Jackassery, party of twenty three hundred and sixty one, your table is ready.
When I decided to do the AIDS/Lifecycle, I didn’t really think it out. I’m famous for not thinking things through in the beginning. I really didn’t think about 1) what it entailed 2) what it would be like. For instance, I knew it was 545 miles. I knew we had to ride 70 per day on the average. I didn’t put together that it meant ride 84, then 106 the next day, then 66 the next day, then 98 the next day and then have a 40 mile recovery ride followed by 85 and 65. The gravity of that was lost on me until late the night of Day 3. That’s when I woke up in this little tent in the middle of the night freaking out, in a full panic attack. Except it was a million o’clock in the morning and it was cold out there. And I had a tentmate who may or may not have been amused by my mini-meltdown. I unzipped the little tent window quiet like a mouse and stuck my head out to get some fresh air. Then I told myself that it was just a bike ride and to calm down that 3100 other people were sleeping peacefully in these little tents and so could I. And I did. From that point on, my tentmate MacGyver, as I affectionately referred to him, kept the tent windows open at night and the mosquito screens closed.
One of the things I didn’t realize was all of the rich tradition that comes with this ride.
There’s Red Dress day…OK there is RED DRESS DAY.
And apparently all of the Rest Stops have themes.
Conceptually, it’s brilliant. You have all of these riders who are getting their asses handed to them by the terrain of the State of California and you have to keep them going. The best way? Keep’em laughing.
Rest Stops are staffed by Roadies. Roadies handle breakfast and dinner at camp, the gear trucks, all the medical needs, the set up and break down of the amazing tent city that’s assembled six times in a row and a plethora of tasks. Logistically speaking this ride was a thing of beauty. Apparently it was originally designed by an ex-military guy who was accustomed to moving large groups of people flawlessly. I’m sure there are hitches we didn’t see, but what we did see was perfection.
The breakfast team was more often than not in some sort of pajama theme. I remember kitty cats one morning. They served up a hot meal every morning with more food than I could imagine. And the food was good. It wasn’t four star dining but they had trays of oatmeal that wasn’t lumpy. Generally an egg dish, meat, a carb and some other stuff. Dinner was never dry or over cooked. It wasn’t Bradley Ogden but it wasn’t Pelican Bay food either. But the rest stops….
I didn’t pick up what was going on right away on the first day. As a matter of fact, I can’t even remember what the Day One themes were until we got to Rest Stop 4. The Rest Stop 4 team were out of their minds. As we approached there were Burma shave signs on the roadway. And the Rest Stop was staffed by lumberjacks. As the week progressed the themes included Candyland, Scouts gone bad complete with merit badges, one was a Carnival.
There was the Jazzercise studio. That one was a trainwreck from beginning to end.
They even had a stage and were leading the riders in stretching routines. That was the thing, they found fun ways to get us to do what we needed to do. That was on Day Three which is the hottest day. My eyes had glommed up and I had to visit medical to get them irrigated. And my contacts cleaned. It was hard laying still while having saline poured through your eyes with a Jazzercise drag stretching show went on at the foot of your cot.
Then there was the Mary Kay booth.
Beauty is subjective. Can you guess which one is the real woman?
We had just come up a terrible hill and the Rest Stop 2 team with their Mary Kay theme awaited us. It sure took the edge off of everything.
Then there was Zombieland. They had a zombie Jesus. And blood everywhere.
Then there was the Flintstones. Gone wrong.
Very wrong. I don’t know how BamBam didn’t end up in that picture, he was hilarious. By the time we got to Day Seven everybody was pretty much done and everything had calmed down a little. A little. Rest Stop 2 did a theme of “Where ya from?” They had big pieces of cardboard tacked up everywhere and Sharpies laying around so you could write down where you were from. They were on all of the portapotties and at all of the tables. And on the Powerade buckets. The Powerade isn’t referred to as Tropical Punch and Mountain Blast. It’s red and blue. And even the Powerade had a story to tell.
And then there were the Gear Trucks. The way they work is that 100 participants are assigned to each truck. It’s a Budget box truck. There’s a crew there to load your gear and give you your tent at night. They take your tent in the morning and your gear in the morning. They had themes too. The first day my gear truck, which was the funniest of all of them, had Sweet Child of Mine blasting because it was hair band day. The next day Girls Just Want to Have Fun because it was 80’s day. Then on Day 5 I was headed to the portapotties and I could hear Dueling Banjos in the background. That just couldn’t be good. Could it?
No, it wasn’t good. The gal in front got to the bottom of the ramp and exclaimed “Sweet Baby Jesus, I went down to the Walmart and they wanted $15 dollars and I only had $10 dollars!” And then when someone walked by with two hefty garbage bags full of who knows what announced “There’s my luggage!” Mullets abound as it was Tornado Acres Trailer Park day at the gear trucks.
But the best Rest Stop all week was the 10th Anniversary dance party on Carpinteria State Beach. And it was the Rest Stop 4 crew.