Sunday, June 20, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
On Friday we went to the beach to do a little communing with nature and deep breathing. I needed a lot of those things to stay calm and not to totally freak out from nerves. Also I got my nails done. I discovered my camera was broken, so the rest of the trip was captured by my nifty new camera...picked out by Eric because I was in no state to make decisions (although electronic decisions are never really my thing).
So on Saturday it was time to head to the Cow Palace for orientation. Yes, this whole thing started at a place called the Cow Palace. Ridiculous.
Anyway, I drove (!) Ivy, Tara and myself over to Daly City (!) to be oriented. All prepared with my plastic sleeve of paperwork, I was ready for anything. While there we watched a safety video, turned in forms, bought tee shirts (that was just me???) and got our tent # for the rest of the week. Very exciting!
It was all a little bitter sweet for me to go through all of this without Autumn. I actually cried during the safety video (Autumn LOVES safety!) and had to straight lie to the tent people (oh yes, my tent mate will come pick up her tags soon!) and it was very hard not to have her there. Being that scared and nervous and excited is something only people in that position could really understand and it was really difficult for me not to be experiencing it all with her, the only person in the world who could really understand just what I was thinking. It's hard to readjust your thinking when you have planned something one way for so long, but it was what it was, so I just had to deal with it.
On I went through the day and checked into my hotel for my last night on a real bed. It was glorious. Waking up at 4:30 the next morning: not so much. Time to begin!
Our wonderful and amazing friend Chris made this little sign to make sure everyone that wasn't riding this year would be there with us. Autumn is on there on the bottom corner. Don't worry, I cried. Love you, Chris.
Tara and Caitlin. Cow Palace rock stars.
So, because you all have been such dedicated blog followers, I feel obligated to give you a comprehensive recap of all 7 (really 8) days of this adventure. As noted in the past, Autumn is much better at this kind of thing than me, but I will do my best.
I will say that it really bothers my OCD self that as I post all 7 days they will show up in reverse order, but that is the nature of the blog and posting them backwards makes my head hurt, so I will just have to deal. Enjoy!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
We had such a great time waiting for Caitlin to roll by -- the 1 mile to go corner went literally in front of Caitlin's apartment, so we spent 3 hours cheering for the riders and making sure they knew how fabulous they are. When we finally saw Caitlin, with her ribbons in her hair, I'm not sure what the rest of the group did (I managed to gather 12 friends and a few strangers wandering by to wait on the corner) but I made a complete and utter fool of myself and screamed at the top of my lungs. And when my dear friend got off of her bike to say hello again, I dissolved into tears and hugged her tight. She is amazing. She is a Hero.
ALC9 raised over $10 million. There were just under 2,000 riders, 200 or so Roadies and even more support staff. They rode for 7 days and changed lives.
One of Caitlin's new friends, Jay (whom I met at the Candle Light Vigil in Ventura, CA on Night 6...Caitlin will give more details, but the dark pictures above show the 3,000 people gathered on the beach), stopped at the corner to say hello. After chatting and laughing with him for awhile, I asked him why he decided to ride in AIDS/LifeCycle. He told me that he rode this year because he has been HIV+ for 10 years, so he rode to celebrate living this long. I asked him if he would ride again. He said, "IF I make it to 15 years, I'll ride."
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Day 4 wasn't without its pain for Caitlin. Unfortunately, her neck problems she's been having since the first day we got on our bikes flared up and she had to break a little early today. Understandably, Caits is disappointed and mad that she won't ride every single mile, but she had to put her health first so that she can ride the next 3 days. She planned to get some Physical Therapy attention tonight and rest, and will continue to get Therapy treatments twice a day on her neck until the ride is over.
I can't wait to see her on Saturday! Can you even imagine what she's going to have to tell us when she gets back? Here are some more pictures that were taken at Opening Ceremonies and on the route by fellow riders:
Monday, June 7, 2010
I asked her if she was having fun. There was a long pause, a lot of umms and finally, "I feel really good about what I'm doing." So there you have it. No fun, but not terrible. I think that's progress!
She's got 5 more days and lots more miles and lots more peanut butter and lots more nights in a tent. She claims she's a pro at setting it up by herself. I also heard that she has a fan club of this jersey: The day Caits left for San Francisco, you know, to ride her bike back, her co-workers gave her a "legit Juicy biking jersey with glitter and everything." She wore it Day 1 and apparently it was quite the hit with all the fabulous gay men she is now friends with.
Meanwhile, I'm holding down the fort in Brentwood. No surgery date yet.....yeah, frustrating would be the nicest word I could use. But never fear, Dr. Name on the Door has stepped in and is helping this show to get on the road. I think that the whole team at Vargo PT made me take for granted good service, attention to detail and care for their patients......not everyone/not every office operates the same way. Hopefully, July will be the month for back surgery! (an explanation point doesn't really make it better)
I miss my friends. I miss the pain of lots of miles on the bike. I miss....sigh. Can you miss something you've never done? I'm not sure, but I am sure that I would rather be in a tent right now than in my comfy apartment. I miss Caitlin.
But she's doing so awesome! And she is going to have amazing stories to tell.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
What does this turn of events mean for her? Missing something she has worked very very hard for and getting some kind of scary spine related surgery which renders her unable to wear pants for several weeks. It also means she has to face the fact that she cannot overcome this with just sheer force of will and accept her own vulnerability. These are not easy things for a person who never takes no for an answer and has accomplished so much by never giving up.
What does this mean for me? I will have to face my only fear bigger than riding a bike 600 miles on a bike: talking to people. I know the consequences of this turn of events seem unbalanced, but I can assure you...it is a disaster all around.
When I signed up for this I wanted to show myself I could do something amazing and learn a new skill and overcome obstacles. I did not, however, sign up for this to make friends. I don't want to be forced to be social. I don't like it, it's not fun, and I am pissed I have to do it. But, as Autumn and I have learned, the biggest challenges in life come from things you did not anticipate or want to do.
There is not much more to say about it. I am so, so sad that Autumn, by biggest supporter and other biking half will not be there next to me for this. And I am so scared about having to face something scary alone...but this is how it is, and I have to belive that it will all be allright. We are both going to benefit so much from what's coming...even if both our expereinces are excrutiating and uncomfertable. We will come out the other end better people and all of that.
Thats that. My remaining plans include training on Saturday, laying by the pool in San Diego Sunday, sending my bike up to SF Wednesday and have intermittent panick attacks between then and the 6th. Good times!
Oh and if you see me on the ride...talk to me. Becuase I can garuntee I wont talk to you first, but its not because I don't like you. I am not as mean as I look!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I will not be able to ride in AIDS/LifeCycle 9. The training has come to an end; my bike will be gathering dust for at least 12 weeks.
By Monday morning, the stiffness that started in my lower back during our ride last Saturday had turned into an inability to stand up straight, walk without pain or sit at my desk. By Tuesday, the degree of leaning and stiffness had increased, I was spending half of my day laying on the floor in my office and my PTs didn't have any answers. Thursday I visited a Spine Surgeon who recommended surgery as my only option. I visited Dr. Name on the Door who got me an appointment with a 2nd surgeon for a second opinion. 2nd Surgeon was more emphatic than the first; surgery was my only option. And surgery should be soon.
Its taken me a couple of days to have the courage to tell all of you....there's nothing much more that I can say besides THANK YOU for being the best group of friends and supporters ever. At the end of the day, I have to focus on the fact that I raised just over $4,000, picked up a new hobby and met amazing people. I also educated myself, and hopefully you, on the continuing need for safe sex education, HIV prevention and a cure. I don't think its fair that I will not be able to "cash in" on all of our hard work, and I don't think its fair that Caitlin will now be facing 7 days on a bike with a lot of strangers and no tent mate. This week, nothing was fair. Its not fair that Lexi hasn't woken up, and its not fair that my dear friend Erin was overcome by a rare virus. This week was hard. I'm sure things could be worse, and I am trying to focus on the fact that in 12 weeks, theoretically, I will be able to walk without pain, get through my work day without pain killers, sleep through the night and play basketball and ride my bike again.
In the words of one of Caitllin's best friends, Eric Irvine, "this was the way it was meant to be." Caitlin and I have to believe that. As I face scary back surgery, 12 weeks of recovery and Caitlin faces down this thing without her sidekick, we have to believe that somehow for some reason, this was how it was meant to be.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
My mom asked me about 2 weeks ago if i though I was ready. I kept meaning to post something on here about how I didn't think there was ever going to be a time where I felt "ready." June 6th was just going to come and I was going to give it my best shot.
Something happened on the ride this weekend, though. We finished 65 miles and I didn't want to die. I actually felt like I could probably do 30 more. I felt...ready. Now, I have to qualify this by saying doing this once or twice a week is very different than doing it...for an ENTIRE week. But, physically I have come SO far in the last couple moths that I actually do feel physically ready for this. I actually feel as athletic as everyone always assumes that I am. Being mentally ready...well that remains to be seen. But compared to how terrified I was about doing this only a month ago, I would consider myself positively Zen. Like, I just know it's going to be OK.
I cannot tell you how much of this Zen(ness) has been a result of the support of my family, my friends and Autumn, my partner in crime for being so positive and amazing. As the big day approaches, it is becoming more and more clear to me that through this Autumn has become more than a friend, she a sister now. Sometimes we want to kill each other, but at the end of the day we have each other to lean on and I love her. We are quite the odd couple, and thank goodness for that. If I had to ride around California with another me I would off myself. She is brave where I am cautious, she is athletic where I am weak and I am mean...where she is...not.
These last couple months have not been easy for either of us. Contrary to what you might hope, life does not pause while you have to train for a 600 mile bike ride. We have both had some hurdles to jump recently and her perseverance in getting back on the bike (and out of bed) is inspirational. I don't know what the next 18 days will bring and I have NO idea what the 7 days after that will be, but I know on June 12th when I am riding up San Vicente to Closing Ceremonies Autumn will be right there behind me (we ride single file, of course). And we will have accomplished something so outlandish and unbelievable together.
Where has all of this sincere, emotional, vulnerability come from? I don't know. Perhaps I just know sometimes things need to be said, or perhaps they are repainting the halls in my office and I am high from the fumes. Either way...the best is yet to come fans! Thanks for staying tuned. You will not be disappointed in us!
I have decided that cycling is like child birth (or so I hear). You are in crazy pain the whole time and you want to just die, and then 20 minutes after the kid is born you forget all about that pain and want another one. Or whatever. That is what getting on your bike is like. All I want to do is get off of of that stupid bike, until I do. Then I am like "Sure! I can do 60 miles, no problem!" No! Stop!
Anyway, what I do remember from Saturday is Autumn and I discussing that we both have internal wars going on for at least the first 10 miles (for me its more like 20) where there is, in our minds, no POSSIBLE way we will be able to complete the ride we are on. I often consider spontaneously contracting a disease or suddenly noticing my foot is broken. Or just quitting for no valid reason. But I have found after you warm up, both your body and your brain, to the idea of being on a bike for 8 hours, the time does not really go that slow. It really is more of a mind game for me. 80 miles sounds a lot less scary than 8 hours of exercise, so I am trying to think of it more in terms of miles and less in terms of hours of my life not spent doing something more fun...like root canals or feeding wild, ravenous monkeys or something. Ok, ok, it's not THAT bad.
What is that bad is some horrible little middle aged man telling you you look like you are "really trying." I know Autumn mentioned this in detail, but I have to reiterate the horribleness. Now if you know me, you know how much I like talking to strangers in the first place: There is a REASON I am not making eye contact with you. Now go away! Do I LOOK like I am trying to be friendly? (and you wonder why I am single!!!) But really, it is one thing for some middle aged, overweight creep to talk to you awkwardly when all you want to do is get home, but it's another thing for them to be patronizing, condescending...jerks (EDIT FOR AUTUMN'S MOM).
Do not come up to me and tell me I look like I am trying hard. I may punch you, or tell you I hope you die soon. I have not done one of these things before. You can guess which one.
Something else I remember from Saturday was that despite the fact the ride was pretty much exactly the same as the ride I did a month ago, I had no idea where I was. So basically I remember that I don't remember anything from my rides and therefore should not be put in charge of navigation.
I didn't ride Sunday,as it was Mother's Day observed in my family, but I did see Chris and Mel riding on PCH and ducked so they didn't see me because I felt guilty for not being on a bike.
In other news: I wore my bolero on Saturday. I tried to keep in on as long as possible in order to protect my arms from the harmful effects of tan lines on my social life, but Autumn didn't get any pictures. So sad for you.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Anyway, we rode 65.55 miles yesterday -- from Santa Monica, to Palos Verdes, circling around Palos Verdes (taking a small non-sanctioned detour/getting lost) and back. We only stopped 3 times -- once at mile 40 for a lunch break, mile 50 for 3 minutes to chat with one of our bffs, Corey, and We made a new bestfried, Amy, who is awesome and I ate red velveet cheesecake and chicken madeira to celebrate. It was awesome!! Caitlin's riding abilities have really taken a turn and transformed in the last 2 weeks. She's so confident and in shape; its awesome! I'm so proud of her!! She hasn't admitted it yet, but I think she's on the verge of enjoying herself. We've already made plans to ride to the beach after ALC is over.
The highlight of the day was Caitlin's quote while we were riding through Redondo/Hermosa Beach. The city has put in a full-sized bike lane. Seriously, a lane marked for bikes as wide as a car. It makes riding much safer and much more enjoyable (until cars neglect to look at the writing on the pavement, tail bikers and then honk inpatiently....that's another story). Enter Caitlin and her words of wisdom: "The whole lane is for bikes? This is luxurious!" hahahahaha. I pointed out that certainly her world has been flipped upside down if now the adjective "luxurious" is used to describe wide bike lanes rather than clothing, shoes or coats.
The lowlight of the day occurred on the Bridge of Judging at about mile 59.5. It was so appalling that, while I normally would not call out people by name, I am furious and thus have pledged to blog negatively about this certain condescending man/bike shop guy that decided to almost ruin our riding high of the day.
So, we took a little well-intentioned detour on the way home (instead of trying to follow all of the twists and turns of the route map we took the strand (beach path) back to the starting point; as we had already gotten lost once from not being "able" to accurately follow directions, we decided to avoid getting lost again). As we're riding along minding our own business Old Ugly Mean Man sails by and shouts at us: "Come on girls. Put your head down and just keep pedaling." Annoying but whatever. Caitlin and I are easily annoyed and often vocal about it..... We precede to stop at the Bridge of Judging so that we can take pictures of the beautiful day and document our ride to share with all of our fans. Old Mean Man was waiting for us and/or following us or something and proceeded to impart all of us "riding wisdom" to 2 girls who "clearly" needed his help. He went on and on about how what we were wearing was wrong, how our grip was wrong, how he road more miles than us and so on and so on. At first, it was just an old mean man being annoying and invading our day, but then, Old Mean Man decided to be super condescending and ended by saying, "Well, you at least look like you're trying hard." Now, at first glance it may not read like a condescending statement, but you should have seen his face, the way he looked us up and down and the tone of voice. Condescending. And then, he said, "She [Caitlin] looks likes she's hanging in there but you [Autumn] look dead tired." Oh, excuse me for not looking well rested after riding more miles than I ever had before. Excuse us for riding to end AIDS and not doing it "perfectly." Excuse me for not being your definition of a "pro."
I will admit that I said some very mean things as we rode away. And I will admit that I was very thankful that I had a blog that I could take to. (Caitlin and I often, during our long rides, talk about how we're going to blog this or that or what should be noted about a ride. It helps get up a hill if you compose a blogpost in your head about how it is one of the worst 5 miles of rode within LA County (Palos Verdes Rd) and how the training ride leader responsible for the route map (Scott) so conveniently did not mark it as a "hill.") After I had yelled into the wind with a vengeance about the Old Mean Man who thought he needed to impose himself on us, I announced to Cait and the bike path in Marina del Ray that I was going to "blog negatively" about this man and his bike shop.
He had the nerve to give us his card so we could contact him because we clearly needed his professional help to ride our bikes, and I was going to actually call him out by name in my negative blogpost, but I think the card is somewhere in my car and I don't really have enough energy (or the ability to stand up straight) to go get it. So I will just say this: "his" bike shop has 2 locations and something to do with TriAthlete Zombies.....I may have linked the website here.... http://www.triathletezombies.com ...... and I really don't like him or this shop or this website. Seriously, he was mean to us. And it was embarrassing and frustrating. Maybe I will also take to Yelp. Also, how has a man that works at a Bike Shop never heard of AIDS/LifeCycle???? Not legitimate.
The bright spot of this encounter was that we then discussed how no one involved with ALC would ever dream of being so harsh or condescending to us. Even in the beginning when we clearly didn't know what we were doing, and even now when I hold up the ride and come in last out of La Tuna, ALCers are always positive, always supportive and always happy to have Newbies around to share it with. ALC training ride leaders always tell us we're doing awesome. Everyone is so positive, almost to the point of naseau now and again, but after our encounter with the Old Mean Man, we will never again take for granted our friends and colleagues at ALC who have been so awesome through all of this!
So this is my luxurious negative blog. Not quite as luxurious as a wide open bike lane, but close.
PS If you have not had the opportunity to joing our cause yet, Caitlin still has $300 to raise before meeting her minimum requirement. We would love to officially have all of our fans as part of the team of donors. Click on Cait's link in the upper right to help her meet her goal! Thanks!
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Autumn is way more thorough than me at weekend updates, so I will just give you the highlights of what was going thorough my head this weekend:
1. "I hate hills."
2. "Why am I beating everyone up this hill??"
3. "Autumn is such a bad ass for doing this when she is at least 75% sick."
4. "I am in Montrose and not eating La Cabinita. This is just wrong."
5. "I am SO hungry. How many shot blocks is too many shot blocks?"
1. "I want to go back to bed."
2. " Goldsteins is really good. However, they did NOT give me a Mega Turkey. Do I look like a Simply Turkey kind of girl?"
3. "I hate hills."
4. "I want to go back to bed."
Autumn has all the pictures from this weekend (and I am secretly hoping they mysteriously vanish from her camera) so I once again used my sweet illustrator skills to share the weekend with you. Enjoy:
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Saturday invovled a 53 mile ride from North Hollywood, through some towns, over La Tuna Canyon, into Caitlin's old stomping grounds, down to the Rose Bowl, up a "1.2 mile climb" (nice try. more like 5 freaking miles) and back to North Hollywood. It was long, and it was intense. One word describes my experience: naseau/puke. About 1/4 of the way up La Tuna (I may be lying and it might have been about 5 pedal strokes in.....but you weren't there, so you can't judge) I pulled over to the side of the rode to watch everyone pass me and attempt to hurl up my electrolytes/shot blocks/insides. It was tragic. I will tell you that never in my life has exercising made me feel that terrible. It was likely a combo of the almost-mono like sickness I was sporting just last week (along with the pink eye), the inadequate diet I consumed the week prior and the sun. It was awful.
However, what was AWESOME was the supportive folks that were right there with me. My new friend and seriously pro kit Mel stayed with me, assured me that the top wasn't going anywhere and that I should just take my time. He could have flown up that La Tuna, but he stayed back to encourage me. He could have rode with his pro kit friends, but he stayed with out of breath, out of shape, sick me and smiled. It was awesome.
The even MORE AWESOMENESS occurred 2 minutes before I attempted my first puke fest on the side of La Tuna -- CAITLIN PASSED EVERYONE!!!!! I mean, last week I showed you her calf muscles and this week she went up La Tuna like a CHAMP. Like a CHAMP. I have never been more proud. And, in her words, she didn't "enjoy it" but she didn't necessarily despise it either. whoo hoo!!!! I will admit that for about 30 seconds I was pretty upset that I couldn't keep up, but then I realized what this meant for Caitlin and how much confidence and awesomeness she was going to get from tearing up that stupid "hill." (Its a mountainside, but whatever.) She kicked La Tuna's ass (sorry mom). And it was amazing.
We continued for some miles and then came to a climb that THEY totally snuck into the ride without really telling us about. Disaster again for me. Not so much puking this time, I just was slow as molasses and couldn't really get my body going. Actually, at this moment I am shocked I'm evening telling you about it, but blogs are for honesty, right? So, I sucked it up again; however I made new friends, Etti and Michayla (no idea how to spell her name -- sorry!), who waited at the top and told me I could do it. I'm not a person who likes to accept help; I like to figure it all out on my own. But this thing, I can't do without Caitlin and I can't do without our ALC friends to tell me I CAN. It sucked; not going to lie. But La Tuna La Sucked a little less because of the people who are involved with ALC.
Sunday Caitlin and I semi-rode the first training route I ever did. I say "semi" because Fancy Eric made some kinda mistake in the directions, which I forgot about until we were in some sketchy part of Alta Dena or something, and we missed a turn. Anyway, the ride was considerably easier than the first time I rode, and we got Mega Turkey Bagel Sandwiches from Goldsteins. WHat???!!??? Yes, sooo gooooooood. Caitlin and her new-found muscles again beat me up every hill -- except the one where she got bit or something on her head and had to stop in a flurry to scratch under her helmet....hahahaha....it was funny. Sunday was 27 miles, so all in all we biked it up for 80 miles this weekend! I think I need another cheeseburger from just thinking about it.
I'll post the weekend in pictures later this week so you have something to look forward to. Thank you again for sticking with us; the ride is about 3 weeks away and the reality is terrifying now and again. Can you believe how close it is? What are you going to do with yourselves when we don't blog anymore? What are we going to do with all of our free weekends? How will I convince Caitlin to wear ridiculous outfits that I can post on the internet? As Mr. Aalbers used to say in 7th grade geography, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
Thursday, May 6, 2010
In case you were wondering, here are a few items that we will not be sporting on any of the 7 days of ALC:
1. Some kind of hippie pirate head gear.
2. Kitty Cat socks.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
As Autumn as already blogged about Sunday, I will fill everyone in on the Saturday ride. However, I would like to say first that the irony of me wearing that most offensive and nasty outfit/kit in La Canada was lost on me. Moral of the story: don't wait to do laundry until you only have your crazy, patriotic pro kit left to wear. When you do wear it, it will inevitably be the day that you have 15 full body shot of you taken.
ANYWAY...Saturday was a beautiful day so Autumn and I decided to take a 40 mile ride through the San Gabriel Valley. Literally, almost all of it. We rode from South Pasadena, through San Marino, Arcadia, Monrovia, Sierra Madre, and Pasadena. It was actually very flat and nice.
My sister decided to throw caution to the wind and join us, which was totally fun. I mean, she does have a bright pink helmet (which is made of air, as we found out: don't buy your helmet at Target) what could be more fun than that!? I have never been MORE experienced in anything athletic than my sister, so it was like some alternate reality when I was giving her tips and knowing things about cycling. Crazy! But it was so fun that we could do it together as a fun sisterly activity. I wish that we could incorporate the dogs too, but we decided we would have to duct tape them to the side of the bike, because running along side would last for about 30 seconds. Probably not going to happen.
Oh! And in the middle of the ride, Alexis suggested we stop at Sonic for lunch which I think was the best idea she's ever had besides deciding to have my niece. Sonic is AMA-zing. Totally worth the 40 miles.
Just being pro, you know.
This ride is brought to you by Sonic and all of their refreshing, sugary bevergy goodness. And tater tots.