From June 1-7, 2008, I bicycled 550 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles as part of AIDS Lifecycle 7. I had not expected to be able to ride every mile, as exercise induced asthma and a sprained ankle had kept me from training as well as I’d have liked to, and my longest back-to-back rides had been a pair of 70-milers. But I was surprised! It was my easiest ride yet, and the weather cooperated beautifully: mid to high ’70s every day, sunny – gorgeous cycling weather.
As is now my custom, I rode in a different outfit every day, 7 costumes for 7 days. I designed and sewed all of them myself (some from commercial patterns that I modified to suit, some 100% my own drafting and design). You can read about the sewing/design process in my blog.
It was fun wearing a different outfit every day. I am a slow rider, and I start early in the day, so a lot of riders (probably most of them) passed me. Instead of hearing “on your left!” every twenty seconds as someone passed me by, I’d hear “On your left – wow, nice outfit!” That was immensely cheery and helped me get up those hills!
Here are my photos from AIDS Lifecycle 7. I hope you enjoy them as much as I loved doing AIDS Lifecycle again!
<p>Photos from Day One: San Francisco to Santa Cruz.</p> <p>I rode 79.3 miles (by the official count; 82 by my odometer), up and over the Skyline ridge, ate lunch at San Gregorio State Beach, and took a lovely ride down 1 to Santa Cruz. Along the way I met some Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and a woman carrying a memorial sign to Gary Stainback, who passed away from AIDS in 1996. </p>
<p>Photos from Day Two: Santa Cruz to King City</p><p>This was one of our century (100+ mile) days, from Santa Cruz down through the Salinas Valley to King City. A flat day, passing through beautiful farmland and golden hills. Punctuating the day were the Ugly Mug (free coffee!), the artichoke stand, the skinny dipping bridge, Cookie Lady, and (of course!) the fabulous Ginger Brewlay (pic, left). </p>
Day 3 saw us on the notorious Quadbuster, a steep climb right out of Rest Stop 2. I personally think Quadbuster is a little overrated - there are other, equally nasty, hills on the ride, especially on Day 5. But one of the great sights of the ride is stronger riders riding up Quadbuster again and again, offering help and encouragement to riders having a tough time of it.
Once upon a time, Day Five was "Dress in Red" day, because the route made a loop and someone thought it would be neat having 2500 riders in red making a living AIDS ribbon (seen from the air). Of course, with so many fabulous gay men on the route, it rapidly became "Red Dress Day". I wore a little red riding-corset and a red and black petal tutu, but as you can see, I was out-fabuloused by many a rider that day. One guy even rode in stiletto heels!
Day Six saw us passing through Santa Barbara, where I finally got to meet a friend and fellow Techer, George Williams, who was kind enough to bring me some Cytomax (my favorite brand of electrolyte drink) when I ran out. It was great to meet him, and also great to ride down the lovely coast into Ventura. Only one day left!
<p>Day Seven saw me in my loveliest outfit of all, a strapless confection of white dupioni silk, gold organza, and lots of peacock feathers - over 1000 green and blue body feathers in the top, and 126 tail feathers in the bottom. It took me probably over 40 hours to design and sew this outfit, but it was worth every moment.</p><p>And, at the end of Day Seven, we rolled triumphantly into Los Angeles, at the VA Center...celebrating 7 days, 550 miles, and over $11.6 million raised for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay & Lesbian Center! </p>