A scene form The Wizard of Oz illustrates how many of us felt on today’s ride. At 101.9 miles, the ride from Santa Cruz to King City is the longest of the 7 day California AIDSRide 9 event.
Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion aided by Toto climb step rocks to the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West whose army of flying monkeys abducted Dorothy and sequestered her within the castle walls.
The three heroes CLIMB steep rocks. TINMAN holds onto LION’s tail for support.
I hope my strength holds out.
I hope your tail holds out.
Our tails have indeed held out.
The course opened at 6:30AM and I was on the road by 6:45, feeling good, relaxed, and ready for road. The course today was broken down into 8 stops. 4 pit stops with food, water, Gatorade (they really push the stuff BTW, replacing the electrolytes, and the electricity in your body I have discovered), a medical tent, bike repair, and today, massage and chiropractic. Nope I didn’t get one the queue was way to long, and of course I was ready for road.
The course was nicely paced with the stops appearing at just the right moments.
So how hard is it to ride 104 miles? It is significantly more difficult than 90 miles, in fact the pain is not proportional to the number of miles as it is to the time in the saddle. The ten additional miles felt like 50. 150. Anyway I made it in 9 hours, maintaining my 11.5 miles per hour average. Not bad. In fairness, the last 30 miles were help by a very strong tailwind, helping to make the last leg almost bearable.
Ok the technology story. I interviewed Brian Pendleton, VP of IT of Palotta Teamworks. Pendleton came from the .com bust (Trafficstation.com) and found what he describes as a job that fit his professional and personal values quite nicely.
He’s worked at Palotta for 18 months and has managed to turn the company IT infrastructure from a distributed model, into a web enabled, home grown customer relationship management tool that does everything from track the 74,000 participants for their 22 yearly events to allowing volunteers access to developing the training schedules on line. These changes have saved Palotta a great deal of money and has allowed the to recoup their ROI in one year.
The front end is a browser, the back end is SQL2000, and no open source software. Pendleton feels that open source software doesn’t meet his ideal model for a critical business application tool. Open source software requires a “special breed” (read: geek) to manage effectively. I guess I won’t offer him a free pass to The Open Source Convention!
Ok, the event tonight is Bingo. I am thinking Palotta is really concerned that riders are not getting enough sleep and bingo is intended on ensuring that the the riders get to be early. Good for them.
Closing thought. There are many people out supporting us with food and cheering (”WHOOOOHOOOO!” is the ubiquitous greeting when we approach any gathering no matter how small). Just south of Salinas I stopped and talk to a few of them. I asked a 12 year old boy if he knew how many people died today from AIDS related diseases. He guessed “maybe 20″. When I told him 8,000 died today and that everyday 8,000 people die from AIDS, he shook his head and said, “Those are some stupid people.”
It is clear that education is a vital tool in fighting AIDS epidemic. When people like my young friend understand the details about the epidemic, then I think real change is possible. Without this understanding, denial implicit in the statement “those are some stupid people” will continue and hope will have something less than a chance.