June 1, 2008

AIDS LifeCycle Rolls Today

AIDS LifeCycle 7 started today in San Francisco, having raised about $11.5 million to support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. Here's the page where you can get updated info during the ride itself: photos, video, blogs, what-have-you. And, here's my friend Andy's page. They have a new deal for riders this year that they call "Gabcast." Great idea, because most riders don't carry the equipment with them to update their web page during the ride. With Gabcast they just phone it in. I see Andy has not left a Gabcast yet today, so he was too busy doing stretches at Cow Palace to talk to us? There's probably no cellphone service at San Gregorio beach, where they stop for lunch. But tonight he's in Santa Cruz, so there should be no problem.

permalink | June 1, 2008 at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

June 3, 2007

AIDS LifeCycle Started Today

Flickr photos here.

permalink | June 3, 2007 at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2006

Santa Cruz County vs Bike Rides

Santa Cruz County, a victim of its own beauty, is cracking down on scofflaw cyclists. Due to its location, Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County are inundated with large groups of cyclists, including, of course, AIDS LifeCycle. They say there are a few bad apples in those barrels. But I am reassured that the Santa Cruz Sentinel wisely chose to include this information in the article:

Legally, bicycles are allowed on all roads except freeways. Cyclists can even ride Highway 17, a road many drivers deem dangerous. Additionally, cyclists can take over the whole lane if the shoulder is not safe for riding.

permalink | August 23, 2006 at 07:51 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2006

Dan Pallotta Recognized

"Triangle will honor Daniel Pallotta, Malden native and founder of Pallotta Teamworks and now principal of Springboard, as Humanitarian of the Year."

Humanitarians and local Boston celebrities will gather at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers to mark Triangle Inc., ongoing commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities. Triangle's 35th annual celebration, emceed by Amy Scott, host of VH1 Classic, will take place Sunday, May 21, and begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m.

permalink | May 22, 2006 at 04:47 PM | Comments (1)

April 28, 2006

Dan Pallotta Family?

Chris Jones of Melrose, Massachusetts, is the grandson of one Tony Pallotta of Malden, Massachusetts. These towns are the childhood stomping grounds of Dan Pallotta, founder of the AIDS Rides. Tony Pallotta (the grandfather of Chris) rode in the Montana Vaccine Ride organized by Pallotta Teamworks. The article doesn't say there is any blood connection there, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't. Young Chris will be embarking on a 110-mile fundraising bike ride from the Gettysburg Battlefield to Walter Reed Medical Center, benefiting disabled veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq.

permalink | April 28, 2006 at 04:02 PM | Comments (2)

March 3, 2006

"The Ride"

You may remember that on last year's AIDS LifeCycle ride we were followed by a crew from Logo, the new gay TV channel. They were making a documentary about the bike ride. That documentary is about to debut. According to an e-mail I got from the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the documentary will premier on "Monday, March 13, 2006 at 10 PM." My guess is that is in the usual terms of TV programming: 10 PM Pacific and Eastern times, and everybody else can just figure it out on their own. They describe it as a series, but there's no specific info on how many episodes will run. They also mistakenly call the ride a "race" in a couple of spots.

Logo may be in need of some better editors. If you read their summary of Die, Mommy, Die you will wonder if they've really seen that film.

If you don't have Logo on your cable system, they promised us ride participants that we'd be able to buy DVDs of the documentary...and by that, we hope they mean we can do it sooner than the general public. So maybe I'll have you over to a TV party some time.

permalink | March 3, 2006 at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2005

Tinker Juarez Moving Along

TInker Juarez is a professional racer who rode in last June's AIDS/LifeCycle Ride, which in the following article (from Cycling News) gets shortened to 5 days:

Tinker Qualifies For RAAM

Ultra-endurance mountain biker Tinker Juarez moved one step closer to his goal of competing in the 2006 Race Across America by qualifying for RAAM with a second-place finish at the Furnace Creek 508; a five-hundred eight mile ultra-endurance bicycle race that transverses [sic] California's Death Valley every year.

"I've watched (RAAM) several times on TV and never really gave much though about doing it myself," said the 44 year old Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame member before this year. But recognizing it as the ultimate endurance challenge, Juarez has publicly made plans to enter in 2006.

To work his way into ultra-endurance road racing, and since it used the same roads around Southern California he's trained on for many years, Tinker decided to participate in the Aids/Lifecycle 4 ride from San Francisco to LA this June. Even though the event was not a race, anytime you put a number on his bike, it becomes a race to Tinker. After pedaling 585 miles over the 5 days on the Aids ride, Tinker decided that his next challenge would be to do nearly the same distance without stopping.

This year's Furnace Creek 508 boasted the largest number of racers ever to take on the challenge. 150 racers started in Valencia CA and peddled through severe heat and winds that would make a camel look for cover through the Death Valley Desert . Despite the more than 35,000 feet of climbing, Tinker and his team of supporters put in a great time; completing the race in 27:24:07. The result earned Tinker a 2nd place finish and more importantly, a spot on the starting grid for his next, and biggest challenge of all: RAAM.

For more information about the man and his next endurance challenge, visit www.TinkerJuarez.com.

permalink | November 11, 2005 at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2005

Pallotta

For those who have been wondering where Dan Pallotta (father of the AIDS Rides) has been, he left a comment on Ron's Log today and, in the process, pointed to his website at DanPallotta.com which seems to feature a weblog.

permalink | September 14, 2005 at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2005

John Roberts & Pallotta Teamworks

This is weird:

In 2004, Roberts and two other appeals court judges reversed a lower court ruling against a woman who was suing Pallotta Teamworks and a local hospital after her daughter died during one of the bike rides that Teamworks organized to raise funds for AIDS groups. Michael Petrelis, the longtime gay and AIDS activist, circulated the opinion in the hours after Roberts’ nomination was announced.

The lower court had dismissed the case against Teamworks and the hospital after they pointed out that the daughter had signed a waiver on any negligence claims.

The appeals court ruling was highly technical and argued that the lower court had mistakenly applied the laws of the District of Columbia, where the waiver was signed, instead of Virginia, where the death happened. The case was remanded "to the district court for further proceedings."

permalink | July 22, 2005 at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

July 7, 2005

Thanks!

Almost everyone who donated money to support me riding in AIDS LifeCycle has received my thank you letter on real paper via real postal officials. Those contributors who haven't gotten theirs yet are either (1) victims of postal inefficiency, or (2) overseas [be patient!], or (3) your contribution still hasn't shown up on the LifeCycle database yet. I know some checks I dropped off at registration have not yet appeared, so things are definitely slow. If you are in group (3), please feel free to e-mail me and tell me.

Nonetheless, here is the text of the thank you letter I sent out:

June 2005

To my AIDS LifeCycle contributors:

Thank you -- and congratulations for helping to make this year's AIDS LifeCycle the biggest ever. The ride raised a total of $6.8 million. We started out from San Francisco with 1617 riders and more than 400 volunteer roadies. Funny, they never give us the net figure, those who arrive in Los Angeles seven days later.

You, being among my 56 contributors, helped push the total donated in my name to $5561.71. Thank you oh so very much! Among all the other benefits, that entitled me to what I call "the $5000 jersey," a specially designed AIDS LifeCycle jersey that couldn't be had for less than $5000 in donations. You can see a picture of me in that jersey at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronslog/19761875/

Photos! Yes there are photos; 239 of 'em. You can view them on-line by going to http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronslog/sets/447865/

No registration required, no ads, no funny business. If you want to leave comments on any photos, you'll need to register, but that doesn't cost a dime.

I may highlight some photos and detail some bits of the ride on my weblog over the next few weeks. You can find that stuff at http://ronslog.typepad.com/ronslog/aids_rides/index.html

I think you would have been quite pleased and impressed with the ride. There was, as always, the great sense of camaraderie among the riders and roadies. You just never knew when somebody was going to surprise you by putting up your tent for you, or offering you mechanical help alongside the road (hey, I was just taking photos), or even giving you a little push to help you get to the top of the hill (I was going slow, but I was still moving!).

The support from outside the ride is also tremendous. The riders never go long without some cheers of support from people along the way. Sometimes it's just a driver flashing us a "V" (yes, it was two fingers, I counted), other times some local people will set up a whole shebang to impress us and even give us calories, and then there are some people who become camp followers and show up along our route every day to encourage us. There's one couple everyone calls Mom & Dad who park their car along the route, open the trunk, and hang out signs of support. They've probably got some water and calories to share too, if you ask. Mom is always banging on a drumhead because somebody years ago advised her she needed a prop.

Anyway, one day there is this hill called Quadbuster, which from an objective point of view isn't all that steep or all that long. I figured out this year the hard part of Quadbuster is there's no wind. You hit it in the morning and the slope faces east, so it's getting full sun. We actually had a slight tailwind going up it. "Slight tailwind" meaning about 4 miles per hour. My speed going up Quadbuster, once I got all settled into it, was about 4 miles per hour as well. This meant that hot, sweaty miasma I was generating traveled right along with me as I climbed. A headwind would have been preferable. When I got to the top there was, as always, a huge crowd of riders who had got there before me. They lined the road cheering and encouraging loudly. Buried in their midst was Mom & Dad, and just as I crept slowly by, Mom stopped her drumming and leaned in real, real close to me and said quietly "Thank you for doing this!" just like the whole reason she was there was to make sure I got up Quadbuster. It was much more encouraging than all the loud cheering.

There were a couple of people who worked up a real sweat supporting me, and they didn't get to come along to stand on a golden California hill or come to camp for a dish of mashed yeast. These were:

Bill Z. who let me (and Lee and Brian, see below) stay at his place out in Concord, and fed us, and drove me to hell and back (the Cow Palace, specifically) twice and acted like it was just the pleasant sort of thing he'd like to be doing at 4:00 on a Sunday morning. Not only that, but he hung out with me at registration, stood in line to get my $5000 jersey for me, and even watched the safety video with me! All our secrets were laid bare. He concluded that we were all insane, but it was for a good cause.

And Lee who drove me and his partner Brian from Long Beach to San Francisco, and then picked us up again at the end in Los Angeles and drove us back to Long Beach. I had never made it to the Bay Area in such record time! He said it was because I made him do it, but I thought he just enjoyed going 85 MPH on I-5. Whatever, it worked for me.

We had dry weather, mild temperatures and tail winds for all seven days of the ride. There were, as always, the vistas of the long line of cyclists undulating over the California hills. We had endless, infinite views of the Pacific. When we got to the halfway point at the top of the Twin Sisters, the weather was unusually clear so that we could see everything from beyond Morro Bay nearly to Hawaii. The food was plentiful, and good enough. I was very happy I chose the veggie option again. The carnivores were getting great big meaty sandwiches at lunch, a meal I might have enjoyed at the end of the day, but could not have hauled with me for half the day's ride. And, even though it's California, the queue at the veggie dinner line was never more than 2 or 3 people long, while the three carnivore lines would snake all over camp. Consider that, future riders. Veggie = Better Food Faster. Of course it is tofu every night! No, not really. There was one night we had something else.

A new thing on this year's ride was the film crew from Logo. Logo is a new gay & lesbian cable channel being started up by MTV. It's premiering just about now, I think. Logo decided to do a documentary about AIDS LifeCycle that will be broadcast some time this coming fall or winter. Their crews were nearly ubiquitous, but they never actually spent the night in tent city with us, so they didn't really have their ears to the ground. They missed the excitement on the first night in Aptos where we were camped out on a soccer field at Cabrillo College. Someone neglected to turn off the sprinklers. At 2 o'clock AM I was awakened by the unmistakable sound of sprinklers coming up to begin marching their spray around. I hoped it was on the neighboring field, but I heard the wails and gnashing of teeth when the water began hitting the tents, so I knew we were in for it. Brian and I in our tent were pretty lucky. A tiny bit of water got in. My bag outside got a bit damp. Some people slept through the whole thing. But others whose tents were right at the sprinkler heads fared much worse. One rider described to me how he pulled his stuff out of his tent and then wrapped the tent around the sprinkler head, sparing many other campers from the spray. But that water had to go somewhere, and it just created a mud pit around that particular head.

The whole ordeal lasted only half an hour, but in the retelling over the next few days, it became rather Paul Bunyanesque. In subsequent campsites, we campers carefully identified the positions of sprinkler heads, so that our tents would not be immediately adjacent -- but no further sprinkler tragedies occurred.

But back to Logo, the documentary people. They outfitted a few people with microphones and transmitters so they could follow them and record conversations on the road (and the sounds in the porta-potties as well). But they had permission (somewhere in the fine print when we signed up for the ride we gave away all our photographic rights) to film any of us, and they did. They'd hang out at a rest stop or in camp and when they thought they spotted something photographable they moved in like a terrier going for a loose bit of lunch meat. The response from the riders and roadies was quite impressive. When did we all get trained in how to deal with being the subject of reality TV? I saw the crew zoom in on people having private conversations -- and by "zoom" I don't mean they stood back and used a zoom lens. No, I mean the camera came right up to the face and the boom mike hovered just above the rider's helmet. But I never saw anyone even flinch. Private conversations rolled right on as the film crew crouched and crept alongside. A few times I suspected a few riders of trying to be a bit more appealing to an MTV camera than usual. Looking good, touching each other, and over-emoting worked pretty well. But the film crew wasn't entirely suckered. I caught the lens on me several times, but I'm pretty sure those bits are going to hit the digital version of the cutting room floor. One morning I sat in my tent checking my cellphone to see if any of my supporters had called to inquire about the ride. As you already know, if your name isn't Bill Z., you didn't call (sob!). But when I looked up from my cellphone, there was the Logo camera coming into the tent like the camel's nose. I'm sure they were hoping for something juicy, like a call to my snookums or something, but instead they just got me pushing buttons. Sorry. I was even fully dressed. And on that subject, I never saw the Logo crews anywhere near the showers...but I might have just missed that drama.

Casmalia is a little town (we're on a new subject here) that we came to on our fifth day of riding (i.e., Thursday from Santa Maria to Lompoc) and it is one of those little agricultural towns that is just sort of scratching along above the poverty line. Yes, even in southern California such places exist! The grade school actually extends their schedule so that the last official day of "classes" is the day we arrive. The kids write notes of support and mingle with us at our rest stop there, giving us the notes and taking our wristbands and t-shirts. It's among the top 5 highlights of the ride, I'd say. I got this note from young Julio (who writes a nice script):

Dear Bike Rider,

Thank you for coming to Casmalia. Is it tiring to ride a bike. For me it is. How far is it to go to San Francisco to Los Angeles? I would not even make it half way. Do you go to sleep? Do you enjoy your trip? I hope you can come to Casmalia again.

Julio

And then there's the rider who is a teacher at several grade schools. She gets her kids to write us notes too, and I got one from Elena, who isn't up to writing script yet:

Dear Rider,

Thank you for helping people that are sick so They could get better than they are. Don't give up!

love,
Elena

She includes her own drawing of a couple of cyclists, one of whom sports a Marlo Thomas "That Girl" hair-do! It's probably Ginger. Ginger Brewlay, that is, who works herself to the bone every year making sure the riders have a good time of it.

Also among the top 5 highlights of the ride is the candlelight "ceremony" at San Buenaventura State Beach. This is our last night of camping, and the next day we will all ride into Los Angeles. The beach provides a spacious, beautiful area for this candlelight thing which begins about 8:30 PM, as the last bits of daylight are fading into the Pacific, allowing us to gaze across the waves and admire the distant lights of the oil-drilling platforms. I guess this ceremony was new last year, but it went so nicely then that I thought they'd been doing it all along and I had just missed it somehow.

There is no real ceremony to it. AIDS LifeCycle provides candles and little plastic candle holders to protect our biker hands. As we file out onto the beach via the narrow pathway among the dunes, there are volunteers to light our candles. Out on the beach, we formed a ring, just like we did last year. But this year's ride is much bigger, and I guess word of the ceremony had spread. So the circle grew and grew. We had to break it for a bit, in order to swallow up a lifeguard stand. Then the professional photographers and the Logo film crew spotted the photo op and (ignoring the No Trespassing signs) stormed onto the lifeguard stand to get their shots. The ceremony consists of everyone standing in this circle with their lighted candles, waiting for everyone to get onto the beach, which took a LOT longer this year. Even the Logo film crew realized this wasn't all going to make good TV, so they sat back and stopped filming after a bit. When finally every last person was on the beach, the effect was tremendous. The "circle" was more rectangular and probably the length of two football fields. I couldn't see the ends too well because of little undulations in the beach surface. Then someone raised their candle above their head (just like the Statue of Liberty) and almost everyone followed suit. Oh, ho! The film crew gets off its ass and turns things on again. Something's happening. But we just stood there for awhile, so the film crew got bored again. Until a half dozen or so spontaneously turned and walked with their candles to the water's edge to extinguish them. And 1500 hundred other candle holders all did the same. The film crew had to really scramble as it was now photographable again, but we had moved away from their vantage point. Eventually all the candles were extinguished and we all began to leave the beach through the same narrow pathway. And that's it. No words, no songs, nobody hums Kum ba yah. Very anarchic, libertarian, except somebody had to arrange for the candles.

New subject: I had no mechanical troubles with the Air Glide, my bike. No flats even. I got a lot of comments on the bike and heard from a surprising number of people who thought I had to work harder because the wheels were smaller. I found myself explaining the engineering miracle of a chain-gear drive to a lot of cyclists, all of whom should already have understood this basic point of biking. Sometimes it set my teeth on edge.

I want to re-assure you, as a contributor, that the ride seems to be conducted in as cheap a mode as possible, consistent with safety and health. Those who travel by motor vehicle ride in nothing fancier than a Subaru, and even those are loaned by our primary sponsor (Subaru, I mean). It's all a very lean, unpretentious operation because we all want the maximum amount of money to go for the anti-AIDS and anti-HIV programs at LAGLC. It'd be great if I could raise $5561.71 and not have to ride, but the truth is that most people just don't contribute as much unless they hear that I will actually be on my bike out there on Route 1 (and 101, and Quadbuster, etc. etc.).

Next year: why don't you get involved too? A few of my contributors are roadies and riders, but 97% of you are not. Some of you have said (year after year after year) that you plan on doing it some day. Don't make me get peevish with you. None of us have any sort of a guarantee that we will even be alive a year from now. And who knows, maybe between now and next June they'll discover a cure for HIV that costs less than 50¢ per person (hey, we can hope!), and there'll be no more AIDS LifeCycle and it'll just be a thing that used to be and you never got around to participating in (he said, ending it with a preposition).

I would like to point out to you this year's rider who was the most poorly trained, in the worst shape, most overweight, on the most ill-fitting bike...but I don't know who it was. Whoever it was, that person raised his $2500 and he finished the ride. You can do it too, and I assure you that, just like they say in their promotional stuff, doing the ride will change you forever. It will certainly improve your opinion of humanity, something we all could benefit from these days.

The oldest rider, by the way, was about age 76, so don't try using age as an excuse.

Or, if you are looking for a bigger challenge than riding AIDS LifeCycle, how about becoming a roadie? Oh, ho, it's a naive fool who takes on that role expecting it to be seven pleasant days of riding the bus and schmoozing with the riders. If you are a tough, unstoppable, Type-A person, be a roadie. The work will nearly crush you, until some filthy rider comes up and gives you a big sloppy kiss for your efforts.

Can't get seven days off from work? Don't really want to do the hard work? Come out and be some kind of cheerleader just just one day along the route. Park your car in the middle of nowhere, put up a sign, make a little noise while you sit in your folding chair sipping lemonade. The riders will love you. If you want to do that, let me know and I'll find out who you need to be in touch with at the ride office. You'll need to know where we're riding!

But aside from all that, thank you again for your contribution because in the end, that's all that really matters!

permalink | July 7, 2005 at 07:17 PM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2005

Logo

The L.A. Times has an article about the launch of Logo, the new cable channel for gay people. It was Logo that was along filming a documentary on AIDS LifeCycle.

Reality TV veteran Scott Stone is producing "The Ride," Logo's seven-part documentary focusing on participants in the AIDS/LifeCycle 4 bike trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles earlier this month. Logo "is the only place to really tell the story the way we're telling it," he said. "This is not a big moneymaker for me or my company. It's more a labor of love."

permalink | June 28, 2005 at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2005

239 Photos

I've got all 239 AIDS LifeCycle 4 Photos posted on Flickr now. Everything from check-in to the closing ceremonies. Go take a look.

permalink | June 24, 2005 at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

Lorri Jean on Flickr

Lorri Jean, the CEO of LAGLC (the beneficiary of your contributions to AIDS LifeCycle) has joined Flickr. She hasn't posted any photos yet, but she's selected some favorites, including quite a few of mine.

permalink | June 24, 2005 at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2005

Gear Trucks

On LifeCycle I got into Ventura rather early...because I rode the bus that day. As a result, I had time to take these panoramas of the gear trucks as they lined up and emptied out the gear:
Day 6 Gear (1)

Day 6 Gear (2)

Day 6 Gear (3)

permalink | June 23, 2005 at 02:46 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2005

That Ol' Rag?!

Darrel's Red Dress
It's Darrel in the very same red dress he wore LAST season!
That girl will never be a Hilton!

permalink | June 22, 2005 at 09:57 AM | Comments (1)

June 16, 2005

Me On AIDS LifeCycle

Couldn't let this one go by.
Self, Rider #3007
Here I am posing confidently at Rest Stop 1 on Day 3 immediately before the assault on Quadbuster
. That's my $5000 jersey I'm wearing, which my contributors bought for me.

permalink | June 16, 2005 at 04:16 PM | Comments (1)

June 14, 2005

"Bikeathon" - I hate that word

Nonetheless, here is a standard story about the AIDS LifeCycle ride. I point out this paragraph:

Over the course of the week-long event, local residents along the route came out to show their support. These interactions often led to some of the most poignant moments on the ride, the riders said, such as the personal delivery of handwritten letters by school children in Casmalia, the cheers of encouragement from preschoolers outside Guadalupe, and the many merchants along the way who, upon learning of the event, offered free services and food.

Yeah, the kids of Guadalupe and Casmalia were pretty amazing. You would be proud to be able to claim any of them as your own child. Both towns are incredibly tiny — smaller than LifeCycle itself. Casmalia is certainly isolated in rural poverty. Maybe Guadalupe is too, but it's at least close to Santa Maria. Nonetheless, they turned out in the dozens to welcome us with open, happy faces. They wore our t-shirts; we wore theirs. They gave us letters of encouragement, and we gave them beads and let them eat our rest stop food (poor kids!).

Now we knew there must have been parents in those towns who didn't let their kdis come and mingle with those big city bikers who were raising money to fight AIDS, but we didn't see those parents or their kids. We just saw good people.

I was reassured that the future is not necessarily going to be all hate-filled, bigoted, red states.

permalink | June 14, 2005 at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2005

LifeCycle Photos

A Flickr group for photos from AIDS LifeCycle. These are gonna be mostly OTHER people's photos.

permalink | June 13, 2005 at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2005

AIDS LifeCycle in Lompoc

The Lompoc Record did a good story about our ride on the day BEFORE we headed for Lompoc.

permalink | June 12, 2005 at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

We Weren't Peddlin' Nuthin'!

One of the most irritating spelling errors (to me), and this time it drags in AIDS LifeCycle!

permalink | June 12, 2005 at 05:06 PM | Comments (1)