More than 2,500 cyclists made their way through Santa Barbara County on Friday, winding their way through the valley, down Highway 101 and eventually traversing the Santa Barbara waterfront as they pedaled through the sixth day of their week-long trip.
The cyclists were part of the AIDS/LifeCycle event, a seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
They've been on an epic journey across the state and will have covered 545 miles by the time event is through. The race started June 1 and will wrap up on Saturday in Westwood.
The cyclists took a lunch break at Girsh Park on Friday, where Noozhawk caught up with cyclist Dusty Klass, a UCSB alumna who now lives in Culver City but was excited to be back on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County.
"It is amazing to be back in Santa Barbara," she said. "This is where I learned how to ride a bike. All of the roads are familiar."
On Friday morning, the riders started in Lompoc, climbed over the Gaviota Pass — Klass estimated an elevation gain of about 1,100 feet — and then on to Highway 101 and onto Hollister Avenue through Goleta. They would end the day at San Buenaventura State Beach, an 84-mile ride for the day, she said.
They've averaged about 80 miles a day throughout the ride.
She's been doing the ride since studying at UCSB, and said "this community is really addictive."
"Whenever I find people who have given up on the world, I always tell them to do this ride," Klass said. "It always reminds me how caring people are."
It's not unusual if riders arrive early at a campsite to set up a tent for those who have yet to finish the ride, she said, and that people step up to care for one another.
This year takes on an extra significance for Klass as she rode close to Isla Vista in the aftermath of the shootings that took place there May 23.
She decided to put up a banner for people to sign, which said simply "ALC Stands with UCSB" and gave people the chance to sign it.
"I've been watching people come up and sign it and it's been strangely healing," she said, adding that she's met UCSB alumni on the ride she didn't even know were there.