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    Photo Credit: Jeff Titterton

AIDS LifeCycle day four: The risks of the road

By Jeff Titterton

HALFWAY TO LA!
We ended a hot day 3 of the AIDS LifeCyle ride with 267 miles under our collective belts that brought us to just over 45 percent of the 585 miles we are biking during these 7 days, so when we woke up just after 5 a.m. this morning, most of the talk centered around reaching the halfway to L.A. point, which overlooks a stunning California valley.

EVIL COMES IN PAIRS
Unfortunately, half of 585 miles is actually 292.5 miles, leaving us more than 25 miles to go. Even more unfortunate, that 25-plus miles includes a pair of long, tough hills called the "Evil Twins" (or the "Evil Bitches" by the less PC among us). Normally, with the major hill training I've been doing, I wouldn't consider these siblings a problem; but after three days of tough riding and not enough sleep, I struggle through them.

THE GLASS IS HALF FULL
But I digress, because soon after the twins we come upon the halfway point. What a view! With the sun shining but fog still hanging over the valley below, the scene looks shot-on-location, Hollywood perfect. Up against this backdrop, the volunteers have placed 6 large, colorful signs that say it all: "HALFWAY TO LA!"

People stand in short lines to stand on rocks behind the signs and have their photos taken holding their bikes over their heads. For one brief moment, I fear we'll have our first AIDS LifeCycle casualty when a man holding his bike high above his head stumbles backwards and almost falls off the steep drop behind him.

When it's my turn, I climb up and lift my bike up above me. Two thoughts go through my head: (a) my Lord, this bike is heavy and (b) I suddenly feel like I could bike another 100 miles.

That juice proved to be a good thing, because we still have about 70 miles left to get to Santa Maria, our camping destination for the evening.

NOT EXACTLY BADMINTON
Rather than recounting a blow by blow of those miles—hot; a lot of miles on busy, windy roads; delicious BBQ kebobs for lunch; an orgasmic (and fat filled) cinnamon roll at an unofficial stop in Pismo Beach; miles upon miles of biking along the imposing Pacific ocean—I'd like to end today's log with a list of the things we riders must watch out for during the seven day ride. After all, while it's not quite bungee jumping, in many ways this is an extreme sport.

RISKS OF THE ROAD
Traffic
Potholes
Glass
18 Wheelers
Angry rural sheriffs (one of whom ran a rider off the road on day 2)
1,838 other cyclists
Gravel
Speed bumps
Grates
Thorns and sticks
Dogs
Deer
Cows (last year a rider hit one of these—poor Bessie!)
Train tracks
Root-torn roads
Rain
Wind
Random acts of God
Dehydration (ìdrink early, drink oftenî)
Sunstroke
Intestinal ìissuesî (common when campers don't wash their hands enoughÖugh)
Heat rash
Hand cramping
Muscle spasms
And last but not least, severe butt and groin chafing (quote of the day: "I just spent the last hour icing my vagina").

I have likely neglected to include several dozen items on this list, but regardless, they mean ample work for the medical staff and local emergency rooms. Today, these risks became much more real to me when Buffy (her real name), a close friend of my cycling buddies Will and Ramon, ran headlong into a car that pulled out in front of her without looking. An ambulance rushed Buffy to the hospital for treatment of head and other injuries. Later in the evening, Will and Ramon returned with the news that Buffy would be OK but that she couldn't participate in the ride any more.

So here's to Buffy, a woman willing to risk her own life to raise much needed money for the fight against AIDS. Go Buffy!

READY TO RIDE?
Learn more about the Positive Pedalers, register for LifeCycle 6 or read more about the event at aidslifecycle.org.

ABOUT JEFF
Jeff is rider no. 2111. To make a donation to Jeff or to the AIDS Lifecycle in general, visit aidslifecycle.org.