Well, it all worked out. I flew to San Francisco last Friday, in time for most of the opening dinner. Our bikes were there, and, minus a bent derailleur hanger (I have no idea what that is, but the mechanics fixed it so it didn't matter), everything was perfect. We rode out Saturday morning and did 86 miles to Santa Cruz. It was GREAT. I felt GREAT. Super strong.
Then I had to leave the next morning, but it was ok. That morning I also met Jeff, one of the founders of Amgen, and heard the story of how he was pretty much responsible for getting the manufacturing of Enbrel down. (When I first wanted to go on it, there was a waiting list months long because Immunex, who developed the drug, had manufacturing issues with a protein breaking down. Jeff knew how to fix it, and Amgen bought out Immunex and within a year there was no more waiting list. Yes, he was a bit self-inflating, but at the same time, I think he wasn't...and besides, he raised over $3000 the first day riding, including $600 at a nude beach, and that is on top of the $50,000 or so he raised before the ride even started.)
My bike went on without me, looking very official on top of the Amgen team car. At least one of us did the whole distance.
I spent Sunday morning with my friend Sarita and her new husband Andrew who just moved out to Sunnyvale from CT. They got me back to the airport, I flew home, got to sleep around 2am, had to get up at 6 for work, then tutor for 2 hours that night (I didn't even get to put Andra to bed)...it was CRAZY. But, I got it done, and then went BACK to CA Wednesday. Rode 3 more days, 67 miles, 88 miles, and 60 miles. I'd never had saddle sores before Thursday. OUCH. Made Friday and Saturday considerably less comfortable, but still loads of fun. We had some long stretches of relatively FLAT road on the last day into Santa Monica, and I just went. It was amazing, windy, a bit rainy at times, just perfect. And the days I missed happened to be the hottest (in the 9os+) and hilliest (and yes, the most beautiful, but I'm trying not to remember that).
It was neat to see a bunch of other riders with arthritis. Some had RA, others had other forms, but we were all athletes who don't let it stop us, and that was neat to see.