Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ALC......DAY SEVEN 6/11/11

Day Seven was a 60 mile ride pretty much down the coast, through various towns and farming lands that give way to some military bases near the coast and finally we rode down Highway 1, known locally as the Pacific Coast Highway.  Again it was a foggy day but there were plenty of surfers and beach revellers in evidence along with a lot of traffic.

We stopped for lunch on the lovely Malibu Bluffs just below Pepperdine University.

Time for a few last pictures before the end of the ride.

Bill and Don

Don and Caitlin

After entering the city of Santa Monica we headed inland and rode up our last little hill.  At the top of the hill there was a large crowd of cheering folks to welcome us to the ride down San Vicente Boulevard, a very lovely street with many people on the sidewalks cheering the riders on to the finish line at the Veterans Administration Center grounds in Los Angeles.

After all the riders were present, at 4:30 PM closing ceremonies took place and the 540 mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles was over.  The riders raised over $13,000,000 to assist in the effort to end HIV/AIDS.  Thanks to the generosity of all who were part of my team, our part in that figure amounted to almost $19,000.  I am so grateful to all of you who contributed your money, well wishes, prayers and encouragement.  There really is no way I can adequately convey how blessed I feel to have so many great friends and family members but I hope this last picture says it all......

THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

ALC....DAY SIX 6/10/11

Day Six was an 86 mile ride from Lompoc along the coast to Ventura.  Again it was a foggy and cool day temperature wise.  There were some challenging hills early on in the ride but riding along with my "camp buddy" Judy, we kept up a fairly aggressive pace.    At mile 18 we entered onto Highway 101 and rode through the narrow and beautiful canyon near Gaviota and then more or less road along the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Ventura.

One of the annual events on an ALC ride is the wonderful ice cream and cookie fest that is offered by people from Santa Barbara as a way of honoring those in their community who have died from AIDS.  Returning riders look forward to this little stop with just as much as any 6 year old anticipates a trip to Baskin and Robbins.

To the right is the Chief Executive of the SF AIDS Foundation, Neil Giuliano. Niel just began work this spring and was on a few of the training rides that I participated in earlier this spring.  He is a great guy and I'm sure will help the Foundation continue to expand its services.  His largest single donation came from Bishop Gene Robinson and Gene's partner, Mark.

Further down the road at one of the rest stops, Judy and I were reminded how important it is for vehicles and riders to "Cher" the road.

At rest stop 4, eight miles north of Ventura, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of this annual ride...my 2nd and Judy's 7th.

We were less than three miles from Ventura when Judy's back tire met a sharp object of some kind and she encountered a flat.  Because of the arthritis in my hands, I really don't have the strength to change a tire but fortuately, as happens often in the ALC ride, a cyclist stopped and fixed the flat.   We then peddled on into camp in Ventura.  That evening while out to dinner with my two friends, Jim and David, I was able to briefly visit my Aunt Edna and Uncle Chuck who were celebrating the high school graduation of my cousin Sheri's son Wesley.  As fate would have it, we were all at the same restaurant and Carol Anne found out on Facebook that they were in a private room in the restaurant so she sent me a text message on my iPhone.  It was great fun to surprise them and the other family members present to celebrate Wesley's accomplishment.  Thus, Day Six, ended happily and it was off to bed.

ALC......DAY FIVE 6/9/11

By the time Day Five rolls around, riders are tired, sore, and needing a short ride day (41 miles)  Several years ago it was decided that it would be nice to have everyone dress in red to reflect the iconic Red Ribbon symbol that stands for supporting people with HIV/AIDS.  It did not take long for this to turn into RED DRESS DAY.

Riders, male and female, straight and gay, are in all sorts of outlandish outfits...including yours truly. Those of you who know about this day have been asking so here it is...Don Brown in his red dress that Carol Anne found for me in a thrift store in Portland.

I discovered the socks there and found the wig in a costume shop in Berkeley.  The wig was not really big enough to cover my entire helmet but you get the idea.

With friend Peter Graney

With nephew Bill Smullin

On Day Five I struck up a conversation with Judy Kann, a rider from LA and we became riding buddies for the last three days of the ride.
 A big wig!
A most welcome sign at the end of a day's ride.

ALC.....DAY FOUR 6/8/11

Day Four started out foggy and cold and it really never got very warm as we headed west from Paso Robles toward the Pacific coast.  Day Four is another long day of riding, 98 miles.

After about 10 miles out,  riders encounter the other two particularly notorious hills on the whole ride, lovingly referred to as "The Evil Twins" because they are steep and fairly long, the second being a climb of 1.8 miles.    At the top of the second "Twin" we reach the "Half Way to LA mark in the ride.  Just over the summit there is a wide spot where most riders stop to have their pictures taken.  From that spot,  there is an amazing vista across 8 miles of beautiful countryside to the Pacific Ocean.  However, on this particular day there was no point in stopping there because the view was obliterated by the fog.  So I opted to stop just short at the summit of Twin number 2.

The ride down this very long steep hill, was fast and furious and so very cold.  I was shivering so much that I had trouble keeping my bike on the road.

At mile 33 the riders turned onto Highway 1 and headed down the coast toward Cayucos.  A little coastal town where my paternal grandparents had a beach house.  Seeing the town always brings back fond memories from my childhood.....even on cold and foggy days.   The ride continued on to Morro Bay and then turned inland toward San Luis Obispo.  From that point on we headed south, eventually reaching the coast again.  Near Pismo Beach the sky cleared and while still chilly, it was great seeing and feeling the sun.  

One of the delights of this ride is stopping four times each day at official ALC rest stops where one can partake of food, water and power aid, porta-pottys, and the antics of the rest stop crew roadies.  Each stop has its own theme.  This one was Mary Kay themed.  Each porta-potty had a charming photo shot of a Mary Kay beauty!
What wonders MK can work
Eventually we reached Santa Maria, which was the camp site for the night.

Rest Stop 4 featured a funny show by the Angry Birds

ALC......DAY THREE 6/7/11

At the top of Quadbuster!
 Day Three is a 67 mile ride but unlike Day Two it has quite a few hills to deal with, including the infamous (at least for ALC riders) "Quadbuster" hill that comes up at mile 10.5.  Quadbuster is a 1.3 mile climb with a steep steady grade that challenges all but the most conditioned of riders.  My strategy for these kinds of hills is to put my head down, keep peddling, and don't look more than about 8 feet ahead.  By keeping my eye on the immediate I don't become intimidated by what is to come...just deal with the immediate.  This works well because no one is speeding up this hill.   Steady and slow, I arrived at the top feeling pretty good.  Gathered on the shoulder are riders that have already made the climb who cheer as other riders arrive.

One of the nice things about a big hill is the downhill ride on the other side which in this case is a really fun ride that allows the rider to cool off and at the bottom of the hill the terrain is fairly flat all the way to rest stop two on the grounds of St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
What does a line of porta-pottys says about the church and the world?

At mile 41 our route heads onto the shoulder of Highway 101, a freeway with a whole lot of traffic.  After just a couple of miles we leave the highway for the little town of Bradley.   When the freeway was built, Bradley pretty much dried up as a town but there is still a little Roman Catholic Church, a post office, a few houses, some buildings that once housed businesses, and there is also a school.  The parents and children from the school raise more than $10,000 by selling ALC riders hamburgers and drinks. This is their major fundraiser for the year and provides money for extras not funded by the school district.  This year we were greeted by red AIDS ribbons on the old bridge that leads to town.  
This part of California is hot and dry during the summer time.  This year though, just as on the entire route, the weather was unseasonably cool.  From Bradley we rode on another 12 miles along 101 on some of the roughest road shoulders of the entire ride.  Long time ALC riders refer to this section of road as "The Jackhammer."  It feels almost abandoned, much as the old military base, Fort Roberts, appears.  After these very bumpy miles, we exit into the little town of San Miguel where rest stop four is located on the grounds of the lovely, and shady, Mission San Miguel.

After another 12 miles riding along the upper reaches of the Salinas River that has a very wide river bed but not a whole lot of water in it.  Finally at mile 68 we rode into the Mid State Fair Grounds in Paso Robles.   This was to be the last really sunny day before heading back to the coast so a lot of riders took the opportunity to do their washing, the old fashioned way.
The route for Day 3

ALC......DAY TWO 6/6/11

Finally my jacket comes off and there is sun!
Day Two is the longest one of the ride....107 miles.  I started out at about 6:45 am in the fog.  Getting out of Santa Cruz can be a real problem if you don't leave early as there are a lot of intersections with short stop lights and way too much car traffic.  It was a foggy and cool morning.  However by the time I reached the first rest stop at Manresa State Beach on Monterey Bay the sun was out and while not warm at least it was uplifting to see the sun.

This ride takes us away from the coast as we head east through Salinas and through some of the great agricultural lands in California where a whole lot of lettuce, artichokes, and other veggies are grown.
At about noon I rolled into Central Park in Salinas for what is pretty much the standard lunch on an ALC ride week: a sandwich of some kind, fruit, a cheese stick, a grain salad, cookie, and a choice of several different types of potato chips.  Riders bring the water bottles from their bikes and so you have a choice of water or some sort of electrolyte type of stuff that comes in red, blue, or yellow.  This stuff supposedly helps keeps one's blood chemistry in line.  All of the perspiring one does riding can wreak havoc with one's system.

At lunch I ran into Caitlin Lempres Brostrom, architect, mother of six children, wife of a VP in the University of California system, and active parishioner at All Souls' Parish in Berkeley.  She is a charming person and was the captain of the UC Berkeley group of riders.  Lunch was at about mile 47 of the day's ride.

Tent city for riders and roadies
 After lunch I headed on out of Salinas and into the open farm land, some stiff winds, and lovely views.  One of the rest stops in the afternoon was at Mission La Soledad, one of the famous missions in the chain of missions begun by Fr. Serra in the 1700s.  Finally around 5 PM I rode into San Lorenzo County Park in King City. 

Time to find my baggage at the end of the ride.

Day Two route

Sunday, June 12, 2011

ALC TEN.... Thoughts and Pictures Day One 6/5/11

The demands of the ride just did not leave me with the time or energy to post the daily blog that I had hoped to provide to those of you who were interested. But better late than never is the attitude I am adopting. So here goes. I am typing this on Sunday evening and will post at least Day One. More will come tomorrow.

Mostly I am posting some of the pictures I've taken that convey some of my impressions of the ride. Day One, June 5, coincidentally marked the 30th anniversary when the Center for Disease Control officially recognized what came to be called the AIDS virus. Since that time over 1.7 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and more than 600,000 individuals with hopes and dreams for a full and productive life have died.
The Inspiring Opening Ceremony

In the Cow Palace at 6 AM, 2361 riders and more than 500 "roadies"(people who helped with everything from serving meals, to traffic control) carting all the riders' luggage, picking up garbage, all the stuff needed to make a temporary city of close to 3000 people move to a new location daily) gathered to remember why we ride....to fund the effort end AIDS and help those who are living with AIDS, and provide information and assistance to the general population to prevent new infections.

My ailing bik
Being among the first 600 riders out the door I was feeling great about what a wonderful start I was making then 2 miles from the Cow Palace, I got a flat tire!  Not being too adept at tire changing, I just put on my "needy face" and three riders stopped to help me.  One of the wonderful things about ALC riders and the community they create is that people go out of their way to be helpful and kind.  It is a bit like life in a small rural town of a century ago.
 While it had rained heavily the day before and rain was threatening all of Sunday, mercifully it held off.  Our route took us from San Francisco (well really Daly City) down to Santa Cruz.  By the way, if you would like to see more pictures taken by others on the ride over the course of the week, CLICK HERE and then click on the city mentioned for pictures from that particular day on the ride.
Riding into the ALC camp site in Santa Cruz
Bikes checked into "bike parking" for the night

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday....Orientation Day 6/4/11

Heading into the Cow Palace to check my bike along with more than 2000 other riders bikes seems as thought it would be a prescription for chaos.  But the ALC people are so well organized all the check in activities went very smoothly.  It was raining heavily when Carol Anne and I entered at 10 am but when we left about 1 the rain had stopped.  Here are a few pictures.  We have to be at the Cow Palace at 5 am Sunday so I am about to go to bed.
Standing in line waiting to put my bike in the overnight storage

My bike has found it's overnight home
My bike has plenty of company!!

Thanks again to the amazing and generous support that has come from so many of you.  Your donations will save and change lives.  It is suppose to be raining tomorrow and I will be warmed by your prayers and good wishes.  You
are awesome.  Thank you so very much.