Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Not So Welsh

(I am visiting a home of a friend for lunch and am introduced to everyone in the household, including the mother of the host, Gretchen, who is a very handsome woman with a stern face.)

Host: ...and Ryan, this is my mother, Gretchen.

Me: Hello, Gretchen.

Gretchen: Ryan, huh?  Irish, are you?

Me: Um, more Welsh, I guess.  My last name is Welsh anyway.

Gretchen: (lighting up, taking me by the arm, walking aside) I'd like to ask you something then.  I'm reading this book about World War I.  The English were fighting, the Germans, French, Russian...my question to you, sir--where were the Welsh?  Huh?

Me: Off drinking?  I don't know.  I'm not really Welsh.  I don't have ties there, I mean.  Just the last name.

Gretchen: (disappointed)  Okay then.

(Later, during the meal, I am sitting next to Gretchen who leans in for another question.)

Gretchen:  (in hushed tones) Tell me, did the Welsh ever have their own country, such as the Irish and the Scottish?  Because you know, I hear the Welsh are a very proud people.  Didn't they want to break away from the British at some point?  They have their own language and king, if I'm remembering correctly.

Me: I don't really know much about the region.  I know it's near the Irish Sea and yes, they've got their own dialect, er, language.  I think it's derivative of Gaelic, but I'm sorry to say I'm no expert.  Not even a little.

Gretchen: (disapprovingly) Well, you should know your history.  Especially your family history. 

(Later, as dessert arrives, Gretchen goes in for one more question.)

Gretchen: Now, are you musical?

Me: No, not really.  I like music but I don't play any instruments.

Gretchen: Because, you know that the Welsh are excellent singers.  So you must be a singer.  Are you?

Me: No.  In the shower I sing.

Gretchen:  Really.

Me: I don't identify as Welsh.  I was just saying I wasn't Irish when you asked me about my first name.  But I'm not Welsh either.  Probably more Swedish than anything else.  But I don't know about the Swedes either, except that I come from a long line of dumb Swedes who farmed in the Oregon desert.

(Gretchen leans back a little examining me.  After a beat, she speaks.)

Gretchen:  Well, this dessert is delicious.  They served it last night, too.


BLACKOUT

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ALC-Day 144 (5 days to go)

 

It seems so long ago that I was just considering doing this ALC ride, and now that I'm committed, with only 5 days until my departure, I'm a ball of nerves and feel more scared than excited about next week.  Not sure where all my confidence and enthusiasm have gone but I'm not at all in the head space I was hoping to be in this close to the ride.  I'll get there...just in a slump. 

 With this past weekend being the last chance to train, all us riders tapered, which was a nice change of pace from the quad-busting rides to which I've become so accustomed.  For the first time in 3+ months of training I actually was able to have a leisurely ride.  Just 100 miles over 2 days (that's 50/day if you don't have a calculator).  I know some of you fat slobs might be reading this and cursing my name right now for even suggesting 50 miles to be leisurely.  I would be too.  But let's forget about all that and admire this picture of the Golden Gate Bridge.  


Happy 75th Birthday to the Golden Gate Bridge!  I've been riding over you for months now and am always in awe of your enormity.
 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

ALC-Day 139 (10 days to go)

 

With 10 days until the ride (AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!) I've been in full-on planning mode.  I'm creating my packing lists, laying out my (cute) cycling jerseys (which I can't wait to reveal to the world), and I really appreciate this day-by-day for the ride, provided by the staff at ALC.  Thought I would share:

Day One: San Francisco to Santa Cruz (82.5 Miles) 
The AIDS/LifeCycle adventure begins as cyclists ride out immediately following Opening Ceremonies. The route on Day 1 offers some of the best scenery and cycling roads that San Mateo County has to offer. The stunning coastal views from hilltops to the ocean are truly Northern California at its best! Tailwinds prevail as we pedal along scenic CA Hwy 1 on our way to camp. 

Start: Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva Ave., Daly City, 94014
Finish: Harvey West Park, 326 Evergreen Street, Santa Cruz, 95060
Personal Highlight: Long-time friend, Jon Olives, is going to visit for my first night of camp.

Day Two:  Santa Cruz to King City (109.2 Miles)
Rise and shine early on Day 2 to beat the morning rush hour commuters and get an early start on your second day in the saddle! This is a long mileage day with relatively flat terrain that will take us through the Salinas Valley, also known as Steinbeck Country. The lushness of vineyards, strawberry and artichoke fields stretch as far as the eye can see in all directions. Highlights of the day include The Otter Pop guys at the Water Stop (which is at the Soledad Mission; make sure you stop into the mission where you can reflect on The Ride’s purpose and sign their altar cloth for a loved one), and fried artichokes.

Start: Harvey West Park, 326 Evergreen Street, Santa Cruz, 95060
Finish: San Lorenzo County Park, 1160 Broadway, King City, 93930

Personal Highlight: The Cookie Lady!  I understand there is a woman who for days and days before the ride bakes cookies for the riders and hands them out as we pass through the area--all in appreciation their/our hard work.

Day Three: King City to Paso Robles (66.7 Miles)
Quadbuster. Don’t let the name scare you. You are sure to make it to the top with your fellow cyclists (and perhaps a special guest) cheering you on and up! But Quadbuster is only a small part of the route on Day 3. Lunch is at the small town of Bradley, which has embraced the ride with open arms. You will pedal on remote roads passing only a few small quaint stores, mostly later in the day. Rolling hills through beautiful countryside will take you into camp.

Start: San Lorenzo County Park, 1160 Broadway, King City, 93930
Finish: Mid State Fairgrounds, 2198 Riverside Ave., Paso Robles, 93447
Personal Highlight: My training team and I are all going to Princess and spring for a stay in a hotel.  Ahhh, a real bed and toilet. 

Day Four: Paso Robles to Santa Maria (97.7 Miles)
The route on Day 4 has a little bit of everything…a feast for the eyes with stunning vistas and ocean views that give way to sprawling fields of farmland and even some quaint seaside towns. The route will wind along some remote and seldom-traveled roads as well as some congested town streets. Before lunch, you will conquer the infamous Evil Twins. The views from the top of that second sister hill are nothing short of spectacular and you may even find yourself forgetting that you are pedaling uphill. From there, you will ride back out to the coast and through the city of Pismo Beach (Do I smell Cinnamon Rolls?) and on into camp. Highlight of the day: Half Way to LA!! At the top of the second sister hill, you will come upon a vista point turnout where you will have the opportunity to have your picture taken with the Half Way to LA sign! Don’t forget your camera on this day!! 

Start: Mid State Fairgrounds, 2198 Riverside Ave., Paso Robles, 93447
Finish: Preisker Park, 2301 Preisker Ln., Santa Maria, 93458

Personal Highlight:  Hitting that halfway point. 

Day Five: Santa Maria to Lompoc (42 Miles)
As soon as you roll out of your tent, you will realize that this is not just another day in the saddle. Today, it is an AIDS/Life tradition to ride in our AIDS awareness red best. You will look like a fabulous red ribbon on wheels as you head out of Camp 4 on our way south towards Rest Stop 1 in Orcutt. We’ll be on a route through Santa Maria and the ‘All American City’ has worked hard to create some really nice bike lanes. Enjoy them!  As you approach the switchbacks after Rest Stop 2 that originally inspired early AIDS riders to don red, be sure to look up at the hills to get your own peek at the red ribbon bicycle parade. The route on this day affords beautiful vistas and light traffic. One of our rest stops is on a military base, so give a salute to our men and women in uniform if you see them! As you enter Lompoc, keep your eyes peeled after lunch for wildflowers! The mileage may be a little shorter today but there is certainly no shortage of beauty and fun.

Start: Preisker Park, 2301 Preisker Ln., Santa Maria, 93458
Finish: River Park, Sweeney Rd. & Hwy 246, Lompoc, 93436

Personal Highlight: Teammate, Wolfgang, has set us up with some wine tastings and tours in the area.

Day Six: Lompoc to Ventura (83.3 Miles)
Day 6 begins on one of the prettiest roads on the entire route. You will pedal through vast expansive ranchlands with wildflower-covered hills on both sides! As you ride toward the coast through the gorgeous Gaviota Pass, you will be on US101. This is a well-travelled freeway and caution should be practiced at all times along this portion of the route. After lunch, you will pass through the heart of Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria, and on into Ventura, where we camp at San Buenaventura State Beach. Highlight of the day: Day 6 is your best bet for dolphin sightings!! Cast an eye to the sea and perhaps you will glimpse those playful creatures jumping in and out of the water as they frolic just off the coast.

Start: River Park, Sweeney Rd. & Hwy 246, Lompoc, 93436
Finish: San Buenaventura State Beach, 901 San Pedro St., Ventura, 93001
Personal Highlight: Seeing the Haring Family (my sister's family) and squeezing all my nieces and nephews.

Day Seven:Ventura to Los Angeles (60 Miles)
Almost there! Today, your trip south will take you through Ventura, Oxnard and Port Hueneme (pronounced Why-Knee-Me) and Malibu. You will see the military planes on display as you ride past the Naval Air Station on your way to Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Once on PCH, it’s a straight shot down the coastline for about 20 miles. Enjoy the southern California sights of surfers and beach goers as you pedal through Malibu on your way toward LA. You will complete your journey with a turn away from the coast and nice pedal through Santa Monica on your way to the Closing Ceremonies site. Highlight of the day: The streets are peppered along the route on Day 7 with friends, family, and well-wishers. Enjoy your hero’s welcome … you deserve it.

Start: San Buenaventura State Beach, 901 San Pedro St., Ventura, 93001

Finish: VA Center, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90025
Personal Highlight: Saying that I've finished this ride!!  Also, seeing my gentleman caller, Jonathan Grantham, and laying a sweaty kiss on him promptly after passing the finish line.

TOTAL MILES: 541.4 Miles (Not 545 as originally stated)




Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Love Beth


ALC-Day 137 (12 days to go)


Soon will come the day when I won't be obsessed about this ALC ride and I can go back to documenting stupid conversations, talking about my leisurely weekends and reality television--or whatever it was I did before these past five months of training.  

A special thank you to Michelle Allison and Rol Risska who threw some love my way with their kind donations.  I'm past my goal line and am so proud of everyone who, for whatever reason, has given to this endeavor.  Thank you, from the bottom of my bike seat, thank you!


I had to work almost all day on Saturday so I missed riding with my training buddies.  To make up for it, Sunday, I took on the ALC-hosted 95 mile Marshall Wall ride, one of the more quad-busting rides known to Bay Area cyclists.  The Ride Leaders for ALC say this ride is, "The longest and most challenging ride in the series, it brings fear to the hearts of many."  I feel like I've been on several difficult rides, but this route had a steep 2-mile climb (without rest) and by far, did the most damage work on my legs.  I spent Monday learning to walk again.  Oh, and though I didn't take advantage of it, the route goes through Hog Island, a little town on Tomales Bay known for its oysters.  Next time.     

Because of the Bay-2-Breakers road closures in the city I was late and the last to arrive to the meet-up spot.  With every ALC ride there are Ride Leaders, veteran cyclists or ALC staff members who are peppered throughout the route to keep other riders motivated and on route.  Because I was tardy, I had to ride out with the Sweeper, a Ride Leader who keeps behind the last rider to ensure they are keeping up with the pack.  And the dude, the Sweeper, was a nice guy and all, but way too gay for 6am (our ride-out time).  Plus, he sounded like Fred Schneider whose voice, with prolonged exposure, makes me want to swallow my own tongue.  


"Oh, honey, I'm so glad I get to sweep behind that behind."

"I wanna see that ass working all the way up that hill.  Work! Work! Work!"

"I give really good massages if you wanna stop at the restroom in Marin City."

"Did you put on any Butt Budder today?  You know, I'm real good at slathering that stuff on if you need any help."

"I hear at [ALC] camp the showers get real cruisey at night.  Don't ask me how I know.  I'll be in there after 7 if you wanna find out what I mean."  

I know (or think) he was joking and I seriously believe most of my leg soreness the following day was due to trying to out-bike him and his tentacles--like pedaling for your life with a queeny badger nipping at your heels.  When we arrived at the first rest stop I filled up my water bottles as quick as I could and got back on the road.

Him: Honey, you're leaving already?  Don't you wanna rest a little in the shade with me?

Me: No. (pedals away)

Him: Okay.  Hmpf.
  Me and Andrew, a 4-year participant,
at a rest stop on the Marshall Wall ride.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

All The Single Ladies

Last night my building had an HOA meeting, which I lovehate.

(A small group of property owners including a Rep from the property management company who the HOA employs, are sitting on old chairs around a chipped-up table.  Puffy, formerly known as 'Dog Lady', the testy, opinionated busybody of the building, enters the room with an angry look on her face.  She is carrying a small bowl with a brownie in it.  She walks up to one of the other owners, Charlene, who is sweet, wears glasses, and is turned speaking with another resident.  Sensing Puffy behind her, Charlene turns around and bumps the bowl Puffy is holding, causing her to nearly drop the brownie.  Puffy sighs angrily.)

Charlene: Oh, Puffy, I'm sorry.  I didn't see you.  (Puffy continues to loom over Charlene angrily.  Tension builds.)  I'm sorry.

Puffy: Well you got four eyes.  Right here, one, two, three, four.  Use them.

Charlene:  I'm sorry.  (Charlene looks around room with a shrug)  I didn't see her.

Puffy:  (thrusting the brownie to Charlene)  Here you go.  This is that recipe you like.

(The attendees all sit down and the meeting commences.  We all look over the minutes from the previous meeting.  Puffy pipes up.) 

Puffy: The [shared] dryer door on my floor is still open.  Someone just leaves it open when they're done with their laundry.  Don't care about nobody else.  Just leaves that door open and I bump my knee on it every time.  And I'm getting real tired of it.

Rep: Is there something wrong with the door maybe?

Puffy: Yeah, it's open!  (laughs)

Rep:  I know, but maybe it's not closing correctly or doesn't latch?

Puffy:  There was an article about this woman whose cat jumped in the dryer while she was loading it and she ran a whole cycle with the cat in there!

Me:  Really?

Puffy: Yes, and it lived!  But it was never the same.  I'll send you the article.

Me: No, it's okay.

Rep:  So, what if we just see if maintence can take a look at the door to see that there's nothing wrong with the latch, okay?

Puffy:  Okay, because I be banging my knee on it and I don't want some cat to get up in there either.  Not on my clothes.

(Several more agenda items are discussed and we near the end of the meeting.) 

Rep: ...we'll just post flyers to tell people no pizza boxes, shoe boxes or other large bags in the garbage chute.  Does that sound okay?  (the residents nod in agreement)  So now let's open up the floor to new (Puffy's hand shoots up in the air) business.  Yes, Puffy.

Puffy: Laura was so upset the other day because--

Rep:  What is Laura's unit?

Puffy: 204.  It was late at night and someone knocked on her door and, you know, I'm the only one that will knock on her door and she opened it.  And it was Rita's boyfriend!  (pauses for reaction she doesn't get)

Rep: Yes?  Did he do something?

Puffy:  Well, he shouldn't be knocking on her door, er, anyone's door!

Me:  But, did he want something?

Puffy:  He asked if the laundry in the dryer was hers, and, well, I don't have to tell you what they said to each other and she just slammed the door in his face!

Rep:  I don't understand.  Do they not like each other?

Puffy:  I don't think so, but, you know, she's a single woman and a man knocked on her door.

Me:  What's wrong with that?  He was trying to find out if the laundry was hers, right?

Puffy:  Yes, but it wasn't!

Me:  Sounds like he was just being nice, maybe wanting to use the dryer and find out if the clothes already in it were hers.  No?

Puffy:  He shouldn't be knocking on anyone's door, though.  Don't you see?

Me:  No.  He was being neighborly.  I don't know what they said to each other or how he said it or Laura's history with Rita's boyfriend--but why can't one neighbor knock on another's to ask about laundry?

Puffy:  You're not a single lady.  You don't know what that's like when some man knocks on your door late at night.  You don't know what they're going to do.

Me:  But, okay, this doesn't make sense to me.

Puffy:  Just take the laudry out of the dryer and do your own clothes.  Don't knock on people's door!

Me:  Was she in the middle of something important?

Puffy:  He's a man!  She's a single lady!

Me:  I get that.  But, well, then can't she just look through the peephole and see who's at her door?

Puffy:  She thought it was me.

Me:  I know that, but--

Puffy:  People don't use those peepholes, it might as well be, be, uh...just a hole in the door or something.  Useless.

Me:  But it is a hole in the door, with a little window that lets you look outside to see who is knocking at your door.

Puffy:  You don't get it. 

Me:  Okay, months ago I had a cat on my balcony.  I didn't know where it came from and I had to walk door to door with this cat, scratching me the whole time, and find out who it belonged to.

Puffy:  You were trying to find a lost cat its home.

Me:  Yes, and Rita's boyfriend was trying to find lost laundry its home.  What's the difference?  Is this your cat?  Is this your laundry?  Let's be neighbors.

Puffy:  Single women don't want strange men knocking on their doors!

Me:  Listen, I'm plenty strange and--

Charlene:  I don't mind men knocking on my door.

BLACKOUT

Monday, May 14, 2012

ALC-Day 129 (20 days to go)


Firstly, thank you to Elida Mena and Cynthia King for pushing me so close to my goal and to my sister, Lisa Short, for pushing me to that goal and beyond!  That's right, I'm over my (in another loud Telemundo sports caster voice) Gooooooooooooooooooaaaaaallllllll!!!  You can still give and if you don't want to give to me, consider supporting one of my teammates who are just inches away from reaching their goals; Nicholas Weitzel, Justin Gesler, or Chris Streeter

I gave up something very special this weekend, my 100 mile virginity.  You heard me right, I'm in the Century Club.  Not as scandalous as the Mile-High Club but equally sexy.  Saturday, our wolfpack rode from San Francisco to Petaluma, winding our way through the North Bay and back again. 

The day started and ended in a very Mark Twain San Francisco summer way--ca-ca-coooooldd.  The weather in and out of the city was like a winter in the Scottish Highlands and the singlet I wore offered as much warmth as a thread-barren negligee.  Then, once we got past Marin City, the sky was clear and sunny and made for nice weather most of the afternoon.  I'd like to say it was a great day of riding but it actually was very trying for me.  When I wanted the route to hold me close and coo in my ear, it bore down on me, exhaling a whiskey-soaked breath in my face.  What about my needs?  (waves camera out of face)  I don't wanna talk about it...   


Normally the rides are smooth and happy like a slide.  This weekend it was peppered with obstacles; oblivious old ladies crossing the street, tom turkey parades in the road (maybe it's turkey mating season?), and aggressive drivers.  In fact, I got into a little yelling match with a motorist in Petaluma who tried to clip my wheel because, as he claimed, I was not supposed to be riding in the road (which was narrow and had no bike lane).     

Ahem, in the "Safety Tips for Bicyclists and Motorists" section of the California Driver Handbook, it states a tip for when a cyclist can take a traffic lane, saying:

Many roads do not have designated bicycle traffic lanes, so bicyclists will share the traffic lane to the left of the white line. If there is no shoulder or bicycle lane and the traffic lane is narrow, ride closer to the center of the lane. This will prevent motorists from passing you when there is not enough room.

I can be a little Glen or Glenda (dual-minded) on this as I'm a driver and cyclist.  Cyclists, don't weave in and out of traffic and be stupid.  Looking at you now, drivers.  Please be nice to cyclists on the road.  Give them room, move over from the shoulder of the road when passing.  Remember that there is not much protection between a body (cyclist) and the road, whereas in a car, you are not in danger of skidding across the pavement with broken bones.  Clipping a rider's wheel or running him/her off the road can be deadly.  Back off, Blood.  That's some real talk.  Share the road.

OH, forgot to mention that following my bike trip, my long-time gentleman caller, Mr. Jonathan Grantham, treated me to an evening at Kabuki Spa with a Swedish massage.  I think I actually shrieked and then moaned, "Be gentle" to the masseur when he started to rub on my calf.  "They've had a rough afternoon."  It couldn't have been a nicer ending to the long, cold day.  Ahhhh.     

Friday, May 11, 2012

What Betsy Ate

I went to a nutrition class last night with a group of people--all mixed ages and needs in attendance.  The lecturer asked attendees who considered themselves healthy eaters to raise their hands and then asked for a volunteer to give the class an example of what they might eat on a normal day.  

(Betsy, a kept-looking woman accompanied by her husband, raises an eager hand.)

Lecturer:  Yes, you.  Say your name.

Betsy: I'm Betsy and I start my morning with two prunes and a spoonfull of low-fat cottage cheese.

Lec: (writing on white board) Okay, and what else...

Betsy: Then for lunch I have a couple slices of turkey with a slice of bell pepper wrapped inside.  And for dinner a spinach salad with two whole wheat crackers.

Lec: (still writing and speaking as she does) ...turkey-bell-pepper-and-spinach-salad for dinner.  Right?

Betsy: And two whole wheat crackers.

(Besty's husband pipes in.)

Husband: I have to rat her out and say that she eats a lot of ice cream at night too.

(Some of the class giggles, some roll their eyes.  Betsy, a little less than playful, hits her husband on the arm.)

Betsy: (protesting) I do not!  I. Do. Not!  It's frozen yogurt and I only have a little.  And not every night.  (turning around to face some of the class)  It's frozen yogurt, not ice cream.

Lec: Okay, we've got, prunes, cottage cheese, salad, meat...what might Besty be missing in her diet?

Student: Volume?

BLACKOUT

Thursday, May 10, 2012

ALC-Day 125 (24 days to go)


I've been carrying on some time here and feel more fit and happy than I have in years.  With only a few weeks until this ride to LA, I've upped my training schedule (or aspire to):
  • Monday: spinning class, arm workout, 1-2 mile run
  • Tuesday: yoga, leg workout
  • Wednesday: spinning class, chest workout, 1-2 mile run
  • Thursday: yoga, back workout
  • Friday: shoulder workout, 1-2 mile run
  • Saturday: 80-100 mile ride (with hills)
  • Sunday: 20-40 mile ride (with hills)

But what do all these workout sessions mean; I'm bending in funny positions, picking heavy things up and putting them back where I found them, mercilessly spin my legs around to get to a point where I can eat a sandwich and then go back to where I started.  I feel physically ready for the challenge ahead.  I'm not sure, however, that I'm mentally there, er, uh...prepared.  

I've recently found out that two of my friends are HIV positive and am still trying to wrap my head around what that means.  One is an older case, one very new.  I've had several reactions to this news:
  • Sadness.  Of course sadness.  Who wants to hear they are HIV positive?  Or B12 deficient?  Or that they are going gray?  It's all bad news and while with HIV I know treatments and support have come leaps and bounds from where it started, there's still a terrible social stigma surrounding the disease.  For many, it's the image of Tom Hanks from Philadelphia dying on the witness stand when it should be more like Mary-Louise Parker from Boys on the Side, healthy and keeping a horny Whoopi Goldberg at bay--or something more current, illustrating that people living with this disease can and do have long dignified lives.
  • Relief.  In a first world country (as opposed a third world country), people are living with HIV/AIDS longer and happier than they did even a year or 30 years ago.  The US has much better medicine and a stronger understanding of the disease, can treat it more efficiently and share our research with other nations, too.  It's a relief to know these friends live in a place where top notch treatments are available for them.      
  • Anger.  With everything we know, why are people still getting infected?  And why these friends?  Not that anyone is to blame or deserves it more than anyone else.  In some ways it's like being out in the blazing sun.  We know if we don't put on sunscreen, we'll get sunburned.  Still, some of us are out there for hours with our shirts off, exposing out moles and splashing in the water, when we should be under a big umbrella wearing tunics and rubbing down with zinc.  Or, someone else says they're wearing sunscreen when they're really wearing baby oil and they splash you.  I'm sorry...where was I?  Yes, if you treat everyone like they have AIDS and "strap up" accordingly, I wouldn't have to make all this crazy talk.  (Sorry.  That was crazy talk.)
  • Compassion.  I love and support these guys regardless of their health status.
  • Life is short.  But then we all kinda know that, right?   

With all my ALC preparations, have I been too focused on my training and not enough on what it is I'm training for?  It's like I'm eating a hamburger but don't want to know from where the patty comes.  

Friends that have gone on this ALC ride in previous years have all claimed to have broken down into an ugly cry during certain points of the trip because of the stories of HIV/AIDS survivors, deaths, inspirations, complications, social stigmas and pride.  Heart strings are plucked like a harp each day as organizers remind us that we cyclists have been working to overcome more than just hill climbs.  

I started this training initially because a close friend of mind has (update: HAD) breast cancer.  As I've said, although breast cancer is in a different county than HIV/AIDS, the state of having to fear for your life is the same and I wanted to do something for no-one-in-particular dealing with any terminal illness.  ALC caught my eye.  Sorry Cancer Ride.  (There's no Cancer Ride.)

So, today, in light of this AIDS-y news, I'm feeling this ride and training take on a new direction and purpose...or at least give a face to the no-one-in-particular I'm hoping to save with each revolution of my pedal.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ALC-Day 124 (25 days to go)


A note from an ALC Cycling Rep:


Recently, I joked with my fellow Cyclist Reps that I could never drink a couple of glasses of wine* and write one of my “Notes from your Rep” because I’d read it the next morning and it might say “I love you guys.  No. No. Really! I mean it…I really freaking love you guys!” (Or words to that effect).

A week ago I was at Foreign Cinema as a part of “Dining Out For Life,” a fundraiser for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Towards the end of the evening a group of mature gentlemen called me to their table.  The large bearded man to my left was wonderfully engaging and after some time he told me about his 30th birthday bash many years ago.

He told me he’d invited 60 beloved gay friends to that gathering and I could tell from the excitement in his voice and the light in his eyes, it must have been quite an event. Then he paused, gathered himself, and he told me that in 2002, he became the sole survivor of that party. If he was older than me, it wasn’t by much, which made his story all the more devastating. Still, I didn’t gather that he was there to wallow in self pity, but rather, to celebrate the lives of his friends.

I couldn’t start this letter on a more somber note. I don’t mean to commiserate, but rather to celebrate. While many among us lived through that devastation, HIV/AIDS will never again rain that kind of anguish on this city. Take a moment and think about that. People like you will make that reality. No, the fight isn’t over and we still lose loved ones every day, but the days of obituaries filled with faces of beautiful young people are behind us... because you continue to do battle.

And it is a battle.  I’ve seen your wounds; broken bones, scarred knees, and road rash. I’ve seen you fall trying to clip out of pedals, pull little chunks of gravel from your bleeding knees, and get right up on that saddle again. Less coordinated folks will do this time and time again. It’s irrational, like running into a burning building to save a life, but there’s nothing rational about being a hero.

I’ve seen your courage. I’ve seen people who are terrified of asking, go out and raise thousands of dollars beyond their minimum. I’ve seen riders shaking with fear before a ride, and I’ve met people who have had to relearn bike skills after devastating accidents. Once, I watched one of the people I love most in this world look at a set of hills and tell me “I can’t do this” with tears streaming down her face, and then I watched her take a deep breath, pull herself together, and do it, tears still flowing.  When I think of these acts of courage I know we’ll be victorious.

We celebrate your courage in silly ways, with otter pops and peanut butter and jelly graham crackers, themes and costumes, but also with lifetime friendships and the creation of a community filled with caring and love. You deserve to be celebrated. You’ve made yourself a riding machine. You’ve turned riding thirty miles, which used to be your goal, into “a quick little ride.” You did this to help people; to save people that you probably will never even know.  And that’s why I really freaking love you guys! (Or words to that effect).

–Russ Mendivil

* No glasses of wine were killed in the making of this letter.

Monday, May 7, 2012

ALC-Day 122 (27 days to go)


Big thank you Kelley Durdella for your donation.  You're making me look soooo good.

I just got a lump in my throat typing the title of this entry...only 27 more days, 3 more weekends of training.  I'm getting so scared, nervous and excited.  In fact, years ago I invented a word for this feeling: Anticipanxious.  Say it with me now--An-tiss-a-pank-sh-us. 


I actually doubled up my riding this weekend to further abuse acclimate my body for the days and days of riding to come.  I've got this one-day riding thing down.

This weekend's first ride on Saturday, me and Team B List (working title) got in the saddle for a trip down to Palo Alto (see map above).  Nothing against those dreamy North Bay rides, we just wanted a change of scenery.  We rode along Ocean Beach, past Fort Funston, out of San Francisco, and along the reservoir into Palo Alto.  This route, though not as challenging as the hills offered in Marin/Sonoma County, still had lots of scenery and a surprising lot of slow-walking Asian women on the bike paths.  "Move it laaaa-dddeee!"  Though it is not typical on our rides to stop for beer, we did.  The day was just too nice not to.

Sunday's ride I did solo.  I biked up into the Oakland hills, winding my way to the Mormon Temple.  Those hills are good training hills and you get to see where all the money lives.  Not much to report except to say that I didn't feel sore after two days of riding.  This is a good sign.

 First stop on our way to Palo Alto.

 The two Chris-es at our beer stop in Palo Alto.

 Me and Triston riding back to city.  Yes, we all took Caltrains back.

(R to L) Justin, Chris, Nick, Chris.



I found this video from the perspective of a racing cyclist.  Some of my rides feel like this.

Coming Up: My first century (100 miles) ride is this weekend.  Wish me luck.  Also, I'm excited to read up on the itinerary for the ALC ride.  They've broken down each of the seven days, giving us the broad strokes of what to expect.  I'll post what the organizers have to say soon.