AIDS/Lifecycle 9: Day 5

Day 5- Santa Maria to Lompoc

I woke up on Day 5 kind of stiff.  I quietly moaned as I bent over to pack up my tent prompting my neighbors to ask, “How’s it going Fivestar?”  I told them I was good but sore.  They assured me that Day 5 wasn’t too bad, “It’s an easy day, 40 miles or something like that.”  They were wrong.  The route changed from last year, but even the new 67 mile route was a “short day” in the context of the ride.

The Outfits

Day 5 is Red Dress Day.  Almost everyone wears a dress, skirt or some kind of crazy costume.  I didn’t pack anything for Red Dress Day because the last time I wore a dress was for my sister’s wedding and I still needed to work through some residual trauma.  By the time Day 4 came around, I decided I’d partake in the festivities and borrow a costume.  Lucky every fag brought at least 2 different red dresses, so I borrowed someone’s extra red fringe skirt.  I wore a red bike jersey and rainbow socks.

Apparently, Red Dress Day started out as Dress Red Day.  The idea:  Everyone wears red so that the ride looks like a giant AIDS ribbon across the California highways.  Thanks to the fabulous queer sensibilities of the group, it quickly became Red Dress Day.  Many queers and straights of all genders on the ride sported a red dress.  Extra props was given to the straight men in the crowd for being good sports.  I’d also like to give props to all of us born females who wore dresses in spite of past battles with constraining gender roles.

Riding

Day 5 has been historically “the short day” on the ride, 40 or so miles ending in a big dance party.  This year, apparently, the ride lost some permits, pushing the route off course 30 miles.  It took everyone a while to get out of camp.  People needed time to get their costumes together and take group photos with their teams.  I also ended up leaving a little later than usual.

Very soon after taking off, I felt like I needed to pee. Rest Stop 1 was 18 miles into the ride so I decided to book it.  I spent the first part of the morning passing many people.  I got in a good rhythm even picked up a follower who joined me in fast riding and coordinated crowd navigation.  I felt great at Rest Stop 1.

It was a little more crowded than usual, it seemed like people were really taking their time that day.  After I took care of my rest stop routine, I heard that the rest stop would close in 30 minutes.  I hopped on my bike and carried along.

This is when I encountered the most memorable hill on the ride.  It was difficult but, as described in a previous post, glorious.  I stopped at Rest Stop 2 so grateful for all of my Twin Peaks rides sponsors and Lynn for training with me. I felt at my peak; strong, amazing, invincible.

Nothing but 40 mph headwinds could knock me down from such glory.

The Wind

It hit us from out of nowhere.  Twenty three miles to the end, we battled a mean headwind.  People were pissed, but  I totally made it through the second half of the day with the fake-it-till-you-make-it, smile-and-trick-your-brain tactic.  My efforts to proselytize other riders to my method only produced grumpy reactions.  I kept smiling.

It worked.  I rolled into camp just in time to shower and eat.  I even got to practice a bit of my variety show performance, an acoustic cover of the disco classic “Turn The Beat Around”.  Since camp news ran hour late, the variety show didn’t start till 9:30.  I was exhausted and asked myself “what the fuck are you doing?”.  Every other night on the ride I had been in bed by 9:30 and I still hadn’t rolled out.

I got on stage and I rambled a bit asking the audience to represent.  “How many cyclists are still awake?”  Surprisingly more than I had imagined.  Nervous as hell, I stumbled through the song. The audience shared their love with ease.  I didn’t beat myself up about mistakes I made in the performance and focused on the fact I even performed after 412 miles.

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