2010 Surf City AIDS Ride

8 Oct

A brisk breeze greeted me at 5 AM Sunday morning as I loaded Tank into the car for the 2 hour drive down to Santa Cruz where the annual Surf City AIDS Ride was held. I drove south, through the East Bay to avoid paying a toll on the Golden Gate Bridge and eventually found myself cruising on Highway 17 which takes you straight into the heart of downtown Santa Cruz. The drive slalomed down the coastal mountains, where I dodged road kill and intrepid deer seemingly every turn. By the time I reached my destination, adrenaline had all but replaced the blood in my veins.

A thick fog blanketed the coast obscuring the sunrise and stubbornly sustained itself throughout the entire ride. The first leg of the route hugged the coastline, where riders rode along the beach and coastal roads serenaded by surf. Then the route looped through northern Monterey’s rolling hills and farmland where the sun was just starting to shine through the fog.

This was one of the best supported rides I’ve participated in to date. The Surf City AIDS Ride boasted a number of well stocked and musically charged rest stops and SAG (Support and Gear) vehicles were out and about ready to help riders in a jam. I’m used to yo-yoing with other cyclists between rest stops, but this is the first time I’ve played tag with SAG. Even in the age of smart phones and GPS, it was mentally reassuring to know that help was nearby and that I was still on the right route!

The 60 mile route threw in a few surprise miles. At the end of the day I logged 64.3 and I had stayed true to the route, following the yellow arrows faithfully. The arrows led me back to San Lorenzo Park where the starting point had been transformed into a finish line festival. Vendor booths dotted the path and a stage had been set up where a band was just beginning to play as I rolled in to the park.

I slipped into some basketball shorts and traded my shoes for flip-flops before finding a spot on the grass to relax and enjoy the post ride events. Cyclists and locals alike lounged on a hill opposite of the stage, listening to the music and cheering riders as they crossed the finish line. I could have happily spent the rest of the afternoon in Santa Cruz; but I had a friend to visit, a tattoo design to deliver, and a few hundred miles to drive before the day was out. So I listened to a few songs, congratulated a few people at the finish line, and then scrambled to the car to continue my journey southward.

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