VERY good! And gave me some ibuprofin.... and then told me that taking ibuprofin was the key to staying healthy on this ride. Hmm! I had no idea! Kenny learned a couple new stretches. With time, we would see hundreds of people in this posture morning, noon, and night. Apparently it's a cure-all! After that, he learned one where you hold onto something then sit and pull at the same time.... when the Sports Med chica says, "Don't fall!" make sure you slide onto your ass just as she suggested you don't. Damn those road shoes!! haha That gave us some positive energy to hit the road. So we grabbed some more food and off we went. My shoulder really did feel quite a bit better. Happy! Happy! We decided to pick up some speed... because we could. We were skipping one of the rest areas when Kenny basically skidded to a stop. The sign said, "Otter Pop Stop!" I didn't know what that meant but he clearly did. And he wasn't about to pass it up. I was intrigued. I don't know how I made it my whole life not knowing what these things are called... because I love them!! (= Popcicles in a tube! PERFECT for this hot dusty day! I'm very glad that Kenny skidded and made me go back! That was another great kick to get out there and ride. The burn of BenGay and the cool of the Otter Pop! Mmmm! Off we go again. Kenny starts talking about "the bridge." Again, I don't know what that means. Apparently within "ALC Reality" there is also an "ALC Language" that I am still learning! He even asked one of the roadies how far "the bridge" was. I can't remember what the roadie said but Kenny seemed satisfied. And then I saw the bridge. What's the big deal?? It's just a bridge. There were some people standing around on it so I figured it was another one of those impromptu rest areas where someone in the community does something special. However.... there was no "community" to be seen for miles and miles. And then I see that everyone is looking down. So I got off my bike... following Kenny's lead... and I look. And *that* is why people want to know how far until "the bridge"... a bunch of naked boys skinny dipping! lol Too funny! But what a perfect day for it! Khoa had been talking about skinny dipping the day before and lo and behold he shows up not long after we did! So off he went to fulfill his promise! We stayed a little longer... not much eye candy for me I have to say. Although some of those guys had really great bodies! There was only one woman down there that was attractive. She was getting dressed rather slowly. Ha! I thought I recognized her later too... she looked okay in clothes too. Mind you... most of the men on this ride are gay and most of the women are straight. Guess it doesn't matter in skinny dipping! lol So off I went up the little hill waiting to kick my butt after Otter Pops and skinny dipping (well, watching it anyway!). Got to the top to see a wonderful view of vineyards, fields, and mountains (I think those are considered mtns in Cali). It was just a nice view. While I was there Suzann went by. Yay! So I rode to catch up with her 'cause we hadn't gotten to ride together yet. There were some great rolling hills that we got to ride fast! Suzann was kicking some ass on those things so I was just trying to hang on. My legs were burning like crazy after the first few "humps." We blasted into King City. What a fun ending! King City is hot and dry just like the day. Fitting! (= The cup was half full... being hot and dry meant that laundry would also dry! Yay! Same routine as before with finding the gear truck, the tent spot, the showers, food, etc. It's funny trying to find the same things though they are in completely different locations each day. Talk about messing with a tired mind!! Yep... 105 miles!! And more to come tomorrow... including QUADBUSTER!! baum baum baaahhhhhh!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

ALC/LifeCycle 5 - Day One (June 4, 2006)

I got up at 3am without a problem, got all my stuff together. Again made sure I had my helmet, computer, and pump. I decided to carry my riding shoes and wear flip flops. Not a problem… unless I forget to change them before sticking my bag on the gear truck! lol People were pretty awake for the early hour. I’m sure the other guests were not thrilled with our early rising! LOL There was coffee and fruit in the lobby for us… no thanks! That was nice but I can’t eat either in the morning. That was actually something I had worried about… what would I eat that first morning. I knew all that would be available would be bagels, muffins, Clif Bars, juice, coffee….basically no protein and nothing substantial. But there was nothing I could do about it so I just went with the flow. Ate what they had and figured I’d catch up at lunch with a meat sandwich. Again, *these* are the kinds of things one worries about in “ALC Reality.” Not generally a huge life issue, ya know??! Got to the Cow Palace and it was still dark. This is when it started hitting me what I was actually about to do. Before that, people had been asking me if I was nervous and I never really was. I wouldn’t say that I was even nervous that first morning…it just hit me. I was definitely excited and wanted to get going. This was a feeling I would have to get over QUICK! With the number of people involved, there is waiting. In general I’m a pretty patient person but if I don’t know WHY I’m waiting… I don’t like to wait. As we waited, I think I went to the bathroom about 10 times… literally. *That* was how I knew I did have a little nervous energy. It reminded me of lining up on starting lines in track and feeling like I was going to pee my pants even though I had just gone. My nerves were kicking in. So, though I didn’t feel nervous, I knew my body was feeling something. A bunch of us stood in the main area and watched as people entered. The helmet ornaments were crazy! LOL But it was fun to see! I also noticed that people wore their team jerseys or logo jerseys… not many were in plain colors. ::sigh:: I was! Good thing to know for next time! There were also red helmet covers left on our seats that we were all to wear. So it would be a big red blob representing blood traveling along the road. Opening ceremonies started and we were so far back that I really couldn’t hear anything. So we just cheered when everyone else did! LOL Apparently Chris Cole (ED of the LAGLC) came out as HIV+. That was a pretty huge deal! I wish I had heard more of what was said as I’m sure it was poignant. But I didn’t. At some point people turned to head out toward their bikes. We were in the front at that point!! YAY! Off to the bikes we went. I had already gone and worked out the whole bike pump thing. All was good and there were no issues! Phew! I met up with my friends by our bikes so that we could ride out together. I know now why they chose the Cow Palace…we were definitely a bunch of cattle trying to get through the little doors. Apparently they had split us by LA and SF riders out of convenience so we exited from big ol’ garage doors on opposite ends of the building but then ended up at the same exit to the street. Not a bad idea! When we got outside, it had started to get light. We got out there… and stopped. It was hilarious…the starting and stopping. We’d get all excited that we were moving and would go about 5 feet. Fortunately I didn’t see anyone fall with their feet clicked in! I’m sure it happened and I’m sure it happens every year. But I didn't see it… and more importantly, I didn’t DO it! Once it was clear we were going to be standing for a little bit while some kind of staging was being done… I decided I should put some chamois butt’r on. So out there in the middle of all those people, this conservative chica sticks her hand down her pants and starts rubbing in the butt’r! Of course there are pictures! In case you don’t know, Chamois Butt’r/Butt Balm is put onto the chamois (pad) of your tights and/or directly onto the skin in your nether regions to prevent blistering, chapping, rubbing, redness, and basically any kind of skin discomfort you might expect from being on a tiny little seat for several hours a day. Let’s just say the boxes and boxes of Butt’r became our very close friends… and we were all happy to demonstrate in public our ability to apply! I will say that after that day, I would *generally* apply in the porta pottie! But if I forgot… no qualms about hand down pants! So Day 1 was just a total day of firsts. My first ride, my first day on the ride, my first rest stop, my first lunch stop, my first camp, my first dinner… everything! To me, the most important first was my first realization that I had actually trained enough and that I was having a good time climbing the hills. At some point my adrenaline totally took me over and I could not stop myself from going faster up the hills. Not saying AT ALL that I was the fastest person out there… but I learned that I could climb like crazy. My main fear was that I was ruining myself for the next few days by pushing too hard. But it didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard. Remember… “ALC Life” not “Real Life.” No one cares about that crap in “RL” but I had 6 more days to deal with my legs and I couldn’t risk wearing them out on the first day. But then, I had also decided that I wanted to see what I was made of. So this is what’s going through my mind as I’m passing people on the climbs continuously saying, “On your left.” I decided to just go with how my body felt at the moment and deal with the aftermath…well... after! (= It was nice getting to the first rest area before my friends ( <-- Khoa in the photo) so I could take some pictures of them as they rode in. We hung out a little and then they left while I had a picture taken of me. I continued my fast pace most of the day. We all met up for lunch on a cliff overlooking a beach. That was nice. And the lunch was quite good actually. I took everything they offered but only ate the sandwich and chips. I gave back my chocolate chip cookie! Can you believe that!?? I also took back 4 other cookies because no one had enough room to eat them! LOL Off we rode again. Nothing really significant except that I kept my pace. There were 6 of us loosely riding together… meaning we would regroup at the rest areas. So one of them would come out with me and ride then s/he would go back to the group and another would come out with me. It was fun and I got to go fast! I have to mention "The Pie Ladies" who are an unofficial rest stop along the beach free-peddling their wares. I was still full from lunch and all the other rest stops but I could not say no to homemade pie (the piece of pumpkin in the picture was in my stomach within minutes after Jeero's photo was taken with it!). They had cherry, apple, marionberry (which I wanted to try but they were out), and pumpkin. Yummm! Just one example of the wonderful things people did all week to take care of us and, dare I say, coddle, us! (= Getting into Santa Cruz was cool. We had to maneuver through the city a little so the anticipation of being done kept slowly building. There was one point where a car whizzed past us and then honked at a car in front of him going slowly because of us. One of the roadies yelled at him to slow down! (= I thanked her for sticking up for us and she got a little embarrassed… maybe ‘cause she yelled at him. I thought it was cool! And it was a good example of how the roadies would take care of us for the entire week! Remember this is my day of firsts! So getting into camp for the first time was interesting. It’s like a whole different world! And so it began. Where to park the bike? Over there? Okay then. Um... how do I get my bike under that bar?? Brainiac! Now… where is my gear truck? Wait… which one is my gear truck?… look at my necklace and see that I am truck E. Okay, where the hell is truck E? Our bikes are parked on a baseball field and the trucks are beyond 2 fences in a parking lot. How do we get there?? I think we took the longest route to get there… but we got there. I had to carry my tent and drag my huge suitcase across the field to find Section E and the little ground marker with my number (097) on it. Sounds easier than it is… and remember I have just ridden my bicycle about 80 miles! Once I found it, someone, I think it was Elaine, came over and helped me set up the tent. Very nice! Got my bag, pad, and sleeping bag all in there and then tried to figure out what I needed for the shower. Did I need to do laundry? Yes. Got everything together for the shower. Then… where the hell is the shower?? I don’t even know what the showers look like! So I ask… and then I see the signs reading, “Showers this way” with arrows. So across the field, across the street and into a parking lot I go. The showers are semi-trailers turned into locker rooms. The showers are individual but the dressing areas are communal. Not a huge deal although I was slightly more modest on this day than I would be the rest of the time. I realized it just took too much damn energy trying to preserve my modesty. After I got dressed, I went outside to brush my teeth. Yeah, outside. There were stands with 8 sinks, 4 on each side, with little mirrors so we could brush our teeth or whatever. It was actually quite nice. I don’t know what they would do if it was raining. After I was smellin’ fresh, I decided to try my hand at bucket laundry! LOL Buckets, garden hoses, my liquid detergent, and my dirty clothes. I’m sure you can figure out the rest. Drying was interesting. I had brought clothespins, a trousers hanger, and binder clips so I’d have options. I just hung it all from my tent and hoped it would dry… including my brand new camp towel/chamois. (A “different” kind of chamois! lol). Back at my tent, trying not to totally take over the whole thing while still figuring out my system. My tentmate wasn’t back yet so I wanted to make sure I respected her space… even though my bag was monstrous!! Next item on the agenda… FOOD and DRINK! I was very thirsty and definitely hungry. Where’s the food?? Another sign… and just follow the smell. When I got there, it was another thing to figure out. Which is meat and which is veggie? Where’s the end of the line? How much can I take? What can I drink? How the hell do I carry all of this? Where do I sit? Reminds me of the first lunch of first grade!! LOL But a couple of my friends were already there so I got to sit with them. The big hit was the Vitamin Water…. mini-sized. I think we each drank 4 of them! Plus my nalgene bottle of water. Apparently I was thirsty! I was trying to do everything possible to make sure I could do well the next day too. I was still worried about having pushed too hard the first day. Time will always tell. After announcements and some jokes, it was time for bed. I had been instructed to bring my wet clothes and towel in because of the condensation at night. So I hung them from a flap inside the tent. I had a book and a journal to read and write before bed. HAHAHA! It was about 9pm and I was OUT....

Saturday, June 03, 2006

ALC/LifeCycle 5 - Day Zero (June 3, 2006)

Orientation (aka Day Zero) at the Cow Palace. I have to say that it was quite funny that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were having a convention or crusade or whatever they call it… just on the other side of the Cow Palace. The opportunities there were endless… but we all behaved! I was continually warned that I’d be spending the entire day in lines. As it happened, the lines weren’t so bad and the only thing that took awhile was getting to see the safety video… a requirement before doing anything else. Apparently they want us to come out of this thing alive! It was quite the social atmosphere. And as I look back on it now, it was the beginning of “ALC5 Life” as opposed to “Real Life.” People were courteous and nice, thoughtful and giving. It was WEIRD! LOL What’s sad is that it’s so unusual to hear people saying “thank you” as much as they did. I’m from the Midwest, so we say “thank you” all the damn time! I didn’t hear any complaints about the lines or the inconveniences that we experienced. Once I had my safety video bracelet, my tent and bag truck assignment and tags, turned in my donations, and my general orientation packet with my helmet and bike numbers…. it was time to find out if my bike actually made it safe and sound from LA. I had dropped her off on Wednesday to some guys in a big truck…. hoping they were the *right* guys in the *right* truck! Fortunately they were… and though it took awhile, I did finally find her. I took her out to the bike mechanics to get her chain lubed and some air in the tires. I have been training with 100psi in my tires and as I was talking to my friends, I decided that I would go up to 120psi like they were. I think I was always just afraid of blowing the tire as I pumped it up. But I figured with mechanics right there, it wouldn’t matter if I blew it. One thing I learned at Orientation was that I should have brought my hand pump, computer, and maybe even my helmet to leave with my bike overnight. Especially the pump since it goes along my top tube and I had to put my number on the top tube as well. So I’d have to arrange it the next day….it’s got sticky stuff on it so I wasn’t sure arranging it would be easy. *That* is the kind of thing that becomes a priority during the ride. Who cares about world peace!?! Can I get my pump back on my bike if I’ve got my number on it already?? After that, a few of us went to one of the hotels that was near the Cow Palace to hang out until it was time to catch a taxi for dinner. We were going to have dinner with Team Orange County at Buca di Beppo. I’m not on the team… in fact, I’m not sure anyone I was with was on the team! LOL But one or two of them at least live in OC! (= Funny thing about this is that I don’t eat pasta… and that’s basically what they served! BdB does everything family style…but, I hate to admit again, I couldn’t afford the $20 per plate. So I ordered a “side,” which ended up being more spaghetti than I’ve eaten in 2 years! LOL And two HUGE meatballs. But I ate it all! Guess I was hungry. Anyway, we went by one of the guy’s big gay hotel (Hotel Metropolis) to see his big gay bathroom. It actually was quite the place… bordering Tenderloin!! Ha! The last two of us walked to my hotel (Cathedral Hill) and then my friend caught a cab back to her hotel (Alpine Inn). I needed to get my crap back in my bag and be sure I had everything ready for my 3am wake up! We had to be down at the shuttle at 4am!! One thing I did spend some time on was cutting out my numbers for my helmet. They were blue on a white background and I cut each number out individually. I wanted as little stick on my helmet as possible. Well…and it looked much better! (= I also got my Accelerade made and my water bottle filled. I wonder now if I should have done that the day before and left them on my bike. Not a bad idea! I know…not important in “real life.” I was basically ready to go and in bed by about 9pm or so. But my roommates weren’t back yet so I knew they’d be waking me up again, which meant I really couldn’t fall asleep. Once they got back, I fell asleep pretty quickly. Phew!! All I needed was a little insomnia the night before we ride out!

Friday, June 02, 2006

ALC/LifeCycle 5 - Traveling to SF (June 2, 2006)

I got into San Francisco Friday morning. So I had all that day to mess around. Took BART to my hotel (Cathedral Hill), checked in and dropped off my bags. There were a bunch of riders on my flight. I met up with Kenny and Elaine in the Oakland airport and traveled with them to Kenny's and my hotels. We went to Haight (or The Haight… whatever) and just looked around. Did some shopping. Came away with my riding buddy Jeero who ended up being a hit with all my riding partners! LOL Kenny and Elaine got their red dress attire for Day 5. Didn’t figure we could be a bunch of queers in SF without going to Castro so that’s where we had dinner. Kenny's friend met up with us and drove us there and back to my hotel. As we were sitting at the restaurant, Khoa, one of the guys that we had all met on training rides happened to stroll by so he joined us for dinner. That’s just the way things seemed to work the whole week. Got back to my hotel and tried to get things arranged as much as possible and to think of what I needed for orientation. How the Hell am I supposed to know!? I did get a little worried when I realized my feet were a little swollen from walking around all day. What was I thinking?? I should be lounging by the pool this whole time... not walking around! Ah well! The plan was to head out to the Cow Palace with my roommates, Sue and Daryl, and their friends, Julie and Linnie, around noon so we'd miss the morning crowd. When they got into town and to the hotel, later plane, they informed me that they had to be there at 8am to help with some volunteer duties. I wasn't really in the mood for going that early so I decided to do my own thing. Of course, if they'd needed more help, I would have been happy to volunteer. I didn't set any time to get up and just figured I would play it by ear. I'll have enough early mornings in the next week! Sleep came easy once they settled down and were quiet. A good sign!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Mulholland - My First Century

Distance = 102.45
Time = 8.38.53
(Actual time was just over 12 hours!)

Got up bright and early and made my way over to Calabasas, CA, which is pretty close to where Robin, my supervisor, lives. I definitely thought about just going to her house and hanging out (sleeping!) instead. But I had committed to doing a century. And I wanted to do it before the AIDS Ride. It was more of a psychological thing. Although the physical part was huge too! I just wanted to know that I could ride more than was required on most days of the AIDS Ride. Many people weren't doing this particular century because it is so close to the AIDS Ride. But I still have over a week to recover. So I'm not sure what the big deal is. Maybe I'll find out! Anyway, I got to the park with plenty of time. I was meeting Elaine... sortof. She wasn't going to do the ride because of what other people had said about doing it so close to the actual ride. Then she found out I was doing it so I guess she decided she could give it a try. Before a ride starts, especially one that's longer than I've done before, I get a little anal. I want everything to be perfect. Well, of course it can't be. But I have my system down now so I basically had all I needed. The other cool thing about this ride is that it looped around back to the park after about 20 miles or so. So I had another opportunity to get what I needed, change clothes, etc. I didn't need to change anything. But it made me feeling better! lol I was also pretty nervous. I felt like I was competing. Though I wasn't. Maybe with myself. Regardless, I felt tight and a little nauseous! lol Once we got started, all seemed okay. Although I had trouble regulating my temperature. That seems pretty common in the first 20 miles though. Especially being in California where the terrain changes so drastically. A cool thing about this ride is the themed rest stops. They seemed to get more and more interesting as time went by. The first part of the ride was pretty uneventful. Your regular ups and downs. At some point, near the halfway mark, the road got pretty flat and it was really windy. We were out near what looked like horse ranches etc. Then we were around what I thought looked like cabbage fields. I don't know if that's possible! lol But that's what I saw. Elaine was pretty good on this part of the ride as she knows that I'm not a big fan of wind. So she stayed in front a lot more of the time than she had been or usually would. As we were riding along, I realized that I live near an ocean and lots of fields. There will be wind. Always! So it was here that I decided to embrace it. Well, not embrace it so much as stop bitching about it. (= So I just put my head down and went. The halfway point was a nice park where they had a LOT of food. It was great! We stayed there for quite awhile. Elaine's tire was out in the sun and popped randomly. So we had a whole drama around getting that fixed. I saw with Suzann and Kar while they were there. I wish I could have taken off with them. But I knew the right thing was to stay with Elaine. I've made sure she knows that during the AIDS Ride, we won't necessarily be riding together. She may be faster one day, I may be faster. My goal is not to finish this thing as a team. But for this ride, I felt like we should stick together. The second half of the ride was awesome. It was the most difficult thing I've done in my life. But it was incredible. It was afternoon so it got very hot. Maybe near 100 degrees. I'm not sure. Lots of ups and downs. And I just keep telling myself to peddle. Lots of thinking time. That's a great and horrible thing about cycling. The amount of time I have to think about my life! Yikes! We did more fields and such in the wind. Not great but not horrible. Then we get to Hwy 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, and we ride down that for about 10 miles. Easy right? Ha! A side wind kept blowing us around. And traffic is very much in your face... or ass, I guess. Not much room for error. The ocean looked beautiful. I just looked that direction most of the time and the road just passed under me. I did stop at one point to rest my ass. Just needed to shake some blood around! heheh We got to the next rest stop, which I thought was one of the best. It was a Hawaiian theme. They had the skirts, leis, pineapple, all of it! We stayed there for a little while taking photos and getting our circulation back. I heard someone mention the upcoming climb. And I thought I heard 13 miles. Nah, couldn't be. Off we went with our water and food replenished. And up we went. And up and up and up! For, yep, 13 miles. I cannot possible describe how it feels after 80 miles of riding to ride such an angle for another 13. I just can't. It was so hot, I was actually dripping sweat. Dripping! They had a couple of people in trucks driving up and down to make sure people weren't dying. Seriously. They had water and such just in case. I hailed one for some water at one point. As she leaves, she says, "You're halfway! Good job!" I about vomited. But we did what we do. Get on the bike and peddle. That road also seems to be a popular one for motorcycles, especially crotch rockets. Apparently Elaine saw one skid out from under his owner and slide into a ditch. Lucky he wasn't turning the other way, it would have been a MUCH steeper and longer drop. Crazy people! Ha! *I'm* calling *them* crazy at this point. Funny! Another mini rest-stop and he says we're near the top. Maybe 2 miles then it's rolling. That means more hills, just not consistent climbing like this one has been. As we were heading downward in an awesome downhill, I decided to stop at a Biker Bar to use the restroom. Lots of leather and sweat going on there! My cyclist garb definitely stuck out! lol It was actually a pretty cool looking place. But we had to get back on the road. The guy was right about the rolling hills. It had become a single focus point where we just wanted to be finished. We caught up to a woman we had seen wayyyy at the beginning. She seemed to be struggling a little so she jumped on our wheels. Elaine also began to struggle. I turned around a couple times to get her back on my wheel so she could finish. We went along that way for a few miles. And then I could smell the finish. She knows I'm an end kicker. So off I went. Elaine sped up a little but doesn't quite have the kick I do so it took her slightly longer. The other woman came in just a little after us. Turns out the three of us were last in! But we finished! I completed my first century. Amazing! I sat down on the ground and ate a ton of licorice whips! lol No sugar while I'm riding. Makes me feel sick. So I got my sugar after! (= What an incredible feeling. Sortof like the 13-mile climb, I can't quite explain what it felt like. What I can describe is my desire to be home, bathed and in bed! I did the home and bathing part. But I also went out afterwards. Weird! Gotta love that LA social scene. We'll see if I can recover in time for the big day!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Distance = 13.13 miles
Time = 1.01.38
Max speed = 26.5 mph
Avg speed = 12.7 mph

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Riding to Church in The Valley

Distance = 26.90 miles
Time = 2.09.19
Max speed = 32.5 mph

The distance and time were there and back. I rode to church... and actually got there on time. Not something I regularly do when I drive! lol I brought some sweatpants and a t-shirt to wear while I was in church so I wouldn't have to be in my tights. I still hadn't recovered from my horrible day with Gail. So I sat toward the back and cried most of the service. Afterwards they generally have a pretty nice meal available. I spent some time in the office talking with my friend JJ about the G situation. She always makes me feel better. Then we went out and had a good amount of food. Enough to get my back home. I got changed again and made my way back home. Part of the route I took was on what in some places I've lived would be like a frontage or service road. I don't know what they're called here. But there's too much traffic. In one portion there was really no shoulder so I was holding up traffic. Yuck! I sat at one of the stop signs for a minute or so debating whether I had enough gumption to ride up Mulholland Drive. I didn't! lol So I just headed home. It was a pretty uneventful ride.... as uneventful as it can be with LA traffic. But it was nice to do rides 2 days in a row. It's good for getting my butt in shape for sitting. (= And I think it was nice for people at church to see me training since many of them have sponsored me!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Solana Beach Train Ride

Distance = 82.95
Time = 6.07.12 (Ride time)

This is the second time I've done this ride. I can't find my write up from the first so I'll have a little more detail than I usually would.

I drove to Irvine, CA and parked at the Amtrak train station. We would ride out of Irvine and then catch the train to return to Irvine. I was meeting Elaine for the ride. She invited everyone around to join us, telling them that we were going to attempt the 100 miles for this route. Suzann and another woman joined us. But it ended up being just Suzann, Elaine and me for most of the ride. When we got to Pendleton Marine Base, I was starting to feel a little sick. After the base we went through a park area, it seemed like some kind of park anyway. I assumed the ocean was on the other side of some sand dunes because I saw people with surfboards going that direction. I have great deductive reasoning! (= There are bathrooms every 100 yards it seemed. We kept asking each other if we needed to go. When it looked like the regular bathroom schedule was going to end, I thought I should go. Just because that's how I am. So I did. And I was so sick, it wasn't funny. I knew I felt a little "icky." But this was too much. And we still had about 60 miles to go at that time. We started talking about the possibility of doing the shorter, 80 mile, ride instead. I thought after what I had just done in the bathroom that was a pretty good idea. I felt better but I felt a little dehydrated and definitely weak. I was slightly embarrassed because I'd never ridden with Suzann before and I didn't want her to think I was weak. Ego. I know. The ride is really beautiful. A lot of scenery along the ocean and such. Incredible! But I was focused on finishing. I hate that! We got to the 70 mile point, which is a turn off that most of the people we were around were taking. Why didn't I take it?? I wanted to do more miles than I'd done before. So I continued with Elaine and Suzann. It was a hilly and difficult 10 miles! I thought I might DIE! There was some confusion at the beginning about getting return tickets for the train. So I didn't have one. And because I was slowing us down, we were cutting our departure pretty close! As we got about 2 miles out, we devised a plan to get our bikes to the Uhaul trailer, get my ticket, and make the train. The line was long! Arrgh! But I did get the ticket and I actually got to the train platform several minutes before the train got there. I was exhausted and felt awful! Elaine took a nice photo of me nearly passing out in my seat. God was looking out for me though. A couple of men from our group were walking by and asked if anyone wanted half their sandwich. The train ride is about an hour long and I may have passed out if it hadn't been for that sandwich. I immediately felt better. Though I was definitely sick. It feels good knowing I can complete 80 miles on a bicycle when I feel like that. It helps me to know what I'm made of. Literally! lol But when it's happening, it sure does suck!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Day on the Ride

Distance = 78.12 miles
Ride time = 5.46.00
Average speed = 13.5 mph
Max speed = 39.0 mph

Day on the ride. This is the practice run so to speak. We started out in Santa Monica. There were rest stops and lunch along the way as it will be on the actual ride. I'm not sure exactly why but this ride felt very tough. The beginning was fine. Elaine was the only person I knew that was riding so we started out together. Lunch was probably the most significant time for me. I hadn't ordered a lunch so I didn't need to wait in line or anything. I had my own food so I just sat somewhere and waited for some people to get theirs. While I was waiting I saw a guy with a massage table in the shade. No one was there so I went over. I've never had a massage but I figured I could start now. Though I wasn't sure if one should get a massage halfway into a 70+ mile ride. I told him about my lower back pain and issues with my knee. He had me lay on my back. He manipulated what I think he said are my sciatic nerves or muscles. Felt like he was playing with my ovaries or something. lol At some point on each side he was rubbing and looking up then said, "there it is." I couldn't tell anything at the time. Then he pulled on my leg to see if that might help even them out a little. Apparently muscle tension can seem to shorten one's legs. Interesting. When I got up I had no back pain. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Niet. For the first time in about 4 years, no pain. It felt like a miracle to me. I know it was simple for him. Thank God I decided to take the chance of getting a massage mid-ride!!

The last part of the ride was very hilly. No mountains. Just lots of rollers. I rode with an older man for a little while who lived in the area we were riding. He talked a lot. I couldn't! lol But I stayed with him. The very end of the ride made it's way through Santa Monica. I was temped to just ditch the last mile and go right to my car at Emily's in Marina del Rey. We passed right by it. But I wanted to finish the ride and get some food. By the time Elaine and I got there most of the food was gone. We got some fruit and a couple tiny pieces of pizza. Strange that they'd run out already. There were plenty of people still behind. I can only imagine that the earlier finishers were pigs or took stuff for their families. Rude!

Good ride. Great weather. But I was ready for it to be over.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Not sure what ride this was

Distance = 72.93 miles
Riding time = 4.54.28
Average speed = 14.8 mph
Max speed = 33.0 mph

I have no idea where we went. I'm updating this almost 2 years later. Oops! It may have been one of the Solana Beach rides where we rode from Irvine to Solana Beach and then took Amtrak back to Irvine. That seems right. But, like I said, not positive. (=

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Santiago Canyon

Distance = 48.57
Max speed = 32.5 mph
Time = 3.32.19

This ride occurred the day after the worst day of my entire life! I had met Gail in Los Osos, CA for a day while she was visiting a friend in San Francisco she had met online. She had, up to that point, been courting me like you wouldn't believe. She had been telling me she loved me and wanted another chance to prove to me she could be a good partner. When she saw me, something else happened completely... actually, I'm quite sure something happened while she's been staying with the SF woman, which then affected how she acted toward me. ANYWAY.... suffice to say. WORST day of my life! I drove home in the rain for about 4 hours. It was around 11pm or so when I got there. Then I had to get ready for this ride. And then I couldn't sleep. So when I got up at the buttcrack of dawn this morning, I was not happy. But I was determined to ride. I was feeling a little competitive I guess. There was a woman there named Elaine that didn't look to be in the same shape I was in. But she was cruising. So I did everything I could to hang with her. She actually gave me tips on how to shift gears before stopping. I suppose that was a nice thing to do. Just because it's my first AIDS Ride doesn't mean it's the first time I've ever ridden a bike! lol Anyway, we climbed pretty far up Santiago Canyon out of Long Beach. I rode up alone most of the time. Just staying on Elaine's wheel. I cried part of the time. Wondered what I had done to deserve the treatment Gail gives me. It's hard to climb and cry at the same time. I've tried running and crying and it works out about the same! lol So I tried to take deep breaths and just climb. But my thoughts could not be controlled on this day. /= At the top, we stopped at a little private lake that was having a fishing contest. Cute! I met a guy named Kenny and we shared a sandwich as neither of us could stomach a whole one. We ended up riding most of the way back together, which was nice. We seem to have similar styles though he is faster than I. I also rode with a guy on a hybrid who is HIV+. He was talking about a dead lover and being +. I figured my worries were nothing compared to his. So I left my shit behind on that canyon for awhile. We got back into Long Beach and everyone stopped at a Starbucks. There were a few of us that didn't really want to stop. So we hung for a few minutes and then took off together. I dragged a couple for about 10 miles in a horrible headwind. Then they started moving in front a little and pulled me for a little while. That was the longest straight flat I've experienced in a very long time. It was so windy. There were times I would just yell into the wind to get a little more energy. Counterproductive possibly... but it felt good. It was nice to see D'Azul sitting in the parking lot waiting for me! A nice long cry on the drive home and I am working on mental and physical recovery. This too shall pass!