Thanksgiving to World AIDS Day

Thank you. Thank you for acknowledging the power of a virus to ravage lives. Thank you for extending compassion to every human being, protec...

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year That Was

If you've caught even a single 60 second montage of the year that was, you, like many, are likely prone to say good-bye and good riddance to 2008 and I couldn't agree more. This year had more than a fair share of natural disasters, acts of war, loss of trust in one elected official after another, discrimination on the rise and economic chaos the likes of which most have never experienced, but I am not afraid.

In hindsight, the "Yes, we can" mantra used to market our new President-elect had a prophetic purpose for I find myself emboldened and ready to not only make 2009 better but to use the 2008 downturn as a springboard to a so-much-brighter tomorrow.

OK, that sounded so like a campaign speech that I stopped short of saying "for us and our children" even if it's true. This summer my oldest graduated from college with over $20,000 in student loan debt (double if you count his parent loans). My daughter left school to work full-time and is learning just how livable minimum wage can be but despite $4/gallon gas prices and long job searches, they've taken away lessons that will serve them better in life than had 2008 been a bit more status quo. Let's face it! So have their parents.

As 2008 comes to an end, I've reworked the budget, updated my resume, found the fun in business travel, returned to home-cooking and am ready to put faith and hope into positive action for making 2009 the best it can be.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Day

I love snow and am glad I never grew out of loving it. True, it’s impossible to get anywhere by car and is no fun to bike in, falling hurts more on aging bodies and the dirty, slushy, melting mess isn’t so attractive but nothing beats the appeal of a fresh snowfall.

Consider the simple beauty of big, fat flakes falling through the air, the intricacy of each unique design stuck to a glass windowpane, the palpable quiet as a snow blanket muffles all sound, and the little thrill at any age upon hearing school is cancelled.

Often, a heavy, fresh snowfall is (however temporary) a free pass out of work, school, persistantly postponed yard cleanup, or any obligation other than snowman making, snowball throwing, hot cocoa drinking and gingerbread eating. And although he gave himself an extra hour to get safely to work this morning, last night my grown son walked in with a friend, grabbed his snowboard and headed down the street to play in the snow with the neighborhood “kids”.

The last time neighborhood kids gathered on the street to play? The last time it snowed.
December 2008 Snow Day

Sunday, November 30, 2008

World AIDS Day

December 1, 1994: A nostalgic visit to our Maryland hometown began with a dear friend in Washington DC. That first night, Bret and I took a late night spin past our favorite DC haunts. Traveling down Pennsylvania Avenue, we noticed a small crowd carrying candles in front of the White House. Not a remarkable DC sight on its own until we noticed a sign proclaiming World AIDS Day. Bret and I paused a moment then continued our journey down memory lane. The irony of that sighting wasn’t lost on us. We knew this would be Bret’s last visit to his beloved east coast. Five months later, AIDS took his life.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, the day designated for individuals and organizations from around the world to come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic. World AIDS Day elicited hope even in 1994, if not directly for Bret, for those to come after him. In the 14 years since, hope became a reality for many living with HIV and those committed to preventing it through awareness, education, sustained prevention programs, expansion of voluntary HIV testing and counseling, improved drug therapies and accessibility.

Hope extends and improves the quality of life for those with continuous access to antiretroviral drugs but at an extremely high cost. Drug regimens and medical insurance (if qualified) remain pricey, stigma associated with the disease too often results in harassment and continues to be an unspoken factor in job and housing discrimination. The overall number of people living with HIV continues to increase in most regions of the world and we must remain committed to the ultimate goal of universal access to prevention, treatment and care while diligently pursuing a cure.

The 2008 World AIDS Day theme is “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise”, a reminder to UN signers of the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS to take the lead and keep their commitment to apply global action to the global crisis of AIDS. 15 years ago I made my own promise of commitment to address the AIDS crisis. This year, I’m recommitted to keep it and invite you to commemorate World AIDS Day by reflecting on your personal level of commitment to end the crisis --- learn the facts, read their stories and share your own.

Make the promise, keep the promise...until there’s a cure.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Favorite Day

The day before Thanksgiving became just that sometime around junior high for a very simple reason - no alarm clock for the next 4 days! There were other, even longer school breaks in the year but Thanksgiving was the first long break after summer making it so much more anticipated and appreciated.

Over the years I've certainly come to enjoy other days and long ago gave up sleeping long past the alarm but on this particular day I'm a teenager again. The feeling came full circle at dinner last night when my grown son, working his first full time job, declared his excited intention to "sleep late on Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday." Some things never change.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Celebrate all for which we are truly blessed, including a good night's sleep.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Is God Smiling?

This excerpt from Desmond Tutu's God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time has been on my mind a lot this week.

If you were in heaven now you would notice the tears in God's eyes. The tears streaming down God's face as God looked on us and saw the awful things that we, God's children, are doing to each other. God cries and cries. And then you might see the smile that was breaking over God's face like sunshine through the rain, almost like a rainbow. You would see God smiling because God was looking on you and noting how deeply concerned you are. And the smile might break out into a laugh as God said, "You have vindicated Me. I had been asking Myself, 'Whatever got into Me to create that lot?' And when I see you, yes, you," God says, "you are beginning to wipe the tears from My eyes because you care. Because you care and you have come to learn that you are not your brother's or sister's keeper. You are your brother's brother and your sister's sister." And God says, "I have no one except you. Thank you for vindicating Me."

All over this magnificent world God calls us to extend His kingdom of shalom - peace and wholeness - of justice, of goodness, of compassion, of caring, of sharing, of laughter, of joy, and of reconciliation. God is transfiguring the world right this very moment through us because God believes in us and because God loves us. What can separate us from the love of God? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And as we share God's love with our brothers and sisters, God's other children, there is no tyrant who can resist us, no oppression that cannot be ended, no hunger that cannot be fed, no wound that cannot be healed, no hatred that cannot be turned to love, no dream that cannot be fulfilled.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

My son was born in late October and the first Tuesday in November seemed a good time for his first outing - a stroller ride to my polling place at a nearby school. Two years later his sister was born, also in October, so she too was introduced to the outside world through a voting booth.

21 years later, their polling place has been converted to a mail-in precinct but both have voted for our next President.

For all the reasons I am proud of tonight's turnout, I'm especially impressed with the young people in our country. They registered, they campaigned and they kept the faith. Most importantly, on this day, having discovered their empowerment to shape the future, they got themselves to the polls.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

and it was Good

My to-do list was long but the shift from rainy weekday to crisp, clear Fall weekend had me thinking of the road so when Jon emailed about a Sunday ride, I knew I had some unfinished business to do. I finally unpacked and reassembled my bike and was rewarded with a spectacular day along some of my favorite Seattle ride routes - around Mercer Island, then west through Bellevue by way of our no longer very secret Devil's Elbow, south past picketing machinists in front of the Renton Boeing plant, through the Renton airport on Lake Washington's south end, turning north to Seward Park and along the lakefront, climbing up Baker Hill to catch the I-90 bridge bike trail and finish the loop. 40 miles...all good.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just Did It



Nice work, Ben.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Turn, Turn, Turn

My teenage idealism was turned on its head many years ago when cancer invaded the lives of a young family who’d become closely entwined with ours. The young couple had a toddler daughter and infant son when cancer took Mark’s life. I remember taking comfort in their song choice for the service. In the decades since, that song comes immediately to mind whenever I feel time or circumstances – happy or sad - spinning out of control.
In the past 24 hours I showered a bride who was in my 1st grade Sunday school class, celebrated my baby’s 21st birthday and learned of three untimely deaths affecting friends and family members. Turn, turn, turn…

Monday, October 6, 2008

News from Home

Catching up on the hometown news, this from the Police Beat section of the 9/22 edition of the Woodinville Weekly.

Don’t take 25 guys in bicycle pants lightly
A group of around 25 bicyclists were on a ride on a pleasant evening last week in Woodinville.
As they were stopped at a traffic signal, an SUV containing four apparently juvenile subjects pulled up next to them and began to taunt them about their tight pants. At the turn of the light, the bicyclists proceeded down the street.
At this point, the driver of the vehicle pulled in front of them and began brake-checking, forcing the riders to take evasive action to avoid being struck. This continued for a half mile or so, until the vehicle pulled into the parking lot at Wilmot Park. The bicyclists also began to enter the parking lot.
The juveniles exited their vehicle ready for a face-off, but soon, all 25 cyclists arrived and even in their tight pants they apparently presented too much of a challenge to the juveniles, who quickly departed.
The riders reported the incident to police, along with the license plate number. Police will follow up.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Business Trips

Packing…TSA…emergency landing…JFK traffic…unpacking… meetings… train ticket… technical difficulty… subway map…taxi… rain-soaked… keys in trunk…packing… 35,000’ debate… unpacking… empty frig… heat wave… deadlines… jet lag… packing… unplugged… airborne…

Quality time with priceless friends at every stop – so worth it!

Countless thanks to family and friends from the road, gym, church and office who give me exactly what I need to slog through it all.

Monday, September 22, 2008

All's Well

At least as well as it can be expected. Must agree with my sister that as much as I fly, I was due. I can only hope this counts completely as my "due" for quite some time. Still wish I could bike the return trip!

KOMO News story: Seattle Flight overruns O'Hare runway

Grassy Landing

On the bus for the terminal now...

Faster on a Bike?

After 4 days at home, I'm headed back to NYC yet again, this time on business, and had to make an 'unscheduled" landing at O'Hare - make that a completely manual landing since the jet had lost all power. Now here we sit on the tarmac, surrounded by emergency vehicles, simply happy to be safe...but wondering if I could get to JFK faster another way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Packed for Home

Monday, September 15, 2008

Day 4 - The End is More than a Beginning

40mi

It's really too bad the Maryland DOT won't allow bikes on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (NOT!) leaving 2 choices - load bikes & cyclists into vehicles or load bikes and put the cyclists on a 50' yacht ride to Annapolis with a little detour past the Naval Academy. Felt like quite an indulgence but also a nice cool break from pedaling.

Once in Annapolis, we took in a few hills through the last part of Maryland, entering DC from the NE. George Mason University staff, cheerleaders, and mascot cheered us to the finish line then fed us lunch at RFD Washington Brewhouse. Dr. Wu graciously thanked riders & crew noting we were working toward a mutual goal that would be carried into their lab tomorrow, bringing us one day closer to ending AIDS.

Thank you for your part in that mutual effort!

More pictures from Day 4

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day 3 - Teamwork

After a quick few miles, we boarded the ferry for a relaxing 70 minute crossing, complete with a dolphin sendoff, from Cape May to Lewes to begin riding in Delaware.

The sun was hot early and never let up, reaching well into the 90s and though the route remained flat so did the headwind. Riders worked together all day long forming loose pace lines to help each other quickly cover the 75miles left in the day.

About 10mi out of camp the Hwy Patrol decided traffic was too heavy on the way to the Bay Bridge to be safe for cyclists giving us an opportunity to see similar teamwork on display by our crew. They directed us off the road and rapidly loaded cyclists and bikes into vehicles to "ferry" us down the busy highway to the safer road into camp.

It's really something to experience how quickly 42 people can come together to help each other over some high hurdles. The phenomenon never ceases to amaze and inspire me.

Oh yeah, did I also mention the (Tracy finally got her Maryland Blue) Crab Feast?
View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com
More pictures from Day 3

Mid-Day 3 - Entering Maryland!


Next stop - crab feast!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 2 - A Day at the Beach

82.5mi. 6hrs

Blogging delayed tonight when I happened on a fascinating campside conversation between fellow rider (Barry) and Dr. Wu, our ride beneficiary. For the next hour, Dr. Wu and one of his newest lab assistants, Mark, patiently and enthusiastically answered our many questions about HIV, AIDS, the work currently underway and planned by his lab, accelerated by the proceeds from this ride. I find it outstanding (and unprecedented) that Dr. Wu, his wife, daughter, and entire lab staff are participating on this ride - staffing rest stops, setting up tents & marking the route, with the Wu family personally serving us lunch each day. I have no doubt he'd shake each donor's hand to personally thank you if he could. I look forward to sharing more of what I've learned in future postings.

As for today's ride, it rained all night and we had a puddle in the tent but dawned dry and stayed that way. In fact, it got hot! The terrain was flat though the wind was at our face. The pine barrens gave way to marshlands as we neared the coast. Our PM rest stop was at a butterfly and migratory bird sanctuary but the best part of all came at about 75miles, arriving at Cape May lighthouse and the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to Theresa's lead and reminder we only had 5 more miles to camp, I plunged into the warm water! All was right with the world.
View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com
More pictures from Day 2

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day 1 - A New Journey Begins




84.35mi. 6.11hrs

The day began with 6 of walking out of the hotel and down Wall St. at 6:15am, dressed in our ride gear in search of breakfast. An hour later all the riders walked bikes and gear the 4 blks to the water to board the ferry for a choppy ride past the Statue of Liberty to Atlantic Highlands, NJ.

The morning took us through one horse farm after another with lunch on the shore of a beautiful reservoir. The afternoon flattened out further but midway to the PM rest stop the rain began and didn't let up -not in the pine barrens or acre after acre of cranbery bogs (yes, we even passed Ocean Spray!). It was a sloppy mess and all were happy to arrive at camp and a hot shower. BBQ dinner and fresh, local peach pies didn't hurt either!
View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com
More pictures from Day 1

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Memorials

Early this morning I arrived in NYC with an entire day to myself. Coincidently, the hotel is in the neighborhood of Ground Zero so I dropped off my luggage and went to pay my respects. On the walk it was easy to distinguish between those who still mourn, those with stories to tell, and everyone still trying to make sense of the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Memorials not only honor the dead but perhaps more importanatly, give us a time to stop and recall the enormous loss that must so often be pushed aside if we're to carry on. I didn't personally know anyone who perished on 9/11 and can't come close to imagining the pain of those around me in lower Manhattan but today I joined New Yorkers and the rest of the nation in recalling a great loss.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It Took Planes, Trains and Automobiles


And at the end of my day-long adventure back to NYC, I was at long last reunited with my bike in the Rosen/Siegel dining room. Now I'm ready to ride!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thank You

Two simple words that seem to lose their sincerity when often used though I tell you most sincerely I could not be more grateful for each one of you who has made a contribution to one or both of my AIDS rides this year.

Contributions come in as many forms as bikes on the start line. Hundreds of you contributed in a monetary fashion – small sums and large, some matched my celebrated age, gave several small amounts over time or threw in a few extra dollars to help us reach a critical milestone – but even more of you gave something of your heart through well-wishes, your prayers, asking others to donate, covering my absence at home, work or committee meetings while I rode, trained with me and provided moral support. Thank you.

I fly to New York tomorrow for the start of the inaugural NYCDC Ride for Research. Know that I go as your representative bringing hope to the journey of every researcher whose work can continue, every person infected by HIV, every human afflicted and affected by AIDS. We thank you very much.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bringing Down Mountains

I learned two important lessons from hill-climbing on the last Empire State AIDS Ride - each hill is made shorter by momentum gained on the previous decline and to aim only for the next horizon, even if another soon follows.

Scientists originally thought they could treat HIV like a standard virus and quickly get it under control. They've since discovered HIV is not your standard virus. I applaud and support those researchers who persevere in light of this knowledge, knowing HIV will only be defeated through innovative science and won't allow their creativity to be constrained by that most common hurdle - funding.

Dr.Yuntao Wu and his research team at George Mason University are just such an innovative team whose breakthrough research (announced today) was published in the Sept.5 issue of the journal Cell. They've figured out how HIV breaks a protective barrier to get inside a T cell, eventually causing the cell to die. That CD4 T-cell death leads to full-blown AIDS. With this understanding, research can now focus on the next horizon, short-circuiting that process. If the virus can't get in, the cell won't die and an HIV infected person would never develop the compromised immune system that is AIDS. This result of a return to basic science, called for by Dr. Robert Gallo earlier this year when two key vaccine trials were deemed a failure, is exciting news providing needed momentum to reach new heights in the war on AIDS.

"This study really opened avenues for us and we hope to use this information as a foundation for more detailed studies that could lead to the development of new therapeutic tools," Wu said.

Next week, I'll join 24 cyclists and 19 volunteer crew (including Wu's family and entire lab team) on the inaugural NYCDC AIDS Research Ride, created to raise $200,000 to accelerate the next stage of Dr. Wu's research to search for the compound that would prevent the HIV virus from infiltrating T cells. Our fundraising, including your donation, adds even more momentum to ending AIDS by keeping these scientists focused on the next horizon in their labs and out of the grant-writing business. Thanks for the push.


Interested in the scientific details? Read the complete article in Cell.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Perseverance

Regardless of political affiliation, you had to be moved by the historic significance of this week's Democratic National Convention. In this, my daughter's first chance to vote for President, she saw the nation's first female Speaker of the House call roll, suspended by the first woman to not only win a major party's presidential primary but narrowly miss the nomination, 88 years since passage of the 19th Amendment.

As the spotlight fell on the nominee we were reminded that only 40 years earlier a black man couldn't drink from the same water fountain as a white man, yet here was a black man accepting the nomination for President of the United States.

One speaker who put it in perspective so well was Sen. Ted Kennedy. His presence alone spoke to the significance of the days ahead for all who struggled and persevered for decades and could now bear witness. Straddling time between two AIDS rides, I remember the Senator's words at another convention, decades ago.

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

- Senator Edward Kennedy's 1980 concession speech

I long for the day our perseverance to end AIDS pays off and for every researcher who goes back to the drawing board one more time, every mile I ride and every dollar you give, I'm reminded of how we bring hope to the journey.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What A Team!


Perhaps you navigated to our ARI Breakthrough Riders team page in the past and noticed the picture didn't quite match the names listed to the right. There's a good reason for that.

Being the most geographically diverse team on the Empire State AIDS Ride, our members typically don't have an opportunity to meet in one place until we gather at Niagara Falls. Even then, the hustle and bustle of ride out and various crew responsibilities make it somewhat challenging to herd the cats so to speak causing it to take a little while for us to put faces to the names.

To keep the archives in order, our first ESAR team (the Puget Sound Riders) chose "Washington Wednesday" as our team picture day and we've kept that tradition now for 3 ESARs running. Unfortunately, my camera didn't show up to the event so I had to rely on others for a web-worthy shot. That photo is now finally posted to our ARI Breakthrough Rider team page.

I'm incredibly proud of the team we put together this year. We had 5 new riders to ESAR, 2 more that endured a very scary bike/car accident this spring but stuck it out to join us on the crew which included a large cast of returnees including all 5 second generation ESAR teammates (Mike, Liz, Kyle, Caitlin & Carson)! Our riders were in the front, middle and back of the pack but always made sure no rider was left alone or behind. Our crew is the envy of ESAR and begged to come back year after year. The returnees OWN their jobs and take pride in giving their best effort.

Of the fully participating beneficiary teams, ours was the smallest at 18 members. While only the 7 riders are required to fundraise ($3500 minimum), our entire team considers ending AIDS as its most vital ESAR job and the numbers prove it. The ARI Breakthrough Riders brought in more money per member OR rider than any other team. None were afraid to ask and YOU generously responded. Thanks to that commitment, persistence and generosity, we will deliver approximately $75,000 to the Breakthrough Fund, generating seed grants for the innovative work of researchers of the AIDS Research Institute at UCSF. What a team!

Monday, August 18, 2008

ESAR Epilogue

The next day, Cait & I took Kyle on a 5hr whirlwind tour of NYC before heading to the airport for our red-eye flight home to Seattle. Tired as I was, I couldn't sleep so closed my eyes and allowed my mind to flash through prominent images of the week that will linger in my memory, providing motivation, inspiration, consolation and joy for years to come...

- sharing Day 5 memories with Dan
- embracing momentum and learning the true definition of "rolling hills"
- Tuesday night's Reflection ceremony - something so simple that had been so missing
- birthday cake with Shane
- Diane's endless energy and magic in the kitchen
- hard rain, soft rain, every day a little rain
- Linda's special birthday treats - lattes, hot shower,massage
- two nights in BEDS with indoor toilets
- I will not mix drugs, I will not mix drugs, I will not mix drugs...
- your notes of encouragement carried and read throughout the week
- I still don't remember those 3 hills
- the middle of the night thunder BOMB!
- friends at the finish line
- impromptu disco party at Calhoun Center
- ride chats with Michael and Barry
- Woodstock!
- surely you know Barry Manilow

Though the dog did bite and the bee sting, these are but a few of my favorite memories of the 6th Empire State AIDS Ride. Thanks to YOU, the ARI Breakthrough Riders raised nearly $73,000 to fund cutting edge science at the AIDS Research Institute. A day without HIV/AIDS will be my favorite memory of all.

Special thanks to my husband, Steve, for making sure all my mobile postings were published for your daily reading pleasure.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 7 - One Last Hill

72.39mi. 6.5hrs. approx. 4200 vertical ft.

We had to walk down a large portion of the long hill into camp this morning and the ridden part was a little scary for how steep it was. Many heads shook in disbelief at how we'd possibly climbed it the night before. But wait! There was more cllimbing ahead! Storm King Mt, the edge of Bear Mt where we camped last year, Tor Hill - the views were phenomenal but my legs were long done. Seemed we were told each hill was the last but they just kept coming. Or perhaps at this stage of the game, any gradual incline felt like a mountain!

20mi were added to this last ride day so we had to hustle to arrive on time. We took the traditional ESAR pic on the steps of St.John the Devine then immediately left single file for the tip of Manhattan, down the west side bike trail.

What a sight to see so many supporters at the finish line (pictured)! I was especially thrilled to see donors & past teammates - Annie, Cindy, Lucy, Liz & Allen. Thank you for making the time to come cheer us to the finish line! Correction: Liz was out of town. It was really her look-a-like, Alison. My bad for continuing to think they are one in the same person! Liz & Alison will both join me on the NYC-DC ride so maybe I'll finally learn to tell them apart. Sorry, Alison!

Closing ceremonies were brief and moving, followed by triumphant pix in front of the Statue of Liberty, tearful farewells and one last unloading of baggage onto the curb by Cait, Kyle and the camp crew.

The 70 members of the 6th annual Empire State AIDS Ride put a lot of heart into climbing every hill and hurdle this week & raised nearly $300,000 to chip a little further away at that mountain of an AIDS pandemic. Thank you for being such an important part of that journey.
ESAR Day 7: Black Rock Forest - Robert Wagner Park, NYC
View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Day 6 -Extremely ESAR

79mi. 6.5hrs. 37mph max. 3.1mph min.

The first 3/4 of today were stunning in every way. We rode through some spectacular countryside, past a huge horse farm, down quiet rural lanes and even directly thru the grounds of a correctional facility.

In the mix was a trip 6miles up and thru the "Gunks", pictured here behind me on the way down at 973' and the view from the bottom.

Should have known it'd get ugly when we were held back at the afternoon stop while checking the direction of a passing thunderstorm. 20min later we were riding in the rain. It rained hard and was a sloppy mess thru the afternoon hills and when the lightning kicked up again 7mi from camp, we were pulled off the road to wait a while longer on the steps of an old church - with a quite clean port-a-potty no less!

Back on the road in the rain again and trying to gear up for the last 1.75mi hill into camp but without much energy left to do it. This hill was like none I've ever climbed. Teammate Scotty noted a 23% grade at one point and it was never less than 17-19%. Jon noted that our switchback approach easily turned it into a 3mi hill and when you throw in the pouring rain and slick streets, well it's no wonder that the last 15 riders came into camp with eyes wide, mouths gaping, stripped off the wet gear and headed straight for a hot shower, grateful again for a night indoors on a soft mattress.

This was indeed the most extreme day on the ESAR and pulls a very close 2nd to my Alaska Ride Day 2 experience. But at the very toughest moments I have only to think of how much worse it could be for someone with an AIDS diagnosis and the pedals keep turning.
ESAR Day 6: Sullivan Community College - Black Rock Forest
View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 5 - Somewhere Over the Catskills (with apologies to Elizabeth)

75.4mi. 6.25hrs. 41.8mph max. 4600'vertical climbing

At 12:19AM, I was abruptly woken by such a loud explosion that I simultaneously thought a) we were under attack, b) an airplane crashed or c) a gas line exploded. Seconds later, a heavy downpour was followed by lightning and more thunder so with some relief (after returning heart to chest) I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Today's morning route followed spurs of the Delaware River in my favorite stretch of the ride which included an impromtu disco dance party across from the general store in tiny Calhoun Center shortly before lunch. Soon after, we changed course from years past and headed into territory unknown to any ESAR veteran and the real climbing began.

While yesterday held 4 long grueling hills with greater total elevation gain, today's climbs were far more numerous and many were quite steep, with grades of 14-19%. Let's just say there were about 3 instances where I was staring at what appeared to be an asphalt wall stretching another 20-50' ahead and had already used all 27 gears! We helped each other to the top by strategic gearing to maximize momentum, mind games (don't look up!), the old standby of weaving across the road, and our stellar crew urging us on with a disco beat! Those slow climbs and relaxing descents gave us plenty of time to take in the spectacular rural view, including a stop at the Woodstock farm where you'll see me doing my best imitation of Ross, Shane and Chad in their Barbie hair of the 60's.

At the end of the day everyone, even the strongest riders, agreed we had never worked harder for our dinner and a solid night's rest at the Sullivan Co. Community College. In another first, we had the option to pay $15 for a dorm bed with a bathroom down the hall. Could well be the best $15 I ever spent!
ESAR Day 5: Bear Spring Mountain- Sullivan Co. Community College, Loch Sheldrake
View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

Day 4 - Beasts of Burden

57mi. 5.4hrs. 42mph max. 1vertical mile of climbing

Some do it but you won't find me hauling panniers of equipment on my bike for hundreds of miles and I don't have to either, thanks to our volunteer crew.

On this ride we have the equivalent of 1 volunteer for each rider assigned to a variety of critical teams keeping riders healthy, safe and on the road. Teammates Lisa & Carson begin each day at 4:30am posting signs to mark the way along the route. Another pair of ARI Breakthrough Riders, Liz & Beau, drive the food truck, supplying breakfast and dinner in camp, lunch on the road and the rest stop teams - morning and afternoon. Riders are checked in and out of each daily stop to account for each one. Between stops there are 4 teams of drivers - 2 per car, including Mary & Linda A - who travel back & forth along their assigned section of riders, carrying extra supplies and stopping at critical points to help with traffic, provide encouragement and cheer panting riders at the top of a long, hard climb.

We have a medical crew of 4 who tirelessly wrap, massage and treat ever ache and pain all day long and well into the evening, along with 2 technicians performing similar treatment for our bikes - in camp and mobile.

Unseen during the day but whose work is most appreciated is our camp crew, including Kyle, Caitlin, Michael and Randy from our team. We break down our tents each morning and cart our gear to their truck. The camp crew then takes down all the common area canopies, clears the camp and drives all that gear to the next overnight spot. Then they set it all up again, pitch every one of our 50 tents, putting the luggage inside.

These people voluntarily spend each day serving riders' every need with a gracious heart and never a complaint. People think it's amazing that we riders can cycle so long and hard each day but I never met a rider who didn't think the job of any crewmember was equally difficult if not more so.

Three cheers for the real workhorses of the ESAR!
ESAR Day 4: Chenango to Bear Spring Mountain Campground, Downsville
View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 3 - Red Day

80.7mi. 6.11hrs. 38.1mph max

Every AIDS ride has a Red Day. Today was ours. The concept is simple - wear something red. The idea came about on an early AIDS ride - that a long line of red-jerseyed cyclists would appear from a bird's eye view as an AIDS ribbon winding across the landscape. It's a day for remembering those for whom we ride- those already gone and those who are now hopeful. In that respect it's a celebration and the evolution from "dress red" to "red dress" day has made it festive indeed. Pictured is Ride Director Marty in red prom formal greeting her hubby, Barry, who kept me company on the road today.

Another Day 3 highlight is the ice cream stop midway thru the afternoon. Made mine cherry in honor of the day.
ESAR Day 3: Sampson State Park, Romulus - Chenango Valley State Park

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Mobile blog will take a no-service break for the next few days while climbing the Catskills. I'll keep writing and post when I can.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 2- I've Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

73.15mi 5.40hrs. 37.7max

Fell asleep and woke to the loudest thunderstorms I've ever heard but the tent stayed dry and skies were clear by morning. The forecast called for intermittent showers so after yesterday's deluge, Marty suggested a trick learned on Alaska's infamous Day 2 (see earlier post). She spent the morning wrapping feet in Vaseline and Saran Wrap. I used my own secret weapon from that same day - Ziploc bags! It worked. My feet stayed warm and dry.

The forecast was accurate and I'm sticking by my story that the reason I took an extra hour this year was from multiple clothing changes all day long. The sun was shining at every rest stop, including the afternoon gazebo rest stop on Lake Geneva, and at camp on the shores of Lake Seneca.

One of the highlights of Day 2 dining is the mobile homemade ice cream that magically appears after a terrific meal. Peach Cobbler, mmmmmmm!
ESAR Day 2: Rochester - Sampson State Park, Romulus
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