kellianne: (Default)
[personal profile] kellianne
I wish I had stopped long enough to write something every day, but the whole experience was just overwhelming on every level. The schedule was insane. I woke up at 4 o'clock every morning to break down my camp, dress, repack my bags, and load them on the gear truck. Then I went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, stood in breakfast line, generally took my breakfast to eat in line at the Butt Clinic (yes) OR did 15 minutes of yoga with this hilarious instructor that was all "Namaste, bitches!", geared up, and got on the road by 7. I generally returned in the evening, set up camp, signed my name up in Sports Medicine or Chiro, grabbed my dinner, returned my dinner to line where I ate while waiting, got an adjustment or whatever, showered, rolled out my muscles, and went to bed BY 10. The nights where I didn't need or didn't get to the line in time for an adjustment I spent in the food tents watching the "Nightly News" - which consisted of reports on accidents that had happened that day, a general run down of the route to be biked tomorrow, and very heartening stories of the people the AIDS foundations serve or families who are working/riding the ride and why.

Day 1 - San Francisco to Santa Cruz aka "Opening Day" (82 mi) - Big big tears at the opening ceremony. Choking up for the first few miles. Everyone looked so clean and fresh! Not anything like what we would look like at the end of the ride. It was such a clusterfuck getting out of the city, of course, so much stop and go traffic along the way. But once we broke up a little, SO VERY MANY people along the path cheering riders on, ringing bells, in elaborate drag or carrying photos of lost family members, handing out strawberries, bands on the side of the road singing us on. I realized at mile 40 that my labia had been tortured by the stop and go - which is something that has never happened to me before, even on century rides, so I was a bit alarmed for the week ahead and already on the butt butter. I didn't sleep well that night - because I never sleep well the first night of a trip. My hand and arm kept going numb from an issue I had been having all week and I was just so worried that I was totally in for it. Recurring thoughts: What have I signed up for? How am I supposed to do this for 6 more days??? What if I bail after people donated so much money?

Day 2 - Santa Cruz to King City aka "Century Day"(109 mi) - This was one of my favorite days. It was dusty and filthy on agriculture roads in the central valley. Mostly flat except for a few epic climbs (with folks shouting at the bottom of one: GET UP THAT WALL YOU CAN DO IT). Absolutely beautiful. This was the first day I went rogue. I was riding so fast, got way ahead of my team mates. Was so glad to be free of them! I like them each as individuals but we are a very small team of 4, and two of the riders dated and broke up last November - so their energy is ultra annoying. They are fast riders who are always chomping at the bit to go - but feel obligated to slow down. You can feel the tension. I had trained so hard for this ride and didn't want to feel obligated to cater to the ultra-weird tension on my team, so I just went. Didn't text for hours and when I did, just said "Went rogue, have an amazing ride!". Then I fell behind the bulk of the ride socializing at a Starbucks, where I met some cyclists I had been only acquainted with on FB. Remember looking down at my legs, streaked with zinc and dirt, dripping with sweat, riding so so fucking fast, and feeling so proud of my training. I felt like I could do anything. That's when I hit 36, after the 100 mile mark, like a fucking superhero. There was a slight tailwind on a straightaway, but the road was somewhat bumpy. That's when I really felt the magic of my fatty Marathon tires and the steel frame of my Soma! I just started to fly when a super fun guy behind me was egging me on. I've never gone that fast on a straight before! When we stopped at camp, he told me that he heard a girl we flew past say, "holy shit, that girl is on a beach cruiser!" This made us laugh. The Soma is not a beach cruiser, but she sure does stand out around all those road bikes.

Day 3 - King City to Paso Robles aka "Quadbuster Day" (65.3 mi) - Oh god. Day 3 was hard. So so fucking hard. The hardest. Looking back, I realize that it's possible my tires were a bit low. How else do I explain my average speed of about 8mph? I went about 3mph on Quadbuster hill. The only thing that kept me going was eggs from the Chicken Lady (this wonderful queen who has done the ride 20 times who leaves egg treasures filled with fuzzy baby chicks and endearing poetry on hills). In the middle of the hill, a banana ran with his hand behind my back to give me a push. The whole time, my shoulder seized up and my seat, holy shit my seat hurt. My sit bones were killing me. My labia was killing me. By the time I hit Bradley, California (pop 95) and realized that I had dropped the little bag with all my identification, insurance info, cash, and credit cards (probably when I stopped to play with a baby and give her trinkets that I had brought along for kids on the route) - I was OVER IT. Bradley, CA hosts it's largest school fundraiser of the year as the ride goes through. AIDS Lifecycle rider donations have built their school a new gymnasium and supports music and camp for the school - so I was super looking forward to spending some money at this event when I realized that I had none. Plus, it was a million degrees. I was dizzy, beaten, and I had 20 miles to go. I was with Autumm, who is the person I most love riding with on my team (and in general - she's super laid back and rad), but I just couldn't. I took the SAG bus to camp and slept the whole way. I was super disappointed with myself - but went straight to Chiro when I got there and got an adjustment that helped a lot with pain. I got lots of hugs from strangers who could tell I had had a hard day, found my pouch in Lost and Found (!!!), and got a pretty good night's sleep.

Day 4 - Paso Robles to Santa Maria - "Evil Twins Day" (91.4 mi) - Woke up and went to the Butt Clinic for the first time, which was hilarious. The curtains were somewhat sheer, so you could see some backlit figures bending over chairs while you sat in line. So very many jokes, of course. You go behind the curtain, drop your bibs, spread and bend over a chair. And then a medic with a head lamp investigates the situation, talks to you about proper care, and patches the areas that need attention. By this point in the ride, you don't care. You don't care how you look. You don't care that you are talking to everyone on the ride about how many times you've pooped today (if you're lucky). You don't care who hears about your tattered labia. You don't care that your nose and lips are white as a clown with zinc oxide. You don't care that your calves, knees and shoulders might be covered with a web of supportive sports tape. You just don't care anymore. It's all hilarious and all 2700 of you are in the same boat, anyway. I found not caring about appearances very refreshing. It was as if we had all leveled into the institution of AIDS Lifecycle. Everyone cares at this point about how you're feeling, if you're feeling loved, everyone tells the dirtiest jokes, everyone openly hugs strangers. Everyone breaks out in song, all the time. Everyone holds the doors to the port-a-potty open for the next contestant. You have become a part of a beautiful machine. I rode so well that day. It was amazing. A whole world away from the day before. I was filled with joy and purpose. My average speed on the Evil Twins was way, way higher than my usual hill speed. I had no pain. We hit the half-way point that day, and I knew for certain that I would be able to go all the way and ride every mile after that. It was beautiful. There were long lines for photo ops on beautiful vistas and we all sang The Backstreet Boys to get us through (the twinks started it, duh).

Day 5 - Santa Maria to Lompoc - "Red Dress Day" (48 mi) - Oh man, I was so excited for Red Dress Day! It's the day when everyone wears a red dress to basically look like a fabulous red ribbon on wheels. It was amazing to see the camp come alive in red as the sun came up. I was so excited for my outfit, and wore my very first tutu! I got started pretty late that day, since it was only a 46 mile day. I got into an huffy argument with someone at breakfast about male privilege ("Women are more privileged! THEY GET SHELTERS!") so, in order to shake that asshole off, I did yoga and visited the clinic before taking off. Yoga was ridiculous! The instructor teaches 15 minute long sessions for 2 hours or so from 6-8 and he is HILARIOUS. "You! Daddy! Over there? I said get that leg higher!" I love him. But everyone else had the same idea to start late and getting out of Santa Maria was a real clusterfuck. So much stop and go traffic in the morning rush hour. At one point, another biker tried to pass me as a red light was turning and had trouble clipping in on his way - he fell right into me. This jacked my break and my seat, and I got a skinned knee and some lovely bruises as well. Joy. I rode 6 miles to a Starbucks and fixed my bike there. It was cold and I was grumpy. They say it always warms up on Red Dress Day - but today that was not the case. Everyone was wrapped in Mylar by lunch, which actually looked pretty rad against all the red dresses. The hi-light of this rough-for-me day was on a series of pretty intense hills that I was having a hard time troubling through. There was this lovely queen named Juicy that I rode with all afternoon who had the most beautiful, soulful voice. She sang a group of us up every hill. It was amazing, and is among my favorite ride memories. Juicy could sing folks through anything, I'm sure. What a voice! When I got back to camp, I had a good cry in the shower, and in the arms of a K truck roadie, because I missed my family so much and was epically disappointed that they weren't able to visit that night. Bummer day.

Day 6 - Lompoc to Ventura - "Beach Day!" (88.1 mi) - I knew that I would be great after my rough day 5, because at this point - I had the my ALC pattern down. A bad day always comes before an awesome day, apparently. I had SUCH a great time on day 6! It was my absolute favorite day! First of all, it was absolutely stunning. Before we hit Santa Barbara, we cruised through the areas where they are cleaning up the oil spill, which was pretty moving. Actually, at the nightly news on Day 5, the powers that be who are in charge of clean up came to talk to us about what to expect and the air quality. We got to see a video of their progress, which was pretty cool. Those people are doing an amazing job. Workers are literally scraping rocks with paint scrapers out there! Anyhow, it's looking pretty good at this point. There's a half mile or so where it is super stinky, but other than that - HOLY WOW is Santa Barbara gorgeous! Crazy crazy stunning. I went completely rogue and got to ride with lots of my favorite people on this day. I started off the day with a girl named Josie, who is co-captain of an SF-based team called the ALC-aholics. She's so lovely and polite to ride with. Sunshine company. Later, I rode with a bunch of new friends who ride with Team Wino, who I actually covered a lot of miles with. I ended up riding out from lunch with them because I was a bit shaken. I saw my team captain (Samar) and tent mate's bike on the SAG vehicle as I pulled into the lunch stop. And then one of the Winos told me that they saw her on the ground with the paramedics. I found her at lunch using Find My Friends in the medical tent. She had hit some gravel while reaching for a twizzler that some folks were handing out and went over her handlebars. Her collarbones and elbow was banged up pretty badly and she was having nerve issues with her hands - she couldn't really move them. She was covered in dirt from the fall. She's a super strong rider and a tough lady in general, so it was particularly upsetting to see her hurt. She went back to camp and told me to ride on, and I asked some Winos to ride with me so we could feel some love. We had an amazing time riding together. All songs and laughs to the next rest stop. Which was REST STOP 4!

A bit about Rest Stop 4 - the roadie team that handles that stop is amazing. I don't know what official group they are involved in - but they go ALL OUT with party themes and costumes for Rest Stop 4. It's the party stop! It's the You're Almost There stop. One day there was a Jem theme. Another day, there was a Dinah Shore LPGA theme (where they all dressed as golf playing lesbians while we listened to Tracey Chapman, Melissa Etheridge, The Indigo Girls and so on). Another day, the theme was The Book of 4-Men and they all posed for naughty photos with the book of Mormon and dressed their Mormon best. It's a ridiculously fun party, every time. Day 6 is the Rest Stop 4 dance party on the beach day! Seriously, it was one of my most favorite dance parties, EVER. I had no idea that I'd be so interested in dancing after biking 80 miles - but it turns out that your muscles really really want to be used in a different way after all so much spinning. The beach was gorgeous. A train passed us, blowing its horn with everyone inside waving and taking photos. Every gay dance floor anthem was played. We all had to be pushed out by the caboose (a red car that sweeps the last riders), because who wants to leave the best dance party ever? I rode the last 8 miles to camp with Nicki and her brother Ben, these lovely souls who also ride touring bikes with Marathon tires (yay for touring bike nerds).

That night, there is a candlelight vigil on the beach. It's super beautiful and moving. And I skipped it. I'm sorry. I knew I was going to cry buckets on Day 7 and I didn't want to cry buckets three days in a row. I'm a terrible person. I went to a vegan restaurant in Ventura and had a delicious meal with lots of fresh veggies and cashew cream. It was amazing. One of the best meals of my life after struggling to stay GF all week. Did I mention the night where the only GF dinner option they had was steamed broccoli? After a 90 mile ride? Yeah, that happened. And yeah, I cried then too.

Anyhow, I slept so well that night. 4am was beginning to feel right regular when I woke up on day 7.

Day 7 - Ventura to Los Angeles - "Finish Line Day" (62 mi) - At this point, you're like holy shit! This is going to be done in a hot second! 62 miles is a whole lot of nothing! You cruise through Malibu, which is drop dead gorgeous, and have to regularly watch your self for surf boards and car doors blocking your way. It's crazy how much you see Southern California's car culture come into play on this stretch of the ride. People are super aggressive drivers in So-Cal! We're all happy bikers! Yay! We've just raised 16.3 million dollars for AIDS and biked over 500 miles! And they are all Beep beep fuck you! LA is such a weird place. Beautiful homes on the PCH and people driving at breakneck speeds right on past. I even got to witness a pretty bad car accident on my way to the finish line. Anyhow, at this point, everything is a blur. I didn't even notice that I was crossing the finish line because I was just desperately searching for Buster and Niko. I missed them so much and was so ready to get off the saddle and have a good cry. Actually, I didn't cry nearly as much as I thought I would. Just quiet tears as they rolled the riderless red bicycle down the aisle with flags of remembrance, where we had all written notes for people lost before the ride began. Lots of families around me, squeezing me, holding hands, thanking the riders and the roadies for raising the money. So many thanks. Such a beautiful experience.

I was stoked to get to the hotel, where we payed a pretty penny for real food. There, I made a new friend - a woman I never even saw on the ride who is the mother of a 4.5 year old and lives in San Francisco. We decided that we are starting a new team next year, when we will do it all again. I think we're going to call ourselves The Breeders! I'm over being a Hooker. I made a request that next year they make it easier for newbies to understand what teams are and how to join one (I had no idea - I just joined the first one I was asked to join) - and my request was definitely heard by my cycling representitive. So that's cool. I hope the Hookers don't mind when I break the news to them later. I don't think they will.

I have lots and lots of other thoughts that have come up as a result of this experience, but just wanted to get the details down. Hopefully I'll be able to write a much shorter, boiled down summary of my feels and what's come out of the meditation from doing a super positive, 545 mile charity bike ride. In the meantime, I'm just so impressed with my body. I worked really hard for this, for 6 months. Probably harder than I've ever worked on anything. The training was all-in. I don't think it will be quite as intense to do it all again. My body knows what it can do now, and I've built lots of muscle memory up in this process. Plus, I've already spent the money on biking gear (though, if I do it all again, I'm totally getting a different saddle so I can stay out of the butt clinic). In the meantime, I'll be signing up for lots of century rides and just really embracing being a cyclist. What began as a happy-go-lucky roll around Berkeley has become an all-encompassing community hobby and I am so much happier as a result of this development.

Date: 2015-06-13 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is so inspiring! I loved every word.

Date: 2015-06-16 11:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I am so glad I had the space in my life to do it. It's not every year that I'll have that luxury.

Date: 2015-06-13 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So happy you did this!

When I did it (the very first ALC way back when), I didn't train enough and ended up pulling my psoas on day 2, but kept on until day 3 when I got noro virus or something and had to get an IV in the med tent. That passed in 24 hours or so, but I was still too weak to ride, so I volunteered in the massage tent once I was cleared for duty. It was awesome and I met tons of great people in the massage, PT and chiropractic teams. It was funny because the team I was on kind of fell apart - one guy was my good friend and a strong cyclist and he helped me a ton in training, but his girlfriend was possibly jealous of me and this manifested itself by her snubbing me the entire ride, especially after I got sick. It was like she thought I was faking when I was puking my guts out and running to the port-a-potties, and she wouldn't even talk to me when she had to go to the med tent herself. The other guys on my team was a very sweet, older guy with HIV who could only do a few miles each day (he was really awesome) and another guy who was into racing and was always the first or second person done for the day. So we never rode together, basically!

So definitely all your training and hard work and enthusiasm paid off! Not just for you but for all the people whose lives will be touched through the money you raised. It's a good thing you did, and if I didn't have such a crazy experience the first time I would probably do it again myself. I am not enough of an athlete to go there again, though, so I do what I can in other ways. ;) Maybe one day that'll be different!

Date: 2015-06-16 11:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There was an infamous ride some years ago, maybe 5 or 6? Where there was a horrible rotavirus outbreak around riders. Hundreds of people got it after patient zero figured he would still head to this ride he had trained so hard for. Apparently there was a sea of suffering riders around the medical tent, with buckets. Sitting on them and puking in them. The medical team talks about this year with trauma in their eyes, and yet they still volunteer! What a bunch of magical folks!

Date: 2015-06-13 05:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
thiis was so fun to read!
Congratulations! amazing feat!

Date: 2015-06-16 11:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! A week and a half later, I can't believe I did it.

Date: 2015-06-13 01:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I want to know further about this Butt Clinic you speak of.

Date: 2015-06-16 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Drop bibs, spread 'em, and bend over for the looksee of a person wearing a head lantern! What more to say? I think you get on the table and spread them if it's a labia problem. Luckily, my labia was fairly well soothed with butter. While I will miss all the ridiculous butts butts butts jokes in the long line outside the tent I am definitely going to audition new saddles for the next ride. There has to be one better suited for my bottom.

Date: 2015-06-18 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Too effing hilarious. Who knew such a thing even existed!

Date: 2015-06-13 01:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You are such a rock star. I loved this post!

Date: 2015-06-16 11:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! It was a super fun cross off on the old bucket list!

Date: 2015-06-13 06:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
very cool! thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings about it.

Date: 2015-06-16 11:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
SO MANY FEELS. All the feels. I barely got into the feels! Hah.

Date: 2015-06-14 03:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Loved reading this! You are amazing!

Date: 2015-06-16 11:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! It was easier than having a baby/toddler. I'm stoked I had the space in my life to do it.

Date: 2015-06-14 04:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So much love, so much admiration.

Also, so much butt clinic.

Date: 2015-06-16 11:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
All the butts!!!

Date: 2015-06-18 11:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What an amazing experience and accomplishment! I loved reading this. Thanks for sharing. :)


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