The AIDS/LifeCycle ride has been on my bucket list since Sorellas Debra Snell and Rita Wuebbeler completed the event four years ago. I mean, 545 miles of cycling and camping with 2500 riders from San Francisco to Los Angeles for a great cause? Sign me up! COVID had put a halt to everything for the past couple of years, but for 2022, I was fortunate enough to do the ride with both Debra and Rita, along with another friend and rider Karlestrina Pettigrew.
A lot of communication and organization is crucial for an event of this size. The day before the ride began, all riders had to attend a mandatory orientation meeting to cover rider safety, route details, locating your tent and gear, and other important pieces of information. We concluded the meeting with the latest weather update for the start of the ride the next day, which was starting to get sketchier by the hour. I was hopeful that the warm, sunny California weather I’d heard so much about would prevail. Sigh…
The next morning, we started the ride en masse from the Cow Palace, a massive indoor arena located on the northern border of San Francisco. Just as all 2500 of us rolled out of the Palace parking lot, the chance of rain became a certainty, and it started drizzle. This drizzle became harder and was accompanied by fog and gusting winds. It would be this way much of the entire route, and raingear or no raingear, everyone was soaked to the bone and freezing.
Although the event had a less than auspicious beginning, the weather for the remaining of the week was exactly how I’d imagined - warm and sunny with brilliant blue skies. Over the next 6 days we rode down miles of smoothly paved coastline and across miles of bone rattling, tire busting farm roads. There are many moments that stood out to me as I think back over the course of the ride, but here are a few of my favorites:
- Eating fried artichoke hearts - a culinary first
- Catching a tailwind on a flat stretch of farm road, and cruising past fields at 35 mph
- Watching a rider dressed in red sequins in an aero tuck bombing down a descent
- Disco dance party at mile 80 of day 6.
- Smelling the ocean air for miles and miles
- Candlelight Vigil on the beach for those lost to HIV/AIDS
Here is a breakdown of the cities and mileage we rode each day:
Day 1 – San Francisco to Santa Cruz – 82 miles
Day 2 - Santa Cruz to King City – 109 miles
Day 3 – King City to Paso Robles – 63 miles
Day 4 – Paso Robles to Santa Maria – 91 miles
Day 5 – Santa Maria to Lompoc – 42 miles
Day 6 – Lompoc to Ventura – 88 miles
Day 7 - Ventura to Los Angeles – 70 miles
I had an amazing experience, and thanks to everyone for their support!
If you are interested in learning more about the ride, you can check it out here: https://www.aidslifecycle.org/
Hope to see some of you on a ride soon!