Life on the ALC...
This year, AIDS LifeCycle had approximately 1900 cycling participants, 500 'roadies' and volunteers, raising over $10 million for both the SF AIDS Foundation (SFAF) and LA Gay & Lesbian Center (LAGLC). Both centers are being hit hard, at a time when our governor has slashed $80 million dollars from AIDS research and support to fritter away on roadwork projects, and more and more people are in need of the support of both SFAF and LAGLC from loss of their jobs & insurance. Couple that, with lowered donation funding from the public in these times, and both these organizations, as with organizations across the state, are now dealing with more people with less donation and dwindling support from our state government. Your donations went to the people who depend on SFAF/LAGLC not just for support, but for every day they stay alive through medication - and to help curb further infections by free testing, education, and even needle exchange programs.
AIDS/LifeCycle takes 7 days to complete, which I've conveniently mapped out on my Edge 500. Day 1 is 80 miles, Day 2 is 107 miles, Day 3 is 65 miles, Day 4 is 97 miles, Day 5 is 70 miles, Day 6 is 87 miles, and Day 7 is a paltry 60 miles. Add that up, and you get a whopping total of approximately 565 miles to complete the entire AIDS/LifeCycle. to get an idea of the full statistics, that I won't bore everyone else with:
A typical ALC rider will burn approximately 3,400 calories on the bike per day (cardio bunnies, eat your heart out). I went more like 3200, 4,600, 2,800, 4,200, 3,000, 3,600, 2,700 for an approximate total of 24,000 calories on the bike in about 40 hours of cycling. That doesn't include all the other calories I burned throughout the day - I hate to imagine what my maintenance calories would have been considered (I certainly was nowhere close)... that brings us to the topic of food.
The ALC is a fully staffed event, so your food is for the most part taken care of. You get up at 4:30AM, breakfast starts at 5. I can't eat anything heavy in the morning, I stick to oatmeal with raisins and granola. Some people could eat sausage and eggs and go cycle - I'd be sick to my stomach in minutes. As you set off, you've got some bars/etc packed. Throughout the day, there are 2-4 rest stops - all equipped with thousands of bananas, oranges, snacks (pretzels, chex mix, etc) to boost your energy and give you something to eat along the way. Of course... you are cycling from town to town, and you've got to stop for some of the food along the way.
Pismo Beach's Famous Cinnamon Rolls...
To give this store credit, they had over a thousand cyclists descending on them one after another, and they weren't even phased for a minute, and nobody I saw was ever waiting. This tiny store did so much business per day that an entire cycling event couldn't overload them.
Lunch is a pretty typical affair - usually a hearty sandwich, fruit, vegetables, some more carbs & salt, and I'd try to drink a 24oz bottle of diluted sport drink (Powerade in this case - a sponsor of ALC). Lunch gives you a sustained amount of energy to power you through the second half of the day, as while you're riding most of your energy intake is coming through any sport drink you may be carrying. I also used Clif Shot Bloks, particularly on days when I was pouring sweat as you can eat them easily without stopping pedaling.
By the time you get into dinner, if you aren't hungry there is something wrong (say, dehydration). First, you have to get your tent set up, take a shower and change out of your biking gear - but then on to dinner. This food was calorie-dense in all ways, and for food that was prepared for 2,500 people was pretty damn good. At this point, the name of the game is just calories, calories, calories. I'd eat dinner once, rest, then go back and eat again during the evening speeches/highlights of the day. So to get an idea, a typical morning is:
4:30-5:00AM - get up you lazy ass
5AM-6:00AM - pack up sleeping bag, clothes, tent, and have breakfast
6:00-6:30AM - stretch, prepare for the day of cycling
6:30-7:00AM - begin cycling!
There will be 1-2 stops before lunch, at varying mileage points.
Lunch (everyone's favorite time)
1-2 stops after lunch, you typically roll in by 5:00 at latest. I think the earliest was 2:30 on the first day, the latest was probably Day 2 for 107 miles, rolling in 5:00 or a bit later. Unpack, set up the tent, eat (multiple times), evening speeches starting @ 7:30, and asleep at 9 for me. Some people were earlier, around 8, some people a bit later. By about 9:30 though, it was quiet. It's a bit like working my job come to think of it, just the people are most pleasant.
The community is, well, amazing in a word. Some of you may know the attitude, where you are putting thousands of people together with a common goal, who have all raised thousands of dollars, or are volunteering (and have volunteered) hundreds to thousands of hours to the cause. You have all walks of life - every type of work you'd think of, and from all across the country (and even a few international). People who know little about HIV, and may have never known anyone with HIV, or public about it, to people who have depended, and may still depend, on centers to help deal with their HIV condition, or other programs available. If you've never experienced a group that is cohesively bound by a common goal like this for a multiple-day period, I encourage you to do so. By about day 3, the entire group really formed and people got to know each other.
I'll try later to do some catch-up on what each day involved as far as effort. For anyone interested in doing the AIDS LifeCycle, I encourage you to do so. You don't have to be a serious cyclist to make it through the event, in the greatest shape of your life, or even be able to ride more than a few miles yet. If you have any questions about the ALC, and even particularly if you're interested in trying to train for it and want to know more, please do send me a message - I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
Lastly, before I run to work, I would like to thank everyone who donated one last time. Your contribution has helped recoup a large portion of the money SFAF/LAGLC is in need of to help stop the spread of HIV, and assist people dealing with HIV, drug problems, and even identity crisis. You have taken a part of your hard-earned dollars, and gone out of your way to help people you may never meet, likely will never know - but please realize that for people struggling to keep their lives, many who do not feel comfortable getting help anywhere else, you are making a difference for many who would not even be alive without your support.