Friday, June 4, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

I'm  packed! I'm a little worried because it doesn't feel like I am taking anything that I would normally take on a trip....but then again, this is not a normal trip. The apartment is clean and ready for my return. My flight is tomorrow at 4:30 so I will leave shortly after getting home from work at 2pm. 

READY OR NOT.... here I come!

For those who have asked:
I will be sending nightly updates via Facebook for anyone who has access to that media. If you want to follow the ride and get daily updates from the AIDS Lifecycle perspective, visit the “Experience the Event” site at I look forward to updating you with pictures and stories upon my return.

Leave the drama for your mamma

So, I had my first (and hopefully only) meltdown last night. I went to drop off my bike at the Hollywood Presbyterian Church after work only to discover it was scheduled for the night before and that day until noon. The logistics of getting my bike to SFO pushed me over the edge, along with exhaustion, sickness and stress that have been looming all week. I cried. I mean....I cried like I have not cried for a long time. I think the tears just needed to come out so I could move on.  Unfortunately, they mostly came out at my Bishop who was trying to give me a blessing inbetween sobs, and at Shannon who was frantically looking up alternative shipping options while I wallowed in self-pity. 

After eliminating the options of shipping it via FedEx ($700+ for overnight) and buying a box and taking it on the plane ($150+ logistical nightmare), I decided to 1. call McCollister's in the morning and BEG them to take my bike, or 2. call a friend and make them drive up with me to SFO and then bring my car back here.

One restless night later, I woke up much more optimistic. It is amazing the perspective that comes with a little sleep. Long story short...I called McCollister's and ended up driving out past Ontario to drop off my bike. Trust me, I am not complaining. I didn't have to spend any more money on it and the bike will be there on orientation day with everyone elses, so I am all set. Whew! Let's hope that is the only hiccup this trip.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Bandanna Message

I can't imagine...what it must feel like to have AIDS.

It's time to wake up. It's time to ride my bike. It's 4:30 am, and I have to get out of my warm bed and go out into the cold air. As I feel the first sign of sweat running down my face into my eyes, down my legs, and onto my bike,

I can't imagine...what it must feel like to have AIDS.

I've gone about 50 miles, my muscles are burning, the heat from the sun is intense, my face is on fire, and I can't push myself into another gear, I think to myself,

I can't imagine...what it must feel like to have AIDS.

When each hill gets longer, harder, steeper to climb, and i feel I can't make it over another hill, I say to myself,

I can't imagine...what it must feel like to have AIDS.

When I've just had it for the day, 65 miles have passed, I've stopped to fix another flat tire, I am tired, hungry, and I don't know why I've committed to this ride, I think to myself,

I can't imagine...what it must feel like to have AIDS.

When it's cold, windy, and it starts to rain, and I bitch about how dirty my bike will get, DAMN! I've fallen (new clipless pedals), now my new jersey is dirty as well. When is this day going to end? And then that thought pops into my head again,

I can't imagine...what it must feel like to have AIDS.

My hands and feet are numb, my legs feel like Jello-O. My back and neck burn with the aches and pains of being on my saddle too long, this rash is uncomfortable, and now I think I am going to go crazy. What am I going to do? I've lost my focus...and then that thought occurs to me,

I can't imagine...what it must feel like to have AIDS.

I've ridden 75 miles, I have 25 more miles to go, and I don't know if I can make it. Each breath and pedal stroke that I take gets harder and harder, my body says no, I can pedal no longer, but a thought crosses my mind....

I know deep down in my heart that there is this inner strength that flows through my body. It comes from my family, it comes from my friends, and it comes from the Men, Women and Children who are living and dying from AIDS related diseases. 

The reality is clear, I can see now, there are No Hills, No Hot Sun, No Wind, No Cold Rain, No Burning Muscles, No Body Aches or Pains that will hold me back from keeping the Faith and Commitment to myself and others. I will continue to ride mile after mile, I will continue to ride hill after hill.

For I do not know what it must feel like... to have AIDS.

Source: this was written by Doreen, one of the veteran riders who has been doing the AIDS Lifecycle or the past 17 years. She put it on a bandanna and she sells it as a fundraising tool. I bought one from her because the message resonated with me. This ride is going to be HARD, but there is purpose behind it, and if I can remember that, I will be fine.

Last "official" training ride

Today I got up and did my last official training ride with the "Chain Gang" at Griffith Park. We took it pretty easy and did just a 24 mile ride and then they presented a packing demonstration. This was my first ride in two weeks after being sick. It sort of hurt my lungs and sinus and I felt the lack of riding.  However, a couple of things I realized about myself on this ride:
  • I need at least 10 miles to get warmed up and for my muscles to relax and get into the groove of the ride.
  • I am SLOW. I really am slow, so I am going to have to watch my time on the ride. I am be no means the slowest, but neither am I in the lead. I am securely in the middle.
  • I do much better when I am behind someone so I can match my cadence to theirs. I don't like to be in the lead.
  • I am horrible at navigating and using those vague route maps. Refer to the insight above...I do much better when behind someone.
  • My brain holds me back more than my body. I freak out when I see hills, but when I let go and just keep pedaling I do okay.
  • I have adopted the mantra "ENJOY THE SCENERY" which is advice from Ryan. I have a tendency to watch the road instead of looking up, and that is no way to see California.
This was a good ride, although it made me feel fully unprepared. It was the last time I will be on the bike with other ALC riders until next Sunday. It was good to be with friends. It was incredibly sunny and hot that day. I got a bit sunburned which is good as the tan lines from my shorts evened out a bit.

The packing demonstration was especially helpful and we had some good laughs as veterans talked about their past experiences. The most shocking moment (to me) was when he advised us NOT to bring underwear. LOL. Said it takes up too much room and we need to allow ourselves to "air out". It is a great group of people I will be traveling with. Although I never feel quite ready, it is time for the training to end and the ride to begin.

Two Weeks

I got sick. Great timing, right? I didn't ride for two weeks. Ugh! Great timing...

The Burbank "B"

I am writing this a couple of weeks after the fact, but wanted to document the experience nonetheless.

On Saturday, Ryan and rode from the apartment up the LA River to Burbank. Once there we started up the hill towards our destination...the ultimate canyon road.  Ryan had been there once before and assured me it was beautiful and worth the ride.

Please note: I am wearing my new ladies shorts for the first time in this picture. Yes, i have a HORRIBLE tan line, and I assume I will have many more before this ride is over.

I made him stop sooo many more times than he wanted to as it was all uphill from that point on, but we finally got half way there and saw an amazing LDS Church. It was Spanish-style architecture and beautiful. Just down the street there was a monument tht explained it use to be a country club, but was bought by the Church when a new one was erected. This is a picture of the archway up the remainder of the canyon. I agreed with Ryan that it was a beautiful entrance to HELL which was to be the remainder of the ride. 

The next few miles were part of a peaceful, switchback canyon road. It really felt like another world. The homes were all very unique and eclectic (especially the one dubbed the "crayon house" due to the colors of the shingles) and with the foliage, it felt a lot like Utah. It was really beautiful.

Please note: it took me about as long to get up this canyon as it had to do the entirety of the rest of the ride. I swear, Ryan's patience was really tested on this particular ride. I AM SLOW! lol. I am sooo, slow... I think at one point I threated his life if we ultimately hit the Burbank "B" on the mountian, which was not too far away.

Here is a picture of me at the end. My nostrils are flared from lack of oxygen. Ryan says it was the anger...either way...I finally hit The End of the road.   

This is one route I am going to have to try again. It was beautiful, challenging, 35 miles and 1144 calories burned. A really great day!

Friday, May 21, 2010


With the ride 2 weeks from thoughts have turned to packing. For anyone interested in what we take for 7 days of riding and 6 nights of camping...this is a great visual website breaking it down.

70 lbs for everything I new motto: SIMPLIFY!