Founder and President of RealJock, Inc., Jeff Titterton puts the rubber to the road for a great cause June 4-10. He’s riding in the AIDS LifeCycle to raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS. The ride is a seven-day, 585-mile test of willpower, resolve, endurance and commitment.
Jeff plans to share his story with daily updates from the road as well as interviews with other RealJocks along the way.
Jeff took a minute out of his busy training regimen to share his LifeCycle story with us.
RealJock: What prompted you to do the ride?
Jeff: Since I moved to San Francisco a decade ago, I have often thought about doing one of the AIDS rides from SF to LA. I love to bike more than just about anything. To me, it’s a therapeutic, almost spiritual experience—I imagine Hell’s Angels feel the same way about riding their hogs that I do about climbing a grueling hill and then cruising down the backside at 35 miles per hour. More important, I’ve watched the way AIDS and HIV has affected those around me over the years, and I always felt powerless to do anything about it. But I never had the time, or something else, usually work, always came up.
This year, I just said “I’m doing it.” I just Googled “AIDS LifeCycle” and registered before I could think up excuses not to do it. I’m so glad I did. I have had the time of my life training, so I can’t even imagine how fun the ride itself will be.
RealJock: What kind of training have you been doing? What’s your schedule like?
Jeff: I began training in January with a couple of hours on my indoor cycling trainer or on a stationary bike and one 25-mile outdoor ride per week. Over the next few months, I built up my mileage and began training rides with the AIDS LifeCycle team on weekends. At my training peak, I was averaging anywhere from 250 to 300 miles on the bike per week, as well as cross-training with running, swimming and strength training. To say I’ve had little free time is an understatement. For the past two months, life has primarily consisted of working, eating, training and sleeping.
The people on the team call our partners the AIDS LifeCycle widows. I think that’s appropriate; I’ve seen less of my partner this past two months than ever before in our relationship.
RealJock: That sounds grueling, what keeps you going? What inspires you?
Jeff: I have been so inspired by the other people doing the AIDS LifeCycle event. I have participated on various sporting teams all my life, but this is the first time I have really felt connected with so many of the people around me. Obviously, the fact that many of them are gay men and lesbians contributes to that. However, I think more important is that we all share this common goal to do what we can to eradicate this disease that has so dramatically impacted not just the gay community, but our entire world.
On a lighter note, I also love to bike, so it’s the perfect reason to spend large quantities of my time on the road; riding the hills of Marin County is my drug of choice.
RealJock: What do you think is going to be the hardest thing about the ride?
Jeff: I think that hardest thing about the ride will be never getting enough sleep. I turn into a horrible troll without a good eight hours of sleep a night and my two cups of coffee in the morning. One year, I did a long-distance overnight relay running race from Napa to Santa Cruz, Calif., and sleeping in a tent and in a van in between my runs really did me in. So I imagine six nights of sleeping in a tent coupled with 585 miles on the bike in between will probably wear me down. Hopefully, my tentmate will continue to speak to me after it’s all over.
RealJock: What are your personal goals for the ride?
Jeff: I want to win! I’m kidding. One of my personal goals is to let go of my Type A personality and really enjoy the ride. I want to spend some time learning more about the beautiful state of California, my adopted home state for the past 10 years. I also want to get to know as many people as I can on the ride. I think modern life is lonely; with the busy urban life so many of us lead, we almost never have time to get to know new people. On the ride, I hope to have hours on end to chat with people from all walks of life.
RealJock: Who, if anyone, are you riding for?
Jeff: On a personal level, I’m riding for my friends who have AIDS and HIV. One of my close friends and mentors has been living with HIV for many years. His strength is heroic, his attitude is amazing, and he is also one of the funniest people I know.
I’m also riding for the people at the SF AIDS Foundation. What an amazing group of people. I used to work in the same building as them, and they might as well have had “good person” tattooed on their foreheads.
On a more global level, I also think it’s important to acknowledge the millions of people with HIV we don’t know—many people still don’t know that in some countries in Africa, upwards of one in three adults are infected with the HIV virus. Our governing officials can argue all they want to about whether we should be preaching abstinence or safer sex, prevention or treatment, but that single statistic is so shocking and says a lot about the inequities in our world. Even more shocking is that many of the people in those countries have no access to the treatments we have available in the Western world.
RealJock: What would you say to people thinking about doing the ride?
Jeff: Anyone who thinks they can’t do the AIDS LifeCycle or similar event needs to stop thinking and register right now. Whether it’s a 5-kilometer walk or a 585-mile bike ride, the hardest part of the entire thing is getting up the guts to do it. The rest of it is such a blast, not to mention a very good cause. What more could you ask for in life?
Jeff is rider no. 2111. To make a donation to Jeff or to the AIDS Lifecycle in general, visit aidslifecycle.org.