Pink Cog

DC AIDS Ride 2001 - Page 1

The hell with this, show me the pictures!

well, i survived.

as did moose, jeff, etaK, karen, reed, james, the rest of Team Caffeine, and a whole slew of other people. it was both easier and harder than i ever thought it could be...

here's my personal account (abbreviated version):

day 0 - registration

up at 4:30, met out in vienna for our van to raleigh at 5:30, rolled out at 6:15. got to raleigh around 11:15 (the van driver was hauling ass). did registration crap. ran into emily, this girl who was in all of my painting classes at william and mary. found out she's living in raleigh now. weird.

day 1 - june 21 - 108 miles

up at 4am, took 4:30 shuttle to the arena where opening ceremonies take place and from which the ride begins. rode out around 6:15. a grueling day, not only distance-wise, but also because it was FUCKING HOT out, i got a major case of heat rash and a bit of a sunburn. the highlight of my day was pit stop 4 at lake gaston - time for a swim!!! arrived at camp around 4:15 - one of approximately the first 150 people there. second highlight of my day - massage. third highlight - dinner. fourth highlight - passing out cold at 6:30 pm. woke up for 1/2 hour around 9:00, then passed out again until morning.

my tentmate, kimberly the machine, was the first woman in. she fucking rocks.

today i rode for my maternal grandmother, who would have turned 90 today.

day 2 - 82.4 miles

up at 5:30, rode out around 6:45. another sunny, but not quite so hot day. it's amazing how riding 80 miles can seem like a piece of cake after riding 108 miles. rode through richmond, god bless the people handing out the ice towels. rode into camp around 1:45 - one of approximately the first 100 people there. shower, chiropractor (you're only allowed to have one massage at camp).

kimberly and i were stretching in the dining tent while waiting for dinner, and a kind young man went and got me his yoga mat (kimberly already had one of her own).

after dinner (kimberly and i were among the first in line - HUNGRY), went and cheered on incoming riders with kimberly - got to see jeff, moose, etaK, and a whole lot of others ride in. while sitting at the camp entrance, ran into a friend from high school whom i haven't seen in a good 3 years, found out he's married and expecting, is also an avid mountain biker, and made plans to hang out once we got back to DC.

all hell broke loose later that evening - a thunderstorm exploded directly over our heads, soaking everyone and everything. i had to sleep on a wet sleeping bag with a wet sheet and a wet pillow. added bonus - everything in my bag got soaked too. no one got any sleep. yay hypothermia!

today i rode for all the people my riding will benefit.

day 3 - 94 miles (supposed to be 100.4)

up at 5:30 am. cold. rode out around 6:45. it was gorgeous (by which i mean cloudy and not sunny) for the first two hours and then it started raining. cold. wet. again. they ended up cutting the ride short by 6 miles and having us stop at pit stop 5, get bussed to a local high school, and sleep in the gym since everyone was cold and wet and so was all their luggage. well except for those little fuckers shawn and courtney, who had the foresight to bring tarps. fuckers. rode into pit stop 5 around 1:45 - one of approximately the first 50 people there. cold. wet. riding in the bus to the high school, it smelled pretty rank by the time we got there... my teammate bei and i reserved an area in the gym for Team Caffeine, got a hot shower, and began the long wait for the rest of the world. ate dinner while cheering on arriving riders. ironically enough, in the sun. it had the gall to come out the minute we got to the high school. they bought board games for us, kimberly and i started playing scrabble. quickly gave up because neither of us were mentally capable of forming any thoughts by that point. out like a light around 8:30pm.

today i rode for my sister.

day 4 - 45 miles (was supposed to be 35)

up at 5:15. rode out around 6:45. riding in familiar territory for the first time - passed the old microstate offices, the SMOK house (thought about calling, but decided that 9:00 was a little early for that crowd), passed karen & reed's house, and a bunch of other stuff. even though i was definitely in the earliest bunch of riders passing through, there were already a TON of people out cheering us on - very cool. got to pit stop 2 around 9:30, waited for the rest of the team so we could ride in together. finally got everyone together around 11:00, took some team pictures, and rode out around 11:30. stopped at the Java Shack in arlington, where we were joined by jean, colin, and nadra (yay! cheerleaders! thanks for coming out!). got some free iced cappucino. yum. rode into DC around 1:00 - they closed the whitehurst freeway for us! got downtown, began the chaos of meeting up with various people, and found a shady spot for lunch. began the victory ride around 2:30, it was a mess with all those people. while we were backed up, an enterprising ice cream vendor made a fortune off of us... closing ceremonies began at 3pm, and then it was over.

today i rode for all my friends and pledgers, who made all this possible.

lots of stories to tell - met a double amputee riding on the force of his arms, there were also two guys paralyzed below the waist doing the same thing. i talked to one of them as well, and took his picture. met a guy whose sister died of AIDS this year, so he's doing the california ride and the DC ride for her. met a guy from minneapolis who was coming down here to visit his son at howard university, and decided to do the ride just because. was amazed at the courage of the Positive Pedallers (riders who are HIV positive). met a couple who were planning on ride together but on separate bicycles until the woman broke her collarbone last week. so they bought a recumbent tandem, only got in three rides on it before the AIDS ride, and yet they did it. saw a blind guy too, riding on the back of a tandem. and of course etaK, who did the ride with a broken wrist - that's pretty amazing.

i think the thing that will leave the most lasting impression on me, though, is the good spirit displayed by all throughout these four days. people were cheerful through the pain, the cold, the heat, the wet, the humidity, the fatigue, and the frustration. they helped you out. they offered a kind word. they were more selfless in these four days than they might be in the other 361 days of the year.

there was, for example, a mystery guardian angel who came up behind me as i was riding by myself in the rain on day 3, suffering from the cold and some severely achy muscles. even though he was a much faster rider, he hung out behind me for good 5 miles - slowed down to stick with me as i labored up the hills, and just offered me the sound of another human being to keep me going. never said a word to me until the last minute, when he asked me how many miles it was to the next pit stop, and then he just disappeared.

i'm tired, i'm still sore (quads, hamstrings, glutes, knees, shoulders), my right ringfinger is still numb from where my glove was pinching it, i am awfully red in the face, but i feel fantastic.

my eternal gratitude to those of you who pledged, you rock all rock. you made this possible. also to my family and friends, for supporting me through my moments of doubt and panic, and for having more faith in me than i sometimes do. especially to my sister, who in her habitual battle-maiden way inspired me to do twice as well on day 3 as i did on day 2.

i'll be uploading all the pics i took on my digital camera over the next few days, and should have a page up on my website by next week.