From US Representative Adam Schiff’s mobile office, located somewhere along the beautiful California Coast.
Since Sunday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has joined thousands of cyclists and volunteer “roadies” on a 545-mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles – the AIDS/LifeCycle ride – to raise awareness and funding for the fight to end HIV/AIDS.
This annual journey raises millions of dollars to support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the HIV/AIDS-related services of the LA LGBT Center.
The ride ends on Saturday at the Los Angeles VA Center (11301 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90025).
Orientation Day: Why is this man smiling? Because I just finished orientation for this year’s AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles and … I haven’t had to ride a single mile yet!
Tomorrow we begin the 545 mile trek and I may not be grinning quite so much. To paraphrase Mr. T, “prediction for the ride, pain.” But fun too. I’m really excited about it and will be blogging my experience right here. I hope you follow along and give me your encouragement
I’ve already gotten some good tips from readers — thanks for that. And to answer the question on the board behind me in the selfie, I ride because I want to see an AIDS free generation. I know you do too.
Day One – Up at 5 am: Up at 3:30 am this morning to get to the Cow Palace by 5 am. Lori Jean of the Los Angeles LGBT Center gave a rousing welcome to the thousands of riders who have come from all over the country and then we were on our way. Over to the coast and down the Pacific Highway, through Half Moon Bay and on to Santa Cruz in some of the most beautiful countryside anywhere. Rolling hills over rugged coastline, just gorgeous. This was my longest ride ever — 80 miles. But tomorrow is the real doozy, 108 miles. The best part of the ride, in addition to the great views, are the great riders and roadies. Very entertaining crowd, let me tell you. Meeting a lot of my constituents along the way and so far so good ….stay tuned!
Day Two – Si Se Puede: The morning started out in Santa Cruz weaving through rush hour traffic then down towards the beach and one killer hill — short but fatal. I think I used up my quads on that hill and it was only a few miles in towards our 108 mile day. After our jaunt to the coast we headed inland to Salinas and through dozens of miles of beautiful farmland — strawberries, artichokes, and other crops as far as the eye can see. You get a real sense of California as the bread basket of America, with all its amazing specialty crops. Highlight of the day was passing farm workers in the artichoke fields and one yelling out to me: “Si, se Puede!” It was just the boost I needed.
Soon we entered wine country — more rolling hills and endless beauty. Tuscany smushcany; California is much cheaper and the wine is better! From there it was flatland as far as the eye can see and I wasn’t sure my quads would make it. My clip-in shoes weren’t clipping (kind of defeats the point), but then the most incredible thing happened — tailwinds.
Strong as anything, blowing me like a ship heading home, 20 mph, 23, 26, almost effortless. Got to 38 on a downhill, not sure that was such a good idea. If I had Jerry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt my wheels would have come off the ground. Don’t think I will do that again.
Then a turn and crosswinds almost blowing you off the bike, leaning in against the wind. Then headwinds, bummer, pedaling hard and watching a desert tortoise pass me by (in fairness, he was more aerodynamic).
But, alas, a mile to go, just passing mile marker 107 and — drumroll — flat tire. Not a biggie, fixed it and finished. As I write this, I’m sitting down, sort of. Actually even the plastic chairs here in the mess hall feel like a lazy boy after my bike seat. Wish me luck tomorrow, I think I’m going to need it.
Day Three – the Quadbuster: Not sure where I am tonight exactly, camping out in a state fairgrounds in San Luis Obispo County. The ride started out with the biggest hill of the week, aptly called Quadbuster. It must be, I don’t know, a seventy percent grade or something. Ok, maybe not quite that steep, but it felt that way. Still I made it up without stopping which was quite an achievement since I had already busted my quad on the century ride the day before. So for me, it was more the Quad-Rebuster.
You know what’s amazing to me though, there were people flying past me up that hill as if they were going downhill. I felt like yelling out to them — hey, do you know you’re going uphill? And I would have too, if I had the wind. Today’s selfie is at the top of Quad-Rebuster, but you don’t get a real feel for the Everest-like quality of the mountain. From there it was more farmland, hot dry winds in the face mostly and tough roads.
…Lots of great people on this ride. Many of them riding with a laminated photo of a loved one who died of HIV/Aids on the back of their bike. Some rode up and down that hill today multiple times — once for everyone they had lost. Pretty impressive. And it certainly means I should be able to do it once. Tomorrow are the evil twins and I hope my luck holds up. Off to sleep now.
Day Four – the Evil Twins: Today began much earlier than expected, just after midnight in fact. Awoke to the sound of loud rushing and my first thought was, it can’t be 5 am wake up yet.
My next thought was that the guys in the next tent over were deflating the loudest air mattress I’d ever heard. Wrong again. It was the sprinkler going off right under the tent to our right.
Someone evidently forgot to tell the county fair that we were camped in the outfield. Not an auspicious start to the day.
Then we were off to the so-called “evil twins”. They were not as steep as Quadbuster, but much longer. Still, I’m not sure I would call them evil.
So there I am, I’ve gone up the first of the twin hills today and I’m a fair way up the second when a very nice woman by the side of the road is cheering us on. She’s got this sign that says “only 2.5 more miles to the top,” and she yells it out to you like that’s a good thing. Now, I know she’s trying to be helpful and all, but telling you there’s “only” 2.5 more miles to the top when you’re already exhausted and thought the top was right around the next bend, well, it’s kind of demoralizing.
I don’t know about you but the only way I can get up these hills is by deceiving myself into thinking every turn is the last one. You know you’re lying to yourself, because the hill just goes on and on without end but somehow it helps. The photo here is the view from the top, which is also the halfway point to LA. Hallelujah. Then it was a long freezing ride down to the ocean, which was amazing. I felt like a settler coming over the hills in my covered two-wheeled wagon. Very cool.
This is an astonishingly beautiful state which you can appreciate a little more when you bike it because you feel you earn it more. It’s red dress day tomorrow, which many of the riders — men and women — take quite literally. I will be wearing a red shirt. Boring I know, but I’m not ready for my Dukakis in a tank moment.
Now in its 13th year, AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, 545-mile bike ride – not a race – that raises important awareness about the continued HIV/AIDS epidemic, in addition to funding services such as HIV testing and screenings for other sexually transmitted infections, HIV medical care, prevention services, and more.
In the seven days it takes the riders to reach Los Angeles, more than 1,000 people in the United States will become infected with HIV. Especially alarming is the fact that one out of every five people living with HIV nationwide is not aware of their status. Since the rides began as the California AIDS Ride in 1993, its participants completed more than 40,000 journeys on bikes from San Francisco to Los Angeles.