Adventure preparation: ALC 10

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!)

Katie and Derek being happy on their bikes

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!

The view from the top of Wilson Hill (which kicks my ass every time) in west Marin on one of my main amazing training rides

4 responses to “Adventure preparation: ALC 10

  1. This is such an amazing post, D. I am so proud of everything that you’ve accomplished over the last 4 months. I’d even go so far as to say that you’re a much different person, one who is much more fearless and confident, one who actively embraces the mantra of “why not?” Selfishly, I am so anxious for the ride ahead for so many reasons, including those that you illustrated in your post. But on the self-less side, I, too, am eager to participate in an event that gives back to so many people in need and that pays homage to those who are no longer here. The best is yet to come and we [well, more accurately YOU] are ready for the ride!! Here we go!!!

  2. Great post Derek. You have definitely earned legit status, and I look forward to you kicking my ass on the ride. The AIDS Lifecycle is truly life changing.

  3. I am so proud of you! I know you will kick butt, enjoy every minute 😉

  4. I missed your re-debut while I was on vacation – I am so happy to see you back in blogging action and loved this post! I love your reflection on giving back, it is something I have often thought about, but have yet to find a vehicle for myself to express that into (if that makes sense)! Can’t wait to see how the ride turns out – I know you are going to be awesome, even if I think you are a little crazy! That is just the jealousy talking – hate that you can eat chocolate o your heart’s content 😉

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