SF to LA on spokes

This June, over 2,200 bicyclists will be making a seven day, 585 mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise cash for HIV/AIDs related services, as part of AIDS Lifecycle 7.

Dan Hontz, a product manager in the news division of Yahoo! in Santa Monica, decided to join the ride as both a personal challenge and to do something positive about “our current state of affairs.” So far Dan has raised a little more than half of his $5000 goal in pledges.

If you’d like to hear more about Dan, AIDS Lifecycle 7, and how you can help, keep reading…

After Dan extended me permission to use his awesome shopping cart pic last month, we exchanged a few emails about his cycling experience and this epic ride.

Do you ride with any local bike groups, like Midnight Ridazz?

Haven’t ridden with the Ridazz or Critical Mass folks, but I keep thinking I’ll check ’em out some night. I’m a little worried that I’m too much of an old roadie to be welcomed among the younger, cooler messenger/fixed-gear/etc folks. But it sure looks like fun.

My group rides have largely been with clubs specifically training for AIDS/LifeCycle: : Shifting Gears and the Chain Gang. They both rock; both support riders of all abilities, and both know some great routes around LA.

And I do log a lot of miles riding solo — it really can clear your head and take the edge off daily life. I’ll also sometimes ride with folks from work — there are a lot of people into cycling at Yahoo!.

What are your favorite spots to ride around LA? What are the most challenging routes/paths?

I have a bunch of favorites, but I guess these would be near the top of the list:

Nichols Canyon: You head up into the hills from Nichols Canyon at Hollywood Boulevard, then over on Mulholland and down Sepulveda. Nichols is a challenging, steep uphill, Mulholland’s got some rollers that wear you down, and Sepulveda is a great downhill. You get some cool views along the way.

Mandeville Canyon and Bundy: This combines some fast loops around San Vicente (you’ll see all sorts of cyclists on the stretch between Bundy and the ocean) with some nice hills. Mandeville is a five-mile uphill grind that ends with a really mean last quarter of a mile; Bundy’s about three miles up and a not quite so mean. I like to do a loop on San Vicente, head up Mandeville, do another loop, head up Bundy, then finish with one more loop.

PCH – Zuma to Las Posas or Camarillo:
For my money, the scenery along on PCH can’t be beat. I start at Zuma (the traffic on PCH isn’t as bad that far north) and head north to where it becomes a real freeway, at Las Posas. There are no big hills here, but on a windy day you can be working pretty hard. If you continue on to Camarillo on Las Posas, you’ll have done 50 miles by the time you’re back at Zuma.

What made you decide to do AIDS Lifecycle?

About two years ago I started cycling, and last summer I did my first century ride (that’s 100 miles to non-bike-geeks). I needed a new challenge, and a friend of mine at work told me about his experience with the AIDS ride the year before. Not too long after, I signed up.

The timing was good, too, because I’d become frustrated with our country’s focus on things like a really dumb war and our leaders taking up moral agendas that tried to tell people how to live their lives. Of course, I’d complain and never do anything. I’m not the political-activist sort, and I’m not sure I could make a difference if I was.

With the AIDS ride, I’m doing something. It may be a bit of stretch to say helping HIV/AIDS-support organizations is a way of addressing things that are wrong in the world today. But the bottom line is that instead of just complaining about our current state of affairs, I’m doing something positive and tangible, something that will improve the lives of people.

What have you been doing to prepare for the seven day ride?

Many, many miles in the saddle! I’m at over 120 miles a week now, and it looks like March will be my first 500-mile month. All those miles help with the endurance and the bike handling skills. But it’s still a big mystery to me what it could possibly be like to ride 80+ miles a day with 2,000 people for a week. My guess is it’ll be pretty amazing.

If you’d like to keep up with Don’s continued training, you can check out the details at his blog, or to contribute a pledge and learn more about AIDS LifeCycle you can check out his page there.

5 thoughts on “SF to LA on spokes”

  1. Awesome on so many fronts. I already have a friend I sponsor in this race. Good luck and thanks for making readers here aware of the event.

  2. Hey Dan, you don’t have to be “younger, cooler messenger/fixed-gear/etc” to be welcome on Midnight Ridazz, just be prepared to have fun.

    You have my admiration for doing the AIDS Lifecycle ride, best of luck.

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