Monday, December 1, 2014

Giving Back


As I was driving in my car Sunday I was listening to NPR's show TED radio hour. They were talking to Roz Savages, the first women to row across the atlantic by herself and Philippe Petit who walked a tight rope between the trade tours. There lives and stories are inspiring....Philippe said in his talk "the impossible is a human invention". So fitting for this blog post!!! 

December 1st is World AIDS day and for World AIDS Day I've decided to give back by joining my AIDS/Lifecyle family once again! That's right I've signed up for the 2015 ALC!!!! And since December 2nd is Giving Tuesday I'm giving back. All items will be 40% off with promo code GIVEBACK and 10% of all my sales will go to the AIDS/Lifecyle. And if you'd like to just give directly here is the link.

I've also created a team this year....more info at the end of this letter but heres a link to join my team (our team)!!

I know this is over due and I apologize for the is my recap from 2014 AIDS/Lifecycle...thank you to everyone for your support and love, this was not possible without you!!!

As you know, my friend Sylva asked me to join her on this crazy venture and I jumped at the chance. Bike touring and for a fantastic cause, hellz yeah I'm game! We raised over $7k together in less than two months by having a drag party, movie night and other FUNdraising events....thanks to all of you for your support!!! We thought the money raising would be the hard part. Ahhh no. While I was packing for the trip, it finally hit me, we are going to try and ride 545 miles in 7 days, are we nuts!!! Guess we were!!!

Getting all my tools together (which I really didn't need, this ride had bike mechanics and supplies above and beyond my expectations)...and Hidalgo flying her PCL pride!!

Once we got to San Fran (thanks to Deb and Tish for taking us up there...go fantastic) we road our bikes from the hotel to sign in. That's I think when it became real. At sign in, wow, we are really doing this and how!!! Back to the hotel to try and sleep so we can get up early in the am. Okay lets do it!!! We arrived at the event center the next morning at 5am ready (ish) to role. I had butterflies rolling like crazy. I knew I had to eat and drink water even if my body won't let me. I am thankful for bike racing, it has helped to center my nerves so that I could take care of my body, which is imperative to events like this and racing.
The nerves and the miles I was ready for, the impact that this event was about to have on my life, I was not ready for. The impact hit the moment I stepped into the main stage with over 2k other riders and is still with me. This is what happened.

AIDS/LifeCycle 2014 Begins
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It became very apparent that the 545 miles was the setting for the most loving, supportive, motivated, organized that had one thing in common, to fight AIDS/HIV. As the miles started I began to notice other riders and the photos they carried on their bikes in remembrance of those that had past or the ones they were riding for. I got to thinking, I don't know anyone with this illness so how can I make an impact, how can I help and at times why am I here???

As the day went on, I felt the struggle of riding, the emotions, the doubt but at the moment of wanting to give in there was an outburst of love and support. When we rode into Santa Cruz, our first camp  stop, there were people yelling "you're our heros, thank you for riding" while holding photos of their lost ones. The flood gates opened, at that moment I knew that I belonged here!!!!

As the days rolled on the miles became harder but with every hill or challenge we all became more connected and more supportive. And with each rest stop the drag shows starting trumping each other.

At one point,  I think it was about day 4 or 5, we had been battling a head wind, all day long. The last 5 miles were the worst.   When I finally rolled in I was done, completely beat to shit. Thinking I won't, actually that I couldn't ride any more miles, my AIDS/Lifecyle ride was over. But as I parked my bike and stumbled towards the luggage truck a women put this letter in my hand. She was a teacher at the local school and had asked her students to write the riders letters. After I read my letter from Hannah I folded it up, put it in my pocket and with a smile I wiped my tears away and began my prep for the next days ride. I was back in. Thank you Hannah!

If I had to pick the best part of ALC I'd say the drag shows...or maybe the bike mechanics. The costumes are damn rad...there are events, movies, cheerleaders and the views, ahhhh man....oh and the FOOOD!!!! We got to eat as much as we wanted...I can't tell ya if it was good or not but there was plenty!!! Nothing better than stuffing your face after a day full of the day I  rolled in and Sylva and I just looked at each other with the same look of "holy shit that was soooo hard" but we made it. This was day 6, into Venture, the hardest day I had had yet. About 10 miles out I was breaking down, bonking HARD!! Bonking is what happens when you mentally and physically can't go anymore, it usually means you need more water, food and a break. I've found  that if I eat a bit, sip some water while on the bike that after 5 or 10 minutes (which feels like hours) I can usually break through this block. This wasn't happening for me, my little racing tricks weren't working. I just wanted to curl up in the ditch with my bike and sleep til the end of time. As I was looking for a place to literally ditch my bike  the remembrance pictures that decked out the other riders bikes came into my head and I couldn't get them out!!! As I fought to clear my head so I could find my escape route It hit me, if those people in the photos were here they won't be complaining about the miles, thinking they wanted to tuck away in the ditch. They would be happy that they could even just be on the bike.  I had nothing to complain about, to cry about. I am here, alive, healthy and able. I can do this!!! Those amazing positive thoughts stayed with me not only for the next 10 miles but still today. This is why we ride, this is why we are all here.

Once we rolled to the finish, it was so surreal! We did it, I can't believe it!!! As I sat with my family at the finish, I was over taken with thoughts. I couldn't talk, really think. I had become a part of something bigger than I could have ever imaged. It brought my friends and family together and gazillion other strangers. I felt like the world was together as one, full of love. And then I had to go home, I didn't want to go. I thought, why can't we just do the same thing tomorrow and just keep going. We could ride to Antarctica. Come on, let's go.  I didn't want to leave my new family. After my struggles of moving to LA and not feeling like I fit here, I finally belonged somewhere!!!

2014 AIDS/Lifecylce Finish

The AIDS/Lifecycle is a life changing event. It reminded me that anything is possible, just close your eyes and jump!!! So if you are wanting to jump, join me. I've started a team this year Team "Iron Maiden", no this is not an all female Iron Maiden tribute band, this is a male, female, transgender, all gender, homosexuals, bisexuals, pansexuals, old, young, black, white, red, blue and live in LA, nebraska, Paris or India and want to spend a week in sunny Cali, see breathe taking views and be apart of something damn rad then join me as a rider or as a roadie!! Click the link below for further details and please contact me with any questions, concerns or comments....let's ride to end AIDS!!!


Riders Info: raise at least $3k and $95 to register

Roadies Info: no fundraise amount required but know yall join in and $95 to register

For more information:

To join Team Iron Maiden:

Use Promo: GRATEFUL for $20 off


Who knows maybe I'll trying riding across the US next....anythings possible, right!!!!

Thank you after party, yes that's MY name!!! Gotta say, Thank you ALC!!!!