Last night was wonderful. I was done relatively early, so I got to cheer the cyclists in as they came into camp. How fun!!! Unfortunately, I missed the picture opportunity as Gabo came in. Oops! I was so busy socializing and meeting new friends I completely missed him. Bummer!
Camp was so quiet last night you could almost here a pin drop. I was happy I did not have to use my ear plugs as the snoring campers seemed far away. We got an amazing night’s sleep and woke up when we wanted to. What a treat!
The day started out overcast but cleared up to partly cloudy and got pretty warm and beautiful. Gobo got an early start out of camp as I broke down our tent and gear and hauled it to the bus.
Day 3 Camp is cool. It’s the county park in Paso Robles so it looks like a cute western town. We get to eat indoors (yay!) and best of all get to enjoy the “Roadie Fashion Show” in the evening. It’s a relatively short day for the cyclists so we all get done real early and have a long and restful evening.
Stefen – Being a bus liaison is a lot of fun for the most part. I get to help sagged cyclists, be friendly, funny and contribute to this amazing community. I did, however, receive some feedback about my manners yesterday. It was a bitter pill to swallow at first. But, thanks to one of my fellow bus liaisons I was able to see there was something for me to see about myself.
I sometimes get so wrapped up asking people about their needs and directing them on my bus I get a tad brusque and rub people the wrong way. Oops! Normally, I don’t care what others think. I know where my heart is and what I am trying to accomplish, but this community is very dear to me and I took it hard this morning. I quickly got over it and went on with my day.
That is one of the things I really like about being on this ride. I am in an amazingly supportive environment AND if I open my mind I can learn things about myself and evolve. For me, that is what this life is about. Evolving and living a life I love. I’ve learned to not take things too personally most of the time, however, I do prefer to be awesome. So, this means looking at myself sometimes in the mirror at a reflection I don’t like and dealing with it and evolving.
One of my favorite sites along the way is our own Los Angeles' Ginger Brewlay. Ginger has been dressing up in different costumes to cheer on the cyclist and, of course, entertain them and hopefully bring a smile to their faces. Today at the top of the infamous Quad Buster, a 1.5 mile steep incline, I insisted the bus stop as I don't usually get to see Ginger. She is along the cyclist's route and the bus usually takes the larger roads and highways.
Gabo – Today's route was marked as a 66 mile ride. Not too bad after yesterday's ride. We had a pretty flat route with the exception of the infamous Quad Buster. It's a rather long climb at approximately 1.5 miles and a steep grade. At the top of the hill you see people cheering you on as you struggle (or not ). There are some of extremely fit cyclists going up and then down and then up the hill again for moral support. Some of them do it in memory and honor of those who have passed away from HIV/AIDS.
When I find my self struggling, having a though day or feel tired, I try to remember where I was ten years ago when I was so sick in a hospital bed. Then, I remember what real pain is. Nothing can be compared to the idea of being alone, finding yourself in a foreign country, a language and culture far away from family and friends and having no idea if you will make it through the night.
I look around me and see that I am not alone anymore. I am among many who have gone through a similar situation, or have lost someone to this disease. This is what ALC is all about; coming together as family, a collective force who is looking for a better world a world with out AIDS.
Speaking of family, I feel extremely blessed to have someone next to me as my companion. Someone who understands me and supports me. Stefen has become not only my partner but my best friend and supporter. Every day at the end of the day he has taken the time to make me feel special...he goes out of his way to make a note in spanish and make decorations for the tent so by the time when I arrive to camp I get to receive a very sweet surprise.
After our climb to quadbuster the route was pretty flat and uneventful until we came to the town of Bradley. A tiny town in the middle of nowhere "central valley", but, for one day out of the year this town comes alive. Here we find the Bradley School and what the ride has created for the town.
I don't know how the story began, but what I know is that they have created an oasis for the riders adn have taken the opp to do something, not only for the Ride but for the town and specifically the school. They have created a fundraiser for the school in which the kids are the beneficiaries and hosts of the event. They grill burgers for ALL the cyclists to enjoy and as well you can see the kids going around carrying pins they created with ALC themes. Some of them are about ALC riders, cheers and some of them portray same sex couples.
What is amazing about this town is the ride has exposed these kids to sensitivity to cultural and diversity issues, such as HIV/AIDS and same sex couples. The whole town is very exicited and looks for to seeing us each year. The money they raise is the schools largest fundraiser of the year funding arts, field trips, grants and pays for their graduation ceremony each year. Its amazing that the 8k they raise if ample to fund all the things mentioned above. That amount doesn't even make a dent in the annual cost of my HIV meds which are around 30k.
Once we left Bradley and continue on our route to camp we head towards our final Rest stop. The infamous Rest Stop 4. I was so curious about what they would come up with this year as this is the most creative and fun ride of the day. This stop is at the 200 year old "Old Mission San Miguel Arcangel". This year the rest stop crew was asking for donations to assist in the renovation of this beautiful mission. Wow!
Oh yeah, back to Rest Stop 4...
The theme this year took us high in the sky. It was "Tran Am". These guys come up with some of the most creative and inventive themes. They create a skit about a simulation of a flight with flight attendants and a pilot. But it doesn't end there, they often choreographed musical numbers complete with costumes, music and makeup. They also like to put spice into their choreography, attitude and performance. This is definitely a rest stop for adults only...LOL..
Watch it now: TranAm Skit
And to finish out our day we enjoyed two delicious dinners as we get to eat all we want...especially me as I'm peddling 565 miles to L.A.
Today was also PosPed day where all the HIV positive participants identify themselves openly to the community and along the ride. This gives HIV Positive participants the opportunity to disclose their status in a safe and non-judgemental environment. It can be a VERY powerful and liberating experience freeing one from the shackles of stigma we all have experienced at one time or another.
The positive peddlers recognize the efforts and outstanding contribution of individuals with an award called the "Stand Up" award. This year the recipient of this award was deservedly given to my good friend Bob Katz. Congratulations Bob! You are an inspiration to all of us.
I would like to conclude my comments of the day with the lyrics from one of my favorite songs by the group M People. This song sums up what the spirit of the ride is all about and what the world could be like. The title of the song is Fantasy Island.
Songwriters: Small, Heather Marguerita; Heard, Paul; Pickering, Michael
Gather round people I just dreamt of this song
About all the World gettin' along.
Human rights, no shallow graves
Politician's speak the truth, no one's got Aids.
I look at a Muslim embracing a Jew
Everyone's eating everyone's food.
Free from diseases, ain't no Third World
Love is the message, love is the word.
This is my island (island),
My fantasy (my fantasy),
My fantasy (fantasy).
There's a welcome mat at the centre of the earth.
No sign of hate, a four-letter word.
The children are playing in air you can breathe
People got dreams, people achieve.
Everywhere's music, sunshine and laughter
We still feel the same the morning after
Words in the air, love in the heart.
This is my dream, a brand new start
This is my fantasy
Believe in me baby.
Say what have we got
We got the power (we got the power).
Got sixty seconds, got every hour (every hour).
Say what have we got
We got the power (we got the power).
We are the spark to light the fire (light the fire).
Got one blood, got one skin
Got one soul deep within.
Got a heart beating fast
Got a dream got no past.
Say what have we got.
This is my, this is my, this is my fantasy.
This is my fantasy