AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) is a fully-supported 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, passing through 58 towns, 8 counties in 7 days, to raise funds for the life-saving services offered by San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. To participate in the ride, each cyclist fundraises a minimum of $3,000. I’m very grateful for everyone who has donated and brought me well over this $3,000 goal. The funds raised will go to San Francisco AIDS Foundation since I am signed up in San Francisco. Here’s the website for to learn more about ALC: https://www.aidslifecycle.org

I signed up for my first ALC at the end of last year as a personal challenge. I was concerned about riding consecutive seven days when I first signed up, but I’ve been on the bike almost every week since and rode over 1,000 miles and with more than 57,000 ft of elevation gain. I’m currently mostly concerned about sleeping in a tent and using porta potties the entire week. Well, I feel like I’ve been counting down to the event for so long now and it’s finally here this weekend. It starts with orientation at the Cow Palace in Daly City. During orientation where we attend an orientation meeting, drop off our bikes, and pick up our packets.

Orientation at Cow Palace

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We drop off our bikes on orientation day.

First stop at orientation is dropping off our bikes, we handed our bikes off to the volunteers and they parked our bikes. I was a little sad I didn’t get to say bye to my bike. I thought I would be able to park it myself. I was told I’d get to see it again later when I put my number on the bike after packet pick up.

Next stop was waiting in line for orientation. We were very early for the 11 am orientation and stood outside in line for a good 40 minutes. Good thing I remembered a hat and sunscreen! It was a surprisingly sunny day in Daly City.

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I was clearly still sad about parting with my bike.

One of the riders, Ken, baked over 500 cookies for us! Unfortunately, he was 25 cookies short of 545 cookies (the number of miles we ride to LA in the next 7 days). I’m sure he’s very tired from baking 520 cookies already. Thank you, Ken, for the cookie!

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Entering the orientation meeting.

The doors to the orientation opened a bit before 11 am and we walked in to an auditorium filled with lights that projected “Ride Love Live”. It was pretty cool. The orientation was great. Funny videos, lots of information on schedules, amenities at camp, and riding safely with thousands of other riders on the road. Coney came on stage and reviewed hand signals with us. I’m going to have to remember not to ride too close to the rider in front of me.

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So much information and a visit from Coney.

Orientation meeting lasted roughly 45 minutes. Then, we went to check in and pick up our packets, bought some stuff from the camp store, and took photos at the photo booth.

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The check-in hall.

The lines for check in were long, since there were 1,000 participants in the orientation meeting.

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The packet included stickers for the bike and helmet, a survival guide, and tags with my address for the week of them.
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I picked up a license plate for my bike and made a visit to the photo booth.

We stopped by the Riderless Bike before leaving the check in hall. This red bike honors the people who lost the fight against AIDS. The flags below will enter the opening ceremony tomorrow morning and then will be on display each night at camp.

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The Riderless Bike.

Before leaving orientation, we visited our bikes to put our participant id numbers on them. Also it was a chance for me to say good bye to my bike for now before we embark on this 545-mile journey tomorrow morning. I spent a long time trying to put the number on my bike. I took about 5 minutes just to peel the sticker off of the backing, and then probably another 5 minutes to place it neatly around the top tube of my bike. Since it’s going to be on the bike the entire week, I had to make it look good! The top tube of my bike is tapered, so it’s always hard to wrap a piece of paper neatly around it. Maybe if I participate in more duathlons, I’ll eventually get the hang of this.

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Have you seen this many bikes before?
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A hug for Phenix before leaving orientation.

After I put my number on my bike, I left orientation to run my million other errands before riding out early tomorrow! We return to Cow Palace by 5 am tomorrow morning to drop off our luggages and then attend the opening ceremony followed by the ride out to Santa Cruz at 6 am. Oh, I actually had one less errand to run. Of course I didn’t realize one of my cleat covers had fallen off (again) until late last night when I was about to finish packing. There were some bike accessories for sale at orientation in case you need to pick up any last minute stuff, and I picked up replacement cleat covers! Saved me a trip to Sports Basement!

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Mismatching cleat covers.

My alarms for tomorrow morning are set for 3:45am and 4:00am. I hope I don’t oversleep!

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We load our luggages into those yellow trucks tomorrow morning.

Btw, in case you’re wondering… nope, not nervous yet. Though I should really get to bed.