I'm not going to lie. Breaking down my tent on the morning of Day 7 was bittersweet. There was a sense of finality about the last morning waking up to my tent neighbor faces and bundling up in everything I had in my suitcase to go to breakfast. It was...almost...sad. The minute my butt hit that seat though, I knew I wanted to get home and off of that thing. Like now.
For me Day 7 was not only finishing the ride, it was going home quite literally as we actually passed my apartment at the one mile marker point before the finish line. I knew most of the ride on the last day like the back of my hand. When we rode out of Ventura into Oxnard I was excited, when we saw our first 310 area code billboard I was ecstatic, and when we crossed into Malibu and Los Angeles county lines I almost passed out with joy. HOME!
The ride was pretty easy that day, although I was in a whole lot of pain. The pain in my shoulder was pretty excruciating and there were a couple moments I actually thought I would have to stop. However the idea of not riding up San Vicente into closing ceremonies was not something I would entertain, so I ignored it. Tara, being the genius that she is suggested that I take down one of the straps of my sports bra to relieve some of the pressure and it helped a ton. Leave it to Tara to think of brilliant ideas that relate to clothing removal.
Once we got to lunch (non sanctioned Malibu lunch) I knew there were a couple hills coming up that were going to be killer. So we skipped them by riding through the colony. These are the perks of riding through your own hood. You know the hill short cuts. I mean, I am generally a rule follower, but by day 7 it's like the last day of school. Behavior is questionable and all bets are off.
From about Cross Creek on I was running on pure adrenaline. I know every foot of that route. I greeted the Gladstone's 4 Fish like a long lost friend. OMG! Will Rogers State Beach, how I have missed you! I even took a hill on Ocean that used to give me nightmares with no problem. I was high on life and ready to be done.
The one final ride up San Vicente was a pretty emotional one for me. It was the street that Autumn and I rode down the first morning we trained (I should clarify: the first morning that I could actually get on the bike) and here I was riding up the very same street to finish ALC. Amazing. It was the easiest ride up San Vicente I have ever had, like the previous 6 days had just been the worlds best warm up for this hill.
Now, the VA is at the intersection of Wilshire and San Vicente so imagine my surprise when we are directed to actually turn down my street. No joke, we rode right by my house. And you know what was outside? Oh, I don't know...everyone I know wearing pink Team Caitlin shirts with signs yelling my name. Autumn had organized the whole thing and made each person a tee shirt to greet me. I love her. It was shocking and wonderful and I cannot even describe it. I pulled over and hugged and cried and held my dog and was in awe of the shirts.
But I had one more mile, so we finally rode into the VA, through the crowds and parked our bikes. It was like no feeling I have ever felt. I highly recommend it.
Team Caitlin groupies.
With my parents in my SWEET victory shirt. Too bad there was no glitter on it.
The Pos Peds at closing ceremonies.
MO's piece, slightly more poetic than mine: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/outposts/aidslifecycle/