In less than two weeks I will embark on what is sure to be an adventure of a lifetime — the 10th annual AIDS Lifecycle, a 550 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. While the AIDS Lifecycle a physical challenge and social activity, it is most importantly a fundraiser and awareness-raiser for the SF AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. This year, the Lifecycle predicts that the 3,000 participants will break the event’s fundraising record of $12 million, set in 2008. I’ve been doing my part and have raised $3,163.50 from more than 50 generous donors. (There’s still time to donate to support me!)
When I ride out next Sunday from the Cow Palace on the first of 7 straight days on the bike, it will be hard to not reflect on how much life has changed since (my now roommate) Katie and I signed up for the ride back in November, before I even had my first marathon under my belt. At the time, I saw doing the ALC with Katie as a way to strengthen our friendship and as an appropriate and logical next physical adventure (we both quietly aspire to do a triathlon at some point). Now as roommates the ride has become a part of our daily life — planning rides together, buying gear and encouraging each other with fundraising.
I was not a cyclist what. so. ever. prior to signing up for the ride. Neither of us were. Slowly but surely over the last 4 months we’ve earned legit status. This weekend I did back-to-back rides totaling more than 140 miles and I can finally say that I think my butt is ready to spend a week in the saddle. (I even earned some scars from my first crash.)
In addition to signing up for the ALC for the physical challenge, I did it because I wanted to forge a stronger connection with the gay community in San Francisco, and give back in some way. I spent more than 5 years isolated in North Beach, living my life without any appreciation for how hard the gay community has fought here, not only for things like equal rights, but for acceptance and tolerance. Surely the blood, sweat and tears that have been shed in SF over the years have made my life a lot easier today. And while I have to admit I haven’t been as affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic as a lot of people that participate in the ride, I want nothing more than to help find a cure for this disease, which I plainly and clearly remember hearing referred to as a “gay disease” as a young, confused boy growing up in rural Michigan.
While the last four months have not been a particularly easy time in my life (and while the ride is yet to actually even begin!) I am grateful to have had the ALC as a way to give back, meet new and inspiring people, and enjoy the Bay Area in a completely new way.
The countdown is on!