Jun 20, 2014

ALC 2014 Ride Re-cap

It's hard to believe that 2 weeks ago I completed my 4th AIDS LifeCycle ride, 545 miles from SF to LA, to raise funds, awareness, and support of HIV/AIDS. With each year of doing this ride my training and writing has dwindled but the energy around it remains. To be honest there wasn't much writing about my training this year because, well, there wasn't much training to write about. I had grand plans to start fundraising early this year and continue to ride the mountain high and dedicate every weekend to training as I did as a novice cyclist. But life had different plans for me. I managed to get in a few short training rides and a couple of long ones, including the Napa Valley Tour de Cure which left me fearful with only a month left until ALC. Mentally I already knew what to expect and I was prepared to spend hours lost in thought on my bicycle coasting down long roads surround by farms but physically I had no idea how and untrained body (more specifically butt) would respond to 7 days in the saddle. The thought of visiting the "butt clinic" had me petrified more than the ride itself. I decided to invest in a trainer to increase my saddle time. Well... yah... that didn't work out so well either. I tried but I'd much rather climb Mt. Hamilton than spend 30 minutes on one of those, no wonder I couldn't ever get into spin. You pedal and pedal and go NOWHERE.

Nonetheless I manged to get in a few more hours in the saddle and then left the rest up to the universe. All in all it was another epic ride no matter how many times I have done it, the experience is always a first. I learn so much being on the bicycle for 7 days. And quite honestly I was looking forward to only having to think about getting from point A to point B everyday, that's simplicity in action. My biggest lesson learned? Whether you are afraid to fall or not it will eventually happen, and when it does... get up (as long as there's no broken bones) and keep on riding.

 Here's a quick and dirty recap of the days.

Day 0: Wow, I can't believe it's here. The safety video makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

Day 1: The opening ceremony prepares resets my mind for what's to come. I shift from work mode to human mode. Before I know it I'm on my bicycle riding out of SF, this year with my partner in crime Jenny (payback for her convincing me to climb Kiliminjaro). This day is always a hard one for me, partly due to the lack of sleep and partly mental. I was glad to make it to Santa Cruz and greeted by my family, they've come out every year to support and it's priceless! It was my first time joining a team and although I didn't know everyone on the team the team jerseys united us.

Day 2: The longest day of the ride, 110 miles. I love this day because I've officially left behind work and life and all of me is truly part of the ride. The humming my wheels on stretches of open roads is like a lullaby that puts me into a road trance. I chase yummy breakfast and cookies from the Cookie Lady and before I know it I'm at the end. With one minor detour... a visit to the med tent. Yup, I crashed! I made a left turn into gravel and before I knew it I was on the ground with Randy and Rod making sure I had no broken bones. Luckily, my bones were in tact; my skin not so much. It could have been worse but the arm warmers and leg warmers were my shield. I got up and immediately asked if my bike was okay. Miss Diva looked bad at first sight but she and I both pulled through and rode on. I visited the Med tent everyday after this, to ensure I could continue riding, the thought of not finishing was non existent.

Day 3: One more quadbuster under the belt and an awesome time hammering with some women power! A delicious bradley burger and inspiration from the community and kids and of course jesus cristo.  Before I knew it I was in Paso enjoying a glass of wine and a lovely steak.

Day 4: My favorite day of the ride. Not only do we hit the Halfway to LA mark but we're surrounded by breathtaking views of the coast riding through Morro Bay, and Pismo Beach. Love love love ocean energy!

Day 5: Red dress day! Short and sweet sprinkled with fashion appeal! We are 2400 riding as one red ribbon.

Day 6: It's bittersweet. I feel like we just started and it's already over. Last year this was my day to hammer and get in the top 100. At the beginning of this week I didn't even think about the top 100, with the training I did I was happy just finishing. But after the crash and hours on the bike I felt surprisingly stronger. I decided to go for it. And I did it. Not only did I get in the top 100 I came in faster than last year. Yes, it's a ride not a race but this is the one day where it becomes a race for me. A day to recognize and celebrate how far I've come as a cyclist. All of that is mere fairy dust compared to what this ride is really about. It's about community, support, and unconditional love.

Day 7: The ride comes to an end but the memories and friendships old and new continue to flourish. I'm blessed to be a small speck of red in the beautiful ribbon.

A big thanks to all my donors and supporters, whether you know it or not you all rode with me with your inspiring words and open hearts.

Life truly is like riding a bicycle.
Until next year....

Ritu Riyat
ALC 2014 Rider #3741