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Never Stop Exploring - The Journey before AIDS / LifeCycle 2015

Crack bars. Butt butter. Red dress day. I had no idea what these were or referred to before hearing about AIDS / LifeCycle.

As far as physical activities go, I always thought of myself as a runner first (and before that a while ago, a field hockey player). But never cycling. For the Nike’s Women’s Half Marathon I got 94th out of 26,312 runners. For my Berkeley Half Marathon I got 1:33:23 (a pace of 7:08 per mile), which for me is fast! There are a lot of faster runners on my running team, who I do my best to keep up with – they are SUPER speedy.

The past year (2014 into 2015) I got into more activities and varied it up. I went from going on greens to blues (and even some blacks!) on my snowboard. I took up climbing (thanks Todd for teaching me), and have gotten a few outdoor trips in. And I got into biking. Oh, and triathlons (though I’ve only done 1 with another on its way – training for a half ironman taking place in a couple of weeks).

My friend Phil last June asked me to go on a bike ride. “Oh no,” I thought. I hadn’t rode my bike in over 2 years and even when I did (probably a total of like 7 times), I fell off. Every. Single. Time. Falling off, let me say, is not fun. Some of those falls involved getting scratched up. So when I moved to California, my bike sat there, in the corner, not being touched. I was in fear of riding. I didn’t want to have another fall (yes we all do it, and I had a small fall today, but seriously, when you ride and you KNOW you’re going to have a fall, well, that’s not fun).

Basically it was my clips (I thought I just was incapable of clipping in and out at the time). But I took my bike and bike cleats to Mike’s Bike and they fixed them. They were extremely loose and the reason why I couldn’t unclip every time was because the shoe would rattle back and forth when I would try to unclip. Long story short, they fixed them and put a rubber piece in between the clip and the shoe. And that solved that.

So I went on that ride with Phil. And the sights I saw of California were incredible. One thing I love about running is I tune everything out and focus on the run. It’s me. The earth. Nature. And breaths of fresh air. No music. Just the sights and sounds of the outdoors. I find that even more with trail running (another activity I picked up this year).

With biking, it’s a bit different. You see A LOT. And the scenery in California is absolutely gorgeous. Whereas running you rely on your body. With biking, it’s that but you have to use your bike in order to make everything work, because you become (literally) completely attached to it. And you climb, and climb and climb. A run may take 1 hour, a bike ride may take 6 hours.

So after biking a number of rides with Phil, I was convinced to sign up for ALC (AIDS / LifeCycle) this year. A 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles from May 31st to June 6th that is put on in order to raise money for the Los Angeles LGBT Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The experience so far has been amazing. The community is, well, just: “WOW.” Super supportive, encouraging and a fun group. Everybody is there with a common goal: to raise awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS. There are obviously some side benefits: great exercise, awesome people, and you get to see a lot of California!

ALC has taken me on some amazing rides: Mt. Tam, Half Moon Bay, and King’s Mountain Road, just to name a few. I’m looking forward to the actual ride which is coming up in a little over a month’s time.

Oh wait, let me further explain the first line. Crack bars are PB&J in between a graham cracker that I’m told are really addicting and served at every ALC rest stop. Butt butter um, well you get it. Just imagine your butt seated on that bike for 80+ miles. And red dress day is a tradition where every rider wears red one day on the ride symbolizing a human AIDS ribbon in motion.

Biking this much has made me prioritize my other sporting activities. Climbing, I do only once a while now. I still run, but have been focusing on the bike these past few months. I’m hoping to get back on the track, and maybe do cross country this season! It’s been really cool “mixing” it up. Running is a sport I will always enjoy. Biking has been an incredible new experience. Swimming is hard to wake up at 5:40 in the morning but you feel even more energetic afterwards. Rock climbing is just fun. Boarding is cool to do in California with not having freezing New England snow/ice. And yoga, well, I should probably start doing that more than once every other month ;-) When do I do all this? Oftentimes, my friend’s will see on their calendars a 6:30 or 7:00 am sporting activity before going in to work at 8:30 or 9:00 am.

What I love most? Exploring. And I never want to stop. In addition to being an outdoor adventurer, I absolutely love traveling the world – seeing the sites, meeting new people, and hearing their stories.

So to all: Explore. Dream. Discover.

And always have an open mind.

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