It’s been on my bucket list for a few years to bike from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. It’s a beautiful ride along the California coast and takes the better part of a day. At the beginning of this month, I completed that ride, spent the night in a tent, and then kept on biking on my way to Los Angeles.
As part of AIDS/LifeCycle this year, roughly 2200 cyclists rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles, with the amazing and generous assistance of over 600 volunteer roadies. Together, we raised over $15 million to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. For my part, I rode 567.6 miles and, with your support, raised $3,300. I rode with the Box company team, who welcomed me with open arms. I don’t typically like going fast, but I hit a max speed of 39.6mi/h while on the the ride.
I originally signed up for the ride because I was excited by the physical challenge. I can’t say I’ve been personally affected by the AIDS epidemic, but through the ride I did learn about it: how some people lived through losing dozens of their friends to the epidemic in the 80s, how the disease has become manageable over time, and how in large part due to the money raised on LifeCycle, San Francisco is expected to have no new cases of HIV in just a few years. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to you for donating to support my ride. The money is having a direct impact preventing more people from getting infected and helping those already infected to live strong. Sometimes statements like that look to me like just words on a page - but it means actual people with family, friends, careers, and contributions who can be better, stronger, and ultimately have more to give back to the world.
Despite not having a personal connection to the epidemic, I was personally touched by the Love Bubble - the intense community that has arisen around the ride - both from the history and from riding, eating, sleeping, and celebrating with the same people for seven days in a row. One person I met opened up about his struggle for having both acceptance and a meaningful relationship with his family, and gave me courage to face some of the personal challenges in my life. Also moving for me was to see the family of a cyclist who had crashed and gone into a coma while training for the ride. Despite the fact that cycling took their son away, his family was still there supporting the mission, the ride, and all the cyclists there. The applause and love shown for his family seemed to never end, and seeing that level of love and compassion actually brought tears to my eyes. It’s only in the context of such tightly-bound community where it’s possible to see such displays of compassion, and community like that is to be treasured.
On an emotional level, the ride has made me re-consider how open I am in my relationships and with expressing my feelings. On an experiential level, I saw some stunningly beautiful views of the California land and coast, and I cycled, laughed, and got crazy tan lines. Lastly on a physical level, I can’t wait for the next event to train for!