Wednesday, June 15, 2011

AIDS Lifecycle 10 - Recap days 1-3

As most of you know, last week I rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles, 545 mile, over 7 days. This was the 10th AIDS Lifecycle fundraiser and we raised a record 13 million dollars, making ALC 10 the single largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser on the planet! Day 1, Sunday the 5th marked the 30th anniversary of the first 3 reported cases of HIV/AIDS in LA.

This was my first ALC (AIDS Lifecycle) and I really didn't know what to expect. We had a brunch back in December where one on the TRLs (Training Ride Leader) told me it is the worse vacation you will want to take over and over. When he said that, I thought it sounded pretty harsh but now I know what he meant. More on that later...

I tried to blog from the road and I started out pretty good, but as fatigue set in and my phone battery died, so did my messages. I am going to try and recap my ride but to be honest, the days are starting to run together.

There are many aspects of this ride, one the riding itself, two the charity/fundraising component and three the community and life on the road. I will start off with the first 3 days, so this won't be too long!

Here is Marc and I on Day 1 on the side of the road, that is not lip stick...chapped lips!

The cycling was fantastic! I am a die-hard Texan and like most Texans, I love my state BUT California is amazing and beautiful. This ride gave us the opportunity to see parts of CA that you normally wiz by on the freeway. We had climbing and flats, rollers and some great descends, a little bit of everything and normally you had a taste of all of it each day.

DAY 1 - San Francisco to Santa Cruz (82.5 miles, 5,307 ft climbing) - Due to a route change Day 1 was a little more difficult than years past. We had over 5,000 ft of climbing which was right up my alley. Rain threatened us all day but never showed up. I was on a strict regime of DayQuil and Advil Cold & Sinus and felt pretty good until the last 20 miles when I started to fade.

Each day we typically have 4 rest stops and a lunch stop overflowing with snacks, PowerAide, medical services, mechanical services and port-o-pottys. Each stop had a theme with amazing people cheering us one and of course entertaining us!

Rest Stop 2 Day 1

Rest Stop 3 Day 1

Day 1 was also the start of the camping adventure. I am not much of a camper, a trooper but not a camper (hee hee). So this was the part of the adventure I was dreading the most. After you drop off your bike at bike parking, you have to walk quite a distance to your assigned U-haul to pick up your luggage and tent. Then tramp across a camp ground to your assigned 8' x 8' plot of grass and set up your tent (all in your cycling shoes & cleats). After the first few days it became routine and not a big deal.

Tent City - Not the best photo, but you can see the hundreds and hundreds of tents. With 3,000 cyclist and volunteers, that would be roughly 1500 tents!

DAY 2 Santa Cruz to King City (107 miles 3,200 ft climbing) - Santa Cruz was bit of a logistical challenge for us. We had to utilize a bike path and were only allowed to release 100 cyclist at a time. We were parked near the front of the parking lot, so it took us a little under an hour just to get out of parking and another hour and half to get out of the city due to all the lights.
ALC traffic jam - Santa Cruz

Many cyclist had issues completing the route in time. Each day the route was open from 6:30 AM to 7:00 PM. Which seems like a lot but once you add the all the traffic and length of the route (107 miles) many did not make it (plus Day 1 was pretty tough if you are not use to climbing). Marc and I made it back to camp around 5 PM but Molly was 5 minutes in front of the sweep! She made it and we were sooooo proud, we were told over 700 cyclist took a bus to camp!

Day 2 was rough on me, the hardest day for me. We had some harsh cross winds and rollers that wiped me out. Plus I think the cold wasn't helping me with my recovery from day 1.

Rest Stop 2 - Day 2

There is a local woman know as the Cookie Lady, who bakes cookies for all the cyclist and passes them out at a rest stop. I LOVE COOKIES and this was a huge motivation on a day where I wasn't "feeling it"

Cookie Lady and Shannon AKA "cookie monster" - BEST.COOKIE.EVA!!!

DAY 3 King City to Paso Robles (67 miles, 2,500 ft climbing) - Day 3 included a climb called Quadbuster, a little steep at times but we had much much more difficult climbs on our training rides, so we were well prepared. Day 3 was also the start of Marc's mysterious flat problem. It started on the 101, where we rode on the freeway on the worst concrete possible. It was so broken up that your body just rattled down the road.

Marc with his flat on the 101 as a semi speed past.

He took the tube off and checked the tube, tire, rim...nothing?? So we aired it up and went on our way.

Day 3 was also filled with warm hearts and giving souls. We rode through the small town of Bradley, CA (population 120) where the students host a fundraising lunch each year. They grill up burgers and hot dogs to raise money for their sports programs and the ALC riders were eating it up (figuratively and literally). Our final rest stop of the day was at the oldest mission in CA. For the past 3 years ALC Rest Stop 4 took up donations for the mission. Last year they raise $3,000, more than the annual budget!

Rest Stop 4 - Day 3 accepting donations for the mission - and yes that is a pregnant man in a leotard with a pack of smokes in his top. What else would you expect to see at a mission?

Mission Photos

Stay tuned for the rest of the trip, next up Days 4 & 5!!!


  1. Great recap :) Can't wait to read about the rest of the ride!

  2. It was my first ALC ride as well...what an amazing experience!

  3. Shannon - This was my first ALC too. Your blog is a great recap and picture into the whole event.
    Thanks for getting my Tough Chik Jersey to me in time to wear on day??? They blurred for me too.