On the Road Again…and Again…and Again… Well, I did it! 545 official miles in 7 days,
on a bike! (…yeah, what was I thinking…) It was one of the most memorable weeks of
my life. I laughed, I cried, but mostly I pedaled! Here are some of the more interesting
and humorous events of the week.
Day 0 “So, are you guys supposed to be carrots?”
Day 0 is registration day where you watch a safety video and then sign papers that
basically say if anything happens to you it’s your own fault and they’ve never heard
of you. One of the mothers of the riders in our group (we were Team OC, from Orange
County) knitted orange stocking caps with ‘leaves’ on them to represent our team.
Nobody seemed to get it. They wanted to know if we were carrots or tangerines. Oranges
didn’t come up…I guess we were lucky we didn’t come from the Banana Republic (although
we probably would have been pretty popular)
Day 1 “Now I know how the cows felt.”
The opening ceremonies were both fun and touching. The HIV positive riders came down
the center of the facility carrying flags. They were followed by two people pushing
the ‘riderless bike’ representing those who have passed on from this disease. It
was very moving. About that time, however, I noticed my friend Dave, who had just
returned from the bathroom, apparently didn’t quite leave the toilet seat cover where
he found it. There it was trailing behind him. A Kodak moment if ever there was one
(We’re still negotiating a price for me to destroy the photo…) We also noticed that
David Hasselhoff was just below us in the crowd. Dave wanted to know why he didn’t
bring some of the women from Bay Watch with him….I told him the straight guys got
voted down on that one…Finally the moment came and we were told to get to our bikes.
We started from the Cow Palace which apparently used to be the stock yards and was
converted into a sports facility. So, at 6:30a 2500 riders got on their bikes and
tried to get down a 20 foot wide path surrounded by cheering crowds. I began to understand
how the cows must have felt. Riders wore ribbons and tributes to friends they had
lost to AIDS. On my helmet I had a tribute to my friend Tom. “His life was a fabulous
party and we were his fortunate guests. Hoover High Class of 1969 and friends.” The
first day was 79 miles and we rode to Santa Cruz.
Day 2 “This is a three-story hotel.
There is no room 415” The start of day two proved once again that I’m not the sharpest
tool in the shed. The first night I stayed in room 415, but had a 4:00a wake up call.
The second night I asked for a 5:45 wake up, but then said “415” thinking that I
was in room 415 again. Guess what time the phone rang….I was in a three story hotel.
We rode along the coast for a long while and saw some great scenery on our way to
King City, 107 miles down the road. Needless to say I was a little tired when I got
Day 3 “Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’, Rawhide!” OK, when you’ve just ridden about
200 miles, certain parts of your body starts to get, well, sore! You start making
up new words to old songs. We re-worked Rawhide. Rollin, Rollin ,Rollin’ though our
butts are swollen, keep that butt balm coming, Rawhide!...I really can’t repeat the
rest…The most surprising thing about this process was just how massive it was. There
were shower trucks, portable tents, portable bathroom, kitchens, table, chairs, medical
tents, massage tent, dedication tent, media tent, a store, and a sea of tents to
accommodate up to 3000 people. We were like an invasion force moving down the coast.
We stopped in a little town called Bradley where we bought our lunches from them.
The ride is their main fundraising event. We were told that our donations had sent
11 of their children to college. We rode 67 miles that day to Paso Robles.
“They must think I shot Liberty Valance” From the day we rode out of the Cow Palace
there were people cheering us on. People came out of their houses to cheer and thank
us. Children handed us candy. At the top of every hill there were ‘roadies’ encouraging
us to get to the top. They cheered us so much you felt like you were the man who
shot Liberty Valance. I began to expect a small crowd to gather and cheer “Way to
go!” when I came out of the bathroom…We rode 98 miles that day to Santa Maria.
5 “I’m supposed to wear a what?” Red Dress Day, is something that one does not soon
forget. Everyone was to wear red that day to create an effect of a red ribbon moving
down the state. There was everything from red cocktail dresses to Little Red Riding
Hood outfits. Not to mention people in red long underwear, cheerleader suits and
Wonder Woman outfits. All on bicycles peddling towards Lompoc…Lompoc may never be
the same…sorry, I wore a red shirt…
Day 6 “It’s only 85 miles.” Somewhere along the
line my perception of distance changed. I could say ‘only’ and ’85 miles’ in the
same sentence. Things hurt and your legs got tired, but you knew this was the last
leg until the one into LA. We rode into Ventura knowing that we would make it. The
next day’s ride was ‘only’ 61 miles. We would do it, we would accomplish our goal.
We would, as long as nothing went wrong….
Day 7 Disaster Strikes. In 535 miles, I
had only had one flat, and that was a slow leak. My 10-year old bike had performed
pretty flawlessly. 10 miles from the finish line, all that changed. My friend Dave
wanted to borrow my phone to call his wife and tell her about how far out we were.
I got my phone out of my bag, but my bike slipped from my hand and fell over. The
derailleur had struck the curb and had broken off. My heart sank. 535 miles and now
this! Then, I noticed something. The piece that had broken off was the derailleur
holder. Before I had left, my bike mechanic had noticed that mine was worn and suggested
that I pick up another one ‘just in case’. All I needed was the right tool and I
could fix it. Dave had the tiny allen wrench that I needed. I got it on, but it wouldn’t
shift. That was OK. I rode the last 10 miles with only one gear in the back. We rode
into the Veteran’s Administration area to thunderous applause and cheers.
over $9100 and were among the top 100 fund raisers of ALC 7. Overall, the ride generated
over $11.6 million dollars. We increased awareness about the severity of this disease
and made a tribute to my old friend Tom. It was quite a week. If I mention doing
something like this again, however, please pretend I’m Liberty Valance….
Shirley and Mike at about mile 375. They still could smile!
Angela is doing it again!
As many of you know, I’m participating in my second season with the Leukemia & Lymphoma
Society’s Team In Training. My event is the full marathon, all 26.2 miles, in October
of this year. To learn more about my journey from couch potato to second-time marathoner
(literally), please see my fundraising website http://pages.teamintraining.org/los/lbintl08/asmithdozl.
As a participant with the society, I do have a fundraising requisite to help people
like our honored teammate, four-year-old Alyssa who has taken up residence again
at Miller’s Children Hospital. If you’re able to donate, I would be most appreciative
and ecstatic. Thank you for your support in all forms! Angela