Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 7 - We made it to Los Angeles!

Day 7. The day and particular ride we all had worked so hard toward was here. We're riding into Los Angeles today. A little bitter sweet, but exciting just the same. There was a veteran rider that brought much joy and happiness to everyone during the week his name:  Chicken Lady. Getting to our bikes, rubberbanded to the top of our seats were plastic eggs with a message and LifeSaver inside. The message, a simple one, was a perfect note at a perfect time as we got on our bikes for the final day of ALC 10. Thank you Chicken Lady.

Missile Park, Point Mugu
We were told it was going to be an especially challenging 60 mile ride because we were riding out of Ventura and through Malibu on a Saturday which meant lots of parked cars with doors opening by the beach and people everywhere. The road didn't offer much of a shoulder for much of the ride into Santa Monica but did provide plenty of beautiful vistas by unbelievable properties that line the PCH through Malibu and into L.A.

Lunch was across the street from Pepperdine University on the Malibu Bluffs, which made for a nice final break before cycling into the city.
Almost there!
I happily coordinated to meet my wife and sister-in-law along the route on San Vicente with just a few miles to go. As we closed in on the VA Center, more and more people met us along the road until a roaring crowd met us as we entered the Center grounds. Coming around the final turn and into the grounds, I felt a great sense of relief and satisfaction. My 2002 Bianchi Imola had made it and so had I. Phew!

Neil Giuliano (CEO SF), Lorri Jean (CEO LA) and Jane Lynch (Actress)
The final riding total was listed at 550.1 miles. 7 Days. Around 2300 riders, around 550 roadie/support personnel. Oldest participant: 83 years old, youngest, 18. 41 States represented. 11 countries represented. Average calories burned by riders: 3,410. These are the real numbers: 1.7 million people are currently living with HIV/ AIDS nationwide and 33.3 million people are currently liviing with HIV/AIDS worldwide. My $3775.75 fund raising is part of this year's record $13 million raised from ALC 10, to which I am proud. To my financial supporters, thank you, to all of my supporters, thank you.
It wasn't until later Saturday night that I turned to my wife, realizing and then sharing "I just rode my BIKE to Los Angeles, my BIKE!" and the last 7 days had finally begun to hit me. The days ahead I am sure the impact of this experience will hit harder than now. Exhausted, I was grateful for a very nice welcoming dinner at my in-laws home with family and friends.

There are SO many more memories and thoughts and feelings that made up the last 7 days. Bicycling was really, believe it or not, a small part of the whole experience. With time, the bike part will actually play second fiddle to the event, the community of people and new friends I made along the way and the great many moments of reflection I experienced while bicycling as Rider 6145 every mile of every pedal at a time.
Rider 6145 and his bike!
With love, Tad

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