My declining health has made me back out. Some years I pedal the 165 miles, some years I do crew. This year will be crew. So that I'm still participating and helping out.

But I always sign up as a rider, and contribute the required USD1250 rider amount to qualify, even though crew doesn't have to raise any money. Because raising money for HIV/AIDS is what this is all about.

It isn't like "Pedaling for Dollars" or something, since you have to already have raised the money before you can enter and even get on your bike. I always do make my quota and then some, but some years I switch to doing crew at the last minute. So you've done your part as a rider whether you get on a bike or not. And then I help as crew, as well.

My husband & I have arranged to have some panels of the National AIDS Quilt delivered to us, which we'll bring down with us to our starting point. And then we'll display them on Thursday when riders are registering, and be ceremonial sentinels, per protocol.

Once the bike riders depart we're operating one of the pit stops along the way to Key West. We'll remain in Key West for another 6 days, just to enjoy the place.

First time my husband & I will be traveling on the Ride in our own car together. Usually he takes a donated SUV to recover disabled bikes, most having flat tires.

But he's 80 now, 2 strokes, heart bypass surgery, total hip replacement, a ton of other issues. And me, well... don't ask! But he helped found the Ride 11 years ago, so he's gotta be involved in some way. We'll support each other and make sure we get there OK.

Wish us luck! icon_biggrin.gif