After four days of rest at home (read drinking too much) I took off for the Aidsride with Colleen. She wanted to
go up late Saturday night, but I didn't really think I wanted to ride all night just so we could get up there at 5 AM and go through the registration
process. So we headed up to my Aunt's house in Rochester and stayed the night. Even though Mark, one of the riders,
had to miss his daughters softball game I think is was better (besides the game was rained out).
Day Zero, as they called it, was spent going through all of the paper work, watching safety videos, and
having meetings. It was very busy, but it was nothing compared to what was to come. At least we had some time to look at a few miles of the route. We
even stopped and took pictures with one of the large Charlie Browns hanging
around the city.
Day one saw us waking up at 2 in the moring or something silly like that. Rochester is a bit over and hour
from the starting line and we had to be there early to eat and go to meetings and stuff. At about 5 we had some bagels
and stuff for breakfast and prepared for the day ahead. For me and I think everyone else day one was the last easy day we had. (Though I think most people wouldn't consider it easy). The hills and the heat really surprised
a lot of riders. Like this lady (Hakeem I think, but don't quote me) who barely made it to lunch. If they made
it to lunch they had a loooong hill to climb up with little shade and no rest stop.
Day two was even worse than day one for the riders. The heat was just as bad and the hills got even worse.
And of course they were expected to go over 100 miles. For many of the riders, my sister included, this was about 4 times as long as they had ever
gone. (And that was on flat ground) The sweep crews were kept very busy on the first few days of the ride.
Day Three and four were also 100 mile days and the riders did not enjoy it at all. The roads were mostly
rural so we spent our free time doing everything we could to encourage the riders. (Cheerleading is not my strong point, but I was able to elicit a few smiles) I even set up the Shady Hill bar half way up a hill, with the help of a sweep car and some non-alcoholing jello shots.
The girl Hakeem who barely made it too lunch on the first day, made it 96 miles on the second day, and finished all 100 on the third day. I didn't see her riding the rest of the week,
but I'm sure she did well. Day three was a hundred miles again, but few hills and many more riders began to make it. The camp was
really an amazing place. Everyday it would be taken down after 8:30 AM and moved, sometimes over a hundred miles, to a new spot and set up by 2:00PM.
Riders and crew had to set up their own tents, but spaces had to be marked and the communal tents had to be set up.
Day four and again 100 miles of rural Wisconsin. You find some interesting things while going into the woods
to pee. I think this beer can is about 20 years old. Most of the riders found it more restful to take a few minutes
in the shade on the side of the road than at the pit stops. I guess they weren't harried and trying to get water and find an open portapotty. Riders and crew who were not trying to race also got the chance to stop and smell the flowers
(well manure usually).
Day five was a nice short 75 miles and almost everyone made it. We had some hairy traffic problems, but coming into McHenry was
definitely an exciting time. Hundreds of people were out cheering the riders on and posters could be found all over the road. I didn't stop to take
many pictures, because I was busy directing traffic. I took the opportunity to take some pictures at camp though.
This was the first day that I got in early. It really felt good to clean up and get ready before night fell.
Day six was was short, but the traffic was not very friendly. Coming into Chicago and the suburbs was a just a nightmare for those of us who were in charge of keeping the riders safe. Lunch though was a nice break in the day. Of course the ride down Sheridan road made the first half of
the day seem quiet.
And finally of course we made it to Montrose Harbor and had a big celebration. I never did get many names, and the ones I did get I usually forgot right away. There were a few
riders I remembered though. Some made it easy to remember, like Rebecca. Others I just saw almost everyday and that helped. Finally some
had different bikes that made it easy to remember them.
In the end we were hot, sweaty, dirty, and very, very tired. but we survived and felt good. We
felt good about ourselves. Felt good to have given something back to the world. And we felt good to have found some many new friends. Finally I just have to say that the motorcycle crew rocks, even if
there were too many Hondas in the crew.