Backing up. Red Dress day is the 5th day of the ride every year and the concept initially was to have all the riders dress in red so it looks like one long AIDS ribbon coming down the road. Fantastic imagery. Well, add in some fab gays and "dress red" day becomes Red Dress day. SO much better! The best way to describe this day is a bike ride meets
Cirque d'Soleil meets Gay Pride. Some people have on a red jersey, some wear a red dress (yes, men and women) but some people's creativity and flair really is outstanding. Being as such, I thought this day needed a longer blog post, with a lot more pictures. I mean, amazing, right?
And lest you think that Red Dress Day is an easy, BS day of riding, please note it is just as difficult as the rest of the days. Only in a dress (or a tutu as the case may be).
The morning of Day 5 was a late one, what with all the costume preparations. It took us quite a while to get out of camp and my shoulder starting hurting almost immediately after getting on the route. At first it was a dull pain that I just figured I would deal with for the rest of the day. But within 2 miles is became a burning pain, and then it started to shoot down my arm into my hand and then, horrifyingly, my hand started to go numb. Well, as I have stated before, numbness is not really good for breaking. Or steering. So when I saw my teammates Tara and Ivy on the side of the road waiting for me, I pulled over and flipped out. The flipping out was partly due to pain, partly due to fatigue, and mostly due to panic that this meant I was not going to be able to ride anymore.
Once my lovely friends saw the state I was in they flagged a sweep car to take me to the next rest stop...against my will. Fortunately the fabulous Princess Sweep team picked me up, complete with tuts and tiaras and graciously swept me to rest stop. Once I got there I avoided the medical tent entirely until Tara dragged me over and made me lay out to the Med team what was going on. Once I did, the super nice Medical person I was talking to pretty much told me I was done for the day, and possibly the next day too. And then...I cried.
The thing was, as much as riding my bike is a pain in the ass, and as much as I would prefer to go back to camp and sit and eat until everyone else gets back, I didn't spend the last 5 months training to sit in a bus. No. Unacceptable. I was going to finish the ride in it's entirety, even if it killed me. But all of a sudden I was told that would not be the case. I was given a hug, a bag of ice, and told to wait for the bus to come pick me up and take me to camp. Thank goodness Tara was in a similar situation, but with her knee so she was there to wait with me. We waited for the bus for an hour and half. In which time we watch hundreds of riders in red costumes eat and chat and stretch until finally the last one left, they closed the rest stop, packed everything up and left. SO DEPRESSING.
The rest of the day was not that eventful. We got on the bus, ate lunch, longingly watched the riders ride by our windows, and got back to camp. Bright side: there were no shower lines.
While at camp I had a lot of time to think and I really had a personal epiphany. I realized that we were not riding to say that we rode 545 miles. We were riding to raise money and awareness and create a community for those living with HIV and AIDS. We were doing this for people who can't ride 10 miles let alone 545. And we are doing it for the Positive Peddlers who thank you for riding for them every time they pass. Basically, I needed to get out of my own head and see the bigger picture. My injury and failure to finish Day 5 were really not what was important. The $10 million we raised was important. My ability to ride was icing.
So after coming to this realization I was able to enjoy my day off. Tara and I took long showers, went back to Sports Med/Chiro (they LOVED us there) and generally had a nice day. And I was pleaently suprised to find out that Day 5 turned out to be the most difficult day of the whole ride thanks to 40 mph headwinds that made riding even downhill almost impossible. Yay for debilitating neck injuries!
I learned two things on Day 5. #1 was sometimes you need to get over yourself. #2 was try not to have a breakdown on the side of the road in a tutu. You look ridiculous.
Tent city + red dresses
Just a little mid ride stretching. No big deal.
Yes, they have cleats attached to the soles.
Red Dress Day goes pee.
Totally appropriate head wear.
This is dedication, even though I really hate crabs.
Cray Cray Red Dress Day. Ivy, Caitlin, Ethan, Tara.