This is going to be random.
I’m back. The AIDS/Lifecycle 12 is over with. It was a very tough 7 days all around. Part of the problem was that I missed a shit ton of training rides due to my business. I did three centuries before we left but the day after day grind wasn’t really there. And I switched out bicycle seats two weeks before we left. That is something I should have done back in January but I was just busy and didn’t get around to it. By the third century that issue had reached critical mass. I couldn’t ride a century least wise the AIDS/Lifecycle. So I switched it out. And I paid for that. Not as much as I would have paid if I had left it as it was since the old seat was worn out. At the end of the day I had no break down of skin and that’s the difference between life at the butt clinic and life on the ride.
This ride was the largest AIDS fundraiser in history. We raised $14.2 million dollars. That’s mind boggling. People will get to live because of what we did last week.
I did not get any proper sleep leading up to the ride and I had clients running me all over on the Saturday before I left. I caught a ride with a friend who had to be there 30 minutes before the cyclists so I was up at 2:50am to go. Generally I ride in the middle of the pack. I was slipping into the bottom third but I came into Santa Cruz with time to spare. The road to Half Moon Bay just sucks, traffic is really close, at least is moves slowly, but it’s a steep climb. And it just sucks. Especially when you’re short of sleep. I found myself thinking about Princess as we went over the hills.
As the miles clicked by, the awfulness of her mental illness started to peel away like an onion. I started to remember all of the fun we used to have. I remembered an hilarious night out in San Francisco the begat the Legend of Seamus. I remembered her birthday at Chevy’s. I remembered a trip we made to Palm Springs. I remembered that she did my make-up when I went as Mimi from the Drew Carey show for Halloween. And the Danny Baker School of Etiquette. And driving her RX7 across the bay bridge at lunch because she didn’t think we could make it to the City and back during a lunch hour. She had a racing license at one point. One of her friends built out Mazdas for the track and that RX7 was a rocket. Before the RX7 she had a slant nosed Porsche. And then I really began to miss my friend.
Princess had been gone since around 2008. She had a nervous breakdown and was taken to County and kept on a 5250 for two weeks. I remember her showing me the paperwork in 2010 and telling me that the Doctors said she wasn’t crazy. It was full of words like schizophrenia, paranoid delusions and manic behavior. Princess was mentally ill. I said something like, “Did they want you to do any follow up?” No, she was fine. She wasn’t of course. She had lucid moments for sure, but then she’d head down the rabbit hole and it could be very bad. I remember arguing with her over a jar of piss that she was sure was holy water. Don’t ask me how she got a jar of piss in the first place.
There were a couple of people who she focused on that were her foils. They were the ones that planted the listening devices, stole money from her, smoked crack or practiced Satanism. My only sin was that I stole her gun. I have three messages on my machine from her right now with varying degrees of lucidity. Once I realized how ill she was, I went to our friend who was now her most directed foil. I said “Princess is sick and you can’t hold any of this stuff against her. It’s her talking but she’s gone. It’s just the evil clowns now.” I told her what the medical report said and about some of the discussions I’d had with the soon the be ex-husband. I said “we have to let it go and hope for the best”. Apparently I said out loud that I didn’t think she was going to live through it. Sadly, I was right. She reminded me of that yesterday. We both talked about the good times yesterday and it helped.
Out on the ride, I was all alone, and suffering. In a situation like this you can’t help but second guess yourself. It’s human nature. Could I have done this that or the other and would that have made the difference? By the time we hit King City I was a zombie. I got swept at mile 93 for lagging behind. My legs couldn’t ride any harder. And there was no one to talk to about this. And I was beyond exhaustion. I went to bed and was out within about 40 seconds.
The next morning I got up and received the email with the funeral arrangements. Strangely that made everything real. Until they buried her she wasn’t really dead right? It was a mistake, the autopsy wasn’t done yet. Maybe it was just someone that looked like her that was in her house vacuuming her son’s room. The mind is a funny thing. As I walked away from the gear trucks I had tears in my eyes. I wasn’t crying, just teared up. I was kind of alone where I was walking. A man was walking the other direction. I recognized him as one of the guys from Rest Stop 4. The Rest Stop 4 boys are the prettiest, most buff, most creative, best fundraisers on the ride. They are the cool kids. I’d seen this guy around but never really spoke to him. He walked right up to me and gave me a big hug. That’s the kind of community that’s out on the ride. He didn’t know what was going on, he didn’t ask. Later that day, he was the star of the show in San Miguel.
As funny as these guys are, they have huge hearts. Every one of them. The Roadies are amazing.
Later when we pulled into Paso, I decided to stop by medical to make sure the new bike seat wasn’t causing any bad problems. At this point I was pretty much sleep walking. And I’d cracked the rim on my wheel. They got a nurse who apparently had been on 9 rides and was the queen of saddle related conditions. It turned into this weird thing. The conversation veered immediately away from the issue at hand, my ass, and went all over the board, and I wasn’t driving. Then she says “My brother died last week.” I said “I’m sorry for your loss.” She said “It’s okay, my family dynamics are pretty weird and I’m good with it.” We talked briefly about her brother and the fact that she had called and spoke to him recently and they were “clean” to use her term. It seemed kind of odd to me. Then she looks me in the eye and says “What is it?” And it all came out. In particular the fact that Princess called three times in her last two weeks and I didn’t return a single call. And then it all came out. Her brother was bi-polar. And when it was all said and done, I know I did the right thing as difficult as it was. And I know why she was “clean” with her brother. And I woke up the next day and rode better than I had ridden all week.
There’s a bunch of our friends who don’t understand the depth of Princess’ illness. They have all sorts of excuses or theories. She beat breast cancer in the late 90’s. The chemo did something to her heart which is what killed her. They think the hallucinations that are occasionally symptomatic of the adema caused the whacky behavior. To me that cheapens the battle she fought. It was epic. She died because she didn’t have health insurance, she hadn’t worked in years and she didn’t have the medication she needed to stop the congestive heart failure. She couldn’t work with her illness, she couldn’t get health insurance and she died alone in a home that the bank took bank and an investor now owns. She died in a home never wanted to leave. And now she never will.