When Day Six started out with blintzes for breakfast, I knew things would be a better day than Day 5. The morning was sunny but cooler than the past few days. I left camp at 7:30am and enjoyed the first part of the day, a steady 15 miles climb and 5 wonderful miles of downhill. Then we hit Highway 101 and had to stay on it for 20 miles with traffic whizzing by at 65 mph. Bicycles are not usually allowed on this stretch of 101, so we rode on the narrow shoulder. It was draining to have my nerves rattled by the noise and draft and proximity of the huge trucks. One treat was seeing our gear trucks and crew pass us by, honking and waving as they passed.
Today was Remembrance Day on the ride, a day designed to honor those lost to AIDS. We were all given red ribbons to place on our bikes. All throughout the ride, many people had photos of loved ones pinned on their jerseys or their bikes. Some were suffering with AIDS, but most were dead. I felt very grateful bot to be personally affected by the disease. Today was the first day I felt tired while riding, and my knee was beginning to hurt me. But seeing the ribbons reminding me that my discomfort was minor compared to the devastation of AIDS. I rode on.
Things got better after we left 101. One pit stop had cartoon theme, with the Cat in the Hat, Sylvester and others handing out gatorade and goodies. Ginger was waiting at the top of a hill as usual, in her finest gown of the ride. The lunch stop was at UC Santa Barbara, where my sister went to college. It was nice to be on familiar turf but I missed Lilly and my friends and family. At lunch I ran into my friends and we waited for Stephanie, who had to be sagged to lunch with a flat. From UCSB, we were on a bike path for a while, quite a change from the freeway. We rode along the beach in Santa Barbara, soaking up the beautiful coast. I lost track of my friends and rode alone again, enjoying the relaxing ride.
As we left the coast, there were signs announcing "Clif Bar-free zone" and "Junk food ahead." The Team Santa Barbara bike club had an unofficial pit stop with candy bars, ice cream, hot dogs and even a local radio station playing music. I stopped for quick chocolate fix then road on. The day had turned overcast and humid, and humidity takes the fight out of you. But it's better than heat, which saps your strength and makes you feel miserable. Still, I was cranky and very glad to be riding alone so that none of my friends were subjected to my foul mood.
Just after Santa Barbara I spotted a pay phone with no line of riders behind it, a rare thing. I left messages for my family and missed them even more. Feeling a little low, I returned to the route. I passed a Grab and Go, a small pit stop that just had water and port-o-potties. I didn't need either, but I stopped anyway. I stood there for a minute, realized I didn't need anything, and went back to my bike. Beneath it was very long brown snake. We determined it was a California king snake, that it wasn't poisonous and that it was very scared. We watched it wind its way beneath a few more bikes before heading into the tall grass. A wild kingdom moment at the pit stop!
Back to the route, which for the next 10 miles was on 101 again. This time, there was a very wide bike lane and beautiful views of the ocean and mountains. I was feeling a little down as I pulled into the last pit, but left laughing. Today's Pit 4 was "Christmas in June" and they pulled out all the stops for this beachside pit. The port-o-potty doors were decked in Christmas wrapping. The medical crew made a snowman out of the "butt butter" chafing ointment. Riders stood in line for pictures with Santa and her very merry elves. The absurdity of it all made the fatigue and weariness of the ride melt away. As I left, I ran into Larry and we rode out together.
Just before leaving the highway, some supporters had set up a huge rainbow tunnel for us to ride through. The playful spirit of the ride was renewed in me. Camp tonight was on the beach, and although it was cloudy, being at the ocean was relaxing. A tent neighbor said he couldn't wait for a real shower and a real bed the next night, and it hit me that this was the last night of camp. Tomorrow was the last day of the ride. It seemed impossible that the ride was almost over. After dinner there was a remembrance program, but I went to bed early, tired from six days of riding and excited about the finishing the journey.
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Day 6 Menu
Breakfast: Cheese blintzes, hash browns, ham, oatmeal, muffin, peaches.
Lunch: Diced chicken w/pinto beans or soy burrito, garden salad.
Dinner: Chicken/sausage gumbo w/rice or veggie cutlet w/gumbo sauce, lima beans w/corn, cornbread, tossed green salad, brownie.