Wednesday, June 28, 2006

AIDS ride Day 7! 6/10 Ventura-Los Angeles

Amazing. Somehow we seem to have made it to the last day of the trek. Our last excuse for eating WAAAYYYY too much at breakfast. The last day to give thanks to our cute, punky roadie, with her adorable Mohawk hairdo. The very last day to have to endure morning poo filled porta-potties ( I know, I know, but I left it to the last day and for heaven sakes, 2000 people have NEEDS in the morning, and damn it I never was up early enough to use the potties when they were clean. It was traumatic!)
The sweet Chicken lady has left eggs filled with M and M's and a nice note on all our bike seats. Thanks Chicken Lady!
We are up early, rather anxious to get started as we have received numerous warnings that the route will close, precisely at 3:15. Since T and I are usually among the last group to roll in we live in fear of not being able to complete the ride, on this day of all days.
We pass Pt Mugu and Pt Hueneme, it's a little sad to see how empty these bases are as their usual occupants are off on an extended vacation in the Middle East.
We hit the coast in earnest at the start of the Santa Monica mountains. We barely stop at the rest stops. D is craving fried oysters for some reason, but we do not stop. Until... T's wheel isn't spinning true... another broken spoke! In a miraculous turn, the SAME bike tech is there, and he still has T's box of spokes with him! We are quite sick of the bagged lunch on offer at the stop, but we eat it, waiting with baited breath while super-tech checks T's bike, to see if we can indeed go on

We ride through Malibu and wonder where the heck the stars are? Where are Cher and Brittney? (D) and Barbra and Johnny?(T)
The ocean front isn't THAT big, you'd think one of these hotshots would at least SHOW themselves! George C where are you?
Major beach-y traffic, as it's a sunny Saturday in June (Note: "Carback!" is still shrieked with the same nerdy, earnest intensity of 7 days ago. It's all but intolerable. T & D are just not that into groupthink)
Get this: 2 cyclists get moving violation tickets for going through red lights... Aren't the Malibu cops just the sweetest? Course T and D think it's funny because it's the hotshots who get caught.
We are on PCH along with all of the traffic, then we get shunted onto the Santa Monica bike path. It's a blast to be riding a road we know well. We go under a tunnel where D and T have to carry (oof!) the all of a sudden much heavier than usual bikes down, then up a flight of stairs. We go up our last hill, up to San Vincente Blvd. get Red Vines at the top as usual.
People are lining the streets of Brentwood, cheering and waving, we are both just TIRED. Have to stop and take a quick breather just blocks from the finish. So Dang HOT.
As we climb into Westwood, the streets are teeming with spandex clad riders. They are at Jamba juice, Starbucks, Baja Fresh, Barnes and Noble... Anywhere but on the road. And there is only one block to go! Tempting fate I guess. We make it with 45 minutes to spare.It's a thrill to make the finish line. REAL cheers. We have a glorious sense of accomplishment and triumph. T's bike super-tech, Ted asks him to autograph a poster, which seems ironic, T tempted to give Ted kiss full on the lips for all he did, but thinks better of it, settles for nice many handshake. T gets a nice picture taken by a newspaper at the finish line. It's the one of him grinning that appears here:

Now it's a whirlwind of picking up our completion T shirt, drinking bottle after bottle of Vitamin water, failing to find a place to piddle, then grabbing our bikes for the closing ceremony.
LOOOOOOONG wait for the ceremony to begin. Uncharacteristically we are in the first phalanx of riders. D barely able to stand, and bladder protesting vehemently the Vitamin water.
The final moments are something to remember, wave after wave of rider come in to the pens, hoist their bikes over their heads (T and D just grin and wave) It's a long ceremony, Mayor Villaraigosa gives a speech, D has to hop fence and sprint to port-a-loo, as the Champagne that has been generously given her is the last straw. D hops back in time. Big whoop from the crowd!.... Then it's all over.
T's Mim, and niece, E somehow manage to rescue us from the madding crowd. Mad rush to find gear, find car, pack gear.... then home on the 405s to Laguna Beach.
Months of planning, terror of not being able to raise the money, not being capable of riding, less than pristine equipment, fear that D and T will fight all week and dump each other at end.... It was indeed a terror, but also a great joy, and a bonding experience and a whole lot of adventure. Maybe next year... We'll do it again!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

AIDS ride Day 6! 6/9 Lompoc - Ventura

T rolls out of the tangle of bike shorts, smelly socks and freezing cold sleeping bags, and mumbles something about not riding today, D says, "I think you'll regret it." T looking at the uncomfortable, unwarm sleeping arrangements, sighs and agrees, bottom pain is better than sitting in an alternately hot-cold tent all day. D has slight hangover from 1 small glass of wine the night before. Dream of roads and gravel and grates and trucks all night. Grumble to breakfast, to stretching class, to bike, out park. Then.... Beauty.
The terrain is green, covered in Spanish moss and filled with chatty and companionable cows. The ride is beginning to be a tonic. Living in a tent is taxing, it's impossible to get warm, washing clothing is a joke, the scent is less than perfumed, so getting out into open country becomes a sweet reward. Amazing how different California is. Every few miles she CHANGES. Vineyards, farms, fields, mountains, beaches, monasteries, tiny villages of 100 and under. Really the most remarkable thing is how small town and Mayberry RFD California is.
We get to ride through cliffs cut by the army corps of engineers, cold and very steep, and then are riding the 101. It's a test to ones' fortitude to ride by all the rumbling 18 wheelers. The ride is mostly uneventful, except we note that riders have collapsed by the side of the road in alarming numbers. No one is SERIOUSLY ill, just fatigued beyond endurance.
We stop to peel off our outerwear when an aggressive bee decides to assault Di. Her over-the-top yelping bring immediate rescue from quick thinking T as he pulls a massive stinger out of D's side.
Having never been stung by a bee before, D goes to the med tent, the Doctor warns her that she will be "sagged" and given Benadryll if she has any inkling of allergy. Dr. lists potential symptoms. T claims D experiences each as they are mentioned, D must be in shock as she has no recollection of such blatant overreaction to a little tiny bee.
Swollen throat and itchy head fail to materialize, so apparently D is still impervious to allergies. Free to continue on our merry way. Onward to the last night of camping....
Tonight there is a silent candlelight vigil for the victims of the virus. A sweet and heartbreaking experience to stand on the beach in Ventura carrying candles and thinking of the people we have loved and lost.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

AIDS ride Day 5! 6/8 Santa Maria- Lompoc Red Dress Day!

Red Dress day is literally that. Thousands of people, men and women, peddling out in red dresses in varying degrees of taste.
D wears a red tutu that is a gift from T, He wears a fetching pair of striped boxers with comedy buttocks sticking out. (Hopefully there will be pictures!) T endures a days worth of vulgar comments, the fake butt IS very amusing! Gives a new meaning to bringing up the rear, doesn't it? hahaha.
Up early and in the pack thru Strawberry Fields (forever) pedal furiously to keep up and are pleased to find we are passing people!
5 huge hills: One gigantic trek up the 101 just past Vandenberg AFB, where D is alarmed to see signs warning of unexploded ordnance (bombs!) Pleasant chats with many cows and fields of wild deep purple swee' peas.
The tiny city of Casmalia (pop 100) Throws a dance party in front of the tiny general store. The whole town comes out to watch, party and cook us bar-b-que.
Lots of hills to cope with, but we barely stop at the rest stops, 'cause we want to look like hot shots.We arrive at camp relatively early.
Lompoc is adorable, small, a little depressed, and the mural capital of California. We go into town from camp on the bus, because a sheep-faced lady sez we'll never be able to walk that far. (We are very tired of the bossy broads on this trip,it seems to inspire worry and angst and buttinski-ness in a certain breed of older lady.) It's about a mile away(!)
Old town Lompoc is cute and sleepy, we spring into the local bookshop and are soothed at the cafe. The proprietress of the bookstore flirts outrageously with T, gets him to give her his home address and she sends him provocative bookmarks.This passes for flirting in the bookselling biz. D well nigh invisible. D's cross to bear.
Coffee is T's 1st good cup in 6 days.
We go to a local steakhouse, "The Blacksmith" for dinner, have illicit wine/beer, HUGE roasted 'choke and Portuguese pupu platter.
We skip bus cause of local crazy and walk to camp. Not that far and a pleasant walk to boot. We catch end of talent show (which we had been asked to do, but turned down. T hates playing keyboards) Not so talent show actually.. One GREAT comedian and one great singer/guitar act. Some really reprehensible lip syncing.
Coldish. Our friend Jose from day one is still sweet as ever in spite of a mounting knee problem.
We turn in, try Jelly sandwich sleeping bag configuration.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

AIDS ride Day 4! 6/7 Paso Robles- Santa Maria

Up Early! HA! Bike fixed and we are on our way. Today we climb the "Evil Twins". No idea why these mounts deserve a nickname when there are hills FAR more heinous, we work hard to climb, but not so hard we don't notice the fascinating roadkill. A whole deer skeleton, raccoons, skunks and tons of snakes, all in various stages of interesting decomposition. We are proud to bike (as opposed to walk) up these hills, every inch. We are 1/2 way to LA. We get to pose with Ginger Brewlay, we attempt to lift our bikes over our heads and practically conk each other on the noggin. Raise our fists in triumph instead. The down hill is again a wonderment. So fast and refreshing and such a welcome relief on our poor beleaguered, calloused and raw booties, to be able to coast standing up. T is shocked that girls are now peeing openly on the side of the road. D sympathizes as every time she tries to piddle while on the road, rude male voices inform her the tree she is trying to hide behind is the "men's room"
Inland for so long that pelicans come as a shock, them BOOM! The ocean and Morro rock come into view as we turn onto PCH just before Morro Bay. Absolutely takes one's breath away, it is so beautiful.
T snaps photos of Motels for sale and we discuss buying one and living here forever.
T's knee is giving out, we stop at the last rest stop, which is decorated with S & M pictures, T seems revived after stop. Hmmm....?
In Santa Maria camp, T heads straight to Sports Med. tent. Katie from Huntington Beach treats him and teaches better stretches for the knees.
We feed adorable ducks our stale "Goldfish" crackers.
We try a Pita bread configuration for the sleeping bags to stay warm.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

AIDS ride Day 3! 6/6 King City-Paso Robles

TRIED to get up earlier, really tried! Failed. T's bike is flat AND has a broken spoke. Bike tech jerry-rigs the spoke and promises to fix it at lunch. The road is terrible, rutted, pitted and bouncy, it's freezing, the caboose is chasing us so we are in fear that we will be "Sagged" (Removed from the road and, Horrors!, bused to camp) Just as we start to put in maximum effort, pop,pop... T breaks 2 more spokes. Are we doomed?
We get "Swept" (taken to the next rest stop) By Midori and Ken in the Bunny Luv van. We are grim. They give us candy and stickers, we accept the kindergarten treats because, being deprived of luxury, gummi bears sound like caviar.
The bike tech's have NO spokes that will fit the wheel. We are so depressed, until the bike guy says he'll go into town and BUY the right ones and meet us at the next stop. Now we just have to connive our way onto a sweep van, cause regulations say that when you are in bike trouble you are DONE, But father Fred and the Black Sheep come through and (illegally) give us a ride.
Fr. Fred nearly loses his head taking T's heavy bike off the top of the van (seriously, the ladder went out from under him and he was being strangled between the bike and his van! Quick thinking Drag Queens save him from certain doom.)
Miraculously spokes have been found to fit T's outsized bike. T is worshipful at the resourcefulness of our tech who found a bike shop in the middle of farm land that carried equipment for T's Beach cruiser.
We are shaken but determined and a quick nap in the tent when we arrive at camp revives and refreshes.
T and D get well deserved massages. T's gal says his skin is "thick" which worries him for a couple of days.
D craves chocolate milk and drinks about a gallon. D is lactose intolerant.... T is surprisingly tolerant. He craves fish and rice and eats more than your average linebacker.
Walking back from dinner they run into a Roller Derby! It's colorful and folkloric, and a pleasant brain-scrub from the ride. D reveals not so hidden dream of Roller Derby stardom as Lulu the Lulu, killer skater. T alarmed.

Friday, June 16, 2006

AIDS ride Day 2! 6/5 Santa Cruz - King City

Awakened in Santa Cruz by our neighbors alarms. About 1838 alarms, different sounds all LOUD! We groggily load our tent, then discover we are LAST at the food tent. OOPS.... gulp, gulp our coldish breakfast, rush rush to get out of camp before we get scooped up by the bus. Almost the last to pick up our bikes... We are still learning how regimented and military boot camp this ride truly is.
We aren't totally alone on the route but almost, we bypass free smoothies and coffee, "Gotta make time!!!" Pedal thru Aptos, which is green and redwood; Strawberry Fields, the aroma is intoxicating. The fields are T's favorite thing in the state.
We manage to get to Monterey with a minimum of fuss, until we stop at Moss Landing Cafe, where di loses her backpack with ALL her credit cards as well as ALL the bike equipment. OY.
D is a wreck about this loss until T force feeds her tacos and pineapple soda. Things better from then on.
The bike path seems like it's in Nebraska, It's getting very hot. On and on....
King City is an old Train Depot. A cranky Di gets a massage. It is FREEZING. T gets chilled to the bone and never really manages to warm up. Thanks to Rusty L. we have a tarp to keep our drafty little tent warm... helps tremendously.
Asleep before our heads hit the pillow.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

AIDS ride Day 1 San Francisco-Santa Cruz! 6/4

Up at 4:30 am. D and A, just back from their night out are still in their party clothes, including my brothers very hip utilikilt (see earlier Sam Maloof entry for more info about said kilt).
They take us to the Cow palace, the city is suprisingly clear and warm. We get dropped off in the middle of bicycle chaos. Heads whirling we drop our bags off at the gear truck, realizing we shoulda got duffels with wheels.
We are given Red helmet covers that say, "not another 25 years" and we bike out of the Cow P en masse at 7am.
Again we are gloomy to note that our bikes are big, our tires are big, we don't have clip in shoes and our clothing is thrift store chic, as opposed to the truly fantastic and glam assortment of bike wear. Several Colombians are spotted. We meet Jose, a sweet guy, HIV+, whom we love because his bike is as unwieldy as ours AND he's wearing sneakers! He's been on the ride before and he utters the immortal line, "I just never learn from my mistakes." He gives T a clip to hold his map to his bike.
THE RIDE OUT! The roadies are dressed as cows and are waving cow bells at us. Tons of people on the street are waving and hollering. Adrenaline is moving us on until... FOG! T has to stop every couple of minutes to wipe his glasses, he strikes up friendship w/ "Lenny" a man who has to be just under 7 feet. The riding is exhilirating, through the heart of S.S.F and into Daly City.
The first rest stop is soothing, except for the loud disco music that is playing and that turns out to be playing ALL the time. T is challenged, he is allergic to Cher. We apply loads of squishy Butt Butter and are introduced to P'nut Butter and jelly graham bars.. yum yum.
We keep riding through fog and make it to rest stop 2 just as it's closing (a tradition for Team Goober, as it turns out) We fill up the Gatorade tank and start up a scary hill into Half Moon bay nicknamed Carback Mountain. Traffic is constant and there is no shoulder. At the crest of this switchbacky hill there are Koto drummers (inspired) and red vines (soothing) T meets a lady who is terrified of going downhill and quits the day tthere and then... boy is she in for a few surprises! Down hill like a roller coaster and such a reward after the uphill.feels like it takes about 2 minutes to go 6 miles on a %7 grade. A little reckless, but very fun. We land in pretty valley, again with too much traffic, T is almost crushed by an RV..
We land In Half Moon bay. Lovely coastline, no nasty McMansions blotting the sea, just a few farms and lots of pretty dunes.
More Travel... getting so tired the miles just begin to blend...roll, roll, roll, spin, spin, spin.... and into Camp 1.

Monday, June 12, 2006

AIDS ride Orientation Day! 6/3

We awaken at my parents house in San Jose, having been driven there the day before by Tom's dad, Robert. My mom is making arepas (heavenly Colombian corn pancakes) My mom is chatting with T's dad, my poor dad is stuck on call at the hospital. We gobble our delicious breakfast and scurry to the nearest bike shop, which sells us tire tubes and tools for 40% OFF!!! Groovy until the tubes turn out to be ALL WRONG (more later) which is in the tradition of all the gormless bike shop guys we have dealt with in the past 6 months. Run into Longs and get throw away cameras (destroyed later) Go to Army surplus and get Dutch UN duffel bags for cheep! Hoorah, now all our stuff actually fits in one bag! Sleeping bag, pad and pile of sporty clothes ( all wrong, more later)
Mom and I ride in one car, Tom and Robert ride with the bikes in another and we make our way to the Cow Palace. ( A literal cow barn and auction house) We go to drop off our bikes and gulp deeply at the fact that ours are the biggest and cruise-iest bikes on the lot. We take nervous inventory of the hot shot bikes and start to REALLY freak out. We are scared we are NOT ready for this challenge.
The donation thing took so long to clear up that we missed the first safety video ( which consequently got us put in the LAST of the tents for sleeping) Robert leaves for his dinner appointment.
Panicked and crazed, we slowly have meltdowns fron the scary so called safety video.
Mom takes T and Me to Musee Mechanique. Very soothing... Hook up with my brother and his girl and have Yummy crab at "The Franciscan" Donald and Diana put on a floor show with the crab legs. T and D have their last G and T's for a week.
Mom drops T and D at Don's Goth black Jetta, we go to Fort Point and gaze at the Golden gate bridge. At Don's brand new apartment we stare at our unruly PILES of stuff, while D and A get ready to go to Thunderdome. They leave us with the not-so-soothing "The Aristocrats" we go to bed terrified and get not a wink of sleep.