Like I said last year before participating in my first AIDS/LifeCycle ride, Thank you for visiting my fundraising page! It means you’re at least considering making a donation to the AIDS/LifeCycle cause, and that means the world to me. After participating in my first ride last year, I have a lot more to say here this time about why I’m passionate about, and why I’m looking forward to taking part in this incredible event again…
I should start off by correcting an error I made on last year’s fundraising page: I knew so little about the entirety of the event and what I was getting myself into, that I wrote "The fact that so many people train and prepare to bike over 100 miles a day for FIVE DAYS straight screams dedication to helping people in need". While the dedication part was totally accurate, the ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles is a SEVEN day event — not five. Needless to say, I was perhaps slightly less prepared than I could have been going into the ride… hah!
But let me take a moment for a flashback to 2010. That’s right… 9 years ago, I learned about the AIDS/LifeCycle from an informational booth set up at Ocean Beach here in San Francisco. I was out biking with a friend when we saw a huge crowd of bikes and an even bigger crowd of smiling, friendly people. I knew that whatever was going on, I needed to know about it… and when I found out that the event was a ride all the way from SF to LA, I was ECSTATIC to sign up for it. Later that year, however, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and my plans to participate had to be postponed. Life happened, I helped my partner start his own small business, and I never seemed to have the time to take a week off for anything, let alone ride a bike along the California coast.
Fast forward to last year, when I had stumbled across the same type of AIDS/LifeCycle informational expo in Golden Gate Park, and decided “Fuck it… I’ve wanted to do this for years now, I’m doing it this year!” Still, running a small business where my job requires me to wear many hats, I didn’t participate in nearly as many training rides as I should have last year… heh… but the training group that I rode with was (and is… I’m riding with them again this year) profoundly friendly and helpful and made it so that when it was time for the ride last year, I was able to ride almost the entire ride with no issues (I didn’t manage to ride the second half of Day 2, but rode everything else).
So all of that brings me to why I’m excited to participate in the ride for my second year. I can break it down into three different reasons:
- The Cause: While I had never had a close friend or family member who (to my knowledge, anyway) had contracted AIDS/HIV, I grew up in a time where we saw people dying from the disease all too often. People I knew were losing loved ones, and there was nothing that could be done about it. Being a part of the ride last year, I heard so many stories from riders and roadies who had lost loved ones and who are riding to help make it so that at some point in the not too distant future, nobody has to go through what they went through. Some riders that I spoke with lost 50+ friends to HIV/AIDS. I simply can’t imagine dealing with that type of loss, and I don’t want anyone, ever, to have to go through that. With each year, AIDS/LifeCycle is working towards that goal.
- The People: When I biked to my first training ride last year, I showed up completely unprepared — I showed up wearing street clothes, I had a backpack on with a heavy bike lock inside, and instead of cycling shoes, I was wearing regular sneakers. While I did get a couple (well deserved… heh) strange looks, the training group was friendly, inviting, and coached me every step of the way. This “open armed group” was just the tip of the iceberg. Walking into the Cow Palace (where the ride starts on Day 1), there is this overall feeling of acceptance, caring, and (with the fear of sounding cheesy) genuine compassion and love. Everyone is there for one reason and one reason alone — to help others. I can’t put it into words here, but it’s a very special group of people. Being a part of, and in the middle of, that group of people for a week completely changes your perspective on life for the better.
Spreading the Love: I know, I know… I probably sound corny with that one, but let me explain. All too often these days, we’re all getting bombarded with negativity around every corner. Politics, racism, sexism, police brutality, income inequality, you name it… It can be pretty overwhelming at times. Not only did I wholly appreciate being around the people who participated in the ride (the riders, the roadies who take care of you along the way, the amazingly inspiring staff who organize the event, the guest speakers, etc.), it was also a great feeling to share my experience with others and see them want to get involved, as well. Whether it was by way of a donation, or thinking about participating in this year’s ride, or just taking up a cause of their own… I’ve had a bunch of interactions with people who wanted to take part in taking care of others in one way or another, and it was inspiring to see the world in a way that was encouraging and motivating, instead of frustrating and discouraging.
And that’s my story so far. Please consider making a donation and supporting me and my efforts towards helping the wonderfully inspirational AIDS/LifeCycle organization. Anything and everything helps, and your support means the world to me.
Thank you <3