Bears on Bikes: Day 7 – Final thoughts from the Cal team

LOS ANGELES — AIDS LifeCycle 9 raised $10 million for AIDS/HIV services and awareness, and ended Saturday, June 12 with the arrival of close to 2,000 cyclists and 400 roadies in Los Angeles. To wrap up a week of reporting from the road, 11 of the 23-member Cal team offer final thoughts on the experience:

Watch where you’re going.
— Hank Field, rider #2721 (who fell near Ventura and broke his collarbone)

Sunscreen. It’s really wonderful that the gay community accepts us straight people for who we are.
Proper hydration is really sexy.
— Megan Goldman, rider #2317

The most impactful part of the week for me was coming off the Santa Barbara bike path, where a man was standing in silence holding a 2×4 photo. As I came to a stop slightly ahead of him, I heard him very quietly just say “thank you.” I spent the next 10 minutes riding and crying, struck by the reach and effect of the ride.
— Grahaeme Hesp, rider #2616

Attempted conversions. Red speedos. Broken spoke, seat, and collarbone. Head winds. Just a few highlights from our group. Amazing camaraderie, an experience of a lifetime. Already signed up for next year.
— Steve Maranzana, rider #2594

I’m happy to have tested my limits and pushed past them. The beauty of California and the wonderful people I’ve met are bonus wins.
— Celeste Roschuni, rider #2313

AIDS LifeCycle 9 was wonderful. Despite the headwinds on day 5 that made cyclists really grumpy, despite accidents and illness, it was an amazing week. We raised $10 million total, with 1,925 cyclists and 500 roadies. Our Cal team of 22 together raised approximately $70,000. I loved seeing them roll into camp each evening, the big Oski on their gold jerseys very easy to pick out of a crowd. My bike-parking team was fantastic; the 25 of us broke down and set up the parking lot each day, building bike racks with 190 ten-foot steel poles supported by wood and aluminum A-frames.

It’s hard to capture 9 ALC in a few words, hard to explain how we became a community that truly supported one another for seven days. A few of my highlights:
• nearly falling out of my chair laughing with the Cal team as we got ready for red dress day (tough for those of us who bleed blue and gold)
• Water and Ice Roadie Paul’s talent for driving a forklift and always-cheery response to my requests for another pallet
• the beautiful and well-built temporary fencing around bike parking on the days we had to put up the orange plastic barricade
• being in bike parking to greet specific cyclists as they finished their days, some now friends I see every year, others new to the ride —  all of them weary and happy as they marked another day’s progress toward L.A.

A big thanks to those who supported our team, with donations or raffle prizes or just by asking how our training was going. I’m proud to be part of the Cal community and especially proud to be part of AIDS LifeCycle.
— Christine Shaff, roadie captain (bike-parking) and Cal team co-captain

A Cal team contingent celebrates at the closing ceremony in L.A. Clockwise, from top left: Hank Field, Abby VanMuijen, Devin Wicks, Joshua Schoenfeld, Steve Maranzana, Celeste Roschuni, Rob Heymann, Jonathan Goodrich. (Christine Shaff photo)

Become a part of the AIDS/LifeCycle community! Learn from this incredible lesson in California geography. Take the plunge, register, and don’t let your physical ability convince you otherwise. This ride is not a race; whether you’re the fastest or slowest rider, all that matters is that you’re making a difference and having a fantastic time while doing it.
— Roopika Subramanian, rider #2579

I found myself sporting pink-and-peeling polka dots and thinking ” I’ve never been sore there before.” As the days progressed, miles seemed to become longer and longer, while my bladder seemed to be smaller and smaller. Despite the struggle, the energy of the community and the momentum of the cause only grew — and ultimately propelled me across the finish line. I’m proud to say I participated in AIDS/LifeCycle, that I rode every mile, and that I raised thousands of dollars that will improve the lives of many living with HIV and AIDS.
— Ryan Whitacre, rider #2338

Every year I wonder, “what surprises will this ride have in store for me?”  At some point during my preparation for this year’s ride out, I also wonder whether or not this event has become passé for me. Thankfully, that was only short lived: from Day 0’s check-in, I was greeted with familiar faces, thrilled to see me again and excited to be riding with me down the coast. Not long after that, I was on a new journey — one that is familiar, but with fun, new times in store.

This year I spent a good portion of my time alone with my bike and my thoughts. I would cycle for a while with someone I just met, learn their story, and then move on. You meet such an interesting and diverse group of people on the road, whose stories make you laugh, cry, ponder, giggle and wonder. You struggle to make your way down the coast with these people at your side, your goal – to accomplish something that very few even consider attempting.

My goal for this year is to bring back home just a little of the ride — a little of the kindness, humor, thoughtfulness, silliness, caring and (most importantly) perspective. But if I run out of ride spirit, I’m not too worried…. I already signed up for ALC 10!

Also, a big thank you to the campus units that helped us get on the road and share our stories: Cal Dining, Facility Services,t he Hearst Museum, Recreational Sports, Public Affairs, and University Health Services. We couldn’t have done it without you!
— Devin Wicks, rider #1320 and Cal team co-captain

Hellooo from Los Angeles! Seven days and 656-plus miles later, we made it! Today was 65 miles, which seemed short after the week we had. Body feels great. Closing ceremonies as last, hoorah! $10 million raised and definitely touched many people’s lives en route through California!!! Go Bears!
— Sabine Zimmerman, rider #2402

Ribbon of cyclists
Weave the valley to the bay
Ride, AIDS LifeCycle
— Lu Zhu, rider #2680