This past Sunday I finished my fifth year participating in NorCal AIDS Cycle. This year was a little different from past years. I had a work conflict for the first day of the ride, so participated as a “weekender,” joining the ride for the last two days.
As I was cleaning and lubing the bike for the ride early in the week, I noticed that the rear wheel had a pronounced wobble in it. So when I went into the bike shop to check in for the ride, I took the wheel in to have a mechanic straighten it out for me. Unfortunately, it was more than just a tweak… the rim of the wheel actually had a inch long crack in it right at one of the spokes! This was a bit of déja vu, as I blew the rim out on the same wheel just prior to NCAC in 2012 (it got replaced under warranty). Fortunately, I still had a high quality spare wheel from my previous mishap, and a quick return to the bike shop got everything back into order so that I could ride.
Thanks to fellow weekend rider Alicia and her lovely family, I was able to get a ride up to Williams on Friday afternoon. As we pulled into Williams High School, the school cheerleaders were out cheering the riders as they came in. Good fun! Friday night was taco night at dinner, so a win-win in my book. Friday evening’s program always includes a candlelight ceremony to acknowledge those whom we’ve lost to AIDS. I remembered especially Ken Piercy, in whose honor I ride.
Saturday morning was beautiful as we headed out for the days ride of 130 km, which took us through Cache Creek and Capay Valley to Woodland. This day is known as the “day of the hill,” for the seven mile climb up highway 20 in the first part of the day. It is also “red day,” where all of the riders wear red to remember those who have died, and some of the red outfits are pretty fanciful and sometimes downright whacky.
After a few flat miles heading west out of Williams, and quick pit stop, I started the climb up the hill. As I started to go up, I thought “this isn’t as hard as I remember.” I was surprised, considering my lack of training this spring. Then it occurred to me, that the reason it was so much easier, was that I hadn’t ridden 200 miles in the previous two days. I was starting to like this “weekender” thing! At the top of the climb is a really fun and fast descent into the turn to highway 16, which is the most scenic part of NCAC. After a quick lunch stop in the booming metropolis of Guinda, it was off to Woodland, and the finish to a great day on the bike.
After a yummy pasta dinner, and a speech loaded evening program (plus a surprise visit from the Prophet, Bob Dylan), it was off to bed, for our early start on Sunday morning.
Sunday morning is a relatively short 86 km ride from Woodland through Winters and Davis, to the west steps of the State Capitol. It was a perfect day for riding… not too windy, not too cold (or warm), and the miles breezed by. We had two short rest stops in Winters and Davis, before crossing the Tower Bridge and gathering at Crocker Park to begin our celebration.
After lots of photographs and tears and hugs, we lined up for the procession to the Capitol, escorted by Sacramento PD’s finest bicycle patrol officers. The first couple of years I rode to the Capitol at the end of NCAC were very emotional for me, but the last two years I’ve found myself strangely detached from it all, and expected that it might be the same this year. But as I rode in and saw the crowd, the tears came, and seeing JoAnn and Brenna in the crowd sealed the deal. We had a few words from West Sacramento mayor Chris Cabaldon, retired state senator Darrell Steinberg, and from John Reed and Emily Rymland from NCAC. Then it was time to go home for a hot shower, cold beer, and family.
So far for 2015 I have raised $7,450, which is a little short of my goal of raising eight-thousand dollars. The donation site will be open until June 15th, so there is plenty of time to get the contribution in, by clicking the link at the bottom.
Thank yous: First and foremost, I wish to thank all who were generous with their pocketbooks, and helped me to raise this money. It truly makes a difference to someone in our community. I also want to give a big thank you to my fellow riders and crew members… you are one of the big reasons I come back year after year. And I’d especially like to thank JoAnn and the rest of my family for their support in doing this for the last five years. I love you all so much.
Click here to help me make my goal: http://tinyurl.com/l6ezaq7
And click here for more photos!