In honor of the first day of fall, I wanted to celebrate my favorite fall activity: biking. Three months ago, I completed the 7 day AIDS LIFECYCLE RIDE, 600 miles which challenged every physical and mental part of me. This is my story:
It’s over. I did it. It was unbelievably hard…much harder than I ever could have imagined. It challenged me equally mentally and physically and I’m glad that I did it. Will I ever do it again? Frankly, I can’t imagine ever climbing onto the bike again. But, never say never.
Day One… HARD DAY. Probably the hardest day of the ride. Despite the exuberance and overwhelming excitement and joy of riders beginning the seven day journey…it was fricking hard. Really fricking hard. Up and down hills….although it somehow seemed as if we were going up more than going down–a topographic impossibility; however, my thighs were protesting by mile 40. I spent most of the day wondering if I should quit. When I should quit. Strategizing at which mile to get on the SAG BUS (a bus for people who stop riding). As I continued to peddle down the coast against ridiculous headwinds, SUV after SUV of Sweep Vehicles (cars which pick up bikers who need to stop riding) passed by with bikes attached to the back. I counted about sixty….and then the first TRUCK, filled with about 200 bikes passed. By the end of the 90 odd miles, 1/3 of the people had stopped riding. 700+ people sagged or swept. Despite horrible headwinds and innumerable hills and uber chilly weather…I made it. The whole way. Got to camp at 7… just before the route closed for the day and then spent the next hour lugging my suitcase to the tent area, pitching the tent, showering, having dinner and crashing. I was physically and mentally spent. But I did it.
Day Two… DRAMATIC DAY. Up at 4:30. Freezing morning. Wanted to get on the route early, but by the time one dresses in the cold, packs up the tent in the cold, hauls the luggage in the cold, eats in the cold and tries to get out of camp in the traffic jam of waiting cyclists…it’s already 7:00. Was psyched for my first century… from Santa Cruz to Kings City. Through the Artichoke capital of Calif…but 4.5 miles into the ride I hit a curb in an awkward way and fell face first, splat onto the sidewalk. Blood gushed, ambulances came, cute EMT’s checked me out and I was brought back to camp where I demanded the ‘best doctor’ sew me up. The best doctor was sexy Silas, a softspoken ER doc who put in 11 dissolvable stitches. Because I split the fall equally between my eyebrow and my hand, I was worried that my hand was broken. One of the ride execs, Alisa drove me through artichoke country, and we stopped at a store and had THE BEST ARTICHOKE FRENCH FRIES ever. So yummy. Almost made me stop hurting…almost. She then dropped me at lunch, where Carlos–who works as an organ donor specialist (talks to families whose loved ones are brain dead and convinces them to donate the organs to those in need) drove me to the Kings City ER. Alisa gave me her ipad and I read the entire Rob Lowe book (fascinating) while waiting for Xrays and a check out. My bones were bruised, capillaries burst, but no breaks. Arrived back at camp where sexy Silas put in seven more stitches, nylon stitches this time, to hold the wound together cause I told him I was going to keep riding and he was worried that the sweat might dissolve the dissolvable stitches too quickly. Dinner and bed. For me, the accident was an out of body experience when everything was happening, then I went into a bit of shock and started to cry and then I just sucked it up and decided to embrace the drama. After all, I am a bit of a drama queen…and a fall is pretty dramatic, especially when it’s your face that breaks the fall.
stay tuned to tomorrow’s blog: Aids LifeCycle days three and four…