Bears on Bikes: Day 5 – After a slow start, wonderful red dresses and strong headwinds

A native of Berlin, Germany, Sabine Zimmermann is a lifelong bicyclist who has followed the Tour de France and other cycling races closely since her early teenage years. She started another sport, rowing, after moving to Florida at 16 as an exchange student, and was recruited by Cal women’s crew her senior year. Her four years on the team included two Division I National Team Championships. She graduated with a B.A. in mass communications in 2006.

After graduation Zimmermann started working with the German American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco and took up cycling again. After joining the Cal Triathlon team in 2007, she “got to know the beauty of riding in the Bay Area” — despite its hills. Riding to L.A. in the AIDS Life Cycle “sounded like a great adventure,” she says “and doing it for a great cause makes it even better.” She reports here on Day 5 of the AIDS LifeCycle, the Santa Maria-to-Lompoc leg.

LOMPOC — How do you know it’s Day 5 of the AIDS Life Cycle? You start thinking it’s weird when someone is not wearing a red dress. To anyone unfamiliar with the ALC traditions, on day 5 all riders cycle along the beautiful roads of Southern California in wonderful red dresses, and — to call even more attention to ourselves and our cause, AIDS awareness. (Although for some of our Cal ALCers, a red dress apparently was still too much fabric to contemplate on a bike. They were spotted, insead, in red Speedo swim wear …  And we’re not even to Malibu and Baywatch yet …)

Unfortunately, I only caught a quick glimpse of this Speedo-licious-ness as the last Cal guys were departing rest stop one. Why? Sometime in the last few days, I made a decision not to crawl out of my tent before seeing some daylight. This is my vacation after all. (Mind you daylight is usually around 6 a.m. — but apparently that’s waaay late on ALC time.)

Riders in red, as far as the eye can see. (Devin Wicks photo)

Since it was a fairly freezing morning in Santa Maria, I decided to take advantage of the chiropractic tent (where another former Golden Bear did wonders loosening up my lower back!) until the sun was actually out and it was warm enough to get into my red dress. Between that and a few more distractions, our very own Christine Shaff had to almost kick me out of bike parking, three minutes before it was to close (oops!).

All went pretty smoothly for what everyone assumed to be a fairly easy, short-ish day (“only” 68 miles). In no time we got to the town of Solvang for lunch — where many riders got distracted doing sightseeing and enjoying a treat at the local cafés. Little did we know (though rumor did start traveling) that our final 20ish miles ahead were going to be accompanied by fairly strong headwinds, and many more climbs than the route sheet promised. Ouch!

But in the end we made it, and look forward to getting back to the coast tomorrow. Wish us luck that we don’t get blown away by the wind — gusts of up to 45 m.p.h. are predicted — in our tents overnight.

Go Bears from Lompoc!