About 9 months ago, I signed up for AIDS Lifecycle 2012. I’d done the ride in 1999 — 13 years earlier when it was called California AIDS Ride — and I decided I wanted to do it again this year. My partner Clay did the ride right before we met in 2007. She wanted to do it again too.
You may remember back in January when I began fundraising for the ride. Each rider must raise a minimum of $3000. The money you raise goes toward things like working to reduce HIV infection and improving the lives of people living with AIDS.
Then, in February, I started training. I have been a cyclist on and off for years, but, aside from the ride I did in 1999, I typically don’t ride more than 50-60 miles at a time, usually about 30-40 on the average Saturday or Sunday. The ride to Los Angeles from San Francisco is 545 miles over 7 days. As you can imagine, the training to prepare us for the ride has gotten intense lately. I love cycling. It makes me feel alive. But I have to admit: training for this ride (which includes rides 50-100 miles, sometimes a couple days in a row), has kicked my ass.
When I did the ride in 1999, I was 31 years old and swimming competitively at the same time. I remember being tired, and I remember some pain — but not what I’m experiencing 13 years later at age 44. This past weekend I rode a total of 150 miles over two days, much of which was over mountainous Northern California landscape. I like to think I am a pretty fit 44 year old. Swimming and cycling regularly have been a part of my life for years. But man, AM I TIRED. I am not saying this to engender sympathy. I signed up for this thing, and no one ever said it was going to be easy. In the spirit of keeping it real, I’m just saying (admitting?) that pushing myself physically is hard work, and I don’t always enjoy it.
I also need to say that even though not all of it is fun, most of it is. I have met so many amazing people training for AIDS Lifecycle, and I suspect I’ll meet even more on the actual ride in three weeks (we leave June 3). I am so inspired by people’s stories about why they are riding (so many people who’ve lost loved ones to AIDS) and by all the HIV positive folks who do the ride. It’s pretty amazing.
Saturday I went on an 85 mile training ride that had one particularly gnarly hill climb in it. The ride leader told us before we left that morning to think of one person we’d lost to AIDS who would push us up that hill. I have lost several friends to AIDS over the years, but this time I thought of Rick, one of the men I swam with and coached back in my masters swimming days — who continued to swim (and cheer me on in competition) nearly until he died (even when he was very sick and weak). He was an incredible inspiration to me. Sure enough, Rick was an angel on my shoulder Saturday, pushing me up that hill to the top.
Back in April I met and surpassed my goal of raising $3000 for the ride. Thank you to everyone who donated. All of your donations mean so much to me.
In less than three weeks I leave for this thing. I know in my heart it will be awesome, even the hard parts. Let’s do this.