There’s an important saying you learn early on in the AIDS LifeCycle: “I’m a kitty, you’re a kitty.” You are taught to use these words whenever a person on the ride forgets that we are all here to raise money in the fight against AIDS, raise awareness of the worst pandemic of our time and support each other, all the while having a great time.
When such a person, say, screams at other riders to “get the hell out of the way,” other riders will tell the person, “I’m a kitty, you’re a kitty.” It’s a nice calming way of saying, “hey, we’re all in the same boat here, part of the same community. Let’s be helpful and kind and work together to get through this challenging ride.”
It also rolls off the tongue more nicely than “Shut the hell up, you stupid piece of ”
On day 6, we needed a whole litter of kitties. Worst case example: standing in the lunch line, I witnessed a 70-something-year-old woman yellliterally yellat a roadie friend of hers who actually had the audacity to ask her how she was.
A brief summary of their interaction.
Roadie: hey honey, how are you? You look great!
Rider (yelling): I’m over this goddamned ride! I want out! Out!
Roadie (taken aback): Oh really. What’s wrong? I’m so proud of you for everything you’ve done.
Rider (still yelling): I’m sick of people passing me, “on your left, on your left, on your goddamn left.” I mean it, I want out.
Roadie (taking a step back): Oh well Oh.
While most other bikers did not resort to screeching, the tone of the ride on day six can easily be summed up in one word: cranky. That’s right. Our collective patience had worn thin. After more than 410 miles on the road in the last 5 days, the absolute last thing many of us wanted to do was put our tired, sore asses on a bike seat and ride 84 more miles.
THANK GOD FOR GREAT ICE CREAM
Luckily, the cure for the day 6 crankies is around the bend: The Pacific Pride Foundation’s unofficial ice cream stop in Santa Barbara.
Each year, Pacific Pride creates what most consider the best stop on the entire ridePacific Pit. Picture this: You’re tired; your butt feels like you’ve been rubbing it with medium grade sand paper; your face looks like you’ve been living outdoors in a very windy dessert for the past 5 months; you’re brain hurts from focusing on cycling, which you suddenly find the most boring activity imaginable; you’re friends, or should you say “friend,” just picked a fight with you at rest stop 3 when you took too long in the loo.
You feel like screaming, “I want out of this goddamned ride! Out!” But you don’t, unless you’re the testy 70-year-old woman I mentioned earlier.
Instead you smile, because you know that, just around that corneroh look, here they are!the volunteers from the Pacific Pride Foundation. They have it all: homemade cookies and hugs for the riders; free massages and kind words of thanks; Coke, water and even Capri Sun; and most important, the most delicious ice cream imaginable.
SOOTHING EFFECTS OF SUGAR AND FAT
Oh ice cream, I could wax poetic about it’s healing powerI swear my butt chaffing went down 50 percent following a chocolate ice cream on a waffle conebut needless to say, after a stop at the Pacific Pit, we needed no more kitties. I even saw the 70-something-year-old woman smile, which may have been a first for her this century.
Thank you Pacific Pride!
Tonight, we ended our final night in camp with a candlelight vigil on the beautiful beach to remember all the people we’ve lost to AIDS. We walked silently onto the wide stretch of sand, creating a huge circle of mourning that seemed to stretch for a mile down the beach.
We held hands, cried, knelt in the sand, hugged, remembered lost loved ones and prayed for others. I looked around at my fellow LifeCyclers. Even though I was tired, dehydrated, achy, felt chaffed and on edge, and in need of a very long, very hot shower, I smiled and hugged my friend next to me.
I’m a kitty, you’re a kitty.
1.5 out of 5
Feeling pretty good. Just a little chaffed around the edges.
READY TO RIDE?
Learn more about the Positive Pedalers, register for LifeCycle 6 or read more about the event at aidslifecycle.org.
Jeff is rider no. 2111. To make a donation to Jeff or to the AIDS Lifecycle in general, visit aidslifecycle.org.