Friday, August 20, 2010

AIDS/Lifecycle 9 Recap and Thank Yous

First off, here is the link to the pictures I took on the ride:

Hello everyone. I wanted to start just by saying thank you so very much to all of you for your generosity and help. Lots of folks out there benefit a great deal from your donations, and I know they appreciate it a great deal. It’s going to take everyone, not only those affected by it directly, or those living with it, to finally kill AIDS/HIV once and for all. So, thank you for helping me do my little part to chip in.

In the end, you all helped me raise $4,475 for the San Francisco AIDS foundation. Which, of course, meant that I climbed “Quadbuster” an additional time. Looking back on it, the 1st or 2nd climbs were not what I remembered about that day. It was flying down the hill back to the start of the climb to do it again, and watching the steady, hard-packed line of cyclists suffering up the hill looking back at me flying down it, like I was crazy. Maybe so, maybe so. And yes, I’ll be doing the same thing next year!

Altogether, the nearly 2,000 riders raised $10 million to help fight the AIDS pandemic. Our numbers were lower, both in participants and in the total money raised, due probably to the economy, but we did have an important stat: We raised more per person then any ALC ride in the past! So thank you!

Now for the ride itself:

There were parts of this year that were easier than last year, mostly simply because I had done it before, but also some things that were harder. I had a friend ride with me (you kicked butt, Eric!), and several people came out and visited, (thanks Anna, Rob and Michelle!) and I knew several people from last year right from the start, so I wasn’t as bored this time around. The weather was also more helpful. We didn’t get any rain, and a couple of days it actually got pretty warm. The Starbucks in Paso Robles was filled to the brim with riders and roadies escaping the heat. That day was especially tough since the camp site where the tents go was not grass like in years past, but now hard pack ground up cement, like a parking lot. And with the temperatures well over 90 that day, everyone was looking for an escape.

I also experienced quite possibly one of the hardest things I have ever had to endure on a bicycle. Going from lunch in Solvang to camp in Lompoc, we were told we would have “a bit of a headwind”, with “gusts up to 15 to 20 miles per hour.” Yeah, no. How about sustained winds at 20-25 miles per hour, with “gusts” up to 30 – 40? All directly into our faces, for about 25 miles. There was a rider who was an Iron Man finisher and ultra-marathoner, who said that 25 mile section was the hardest, most painful thing he has ever done. Which made sense, since I remember being down on my aero bars, practically laying down to stay out of the wind, pedaling as hard as I possibly could, doing about 10-12 miles per hour, DOWNHILL. I laugh about it now, I spent most of that day screaming and yelling at anything that would listen, then looking around embarrassed if anyone was within earshot…

I did run into some flat tire trouble this year. I guess I used up my luck last year, not having a single flat, because this year I had several. A couple out on the road, and one right before closing ceremonies. I came back to my bike for the Mass Ride-In to the Closing Ceremonies, and I had a flat. I fixed it with my last patch, having already used my last spare tube, and pumped it up and it blew again. So, I missed the ride in. I did walk part of the way with the rest of the riders, then turned away and watched from the back entrance of the stadium as everyone else rode in and went through the Closing Ceremonies process. So it was nice to see it from a distance, and it was definitely easy to get out afterwards.

Aside from the flats, and the headwind on day 5, and the heat in Paso Robles, everything else went rather smoothly. Just like last year, it’s simply amazing how nice everyone is out there. It really is like a perfect little society for seven days. Everyone is nice, courteous, helpful, thankful, friendly. I saw ultra-fit riders pushing and helping slower riders up hills. I saw people forgo showers and food to sit at the camp entrance at the end of the day to cheer in later riders. I saw nonstop assistance in the tent area setting up tents and camps. For those seven days, I don’t think I saw a single frown or negative attitude. Aside from that headwind, of course.

I guess in the end it’s something I can’t explain with words. You literally just have to experience it to believe it. It’s like nothing else.

So, of course, while waiting for Closing Ceremonies, I signed up for AIDS/Lifecycle 10, running June 5th to June 11th, 2011. Which is the 10th anniversary of the ride, so it will be a big one. I can’t wait!

So, expect more emails in the coming weeks as I begin my fundraising adventure yet again.

Again, thank you all so very, very much for your help, in all the ways you do it. You not only enabled me to take the ride of my life with the most amazing people out there, as well as the support of angels in the form of our roadies, but you also saved lives in the process! So again, from the bottom of my heart thank you. Thank you thank you thank you thank you!

Now who’s riding with me next year???

Erik A. Dabel