Why I Ride: Day 1 of the AIDS/LifeCycle

By: Rick Andreoli
6.8.2010

Words and photos by Ryan Elizalde

Day 1 – San Francisco To Santa Cruz

We arrived at the AIDS/LifeCycle 9 opening ceremonies in San Francisco bright and early– so early the sun wasn’t up yet - on Sunday morning. We were met by a huge throng of riders, roadies and their friends, all ready to kick things off. The Cow Palace show floor and many of the surrounding rows were packed with people. The excitement and anticipation filling the room was almost palpable.

IMG_0065 After some group warm up exercises (everyone should stretch before they work out) and a few speakers, the Positive Peddlers – a group of amazing HIV men and women who have been advocates for expanding the awareness and recognition of people living with HIV/AIDS for over 15 years – led us through a touching tribute that not only reminded us of those no longer with us, but what this ride means and stands for.

Then, after a few final words from Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, it was showtime!

A mad race to the hall housing all of our bikes led to the complete standstill of 2,000+ riders trying to get out of one small exit. We were all ready to hit the road!

The ride began in the thick San Francisco fog which seemed to loom forever until we started climbing our first hill. After reaching a higher elevation, the “soup” broke and it was as if we entered another world, one blessed with Mother Nature’s finest: Huge trees, bright blue skies, a crystal clear lake and fresh, crisp, clean (non-Los Angeles) air. I was on a roll and really into it.

IMG_0072 For the most part, Sunday’s 79 mile ride was one of the most scenic I’ve had in years, and one I’ve never taken as a California native. For those of you living near either San Francisco or Santa Cruz, CA I would suggest a nice drive or perhaps bike ride up the coast. You will rediscover why you love living in NoCal. It reminded me I need to visit more often – on or off my bike.

We ended the day in Santa Cruz at a Harvey West Park and were met with horns, honks, claps, cheers and friends. Day 1 felt amazing.

While I feel like I did well, Day 1 was definitely more challenging that I thought it would be. The next leg of the ride, our longest day at 108 miles, will take us through my hometown of Monterey and Salinas and beyond. I know there will be some areas with strong winds; hopefully they will be at our backs.

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Check out Ryan's first post on why he's doing the ride, and visit Random Insanity tomorrow for more entries from the road.

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