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June 6, 2009

AIDS Lifecycle 8 at Ventura

Yesterday I drove to Ventura to see friends and attend the candlelight vigil on the beach at San Buenaventura State Beach, which is the last night of camping for participants in AIDS Lifecycle 8. They'd had a bad day yesterday. They'd had some rain in camp in Lompoc in the morning, but when the route opened up some riders headed out onto the road before the weather turned worse and the Lifecycle organization stopped any more bikers from leaving Lompoc to begin the ride to Ventura. The weather did not improve. The permit they have from the California Highway Patrol has a limited time window for everybody to start riding. The window closed and the weather was still bad, plus there had been a motor vehicle accident out on the route somewhere (no cyclists involved), so CHP pulled the permit and EVERYbody had to ride the bus to Ventura.

There were 2,200 riders this year. The ones who had made it onto the road were asked, when they reached pit stop 1, to turn around and ride back to camp in Lompoc. The ride has buses along every day to handle those who can't finish the day's route, but they aren't set up to transport 2,200 riders (plus the usual 800 roadies) by bus. They were assisted, however, by the Lompoc school district. One of the riders was the principal of Lompoc high school, so he called in some favors, and the school district loaned several school buses to help with moving everybody along. Even so, it took all day to move everyone.

Everybody on staff kept pointing out that "this" had never been done before, and I suppose they were technically right if by "this" they meant an almost entire day cancelled due to rain in California. But there was that day on California AIDS Ride 3 when the ride was cancelled for a day, midday, due to heat. And, of course, there was the time I rode Texas AIDS Ride 1 when an entire day was cancelled due to rain.

I was in Ventura especially to see Gary, former Bostonian and first-time rider. I was also going to help him find a laundromat to wash and dry his stuff, but lucky him, some friends agreed to let him share in the nearby hotel room they had managed to get. It's called the "princess tour" when you stay in motels rather than camp out with everyone else.

I found him, I met his tentmate Zack, and I found Andy and Tim from Palm Springs. There were a lot of other familiar faces around camp, of course.

Gary at Dinner (2781)
Gary at dinner.

Chicken Lady Returns (2782)
Chicken Lady (AKA "Ken Thomason") has ridden California AIDS Rides 2 through 8 and every AIDS Lifecycle except #7
. Last year he had a stroke and couldn't ride, but returned this year and was riding again. Other photos of Ken here.

Candlelight Vigil (0307)
There seemed to be a shortage of little wind protectors for the candlelight vigil, and this is the first time I can recall a breeze on that beach.

Candlelight Vigil (0308)

More photos here.

Filed under AIDS Rides,California,Photography | permalink | June 6, 2009 at 09:06 AM


Hello, I was doing a net search for Ken as I rode with him on the Florida aids
ride, and subsequently ran a medical crew on two of the Boston-New York, and one
of the Minn-Chicago AIDS Rides. I remember him as an awe inspiring, motivating,
eternally upbeat individual who would ride up and down the hills encouraging
others to the top. He gave so much of himself. I often wondered what could we
give him other than our thanks, our appreciation for his loving gifts.
Is he well? Do
you have an e-mail address for him?

Posted by: Marc Kalmanson at Feb 24, 2011 8:40:14 AM

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