Saturday, July 3, 2010

Days 18 & 19: It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

There comes a moment in every half way to being middle aged man's life, where he realizes that, officially, his childhood is over. The door to Mr. Rogers' playhouse closes, the ferries stop taking people to Gulla Gulla Island, and you have to be on drugs to think a purple dinosaur can talk. This moment of clarity dropped the curtail on our childhood, tonight, as our group watched Toy Story 3: We laughed, we cried, and as Vanessa Carlton would say, "if I could fall into the sky, do you think time would pass me by?"

Friday's sun rose with a newfound relaxed approached to our ride: we decided that, at the end of the day, we were going to make it across this country in 67 days no matter how early, or late, we woke up in the morning. 7:30am, quickly became 10:00am, and as we waved goodbye to the Garton's Lincoln-esque cabin, our team braced themselves for the world renowned Vail Pass. Weaving up and around the brute of the Rockies, this pass is known for swallowing riders faster than when Claire inhales her daily bowl of fruit. 40 miles of climbing and 30 miles of mountain pass trails, separated our team from our destination of Keystone, CO (located beside beautiful Lake Dillon) and as we began the day's ride optimism was at an all time low.

From Jason's first wrong turn out the driveway, it was clear that the ride to Keystone would prove to be an interesting one. While Shane and Claire chose to be safe and ride together, Sanford, Zane and Jason motored ahead, hoping to outrace the rain clouds and finish the day's climb quickly. However, our three musketeers would find that their biggest obstacle on the road to Friday's destination would not be steeply ascending bike paths but a go-kart course and the Colorado River. Upon reaching the town of Copper, in the middle of Nowhere, CO, our FACE AIDS uniformed riders were approached by a family of Stanford alums. After discussing FACE AIDS and the purpose of the ride for some time, Sanford, known for his keen alertness especially on the road, noticed a track in the distance. Would our riders be able to resist the temptation of mid-day go-karting?

Obviously not. Despite talking to Arthur, the owner of the karting operation, about the ride, the boys were unable to secure their favorite cars. Zane, obviously, should have been Donkey Kong, but instead was given Peach due to his flowing locks of hair. Upon realizing that Edward from Twilight was not, and never will be, a playable character in any respectable video game, Sanford chose Wario simply because he has teeth that kind of sort of look like those of a vampire. Not really though. Finally, Jason requested the strong-willed, never-questioned Bowser, but, instead, was given the role of the lanky plumber Luigi. After seven laps on the rainbow level that everyone falls of off, Luigi used his weight advantage to navigate past a lagging Wario. With time running out, Peach dropped three banana peels with the hope of protecting her leading position. Unfortunately for our princess, a gopher from the days of "Moo Moo Farm" sprung up, decapitating the lovely Peach and allowing Luigi a well-earned victory. Realizing after returning to their actual bodies that they had no idea how to get to Keystone from Peach's Castle, the boys asked and received help from Steve and his wife Sue, experienced bikers eager to learn about the Ride Against AIDS. Following a half-hour discussion of FACE AIDS activities on the Stanford campus and their relationship to pin-making program in Africa, the "S-Couple" offered our riders advice and steered them on their way.

While shells were being fired in Copper, more interesting events occurred with our other riders. Shane suffered a flat tire immediately after finishing the uphill and was forced to bellydance his way into town to await pick up. With one leg and one tire, our heart and soul believed it wise to call the day early and live to fight another battle. One rider Shane will receive no pity from for Friday's hardships is the famous Momma Fish II. Treating the ride like a crew race, Claire pedaled and pedaled without any idea as to where she was heading. Unfortunately for the experienced stroke seat, Claire forgot that she had no coxswain to direct her: In the end, Momma Fish II wound up biking an extra 20 miles on the day, leaving her angry and ready to erg her pain away.

Sanford, Jason, and Zane were not the only members of the group to have good Fridays--Kirsten, forever an trooper, accomplished a feat unparalleled in history. Through the masses of thousands of red and white-striped clad people on the roads of Colorado, she somehow managed to do what the visually-impaired Shane has always dreamed of: she found Waldo. Apparently, Waldo travels with a companion named Bobby always and prefers to be called Wally. Reveling in her success, Kirsten found herself anxiously awaiting Saturday's ride with Wally and Bobby, so much so that she chose to hit the hay early in order to lead the charge into Denver.

The branches of the Stanford Tree did not need to extend very far to find us housing in Keystone, as Alex Kelsall, a dorm-mate of Claire and Shane, volunteered to host the group of 7 at his families winter cottage. Pulling into the beautiful home, Mike and Shane unloaded the car, and Mike was picked up by a friend to attend a wedding during the holiday weekend. For the second day in a row, the FACE AIDS team and somehow landed a beautiful home with amazing views of the surrounding mountain passes. And, as fate would have it, as Shane and Alex looked into the basin of one of these mountain passes, they saw Zane, Sanford, and Jason pull in next to the Colorado river. Instantaneously, as if Barry White was playing in the background, Shake-Weight certified user Zane Silver threw off his riding shirt and dove into the rolling Colorado River that ran next to the bike path.

Eventually, we all made it to the comfort of the Kelsall Keystone Kottage. After taking our traditional read/nap/listen to Jason three song playlist on repeat session, our group pilled into the car for a nice dinner beside Lake Dillon. Though the food was sub-par, the conversation was splendid and, in the end, at least Zane was able to give the waitress his cell phone number. Purposely forgetting the boxed food at the restaurant, your favorite riders reconvened beside the fireplace for a night of laughter and route planning.

On Saturday morning, accompanied by her newfound entourage, Kirsten lead the infamous climb up Loveland Pass by leaving thirty minutes before scheduled departure time. With this news permeating his REM cycle, Jason made a conscious decision to sleep in for two more hours. After the representative from New York was finally pulled out of bed, Claire had emailed enough nonexistent people about not important things, and Zane had finished applying his camera-friendly makeup, the three stragglers finally hit the road. These three would soon find themselves separately, attacking Loveland Pass in their own ways. While Zane rode his tamed goat up and Claire de-stressed by erg-biking, Jason jerked his way to the 11990 foot summit--the highest point on our entire ride. Ten minutes and forty photos later (You didn't think Zane would waste an opportunity, did you now?), our riders felt the chill and cruised down the mountain. Drafting and slipstreaming, the three truly felt "safety in numbers." Thirty miles of downhill later, the team was extremely close to its lodgings for the night.

While the riders actually did something of importance/meaning, Sanford and Shane pulled into the Kelsall's Denver home to stay another night with this selfless family. Hobbling out of the car, Shane was immediately swarmed by Mrs. Kelsall, an unbelievable pediatrician, who had him on a couch, taking medicine, whiling icing, and on the phone with a orthopedic doctor within 15 minutes of their arrival at the house. It was worse than the storm of Omaha Beach, as the stunned rider had been surprised by the unwavering love that Mrs.Kelsall kept deploying. Sanford took the time to explore the Kelsall House, finding a stash of Twilight memorabilia to stare at for hours.

As the two drivers relaxed, Claire, Zane and Jason found themselves drawn to the Denver Federal Center. Scoping out the buildings on the fenced-in property for an hour, the three waited until they had found weak points in the perimeter defenses to alert the Pentagon about before calling for pickup. Sitting by the side of the government property, our riders were then picked up by an unmarked white van driven by Shane and Sanford, the sight of which relieved the hundreds of federal agents surveilling our apparently-snooping riders.

After tidying up and futile attempts to force Shane to shave in order to keep our phones untapped, Mr. and Mrs. Kelsall teamed up to make the riders an amazing BBQ dinner with more fresh fruit than even the organic, our state is going to save the world even though we are broke, super green Californian riders knew what to do with. It was interesting to juxtapose this family dinner with last nights meal because not only was it cheaper, but the dusk's ambiance against our table on the Kelsall's deck was just enough to help us realize that we could finally relax. The worst of the ride is behind us. We had suffered through the lonely roads of Nevada, escaped the missionaries in Utah, and climbed the Rockies of Colorado. "It's only downhill from here," exclaimed Sanford as he pushed one more burger down out of sight.

Tomorrow, our group will split up once again, with Mike at the wedding, Kirsten heading to Boulder, Claire visiting friends in Vail, and the four lone rangers exploring the sites of downtown Denver. For now, our team has been put back in the toy chest. Andy has forgotten about us, hidden us in crates with his Beanie Babies and Lego action figures. But, it is only time (more like 2 days) before the the air of childhood will blow open the hatch and our team will reunite to ride on and finish the mission we began.

No comments:

Post a Comment