Cal road warriors: Riders and ground support go rouge

LOMPOC — Four Cal Team members — Celeste Roschuni, Margaret Chester, Anita Liboff and Jonathan Goodrich — report here on AIDS LifeCycle Day 5, Thursday’s leg from Santa Maria to Lompoc. They (and about 2,500 others) are cycling from San Francisco to Los Angeles, in a benefit supporting HIV/AIDS services and awareness.

Celeste Roschuni, Ph.D. candidate, Berkeley Institute of Design and mechanical engineering

This is my fourth time on the AIDS LifeCycle, but my first as a roadie.  I decided to take a break from training (in order to focus on my school work) and from fundraising (to give my generous donors a break, too).

AIDS Lifecycle 2011 logo

I first participated in the ALC as a personal challenge, and it changed the way I relate to the whole concept of exercise. But I found the community to be so fantastic, and the cause such a great one, that I’ve continued to come back.

Since I couldn’t ride this year, I found a different way to contribute. Roadies are split up into teams to get various support jobs done. I was fortunate enough to join Christine Shaff, another wonderful Cal Bear, and my friend Michael on the bike-parking team.

Celeste Roschuni in red dress

Celeste Roschuni dons her red best for Day 5.

Being a roadie is a much different experience than being a rider. In short, it’s more work, less play.  As a rider, I would get up, get myself from place to place, meet fun people all day, roll into camp, then relax and take care of myself.  Even on my hardest ride, I was able to choose when to stop and rest and whether or not I wanted to keep going.

As a roadie on bike parking, I get up before most of the riders, eat when I can (lunch is often on the bus between campsites), and work until after the last rider gets in. The pain, meanwhile, seems to have shifted from my butt to my feet (we don’t sit much on bike parking). The best parts of the day are sending the riders off in the morning and cheering them into the new camp in the afternoon.

Today was Day 5 of the ride, which means Red Dress Day! Roadies and riders were all decked out in full regalia — an awesome sight as everyone came through bike parking (shiny and fresh in the morning, not so in the afternoon). Besides the fun dresses, it’s a special day because it’s short one: we were finished around 4:30 p.m. — “just” 11 hours after we started this morning.

Working as a roadie has made me appreciate how much went into supporting my previous three rides — something I won’t forget when I go back to riding (as soon as my dissertation will afforded me enough time to train). Besides spending a week sleeping in tents, getting up at the crack of dawn, and working all day long, the roadies this year raised almost half a million dollars; I only wish I could say I contributed to that.

Which is all to say: the people who volunteer to roadie for ALC are some pretty fantastic folks, and I look forward to seeing them again next year.

Margaret Chester and Anita Liboff

Margaret Chester (L) and Anita Liboff get in the spirit.

Margaret Chester, staff, Information Services & Technology and Anita Liboff, staff, Recreational Sports

Though it was really a challenge, the two of us dressed up today. We couldn’t compete with all the guys in their wigs and gowns, but we wore our athletic skirts and did our best. We slept in until 5:45 a.m. and left camp at 8 a.m., since this was a low-mileage “recovery” day — just 41 miles. The ride has been a real adventure.

While today was fun and festive, the past four days have been exciting, challenging and exhausting. We’ve seen migrant farmworkers hard at work, picking strawberries from fields that smelled so sweet.  We’ve traveled through Steinbeck country, through the Central Valley and back to the coast. We saw the seals at Moss Landing and heard them cheering us on as we passed by. Mostly we have been viewing the back tire of the ALC rider in front of us as we follow each other south.

As we prepare for our last long day of riding tomorrow — 85 miles, taking us to our final campsite, in Ventura — it excites and saddens us to know that our journey is coming to an end. While we look forward to rejoining our regular families, we will miss our ALC family. Tonight we will go to sleep on our mats, reflecting on why we ride, to find a cure for AIDS/HIV.

Jonathan Goodrich, alum and staff member, Hearst Museum of Anthropology

This is my second time on the ride; last year was my first year. I had the time of my life the first year, so I had to do it again.

Jonathan Goodrich

Jonathan Goodrich

Riding with the Cal Aids LifeCycle team has been amazing. I’ve made new friendships and reinforced old ones. I got recruited to wear a red Speedo today, Day 5 of the ride. Not the best outfit for our coldest day so far! Four of us Cal folk suffered because we had decided to wear the least amount of red possible!

Red Dress Day was originally called “dress red day,” and was designed to symbolize a red ribbon on the road. Over the years, it has also become the day that everyone dons wild and not-so-wild outfits. Very fun! Amazing costumes!

And an amazing message being sent out to California for these seven days of our ride. The ALC brings awareness and sensitivity to the AIDS epidemic. If we can change a few minds along the way and help remove the stigma borne by people living with HIV and AIDS, we will be that much better for it, as a people. The ride has helped remove the stigma in my mind, and I’m better for it.

Cyclists in red climb a stretch of highway

ALC riders climb a hill near Santa Maria.