By Congressman Adam Schiff, Burbank, California
Day 5 of #AIDSLifeCycle:
Picture about 2000 dudes wearing red dresses while biking, along with a few straight dudes like myself wearing regular riding gear and feeling — quite oddly — out of place. That’s how our day began. You can imagine the reaction from passersby in some of the rural farming towns we went through — very cheery, often a bit puzzled and amused (mom, why is that man wearing a dress) and only one who hollered at the group in Spanish and while I didn’t understand completely what she said, it did involve the word “repent.”
So, not a uniformly positive reaction but pretty impressive.
I did a little better speed-wise compared to my fellow riders, I think the outfits slowed them down, which was just as well because I was getting tired of people yelling “on the left” as they were passing me by. Sounds like a new tag line for a show on MSNBC — here’s Rachel Maddow with “On The Left.”
It was also a short day, only 44 miles compared with yesterday’s 87 and tomorrow’s 85. That’s good too because my whole goal has been to ride every mile, not stopping during any hill and staying two steps ahead of the SAG van. That’s the van that picks you up if you can’t finish the ride/hill, or don’t keep a quick enough pace to finish by 6 pm.
I’m not sure what SAG stands for, but I’m pretty sure it’s not Screen Actors Guild. Today’s photo is not much to look at I know. I didn’t want you to think it was all scenic vistas and such. We are staying near the prison at Lompoc, which reminds my of my U.S. Attorney’s Office days when I sent quite a few felons there. It’s a pretty fitting place for us to stop since they were screening “Orange is the New Black” after dinner here last night.
I haven’t said that much about the purpose of the ride so let me say this: Last year, the director of the LA LGBT Center, Lori Jean, told me about a mother who disowned her own son when he lay dying of aids.
She later came to recognize the tragic horror of that decision for her and her son.
It was that story more than anything else that made me want to ride.
His pain in dying alone and without her. Her pain in losing her son, and the agony of her regret. A sign near the top of the last hill today said: “your pain is tribute to their suffering.” I think that said it all. Let’s put an end to HIV/Aids. Ride on.
Day 6 of #AIDSLifeCycle:
Today was my best ride yet. But it didn’t start out that way. Got up extra early, 4:30 am, to get an early start on the long ride. But, couldn’t remember where I parked my bike. No biggie, right?
How hard can it be to find your bike? Well, when they’re stacked on top of each other 2500 deep — pretty hard. But I found it eventually and took off, without my gloves. That was a bummer. Even so, 87 miles and no pain, anywhere. And I only met Ivy twice, once before the ride and another 10 hours later when it was over.
I think it was two things: First, by day six I had finally figured out my new bike. Did I tell you I had a new bike? No, I did not. You see, I shipped my bike to SF in time for the ride but a certain shipping company fouled it up and the bike wasn’t going to arrive in time.
So I bought one on Friday night at Performance Bikes in SF. I couldn’t afford a really good one, since I already owned a bike, but neither was I going to miss this ride. Ron, the store manager, stayed open two hours late to fit me out. Thanks, Ron.
I didn’t tell you about thus snafu earlier because I didn’t want you to think I was laying the mattress. Do you know that expression? Means I didn’t want you to think I was giving the excuse of a new bike for not finishing the ride. But since — barring an accident or something — I should finish the ride, I thought I could tell you now.
Anyway, going on a ride like this with a bike you’ve never ridden before is not ideal. For one thing, on day one I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get it into the third front sprocket until I realized there was no third front sprocket because this bike had a lot fewer gears than my other one. Ah well.
The second reason I had no pain today is that I also figured out my body. I’m not twenty-something anymore, evidently. I was mashing the pedals the first couple days like I was an ironman only to find out I was more like spaghetti man. So I stopped doing that. I also started stretching, constantly. And I’ll be darned, it really works. Now I know people always talk about how important it is to stretch, but it always sounded to me like flossing. Sure, you should do it after every meal but really, who has time? But stretching is key.
The day was also great because it started off with a long but steady climb and then came down Gaviota pass and again out to the ocean. From there we rode through idyllic Isla Vista (so sad think of what happened here a week ago), on to Santa Barbara harbor and ended up in Ventura. We saw dolphins jumping, surfers surfing, and crazy people flying these gas propelled hang gliders. We stopped at Passion Pit where the owner of the ice cream store gave the riders all free ice cream and has been doing so for 15 years.
We are camped by the beach tonight, where we had a candlelight vigil on the sand to remember those who died of AIDS. It was very moving. And since we are camped near the sand, guess what –no sprinklers.