AIDS LifeCycle 9 - June 2010

Part II


Whether it’s for a flight to somewhere I’m excited to go to, or the start of an experience I’ve been excited about it’s still a rude awakening when the alarm goes off so much earlier than you would normally want it to.

I jump out of bed and pull on the Manchester United jersey, my ride uniform of choice, and before long Andy and myself are in a cab going the relatively short distance from the Mission to Daly City and the Cow Palace.

The opening ceremony although beautifully put together felt like a distraction as we were keen to get on our bikes and get going, so I didn’t argue when half way through Andy suggested we go to our bikes to ready for the off.  In fairness, it didn’t take long and the organisers deserve credit in achieving the correct balance of taste and time with the ceremony and it served as a poignant reminder of the cause we were riding for.

It was clear from the enthusiastic cheers and reception that we received as we cycled out from the Cow Palace just how much taking part in this ride means to people whose lives have been affected by AIDS, I was entirely unprepared for that and I was constantly reminded of this over the whole seven days, the support us riders being shown from people quite simply extraordinary.

The weather left a lot to be desired, the famous San Francisco fog making vision through my glasses almost non existent.  It was cold too, and I hadn’t really prepared for that.  Bottom line is, for the first twenty or so miles I couldn’t see much further than a few feet in front of me.  I lost Andy almost immediately and wouldn’t see him again until I rocked up at the camp site hours later.

They say if you don’t like the weather in the Bay Area wait ten minutes and it was shocking how suddenly it went from cold and rainy (foggy) to clear blue sky and hot.  It was so immediate it’s hard to fathom. 

Soon after I saw first hand the wonderful mechanical support afforded to us riders when I popped a spoke on the rough Californian roads (I’d do this again before reaching Los Angeles).  Apparently my Shimano wheels have proprietary spokes which in English means ‘hard to find’.  That’s ok, the mechanics just swapped my wheel out for a loaner which I’d ride on for a coupe of days  before they successfully sourced a spoke and refit my wheel.

California is a truly beautiful state and you don’t really get a sense of that just by visiting.  I’ve been told over the years how wonderful the drive is from San Francisco to Los Angeles and the truth is that was my primary reason for signing up for the ride.  By the end of the experience and after riding side by side with people affected by AIDS and also the incredible and inspiring “Pos Peds” this wouldn’t remain the case.  In the end, raising money AND experiencing the views and the challenge of the ride - what a combination.

click here for part III of the story and more photographs

8th : King City - Paso Robles | 9th : Paso Robles - Santa Maria | 10th : Santa Maria - Lompoc