Well, not too short, “oh me,” 75 miles of cycling including a long hill, known as “Quad Buster,” for obvious reasons. At the top, roadies treat us to tootsie rolls. Ah, simple pleasures for such a hill.
Yesterday, I took it slow and rode with the back of the pack enjoying the food and excellent company, so today I decided to work the other end, no pun intended. I found my way up front where I cycled with two 50-year-old guys who kicked my ass. I can’t even begin to describe them. These Southern Californians are my new cycling heroes.
I’d like to dedicate day three of the AIDS LifeCycle log to the Positive Pedalers.
The Positive Pedalers organization has been riding these AIDS rides since the first California AIDS Ride. The Positive Pedalers or Poz Peds act as a support network for HIV positive riders and a beacon of visibility of the HIV-positive community that participates in the LifeCycle and other cycling events.
YOU CAN’T MISS THEM
This year, over 200 riders have chosen to publicly identify themselves as HIV-positive riders with their “I’m Positive” T-shirts, Poz Pedalers biking jerseys and orange Poz Pedalers flags on the back of their bikes, these men and women are a … well, positive reminder of the large number of people living with HIV and AIDS. And not just living, but taking on incredible challenges, like riding a bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Tonight after dinner we hear from Bob Katz, board member emeritus Positive Pedalers and, coincidentally, one of my training ride leaders. He recounted how empowered he felt when he publicly identified himself as a Positive Pedaler. Listening to Katz describe the history of the Positive Pedalers—their participation in the first California AIDS Ride, the loss of their founder, the death of their eldest board member and many of their friends—you can’t help but feel the immense personal loss in the struggle against this deadly virus, but also the strong backbone this organization gives to HIV-positive riders each year and the community in general.
Katz then introduces Scott Campbell, a Poz Ped board member, a natural-born speaker who projects energy across the room. Campbell tells us that Positive Pedalers is dedicated to “expanding and enhancing public awareness of HIV and AIDS and empowering HIV-positive people to live more meaningful, spiritual and dignified lives.”
The most emotional moment of the evening for me comes when Campbell asks everyone who publicly identify as HIV positive to stand up. Hundreds of people rise and the room buzzes with raw emotion. I look across the table from me and standing is one of my cycling buddies for the ride. I had no idea he was HIV positive. A couple of tables from me is another guy I’ve ridden with. I always thought he was so cute. I had no idea he was HIV positive. He goes on, “We are all living with AIDS.”
Tomorrow, we reach the halfway to Los Angeles mark. Halfway? We’re only halfway there!
1 out of 5
Thank goodness for foam rollers. Taught to me by my friend Dion, foam rollers have mostly cleared up my knee problems, well, at least until mile 96 of tomorrow’s ride.
READY TO RIDE?
Learn more about the Positive Pedalers, register for LifeCycle 6 or read more about the event at aidslifecycle.org.
Jeff is rider no. 2111. To make a donation to Jeff or to the AIDS Lifecycle in general, visit aidslifecycle.org.