Please forgive me for not posting Day 6. I was so exhausted I could not think. I literally wrote one paragraph. And as I sat at the keyboard I could not remember what I had done that day. I could not remember the scenery I had passed or the road, I couldn't even remember what I had had for lunch. So I went to lay down in my tent. And next thing I knew it was 5:30am Day 7. I felt bad that I had missed the candlelight vigil. Matt made it - he said it was very moving. He'd never been surrounded by so many people who were so quiet. It just shows AIDS Life Cycle truly brings out the compassion and humanity in all. One cause - One mission.
Well like I said I woke up at 5:30am. I was still very tired and my eyes felt like they were swollen shut. Thank goodness for cold hands, I laid my cold finger across my tired, swollen eyes. Just hoping this would help. I did not want to ride. I was tired, weak, and sore. As I found my way to the porta-potty, I was telling myself just one more day. Exhausted I didn't want to eat, but I knew that if I was going to attempt to ride those last 67 miles, food was essential.
David, Kevin and I made our way to the breakfast line. Everyone was exceptionally quite. David and Kevin shared with me that they too were tired. But we were confident that we could make this last day. They promised to stay with me, so we had a plan, one pit stop at a time, slow and steady. After all we had until 3:00pm to cross the finish line. I smiled at the plan, but to be honest, I still wasn't sure I could do it. I was sure I could make it to pit stop one, but that wasn't good enough. I needed to find the courage and strength to make it the entire way. What to do?
We walked past the dedication tent where the music was playing softly. We strolled in, there were several people inside. Everyone had tears in their eyes. I picked up a marker and started writing the names of everyone I knew who had died from AIDS and all the names of those who are living with this horrific disease - I wrote these names on banners that were to be displayed at closing ceremonies. And as I wrote, I gathered strength. And as 2500 riders road out, I felt their love, strength and energy.
We had lunch along the pacific coast below Pepperdine University. It was so beautiful. The ocean breeze, the sun shining. And I rode as strong as I ever had, all 67 miles.
This ride is not about what I can not do, but what WE (2500 riders and 500 roadies) did. We raised 11.6 Million dollars. We road 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles - not because we are quitters but because we are determined to make a difference. For one week, I was part of a perfect world. Where hatred and prejudice was eliminated. One week of living in a community who loved and cared for their neighbors despite their petty differences. No one care what you wore, what kind of car you drove, or if you hair was fitted up nice. The only thing people seemed to really care about was helping one another make the 545 mile journey. And what a journey.
Day 8 - I didn't sleep well, my bed was too soft. I thought I would really enjoy a long, hot shower. But it wasn't everything I had hoped for. I thought I would really enjoy dinner with my family, and although it was nice - my entire family wasn't there. I missed Allison, Kristen, Robin, Susan, Kevin, David, James, David, Mo, Ed, Brandon, Rick, Jerry, Heather, Eric, Jim, Paul, David, Peter, Eric, Beverly....the list goes on and on.
Tomorrow I go back to work. I'm back in the real world, and as I type this last blog, I wonder - what can I do (on a daily basis) to bring a bit of that prefect world that I was privileged to live, with me? To all of those who rode ALC7, you are in my thoughts, my prayers, and in my heart. Blessing to you all, until next time.
Love, Light and Laughter.
Shirley and Matt