AIDS Lifecycle riders fall into two basic categories: those who are on the regular program who check their bikes, eat meals with the group and sleep in camp in tents like this:
Tents sleep two people each – tent mates are assigned at check-in unless you’re traveling as a couple or with a friend. You pack your own gear, are responsible for set up each day after the ride and break down each morning before ride out. Shower facilities are portable trucks that travel from camp to camp.
And then there's the Princess Plan. The Princess Plan allows riders who are a little more, um, persnickety, to stay in the hotel of their choice along the route. Obviously at additional cost and slight additional hassle as the P-Plan requires someone willing to pick you up from camp, take you to your hotel, drive you back in the morning, etc. In some cases, riders use taxis. In some, they have friends in each town who are thrilled to see them and support their efforts. And in Sig Other’s case, there’s me - his personal soigner.
The Princess Plan started perfect enough. No complaints from rider OR soigner about the bed at the Four Seasons. Santa Cruz proved equally pleasant though in a sort of funky beach motel sort of way:
And then came King City.
This is the stop I’d been dreading all ride – the stop I knew would be challenging both in terms of accommodations and cuisine. I was prepared for Deliverance. But somehow, even the anticipation of a dingy fleabag motel could not prepare me for the smell – the smell of disinfectant on musty carpet and lit up by fluorescence. There is no smell like the smell of a cheap motel. No color like the green of a shiny cotton bedspread under buzzing ceiling lights that turn on and off with motion detector timers. And no sound like the sound of a room facing the highway with only a gas station between to cut the hum of cars speeding by, headed for destinations better than this.
Somehow, the Princess Plan landed me in the middle of a Sam Shepard play – sort of sweaty and dirty and not at all sexy though I do have a craving for long pull off a frosty bottle of beer and a sudden urge to suck mightily on a cigarette. Perhaps Sig Other can skip the showers and throw on a wife-beater and a pair of torn Levis to complete the picture.
Welcome to King City. Welcome to the Princess Plan. What I would give to be in camp, cozy in a sleeping bag, sharing a tent with a snoring stranger…